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23/06/2015

James Henderson 60 second interview

James Henderson is Fund Manager for the Welsh Government’s Wales Technology Seed Fund managed by Finance Wales. The fund was set up to take advantage of the rapidly expanding tech start-up community in Wales by offering equity investment.


What is your role at Finance Wales?

As the Technology Seed Fund Manager working in the TVI team, my role involves finding exciting tech start-up companies with big ideas and trying to turn them into successful businesses. It’s a busy role which I enjoy as I get to work with a wide range of entrepreneurs and angel investors within the technology sector. I also manage some of our existing investments to help them achieve commercial traction and follow-on funding.

How long have you worked at Finance Wales?

I joined Finance Wales over six years ago from a Corporate Finance background. I initially joined the Equity Portfolio team and as Finance Wales’ representative on the boards of some of our portfolio companies, I managed follow-on Investment rounds, mergers, acquisitions and also a number of successful exits. Prior to managing the Wales Technology Seed Fund I spent a couple of years working in our New Investments team investing funds across a number of sectors largely consisting of equity but also with some debt or mezzanine leverage.

Have you enjoyed working in different teams at Finance Wales?

Yes, it’s been great to be able to work across teams and get a much broader range of investment experience. Often you find you pick up different skills from different teams, whether it’s structuring deals for new or existing clients, building effective management teams or creating and nurturing relationships. It’s also allowed me to build strong networks in a range of sectors which, as an investor, is vital.

Having worked in the company for over six years, what changes have you seen at Finance Wales?

One of the biggest changes has been the number and diversity of the funds that we manage. When I first joined we only managed two funds which were fairly general in their remit. We now manage six investment funds that cover a range of specialist areas like technology, property, micro loans and short-term finance.

How would you describe Finance Wales’ approach to investing in technology start-up companies?

We’re very open-minded and are not sector specific. Typically we look for ideas that can have a big impact on industries and fast-growing markets. We take time to get to know management teams and try to connect them with the right co-investors and support network of industry experts to help identify and fill any skills gaps. For us, the people around an idea are as important as the idea itself. Once we’ve agreed terms and structured a deal we work with the client to build a road map towards commercialisation with clear milestones along the way. But the journey doesn’t end there, once a company has commercial traction we have other funding available and teams which can then support their growth journey with follow-on investments.

Finally, what has been your highlight since joining?

My highlight since joining Finance Wales was the successful investment and subsequent exit from Unite Technologies. I helped restructure the board, support a number of investment rounds and we exited the business for a 2.7x return which was a record for us at the time. Seeing the full journey from initial investment to successful exit was tremendously satisfying and the company has remained and prospered in Wales, now supported by a large American corporate.

If you are looking to raise funding for your venture or are a Co-investor wishing to invest alongside us contact Finance Wales at seedfund@financewales.co.uk