Enterprising spirit: How private equity can turbocharge growth
Ambitious businesses reach many decision points in their growth journeys: acquisition opportunities, geographic expansion, investment to expand capacity, or shareholder replacement. Private equity can help leadership teams to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead – and unearth fresh ones with flexible funding and experience-based expertise.
Inflexion benefits from three focused fund strategies: Buyout; Partnership Capital, its dedicated minority investment fund; and Enterprise, its lower mid-market fund. These distinct funds mean each investment is tailored to the particular requirements of each business and its unique ambitions, with investee companies having access to Inflexion’s sector and regional teams alongside our value acceleration resources.
Inflexion’s sizeable Enterprise Fund team is dedicated to making investments in the £10 million to £75 million size range, corresponding to an enterprise valuation of £150 million. A number of highly successful sales have recently highlighted the transformational impact the right capital and support can have in making great businesses even better, and we continue to work with over a dozen companies through Inflexion’s Enterprise Fund.
GOAT - In 2021, Inflexion's Enterprise Fund embarked on a two-year journey with influencer agency GOAT to help accelerate its growth in a rapidly expanding global opportunity. The partnership saw EBITDA and US revenues both triple before the business was sold to WPP in 2023.
Virgin Experience Days - Inflexion backed the buyout of Virgin Experience Days in 2017 and helped the business build out its management team and expand into the US to double revenues before a majority stake was sold to Equistone Partners Europe in 2022. Inflexion retains a minority stake in the business.
Pharmaspectra - Inflexion completed the buyout of Pharmaspectra in 2019 and drove significant growth of the business with the number of clients increasing by c.160% before it was sold to a listed trade buyer in 2022.
Halo - In 2017 Inflexion created Halo, a global vendor of optical transceivers, by merging UK-based ProLabs with AddOn Computer Peripherals LLC, a California business. Following four acquisitions, Halo was sold to Amphenol Corporation for $715m in 2021, generating a 6x money multiple for investors in Inflexion’s Enterprise Fund.
GOAT specialises in data-led end-to-end influencer and social media marketing campaigns grounded in performance and measurement. The firm was founded by Arron Shepherd, Nick Cooke, and Harry Hugo in 2015 with the mantra of niche content to niche audiences at scale.
Co-founder Arron says the pandemic accelerated the shift for major advertisers to reconsider where and how they spend their money. “We spend our clients’ money where people spend their time and this is changing,” Arron says, explaining that 10 years ago it was newspapers, TV and radio and so advertisers spent 75% of their money there. Nowadays they’re spending around 60% of budgets there, but consumers are only spending c30% of their time there – and this is changing.
GOAT drives authentic brand engagement while integrating targeted paid media to reach the right audience and achieve industry-leading results. The company's 150+ staff across three global offices have helped to grow some of the biggest brands in the world, including Dell, Beiersdorf, Meta, Tesco, Uber, EA, Natura and Augustinus Bader, delivering highly effective social and influencer campaigns. In the eight years since its founding, Goat has tracked the performance of over 50,000 influencer channels and over 250,000 pieces of content.
Inflexion’s Enterprise Fund backed GOAT’s co-founders with a significant minority investment in March 2021 and supported the business through two years of rapid growth and internationalisation. Inflexion helped the business to expand globally, with a core focus on the North American market, as well as benefitting from secular market growth drivers. Inflexion’s Digital team also worked closely with management to embed the use of technology and data into Goat’s proposition.
Overall the partnership saw headcount grow substantially as EBITDA and US revenues both tripled before GOAT was sold in 2023 to WPP, the world's largest advertising company.
“Inflexion offered us tremendous support as we scaled the business in the UK and internationally, with their knowledge of the US market and strong digital capabilities adding significant value to the business,” Arron says.
Virgin Experience Days (VED) is a leading provider of curated experiences, inspiring gift ideas for customers across the UK and US. The company offers an extensive range of 5,000 experiences, from skydiving to luxury breaks, derived from its network of longstanding relationships with suppliers including Fortnum & Mason, Red Bull Racing and Bletchley Park.
Inflexion invested in VED in 2017 and supported development of its technology platform to significantly improve the consumer proposition and help attract new customers. VED’s B2B division of the business was launched as Virgin Incentives and substantially expanded the business’s client base.
VED’s foray into the US through a carefully executed acquisition backed by Inflexion created tremendous opportunity for the business. Cloud 9 Living was identified among a number of small players in the US market as remarkably similar to the old VED business, well regarded and ripe for enhancing its tech and marketing skills. In early 2021, the business was acquired despite the challenging pandemic backdrop.
The growth that followed was very strong, largely down to the team knowing the playbook that needed to be followed from its experience with the original VED business. The company was rebranded as Virgin Experience Gifts in the US and enabled VED to launch experiences further afield and at different price points.
“We achieved significant growth with the support of Inflexion, including more than doubling our team and launching the Virgin Experience Gifts brand into the US market,” says Richard Hurd-Wood, CEO of Virgin Experience Days.
During the Inflexion partnership, VED went from being a single-country business to an international one, with the re-platforming and investment in digital technology of the business enabling not just US and UK growth but further territories in the future. The business was sold in 2022 to Equistone, with Inflexion retaining a minority stake.
Pharmaspectra hosts the world’s largest continuously updated and integrated online repository of disseminated medical science information. The firm’s data is used across the pharmaceutical sector where Pharmaspectra has an expansive and diverse customer base including 13 of the top 20 pharma companies.
Inflexion supported the buyout of the business in 2019 and used its extensive experience in scaling and professionalising companies to support Pharmaspectra in its next phase of growth. Substantial investment was made into the growth of the sales team, marketing and client services as well as in the launch of the company’s new product offering and technology platform.
The digital team worked with the business to create a new medical affairs data and insights platform. Inflexion also supported the international expansion of the business including the build-out of the team in India and developing Pharmaspectra’s market entry strategy into China. Inflexion also supported the international growth of the business including the build-out of the team in India and developing Pharmaspectra’s market entry strategy into China.
“Pharmaspectra achieved significant growth with the support of Inflexion, investing in both its digital platform as well as its international operations,” says Jez Moulding, CEO of Pharmaspectra.
The amount of data in the world is growing exponentially, and people want access to it faster than ever. This knowledge led to Inflexion’s investment thesis to create a global networks business cater to this, and in 2017 they did so combining two highly complementary companies: ProLabs, a small business in the West of England with a strong client base of blue-chip telecoms and financial services businesses in the US and Europe, with AddOn Computer Peripherals, a California-based business.
Named Halo, it was instantly the only truly global provider of third-party transceivers in a $6 billion market, a leading compatible optical networking business which at the time of the 2021 exit had nearly 400 employees serving blue-chip customers from its supply facilities and sales offices across three continents. The constituent firms continued to use their existing brands, operating under the California-headquartered Halo umbrella and benefitting from complementary customer bases, production facilities and sales offices in the US, Europe and Asia.
In addition to the original acquisition of AddOn Computers, Inflexion supported further M&A including Skylane Optics and Solid Optics in the Benelux and Aria Technologies in the US to expand Halo's product offering into optical cabling. These were all sourced, negotiated and executed by Inflexion.
Halo successfully expanded into India and Brazil organically with the support of Inflexion’s presence in those countries. The Indian office introduced Halo to the country's number one telecommunications company, ultimately delivering more than $10 million of revenue to the business, and Inflexion’s international expert in China helping Halo to build and develop strong relationships with core suppliers.
The leadership team was built out to include a new Chair, CFO and Chief Strategy Officer, which together helped grow EBITDA 10x during the four-year partnership.
“Inflexion’s expertise and support in international growth and M&A were invaluable, enabling us to grow substantially faster than had we undertaken the ambitious journey ourselves,” enthuses Matt McCormick, CEO at Halo.