Working expertise is one thing that just about each European VC agency likes to speak up today, because the area’s enterprise capital business tries to shed its funding banker picture of yesteryear. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that the longer you’ve been in VC, the additional away you might be out of your expertise on the coalface of operating an organization.
That criticism can’t but be levied at Stan Laurent, Highland Europe‘s newly appointed Associate, who, till not too long ago served as chief government of PhotoBox, the photo-printing client firm that additionally owns Moonpig. He joins Highland as a VC after a virtually year-long stint as the expansion enterprise capital fund’s first ever Entrepreneur in Residence. Previous to that, he spent ten years in control of Photobox, of which Highland was a backer, earlier than the corporate exited to a personal fairness consortium in January 2016.
In a name with Laurent, he sounded extraordinarily bullish on Europe’s capability to provide additional main client e-commerce corporations, arguing that, regardless of Amazon’s perceived and actual dominance, there may be nonetheless room for brand spanking new startups that may supply sufficient differentiation and have an edge by way of product and model. He additionally stated there have been nonetheless sectors the place new on-line marketplaces may nonetheless have a task to play.
One other space he talked up is SaaS corporations the place expertise, similar to AI, is being utilized to unravel precise bus8ness issues and has already been validated by paying clients. That, after all, can also be a reference to the stage that Highland Europe invests at.
The VC isn’t early-stage however pitches itself as a “growth-stage” expertise investor and, as I beforehand famous, the agency’s ‘Highland Europe Expertise Progress II’ is concentrating on startups within the web, cell and software program house and who’re on the “enterprise and growth-stage” with investments between €10m and €30m.
On a private degree, Laurent says he may help Highland Europe’s client portfolio corporations additional scale, drawing on his expertise operating Photobox the place he’s stated to have grown turnover from £13m to £300m and reworked the corporate into a pacesetter in personalised merchandise. This included the acquisition of Moonpig, which, he says, required the assist of Highland and was seen as fairly dangerous at time because it wanted to be financed with some debt.
Photobox additionally danced fairly near an IPO earlier than market situations for going public modified, that means various financing was required. Once more, Laurent says his VC backers have been supportive and cited this expertise as one of many purpose he was eager to hitch Highland as a Associate.
Provides Laurent in a press release: “Since leaving PhotoBox I’ve loved working with a wide range of entrepreneurs to assist them scale, internationalise and finance their companies. I realised that I may have the largest affect spending the subsequent chapter of my profession investing in after which supporting among the greatest rising companies in Europe – particularly with my associates at Highland Europe.”
In the meantime, Highland has invested in a spread of companies within the final 18 months, together with Starleaf, a cloud-based platform for enterprise video conferencing and calling providers; Junique, the online-art vendor; LoveCrafts, a neighborhood and market for crafters; Featurespace, a machine studying fraud prevention firm; and Well, an organization that automates Fb and Instagram promoting.