After more than a decade as a serial Investor and NED, Daina Spedding has evaluated a whole host of businesses hoping to scale their operations, many of which she has funded with great success. Currently, Daina is particularly interested in supporting female founders, with perhaps the most successful example taking shape in Elvie founder, Tania Boler.

Boler’s femtech business secured £58 million in Series C funding from Daina’s investment firm, BGF, last year. In an interview with Forbes last July, she predicted that Elvie would not only surpass $100 million in revenue in 2021, but that it would become the first ever femtech Unicorn in the near future.

Given her extensive experience and proven insight into what investors look for in potential scale-ups, Daina was an ideal panellist at our IWD event: ‘How to Scale-up Your Business’, with her Three Things – three pieces of actionable advice – focusing on successful funding for scale-ups.

Daina Spedding’s CV

2006-2011: Manager – PWC

2011-2019: Investor Blue Coast Capital

2019-Present: Investor – BGF

2020-Present: NED & Board member – Various

number 1

Find your ‘secret sauce.

“There needs to be some sort of barrier to make it difficult for other companies to do what you do,” Daina explained. “Sometimes this is something tangible, like intellectual property you invent from scratch, but often it is things like superb customer service, or the ability to create super-engaging content without a massive marketing budget.” She went on to describe how, in her experience, businesses that identify their competitive edge and build on it are infinitely more likely to attract funding than those that do not.

number 2

Build a sustainable growth plan.

“Everybody knows you need to have a plan and a series of financial objectives in any investment pitch,” Daina clarified. “From my perspective, however, you need to make sure that plan is sustainable. To do that, you must be realistic in terms of your goals and objectives, but, more than that, you need a purpose and vision. You need a set of values that drives strategy and decision making.” Another vital part of a sustainable growth plan, according to Daina, is a business’ regard for environmental, social, and governance criteria. “More and more investors are including ESG criteria in their investment decision-making process”, she said. This is because investors recognise that consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how companies contribute to society. Businesses that disregard ESG risk disrepute, which leads to reduced custom, and eventually to outright failure. Investors understand this, so CEOs must, too. “I almost think that businesses who think of finances first, rather than their impact, are shooting themselves in the foot because they will have more limited access to finance as they scale.”

number 3

Improve your storytelling ability.

“There needs to be a balance between self-confidence and authenticity when you pitch your business,” Daina said. “Any investor needs to believe that you can actually sell – and tell the story of – your business, not only to other investors, but to your customers, suppliers, employees, potential partners, and so on. That ability to tell your story – some of which can be coached – I think is so important.”