Charlie Robinson: Team Spotlight

We have chosen Investment Director, Charlie, for our Team Spotlight who gives insight into why SMEs should consider working with investors such as Frontier Development Capital.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

My background has been in private equity investing over the last 15 years, predominately focussed on businesses requiring up to £10m of funding to support their growth ambitions. I have covered a wide range of sectors and situations in that period ranging all the way from luxury men’s swimwear to augmented reality software and everything in between!

What is your role at FDC?

I’m an Investment Director in the Growth Capital team at FDC. My role is to source, transact and then continue to support companies that are a fit for our current fund, which has a national remit and will invest between £1-7.5m in a single business. I have a particular focus on the South of the UK, but in reality, we will go to where the deals are!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be a busy fool…

Why FDC? What drew you to the family?

I liked the story of how FDC has scaled from being a small regional player to having full national coverage and growing funds under management. It felt like the business had all kinds of momentum and I thought it would be a good idea to hop on board…luckily, I was right. Plus, the obvious cheesy one of the people being awesome.


Business­ growth questions:

What are you and the team currently up to?

We are actively looking for new investment opportunities at the moment. In March we received an additional commitment of £30m to our fund which is a significant vote of confidence from our investors and allows us to double down on providing flexible funding support to UK SMEs.

Tell us about your latest investment deal? How did they find out about FDC?

In March I completed a £2m investment to support the MBO of Mentor Group. Mentor develops bespoke consultancy, training, and coaching programmes to support sales enablement initiatives for a range of global clients with a particular focus on the technology sector.

We were introduced to the opportunity by a corporate finance contact who had been engaged by the shareholders to look into a range of funding options to support the deal, including private equity and traditional bank finance. Importantly, we built a really strong relationship with the Management team from the first meeting onwards, and this sets the scene for what we hope will be an exciting journey for the team and FDC together.

Why should SMEs and advisors approach FDC?

There are a whole host of reasons, but to highlight a few:

  • As a generalist investor in UK SMEs, we believe that opportunity persists throughout wider economic cycles – in other words we are very much open for business!
  • Our Stretch-Senior debt product gives us the ability to match risk and reward to the specific situation – we often a viable alternative to traditional bank debt or private equity
  • In general, our investments are structured as a 5-year bullet repayment – this can help our investee companies focus on growth rather than annual debt repayments which can resonate strongly for companies looking to invest further in their operations.

What can SMEs expected when working with FDC – from enquiry to exit?

Open and straightforward feedback, delivered by a team with significant experience of working with founders, entrepreneurs, shareholders and management to deliver successful funding outcomes.

What are the current management issues SMEs are currently facing?

How long have you got? There is a long list: uncertainty over economic conditions and fluctuating demand for product and services; securing the right talent for the right price; the impact of inflation on operations; balancing the need to invest with the need to maintain stability. I could go on, but actually the key thing is that this is a list that doesn’t really change too much over time. It is always hard to run and manage a small business – luckily there is a really strong regional ecosystem of advisors and funders out there to support business owners as they plan for the future and FDC is deliberately positioned right at the heart of it.


Quick fire round

What is your favourite song/artist/author/hobby/thing and why?

Spotify is telling me that my favourite song is currently ‘Be Prepared’ from The Lion King musical…I think that is because my son has just played lead hyena in the year 6 school play. Honest.

Last destination you travelled to and the next one you aspire to go?

I’ve just got back from a business trip to Reading. Does that count? Currently am counting down the days to my summer holiday in Menorca though.

One interesting fact about yourself.

I have four generations of Royal Naval heritage above me, so obviously I moved to the Midlands and became an accountant.

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