Five minutes with… Michael Vassallo
1. Can you tell us a little about Maven and your plans for the coming year?
Maven is a national business with 11 offices and £600 million of funds under management and available to invest. This includes over £235 million regional funds for investment in SMEs. We are one of the most experienced and active SME investors in the UK. We manage the £27 million North East Development Capital Fund in the North East. This is supported by the European Regional Development Fund. The £20 million Finance Durham Fund is supported by Durham County Council.
We also have access to Maven’s other client funds which includes our Venture Capital Trusts and Private Equity arm. We are well placed to support local North East businesses and can invest from a few hundred thousand up to £20 million. This year will see our local team working with ambitious businesses in the region to help them achieve their growth plans.
Another key objective for Maven’s North East investment team is to help local companies become more ‘investor ready’ through Maven’s access to finance programme. We’re currently hosting regular venture investment clinics. This is where a business can receive 1-2-1 support from a member of our investment team to discuss their objectives and how they can identify and access the right funding to help them grow.
2. Durham have a great opportunity with new funding and the North East Fund finally up and running. What would be your key bit of advice to businesses looking for funding to grow or change their business?
Durham is a great place to work and live. It now has two funds both targeting investment in the region which is unique in the North East. My advice would be simply to get in touch with us. If we can assist with finance; we will. We also offer a range of business support and, if the investment is not right now for our fund, we will help signpost to other funds or provide support to get the business ready for investment.
3. Will the Finance Durham Fund and the North East investment programme be working together?
Yes, absolutely. We are keen to work with all of the North East Fund managers to help ambitious businesses in Durham.
4. You work with lots of NE based businesses. What do you think is the biggest challenge for businesses now?
A lot of businesses can struggle with identifying and raising the right finance for their business. Maven are establishing an access to finance programme to combat this issue. Our programme is designed to educate local companies on a range of investor readiness topics. This is in order to raise awareness of the funding available and to provide entrepreneurs with the right knowledge to take their next steps towards growth.
It can be difficult to find an investor that can provide follow-on funding to finance a range of scenarios. Maven has a range of client funds and regional funds under management that can support a company at almost every stage in the growth cycle. We have access to our national network of investment professionals, therefore we can call upon the experience from a range of individuals to support local portfolio companies.
5. The North East Fund is up and running. What is the ideal project / business the fund can support?
The North East Development Capital Fund is looking for ambitious, established companies. It can support a range of corporate requirements and high-growth earlier stage businesses with revenues approaching or exceeding £1million pa. We can invest from £400,000 to £2 million as debt or equity.
6. As a national company, what other funding opportunities does Maven bring to the North East?
We manage 6 Venture Capital Trusts and have a highly active Private Equity arm. We have already invested in local companies through these funds in Hedgehog Lab, Orchidsoft, Growth Capital Ventures and Martel Instruments and are the main equity investor in the recently opened Hotel Indigo in Durham through our property team. We’re actively looking for businesses for these funds and can invest from £1 million to £20 million to support growth capital, buy and build strategies and MBOs.