Nicola Horlick is a well known name in the halls of finance in the United Kingdom. Nicola captured the title of City “Superwoman” as she balanced on the high wire act of an elite career in finance while simultaneously raising six children.
After starting at SG Warburg & Co. in the 80s, she moved to Morgan Grenfell where she became Managing Director of the UK investment business – holding that position from 1992 to 1997. During her tenure at Morgan Grenfall, assets under management rose from £4 billion to £22.5 billion – a sizeable achievement. Since departing Morgan Grenfell, Nicola has gone on to set up multiple investment funds and various companies. Most recently she has embraced the disruptive innovation of investment crowdfunding. Her involvement in crowdfunding has included having run several campaigns on the Seedrs platform.
Almost a year ago Nicola announced an equity crowdfunding campaign to raise £150,000 for 10% equity in a new venture titled Glentham Capital Fund Management. The startup was originally launched to create investment funds to finance Hollywood films. The Guernsey listed Glentham fund was seeking to raise $100 million from UK and overseas investors. Nicola stated at the time:
”I’m a great fan of crowdfunding and I think it’s going to become a bigger and bigger thing in the equity space and indeed in the debt space… I think for pure startups it’s an excellent way for raising money because each person is putting in a relatively small amount, hopefully no more than they can afford to lose. And from the point of view of the company raising the money [Seedrs] is incredibly efficient because instead of dealing with lots and lots of small investors they’re dealing with just Seedrs – so one nominee, which makes life an awful lot easier for the company.”
“I’m very keen on this way of raising money for companies, generally, and it seemed to me when I needed to take the next step with my film business that this was a logical way of doing it.”
Since that initial round of crowdfunding for Glentham, she has crowdfunded a London restaurant “Times Place Brasserie” – raising another £150,000 closing this past January. She also announced her involvement in Money&Co – shifting some of her firepower to the booming peer to peer (P2P) lending space. Money&Co launched this past April.
Finally Nicola revealed that Glentham was going to expand its charter by creating funds to invest in other industries. Crowdfunding now for the second time on Seedrs, Glentham is seeking £450,000 in equity as she hopes to grow the fund from $100 million to $250 million. The expanded operation will set up targeted funds with at least one focusing on the P2P space – an interesting combination in light of her involvement with Money&Co.
As with many a project there have been some stumbles, recently CityAM reported that investors in the new Glentham funding round had been confused about the progress of the venture – to the point where Seedrs management needed to step in. Nicola took the polemic in stride and stated:
“One of the reasons I have stopped investing in publicly listed companies is that shareholders are often not engaged. With private companies, you can see the figures on a regular basis and talk through things with management.”
“I have no problem with the questions from potential investors on the Seedrs site and it certainly hasn’t put me off equity crowdfunding.”
Nicola has been a very busy businesswoman. Recently Crowdfund Insider was able to catch up to the financial whirlwind to gain some insight into her many projects.
Nicola Horlick: I am also the Chairman of Rockpool Investments LLP. I hosted a lunch for Rockpool and Jeff Lynn from Seedrs was the guest of honor. He described how Seedrs worked and after the lunch, I mentioned Glentham Capital. We decided to put Glentham on Seedrs and 10 days later the campaign was launched. £150,000 was raised in 22 hours. I did not even consider the “traditional” route. I wanted to see at first hand if crowdfunding worked and it clearly did in this case.
Crowdfund Insider: The share price for the 2nd round has increased from £10 to £12. Please share the progress made at Glentham that justifies the higher valuation.
Nicola Horlick: We are a long way down the road in terms of launching the first fund, Glentham Film. We have an anchor investor who wishes to invest $20 million when the documentation is ready. There is no absolute guarantee that they will invest as nothing is signed, but they remain very enthusiastic. We feel this is sufficient progress to justify increasing the share price
Crowdfund Insider: You have launched a Peer to Peer lending platform – Money & Co. What do you see as the future of P2P?
Nicola Horlick: Crowdfunding is the future in my view. Money&Co. is a person-to-business lending platform. The lack of finance available to SMEs from the banks has been well documented. This situation is unlikely to change for many years due to the regulatory constraints being placed on banks domestically and by the European Union (EU).
We see peer-to-peer (P2P) as a phrase applicable to genuine peer crowdfunding – individuals seeking support for a charitable purpose, etc. Money&Co. is all about bringing individuals together with businesses. As such, it it is person-to-business (P2B) crowdfunding.
This means that good companies do not have access to debt through traditional means and P2B lending is the only answer for many. In the US last year, $5 billion of P2B loans were financed through internet based platforms.
Crowdfund Insider: Will Money&Co. expand beyond the shores of the United Kingdom?
Nicola Horlick: Yes, it is our intention to go to the United States initially and then to other territories. Our platform was built to be global and multi-currency.
Nicola Horlick: We have not considered that. There are many opportunities for Glentham Capital and we will be examining these when we have finished raising the initial fund.
Crowdfund Insider: Glentham will be investing in Money&Co. loans. Will you be investing in other P2P platforms? Outside of the UK?
Nicola Horlick: Glentham Capital is examining the possibility of launching a fund investing in person to business loans, which could be sourced from Money&Co. and/or other platforms. Initially the loans will be UK only.
Crowdfund Insider: How do you feel about the regulatory approach by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with P2P? What about towards equity crowdfunding?
Nicola Horlick: The FCA has taken a pragmatic approach, which I welcome. Some regulation is necessary, but if it had been too heavy handed, it could have killed the nascent industry which this country desperately needs. There should be tougher regulation for equity investment.
Crowdfund Insider: You did an equity crowdfunding round for a restaurant in London. How is that project going?
Nicola Horlick: We are still looking for a site. The amount of “key money” that has to be paid has shot up as a result of the economic recovery, so we have been careful not to overpay. We are looking at a potential site at the moment and will know shortly if we have been successful. If not, I will consider returning the money to the investors. I would rather do that than overpay.
Nicola Horlick: We need alternative sources of finance and traditional banks. At the moment, 92% of lending to SMEs comes from the banks. I expect more lending to come from alternative sources such as person to business lending platforms in the coming years.
Crowdfund Insider: You have been very busy with Money&Co., Glentham Capital, etc. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Nicola Horlick: No! I have more than enough to be getting on with.
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