Jamie Andrew and Ian Burton present Rob Dick with his retirement gift
At TRI Cap’s AGM in April Rob Dick retired as a Director of the TRI Cap board, having already retired as the organisation’s Chairman in February 2017. Rob was presented with the brass bell which he had used at every meeting to call the members to order. Mounted with the inscription ‘For whom the bell tolls!’ it is a fitting tribute to his thirteen year Chairmanship. In addition, and in recognition to Rob’s outstanding contribution to TRI Cap over the years as Chairman, he was elected to the role of Honorary Life President.
A graduate of Cambridge University, Rob had moved from farming into the setting up and running of a number of businesses. In 2004 he was a founder member in the establishment of TRI Cap, making it one of Scotland’s most active business angel syndicates with interests in a range of different businesses and business areas. A serial entrepreneur Robert has a number of other interests including long-standing board membership of the family’s engineering and property business based in Oxford.
Living most of his life in the Scottish Borders, Rob’s motivation for TRI Cap was never simply a business one. He said, ‘I have a lifelong attachment to the Scottish Borders and to its business community. TRI Capital is a vehicle which melds my commitment to this part of the world while also providing tangible benefit to entrepreneurs.’
His successor, TRI Cap Chairman Jamie Andrew paid tribute to Rob’s outstanding service. Jamie commented: ‘Rob will be a difficult act to follow. He has built TRI Cap up into being one of the most respected Angel syndicates in Scotland with a varied portfolio of invested companies. Rob thought we were going to let him retire or disappear quietly but instead we have elected him to become TRI Cap’s Hon Life President. I am delighted that Rob will remain an active member but from the back benches so to speak.’
1. Where is home?
‘Home’ as in where I was born is Harrow, Middlesex – John Betjeman’s Metroland. Half the county disappeared under bricks and mortar in the 1920s and ‘30s so it is not a place with deep roots. I’ve never envisaged going back, though, too much has changed and for the worse.
Home now is Kelso, where we are squeezed into what was our weekend house whilst we lived in Knaresborough, Yorkshire; but from mid-2017 we expect to be in Berwick-upon-Tweed where we are renovating a former convent with a (potentially) wonderful walled garden. Most of my and Alison’s family are north of the Tyne now, so the Borders are home now.
2. What was your first job?
Pulling pints in ‘The Castle’ on Harrow Hill, whilst I waited for the outcome of interviews! The pub is still there, unaltered, though the food has improved from chicken in the basket. For a salary I first worked in the University Library at Leeds and stayed with the University for 13 years, latterly running a business unit inside the Medical School.
If I count student jobs? I delivered telephone books in Auckland, New Zealand; taught economics in Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe still just was); and delivered the Christmas post for three years.
3. What part did your education play in deciding your future career?
I suppose I’d always been of an academic bent and thought that something in that milieu would suit me – at 21 one doesn’t always think of the financial rewards. So within the university I moved sideways into a publishing role, was offered a job in commercial publishing in Oxfordshire, and went on from there to end up as MD of a company employing over 60 people on three continents. But I was still working in the academic community, commissioning content from researchers, so I think I’ve always talked the language of scholarship.
4. When did you join TRI Cap and what motivated you to become a member?
I’m one of the newest members, joining in 2016 at Rob Dick’s suggestion. He certainly didn’t hold out the prospect of unlimited wealth creation! But I did sense that this is an organisation intended to support part of the economy of the Borders where I’ve chosen to live; it provides an alternative form of investment, certainly; and the companies TRI Cap supports are small businesses which in time I might be able to assist with skills I’ve acquired myself.
5. What keeps you involved?
From the outset I’ve seen presentations from a cross-section of business in sectors about which I know little; but they all interest me, the good and the less thoughtful, and as time goes by I start to see similarities between them – not least an insouciance about the importance of sales – and learn. I suppose there’s a vicarious interest in being associated with a business from start-up and there’s the excitement that next up might be a business where I can see a way to making a contribution.
6. What are the key elements that attract you to particular investee companies?
At most presentations it’s obvious that the speaker believes in the product, although in the last year I think that maybe one or two were either on a chance or perhaps had been working on the product for so long they had stopped thinking critically. What isn’t always clear, and this is where some businesses stand out, ones I’ve chosen to support, is their confidence in the process they have set to achieve sales targets, gain market presence and make an exit. These are the ones that seem willing to make changes, to management or to strategy, because they have a vision of where they are headed. I would also prefer to support businesses that generate employment in the Borders.
7. What annoys you in life?
Anyone who says “we’ve always done it this way”! I’ve a tendency to wish that if something is worth doing, it should be done now, if not yesterday, so I cannot easily bear procrastination. I’m also developing a Blimpish tendency to say to our children “things aren’t what they were when I was your age” but I do regret the lack of rigour in education (compared to what I had), in standards of public life, and the pre-processed platitudes of many modern politicians and public sector-speak.
8. How do you relax?
I’m still not sure I have time to relax! I have a part-time NED job, a house renovation to oversee, various property interests, and a family to keep up with. I expect to do a great deal of walking in the Borders: our son who once complained of being dragged up the Cheviots is now a mountain leader for the Scouts and I endeavour to keep up with him. I read a lot, particularly history, it should inform the present day.
Every year I spend a week or two in the west and north of Scotland crewing for the same skipper. People ask me how I can spend 12 hours in a day going at 7 mph but perhaps they’ve not see the fantastic scenery and islands: on my last birthday I steered us under the Skye bridge in a force 9 gale and was at anchor in Gairloch for champagne on a sunlit evening. I’m hoping to get afloat more now I live here.
9. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
I’d like to think I’ve another business venture in me, in some way connected to what I’ve done, but it has to be enjoyable too. Meanwhile there are still plenty of places in the world to visit, many of them just glimpsed between airport and a conference venue on business: much of America outside the big cities, for a start, and a lot of Europe. I made a four-week trip to India when I stopped work, we have another visit planned for a year’s time and there is still much more to see there.
Of course, I have ambitions for our children but I hope we’ve set them off in the right direction and they can work out their lives.
10. What advice would you give to any aspiring young business people who are just starting out?
I regret never stopping to acquire an MBA or similar, and then it became impossible to take the time out of job and family life, so do it early. Friends with an MBA have found that it has enhanced both their career and their enjoyment of the jobs they’ve had. Instead, I was busy being an officer in the Territorial Army which gave certain skills of leadership and command – useful in the Cold War, perhaps, but not all of which one can use in the modern workplace!
Ian Burton, TRI Cap Director, Chairman of TRI Cap’s Monitoring Group, Captain of Scottish Borders Exporters Association and Director of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce explains how the philosophy of continuous improvement should drive the investor / investee relationship.
Continuous improvement is the key to business success. Because if a business is not going forward then it is going backwards. But this is not a new idea. Since the rebuilding of Japanese industry after the Second World War, the philosophy of continuous improvement known as Kaizen has driven many successful companies forward. It applies to the whole organisation, from the chairman to the cleaner; from tiny incremental changes enacted swiftly in the production line environment to the flow of materials and information.
Toyota is famous for its adherence to the Kaizen business principle with workers encouraged to identify small improvements in process to improve output. But the philosophy is not the preserve of large production-line companies. The ISO 9001 standard requires businesses to plan, do, check and act. And nowhere is continuous improvement more important than in the business of investment.
Firstly, it applies to investee companies. Those whose businesses have been supported by outside investors are presented with an unrivalled opportunity to pursue the principles of Kaizen. Because those who invest have a wealth of expertise which should be utilised. Unlike those who work within the business on a daily basis, these individuals have experience of other successful companies, other production systems and other business environments. They are uniquely well-placed to be a ‘critical friend’ because they are invested, both financially and intellectually, in a business idea and are therefore also invested in its success.
In a variety of roles, from chairman, non-executive director, observer or monitor, these investors are there to challenge. Either in the boardroom or behind the scenes, they have the success of the business at heart but they would be irresponsible if they did not use their experience to chip away at continuous improvement. But their intention is not to undermine; it is to encourage forward momentum. Even if a business is meeting its financial targets, there may be underlying issues which will affect future performance and it is their responsibility to bring these issues to the attention of the board. And as the goalposts change, it is to assist in the re-evaluation of targets.
Secondly, the principle of Kaizen applies to the investment vehicle itself. If we as investors do not learn from our experience then we will also be moving backwards. At TRI Cap we now understand that we want to engage with those who wish to engage with us. We do not simply aim to hand over our money and sit back and wait to see what happens. We know that the potential of people and their ideas is more important than their current financial position. If a business idea is fundamentally flawed, no amount of strategic input will make it a long term success. But if the premise is a good one and the management team is responsive and engaged, we will be able to provide the expertise to help manage the business so that it moves forward.
At TRI Cap we are also continually developing our own management systems. We have recently undertaken an exercise to gather the views of our investment members and are taking steps to act upon it. We are also in the process of revising our monitoring function and developing ways to improve the flow of information.
Yet ultimately, and perhaps bizarrely, our aim is to become redundant. Ideally, our investment of both money and ideas will lead to a successful exit. It has never been our intention to hold investments over a long period of time but to see a company moving on to the next stage in its development. For us, this is a vital aspect of the continuous improvement process.
With the retirement of long-standing Chairman Rob Dick, Scottish Borders based angel investment group TRI Capital has appointed a new Chairman with immediate effect. Jamie Andrew, a current TRI Cap Director, who has been an active member since 2005, was recommended to the Board at the end of January by an Appointments Panel which interviewed a number of candidates for the role.
The Appointments Panel was made up of current Directors Walter Riddell-Carre, Julian Livingston and Paul Yuskaitis and long-standing members Guy Lee and Martin Richards. The process of selecting a new Chairman began in the autumn and after a rigorous round of interviews the panel recommended Jamie’s appointment. Jamie is an active business Director and investor, holding a number of Non-Executive Director and Chairman positions within a variety of technology-based companies. The panel consider him to have the skill set required to represent the best interests of TRI Cap’s investment members and to take the group’s strategic development forward.
Walter Riddell-Carre says: “We are confident that Jamie has the experience and skills to steer TRI Cap through the next stage of its development. Since TRI Cap’s establishment in 2004 we have seen the angel investment landscape evolve. Investments are typically over a longer period but supporting them to a successful exit is still the principal aim. Jamie’s experience in maximising shareholder value and moving companies towards exit will be invaluable.”
Jamie Andrew has lived in the Borders for over twenty years. He trained as a Chemical Engineer with a career in the mining, oil and gas refining and manufacturing sectors, starting his own company in 2001 to pursue his product development interests, namely in small marine craft propulsion systems, the pumping of fluids and energy generation from sustainable resources. One of his prototype propellers was bought by the British Science Museum as an example of innovation in maritime technology.
Jamie says: “I am delighted to be taking on this important role. TRI Cap has the capacity to support and help to develop early stage businesses throughout Scotland but principally in the Scottish Borders, Lothians and North East of England where levels of innovation and skill are also high. Through our strategic investment approach and wide ranging experience within the membership we are able to provide the support required to accelerate the growth of these businesses and to assist them to go to scale and become significant forces in their own markets.”
NovaBiotics Ltd (NovaBiotics), the clinical-stage anti-infectives biotechnology company, today announced the first patients have been dosed in the CARE-CF-1 clinical study (NBTCS-02) investigating Lynovex® as an adjunct therapy in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) infectious exacerbations.
The randomised, placebo controlled double blind study follows promising preliminary Phase IIa data for NovaBiotics’ orphan status drug candidate. The current trial aims to assess the benefits of oral Lynovex®, the hard gel capsule form of the drug, as adjunct therapy to standard of care interventions in CF infectious exacerbations. The study will involve 120 adult patients in Europe and the US and will run throughout the winter exacerbation season.
Cystic Fibrosis is a life-limiting, inherited disease caused by a defective gene which results in lungs, the digestive system and other tissues becoming congested with thick mucus. The presence of the mucus in the airways of CF patients leads to numerous health issues, including chronic and recurrent infections of the lungs and consequent inflammation, reduction of lung function and breathing difficulties. Lynovex® in oral form is the first multi-active therapy (with antibacterial, mucolytic, anti-biofilm and antibiotic potentiating properties) developed to alleviate the symptoms and impact on lung function of infectious exacerbations in CF.
Dr Deborah O’Neil, CEO of NovaBiotics, said “Dosing the first patients with Lynovex® in the CARE-CF-1 study is a significant milestone for the business. This trial marks an important step in a product candidate which has shown significant potential to mitigate the effects of, and the symptoms experienced during, CF infectious exacerbations. These episodes can have a permanent impact on the respiratory function of CF patients and, with Lynovex® in tablet and inhaled form, we are part of the fight to lift the life-limiting restrictions that CF places on people with the condition; we are rigorously focused on harnessing our science and developing drugs so that people with CF live longer, better quality lives”.
The Lynovex® capsules will be taken for 14 days alongside standard of care medication for exacerbations. The therapy is targeted at patients with exacerbations with Gram-negative infection, FEV1 >30% predicted and weight >40kg. Clinical outcomes and microbiology will be assessed to determine the optional dose and dose regimen of Lynovex® and inform the next pivotal phase of pre-registration studies.
Kenny Wiggins and Paul Crookham at the front, Walter Riddell-Carre and Alan Donald behind
The annual TRI Cap Golf Day was held on Monday September 19th 2016 at Torwoodlee Golf Course, Edinburgh Road, Galashiels. This was a new venue and those who played enjoyed themselves, and the challenge of playing at a new course.
The Winner of the Chairman’s Trophy Alan Donald of LINC Scotland with TRI Cap’s Walter Riddell-Carre coming second. Gavin Stevenson won both the competition for the Longest Drive and nearest the pin.
Award winning bike-wear and outdoor apparel designer and founder of FINDRA, Alex Feechan, named as a rising star of 2016 by Business Insider, has secured growth investment from TRI Capital, Investing Women and The Scottish Investment Bank – the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s main economic development agency.
On the board alongside Alex are Ben Thomas ex CFO of Tiso as Operations and Finance Director and Douglas Needham – Deputy Chairman of TRI Capital as non-executive chairman, both appointed to help Alex grow the brand internationally. Douglas has had a successful career at CEO level in international textiles latterly with Dawson International
Alex spotted a gap in the market for well-designed women specific apparel when she started mountain biking 5 years ago. As an experienced designer, she observed that the Product available for women suffered from the ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach. Determined to do something better, Alex felt inspired to establish her own brand. Thus FINDRA was born.
In the earlier stages of the business’s development, Alex was also part of the Entrepreneurial Spark Accelerate programme, which helped her validate her business concept and start to look at how she could attract investment to really scale and grow. Following her success in winning Scottish Edge funding in December 2015, Alex was introduced to TRI Cap leading to her succeeding in securing this investment – the first syndicated investment deal between TRI Cap and Investing Women. Investment has enabled Alex to grow her team from two to six people, supporting the company’s international sales growth. FINDRA presently sells to Australia, New Zealand and Japan and has active plans to expand into other key markets and countries; all from her Scottish Borders base.
Alex: “I am delighted to have secured Investment for FINDRA from such an experienced network of Investors. This initial round of funding will allow me to really scale my business and develop my brand.”
Alex further noted: It’s an exciting time for Entrepreneurs in Scotland right now, with a great deal of support available for start- ups. I have fully embraced these opportunities having come from a background in the textiles industry which is sadly in decline, I feel passionate about building FINDRA into a truly global brand from our Scottish base in Innerleithen ”
Rob Dick chairman of TRI Cap comments. “We are particularly pleased to be joined by Investing Women and to adding another Scottish Borders business to our portfolio and look forward to supporting Alex as she expands her brand internationally”
Investing Women’s Jackie Waring said; “I am thrilled that Alex has secured investment in an exciting marketplace which we can anticipate will be boosted by Olympic success and inspiration. Alex’s design talent and understanding of what her customer base wants, was obvious to us at Investing Women and Alex is right; we are investing in her as we believe in her. We are also delighted to have partnered with TRI Cap on this deal; our first investment together and I hope the first of many.”
Kerry Sharp, Head of Scottish Investment Bank said “It is encouraging that this new venture has such global export potential and that Alex has spotted a market niche within a worldwide market. I wish Alex every success with her plans for the future and am pleased to see her receive support from not only ourselves, but from one of our existing Scottish Co Investment Fund partners, TRI Cap, as well as from Investing Women too.”
Alex Feechan is an award winning designer and founder of FINDRA a fashion led performance driven outdoor apparel brand designed specifically for women.
With an MA from the prestigious RCA specialising in knitted textiles and a 1st class honors degree from the renowned Heriot Watt University Alex Feechan has worked within the global fashion and textiles Industry for over 20 years. With a design studio based in the beautiful Scottish borders Alex has travelled internationally to gain knowledge and insight into many global markets for which she has had the good fortune to design for.
Throughout her career Alex has worked on the design and development of luxury knitwear for some of the worlds most established fashion houses, brands such as Calvin Klein Escada, Brooks Brothers, as well as new design talent such as Mark Fast have passed through her hands.
Having set up Alex Feechan Designs in 1998 Alex has also been worked as a knitwear design consultant for a number of Scottish heritage brands based in Scotland. With her most recent role seeing her consult on a seasonal basis for Eland Asia a South Korean retail giant with stores in South Korea, China, Italy and the UK. Alex worked with many sub brands developing seasonal knitwear trends and designs.
Twitter – @LiveLoveFindra
Facebook – FINDRA’
Instagram – @livelovefindra
In the last year those TRI Cap members who invested received a financially positive exit from three companies. Sphinx was sold to a South American company and Biopta to Reprocell of Japan. Touch Bionics was bought by Össur, an Icelandic headquartered company.
Rob Dick, Chairman of TRI Cap says: “These Scottish and Borders-based companies are operating on the international stage: a reflection of the quality of research and development we have on our doorstep. The management of all three businesses should be congratulated on the results of their patient negotiations over many months.”
This was especially true at Sphinx where Chairman Martin Reynard managed a challenging cash situation for several months whilst proceeding to manage the exit process. TRI Cap Sphinx investors have so far shared £168K with a little more to come from earnout.
Rob Dick continues: “Members may be encouraged to know that some of our other investee companies will make serious attempts at exits during the coming year and we wish them well in their important negotiations.”
Read what the press said:
Herald Scotland, Scotsman, Biopharma Reporter, b3cnews, Manufacturing Chemist, Drug Target Review, 4-traders, First Word Pharma, Biospace, Business Wire, Dow Jones, Daily Business Group