Upperton: The first 100 days

The first 100 days of any private equity partnership will be hard work. The right backer should mean they’re also exciting as aligned interests foster a culture of support. Upperton CEO Nikki Whitfield shares the firm’s experience. 


Why did you choose to Partner with Inflexion?

We chose Inflexion not only because of their experience in the Healthcare sector but because they were fully committed to our vision for the growth of the business and showed real faith in the strength of the management team to deliver it. Inflexion demonstrated on many occasions that they respect the expertise and knowledge within the business and look for ways to support the growth rather than direct the management team.

What are your plans for growth?

We are in an incredibly exciting phase of growth and in the process of building a new facility that will support a 10-fold increase in capacity as well as allowing us to significantly expand our service offering. Our growth plans include a near doubling of headcount in the next 12 months as well as the purchase of new equipment to increase our ability to support our customers further in the drug development process.

How have the first 100 days been?

It has been great to go back to having a laser focus on the business without the distraction of the due diligence process, and some of the adviser reports have provided some fantastic insights into areas of the business that we can strengthen. The Inflexion team have been really supportive and provided the breathing space needed to map out the detail behind the growth plan but at the same time we have had the opportunity to tap into the Inflexion expertise to develop infrastructures (finance, IT etc) that were not previously in place given the size of the business, and this has been incredibly helpful. We have had a few unexpected commercial successes and the Inflexion team have been quick to celebrate with us and recognise the people behind the business wins; this has been greatly appreciated by the wider business.

How did they compare to your expectations?

Very favourably! We were slightly concerned that we would be overwhelmed by the Inflexion team wanting to make changes to the running of the business, but these were completely unfounded; the Inflexion team have shown an even bigger passion for the business and the opportunities to grow faster and stronger.

Where do you see the business in five years’ time?

We intend to build a full service CDMO that is differentiated by its scientific expertise and passion to support its partners in their drug development journey. We will be a far bigger organisation but still at a size where customers remain our key focus and our culture reflects the entrepreneurial spirit that it has today. We want to be the partner of choice with a strong reputation for the delivery of high quality, scientifically robust products.

What tip would you give a management team looking for a private equity investor?

Build a defendable growth strategy that the management team are all behind and be confident in your knowledge of your business and its potential. When you have investment team options and the commercial terms are comparable, choose an investment team that you believe you can work with through the bumps in the road and will want to be part of the solution. Most importantly, choose an investment group that share your passion for the business and your excitement for the journey ahead.