“SETsquared has been an important part of our journey. Without their mentoring we wouldn’t have had the business plan to interest VCs, and without the accountability that SETsquared helped us put in place, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver on that plan. This combination attracted investors.” 

Andrew Mulvenna, co-founder and USA general manager

Brightpearl founders

 

Fast facts:

  • Start date: 2007
  • Website: www.brightpearl.com
  • Market sector: Software
  • Location: Bristol
  • Investment raised: £9m, all from Eden Ventures and Notion Capital
  • Number of employees: 80

SETsquared support:

Brightpearl

  • company overview:business planning and coaching
  • mentoring
  • business review panels
  • investment showcase
 
 

Company overview:

Brightpearl is a cloud-based software platform offering order and inventory management, CRM and accounting in one solution for small businesses. Brightpearl’s mission is to help its customers sell more through all channels - online and offline - while running their business in an efficient, coordinated way.

What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?

“When my co-founder Chris Tanner and I were at university in Sheffield, we had a passion for technology and making things. We started a business making and selling long skateboards, which became popular. As we built new websites and had a factory, we needed software to help us – accounts, CRM and inventory – and we got frustrated at the lack of affordable options. So we built our own, which became the Brightpearl platform.”

Company successes:

  • June 2010: £1.5m seed funding
  • May 2011: £1.5m Series A funding
  • May 2013: £6m Series B funding

SETsquared support:

“We joined SETsquared in 2009, 18 months after we started Brightpearl. We had customers and revenue and wanted to scale the business, including internationally. We’d also been approached by investors and wanted help in dealing with them.”

“The most important help from SETsquared was mentorship. We’d already grown one business, but we weren’t experienced at dealing with venture capitalists. Nick Sturge and SETsquared provided access to mentors that could give us advice in different areas. Some external people were brought in ad hoc, but it was the SETsquared people who really made the difference.”

“Secondly, SETsquared helped us to be more accountable to ourselves. When we started the business we were so focussed on growing and hiring staff that we didn’t take the time to think strategically. So we stopped once a month to have a meeting with Nick Sturge, and also took part in SETsquared’s business review panels.”

“Help with securing funding was also key. SETsquared trained us in how to prepare a business case that would appeal to a VC – they were key in getting us our funding. We weren’t experienced in how to present to a VC, and in what they want to see and what to expect when meeting them.

“You don’t get many chances, so it was important to be well-prepared, and SETsquared’s training was a central part in Brightpearl securing funding. We got $1.5m in our seed round, which is an unusually high number, and this was due to Nick Sturge helping us to negotiate and push the valuation up.”

“There were times where it was 11pm or midnight and we were trying to close the round and the investors came back with a counter-offer, and I emailed Nick and he called me back. Greville Commins, SETsquared’s entrepreneur in residence, also went into a lot of detail around working with the investors.”

“SETsquared adds scale, and can help turn a lifestyle business into a significant global business. We’ve grown to over 1,000 customers and multi-million dollar revenue already, and with SETsquared’s help we plan to continue to aggressively grow the business each year. Our vision is to become a household name in small business software.”

Future plans:

“SETsquared adds scale, and can help turn a lifestyle business into a significant global business. We’ve grown to over 1,000 customers and multi-million dollar revenue already, and with SETsquared’s help we plan to continue to aggressively grow the business each year. Our vision is to become a household name in small business software.”