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Becoming part of the YFM team – despite lockdown!

26 April 2021

Becoming part of the YFM team – despite lockdown!

Over the last year, YFM has continued to invest in its people with several colleagues having joined us ‘virtually’. Despite having had to kick off the next stage of their careers from home, via video conferencing, rather than enjoying the traditional face to face welcome, they’ve quickly established themselves as valuable members of the firm–regardless of the attendant risks of unexpected deliveries at the door, home wi-fi issues and all the other potential pitfalls of remote working!

Twelve months ago, Laura Sisson, Investment Manager in our Manchester office, wrote about how it felt to join during lockdown, and we thought now was a great time to check in with Laura and a couple of other colleagues who also started in early 2020, to see how the last year has been for them.

Picking up with Laura first: “It’s a little surreal to think it’s been 12 months since I was debating whether tracksuit bottoms were appropriate for your first day in the ‘new normal’ that was Lockdown #1. I’m pleased to say that alongside bottom-half loungewear having since become very much the norm, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first year at YFM, with memorable moments including completing my first investment into consumer insights platform Vypr, supporting on the process of Matillion’s $100m Series D fundraise, and a full team Zoom-based pizza making competition!

My personal highlight, though, must be the privilege of joining the Steering Committee of Fund Her North following its launch last October, something only possible thanks to my new investment role. The collective of 30 investors and entrepreneurs aims to help northern-based female entrepreneurs and female led businesses to gain investment, confidence and support in a business environment they often find even more challenging than their male counterparts. The collective’s aim is to connect them to the right individuals within our networks or supporting them with access to finance through the funds of organisations such as YFM. We’ve hosted several great events already and I look forward to seeing something so inspirational continue to grow in influence and reach.”

Next up, Roshan Puri, an Investment Director in our London office, who, in addition to originating new deals across the South, has taken on responsibility for one of YFM’s portfolio companies:

“The role of an investor director in a portfolio company can be a little like walking a tightrope, balancing the desire to support with the risk of interfering. The first few months of joining a new board puts that tightrope at an incline, as you work hard to get up to speed with the accumulated knowledge of the business, gain the confidence of the team and build new working relationships. Joining a new board during Lockdown #1 felt a little like walking an inclined tightrope with a blindfold on…

Fortunately, the experienced management team I was working with had been through a few business cycles and, while keeping their sights set on a long-term plan, were able to make decisions quickly based on their deep sector knowledge, close relationships with customers and the shared intelligence of the wider YFM portfolio.

This stood them in good stead for the shock of the pandemic – with the result that the business significantly exceeded its financial budget for the last calendar year (without being the beneficiary of a one-off COVID boost to trading) and is now considering an acquisition as well as entering new market verticals to continue to fuel growth over the coming years. For the next act, the trapeze…”

Finally, Aaron Lowery, an Investment Manager in Leeds takes a look back:

“I joined a couple of months before lockdown and was lucky enough to spend about eight weeks in the office and work on our investment in ISS, my first YFM deal before embarking on (what I thought) was a two-week holiday to Mexico. This was cancelled a few days before we were due to fly, as a result of lockdown #1, so I decided to return to work early, retreating to my newly formed home office in the spare room and began grappling with short term cashflows and CBILs applications!

“My personal highlight of the past 12 months was our investment in Force24, my first YFM investment in Yorkshire working with the Leeds new investment team, and I believe the first YFM deal to be done largely over Teams and Zoom! As investors we had to debate whether we were willing to back a business and team that we’d only briefly met in person because of Covid restrictions – and so we challenged ourselves and the process in order to get comfortable with this new way of working. Subsequently, restrictions eased so we were able to get together ahead of completion – but it was a pretty close call. It was great that we were able to work through the challenges of last year and keep backing exciting businesses like this one.”

Approved for the purposes of Section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 by YFM Private Equity Limited (‘YFM’), which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 122120). YFM is the Investment Manager to British Smaller Companies VCT plc, British Smaller Companies VCT2 plc, YFM Equity Partners Growth I LP, YFM Equity Partners Growth Fund II LP, YFM Equity Partners Buyout I LP and YFM Equity Partners Buyout II LP. YFM Private Equity Limited is ultimately owned by YFM Equity Partners LLP which is registered in England and Wales No: OC384467. Registered Office: 5th Floor, Valiant Building, 14 South Parade, Leeds LS1 5QS.


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