How FPE Capital Uses Beauhurst
to Drive Client Prospecting
8 Sackville St, London, W1S 3EZ
FPE is a growth capital investor, focused on software and software enabling services, operating in the UK and Ireland. It invests £5m to £25m of equity per investment, and helps companies manage the second stage of growth.
As Investment Manager, Ben Cole leads on origination activities. A big part of that is building understanding of the sub-sectors of technology that FPE invests in, finding companies that fit the investment thesis for each sub-sector, and then building relationships with founders and management teams.
What were the main challenges associated around your origination process before using Beauhurst?
Before Beauhurst, our main challenge was that we had no searchable database of private companies. We were using another data provider and, although it was a good reference tool, it didn’t provide any value-added data on top of what’s already available on Companies House. We were also keen to find a platform that gave us more depth within the UK, and specifically the tech landscape.
Why did you choose Beauhurst as your company data provider, and how does it help overcome your challenges?
We had a look at a few platforms, and Beauhurst came out on top.
Beauhurst visualises Companies House data in a really digestible way—that’s something that, as a private equity firm, you absolutely need to have. But what differentiates Beauhurst is the mixture of in-depth coverage of the UK, and the platform’s ease of use and UX. It also made a lot more sense price-wise than any of the other providers we looked at.
It allows us to identify a sector that’s interesting, say, call centre software—and then helps us build our understanding of the target companies that are available within that landscape. We investigate a new sector every four to six weeks, and Beauhurst is the starting point for that. And we still use it as a referencing tool day-to-day as well.
“What differentiates Beauhurst is the mixture of in-depth coverage of the UK, and the platform’s ease of use and UX. It also made a lot more sense price-wise than any of the other providers we looked at.”
How does Beauhurst save you time on your origination process?
We were previously spending loads of time on Google, trying to find companies within sectors we were looking to target. We’d look at events lists, conferences, honour lists, award ceremonies—just running through pages and pages of Google searches.
That can still be valuable, but in order to build a quick understanding of an industry, like how many companies there are for us to invest in, you need a way to search efficiently. Now we use Beauhurst to build up our understanding of the landscape within a particular sub-sector. This helps us determine whether it’s an area we should be spending our time on or not.
How does Beauhurst fit into your workflows?
We have two workflows: deals can come to us, or we can go to deals.
When deals come to us, we’ll receive a call from an M&A advisor or company asking if we’re interested in looking at an opportunity. In this instance, the first thing we do is look at their website and search that company on Beauhurst. We’ll be able to quickly see the company’s shareholdings, financials, and corporate history. So, we use Beauhurst for our initial screening process, and for building our understanding of a company.
We also approach companies proactively, for example in fourteen “key clusters” of technology, where we have prior experience and knowledge. We also regularly explore new clusters, for example when we’ve spotted a favourable macro trend, or some kind of positive shift within a particular sector, we’ll go away and explore it. Firstly, we’ll call some industry executives or advisors from our network that may know something about that sector, and they’ll help us better understand the market drivers, competition, etc. This way, we start to build a view of an investment thesis, and the type of company we would like to invest behind. Here’s when we’ll go to Beauhurst and use its search functionality to start to identify potential target companies.
We’ll define our Beauhurst search, based on company size, prior investment, sector, target customer base, etc. Keyword searching is a really powerful aspect of Beauhurst. These results then form the start of our target list, which we’ll top up with some extra research (e.g., industry conference screening, awards lists), depending on the sector.
Once we’ve defined our landscape, we’ll go through each company one by one, using Beauhurst as a reference tool to decide how best to approach them. For instance, adjust our messaging when approaching a single owner manager that’s never taken investment before versus a CEO of a VC-backed business, who is likely to be more familiar with investors.
“Before we started using Beauhurst, it was much harder to identify warm introduction opportunities.”
How are you using Beauhurst’s Networks feature to find more warm introductions?
When we know that a company wants to undertake a transaction, Networks allows us to reference whether we have any connections with the company’s shareholders or directors. We might find that an executive or board member that we’ve worked with around another investment is personally invested in the company, and they can help us build trust with the other shareholders and management team.
And on the discovery side, the Networks feature allows us to find warm introductions into interesting businesses. The feature has increased the volume of warm leads we can identify, which is important as it’s incredible how well warm introductions work, helping to build trust and credibility from the outset.
Before we started using Beauhurst, it was much harder to identify warm introduction opportunities. You could get them through spotting a really (and I mean really!) obvious connection on Companies House, or sometimes through LinkedIn—but given the volume of technology companies active in the UK, the likelihood of having a mutual connection with a founder is quite low. A helpful one-off exercise when we initially implemented Beauhurst was uploading our CRM contacts, which allowed us to identify several interesting businesses that we could quickly unlock through second-degree connections.
How would you describe Beauhurst to a fellow investor?
Beauhurst is extremely intuitive, accurate, and comprehensive—you’ll find more information on a company through Beauhurst than on any of the other platforms I’ve seen. And in terms of the people, the Sales and Account Management teams have been great—you can’t fault the Beauhurst team.