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David Hall looks back at 2021

31 January 2022

David Hall looks back at 2021

“2022 marks YFM’s 40th year of partnering with small and medium-sized businesses. Our portfolio may have changed over those 40 years, but our commitment to working alongside management teams as they scale up has remained the same.”

Since 1982, we are proud to have invested in over 1,000 companies which has led to the creation of thousands of jobs. Just one example, is our backing of Waterfall Catering Group from 2007 to 2014 which saw the business grow from a team of 400 people to more than 3,000. A specialist contract caterer in the education, care and welfare sectors, Waterfall successfully acquired and integrated two complementary catering companies and grew revenues by 5x to £60m during the period of our investment.

Looking at more recent successes, Matillion, the Manchester-based cloud data integration platform, in 2021 saw a landmark achievement, completing a $150m funding round and becoming YFM’s first ‘unicorn’ with a value of $1.5bn.

Congratulations also to Matillion founder and CEO, Matthew Scullion who was selected from hundreds of business leaders across the country as the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 UK overall winner. It’s been quite a year for Matthew with Matillion also named as one of four YFM-backed firms listed in the 2021 Top 100 Companies at the Northern Tech Awards. Leading digital transformation specialist FourNet, which we first backed in 2017, was also recognised in the awards having grown its annual revenues to over £38m and employing more than 100 people. We sold our stake in June as part of a secondary MBO delivering a 6x return.

Force24, a cloud-based marketing automation platform headquartered in Leeds, was another of our portfolio businesses ranked in the awards, after our investment in 2020 allowed it to continue its rapid growth story. Last but not least, Manchester-based consumer insights business Vypr, which received £2.5m of growth capital in January, also made the Top 100 list.

“Despite what has proven to be another unpredictable year, we have seen many reasons for optimism and in 2021 we successfully invested £19m into 5 new businesses, and provided £17m of follow-on funding.”

Some of the highlights of 2021 include making a multi-million pound investment into Outpost VFX, a fast-growing film and TV visual effects company, enabling it to develop its infrastructure and providing a solid base for further international growth. In April, we supported RGE Services, a fire and electrical compliance services provider primarily working with the public sector, to fund its primary buyout, and in June, we exited Deep Secure realising a 6.5x return to investors.

September saw us completing an investment into planning and forecasting software and services business Vuealta to enable further growth and overseas expansion. Rounding out the year, in November, we completed an investment into Cooper Software, a Scottish-based ERP software specialist, enabling the fast-growing tech business to continue to expand its customer base and target overseas markets.

We have also demonstrated commitment to our 44 strong portfolio businesses with a number of follow-on investments such as providing a further £8m of funding to enterprise IT managed services organisation DSP as the business continues its ambitious buy-and-build strategy – DSP has successfully grown its revenues by 360% since our initial investment three years ago. We are also continuing to support the growth of innovative Scottish software business Traveltek with a £1.3m investment. In addition, Wooshii, which provides video content and software tools for blue-chip companies around the world, received further investment from us to support its continued growth trajectory and technology investment, and we also backed passive fire protection specialist Checkmate Fire in its acquisition of Rosse Systems.

As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, we believe that our ethos of not only providing vital funding, but, just as importantly, being a supportive partner, will continue to play a key role in supporting our businesses on their growth journey. From providing strategic direction, to sharing expertise from our portfolio network and helping to devise an insightful and structured plan, we have the experience and expertise to be the supportive investment partner businesses need as they scale.

If you want advice, support or funding, do get in touch

All the best,

David Hall, MD
YFM Equity Partners 

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