Who are you?
Paul is the owner / founder of Space Management Services (SMS) which offers a variety of exciting spaces, products & services to an ever diversifying clientele. Prior to setting up the SMS group Paul ended his 13 year term in late 2012 as CEO and co-founder of Easy (Ez) Revenue Management Solutions, headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Previously Paul served as Senior Vice President of the TIMS Corporation (Optims) from 1994 – 1999 and helped lead this organization to become the European leader and supplier of Revenue Management Solutions & Services to the hospitality industry.
Trained and educated within the business & hospitality sectors, Paul is widely recognized as not only one of the leading CEO’s of this era but also as one of the genuine experts in Operational Revenue Management & Demand Forecasting techniques. Paul succeeded in combining his diverse business expertise with the latest innovative ASP technologies, the EasyRMS client portfolio grew to almost 1,300 hotels under his leadership until the company was sold to a private US technology giant at the end of 2012 in a record all-cash deal. Paul has also served as Non-Executive Chairman of McLaren Technologies since 2014.
How long have you been doing angel investments and how do you do it?
I have been in angel investing since early 2013 and currently have over 20 active investments in play. Generally I invest in conjunction with HNWI networks in Europe, USA and Asia Pacific. I also have some direct investments in companies who have approached my organisation (SMS) directly.
How did you get into it?
When I was lucky enough to exit EasyRMS after 13 years of what can only be described as ‘hard slog’ I decided that I wanted to help other startups and growing organisations navigate their way through the pains of business growth, ultimately then to achieving a successful exit, thus the birth of the SMS platform. I have had the honour of mentoring many budding CEO’s over the past 5 years and assisting with successful exits in parallel, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing these guys cross that final hurdle.
What sectors do you like?
My current investment portfolio is extremely divers with inclusions from FinTech, Cryptocurrency, Online Retail, Traditional Retail, Entertainment, Property, Travel / Transportation and Fine Wines, to name just a few … My motto is to review “Any Idea at Any Time” …. you never know where the next great opportunity is going to come from!
What are the key criteria when you look at an opportunity?
- The Idea
– The Opportunity / Competition
– The Management Team
– The Business Plan
– The Figures
Where do you find your opportunities?
Opportunities come from a variety of sources, VC’s, networks such as BANSEA, direct approaches to SMS, friends, family…etc. It really is true to say that there is ‘Opportunity around every corner’. Picking the right ones to spend further time (and money) on is secret and key to success.
What is the main challenge in this activity?
Time! With so many opportunities presented on an almost daily basis, finding time to review plans in the detail they deserve is tough and one of the main challenges faced by every individual investor today. I am sure that both I and many other investors have missed golden opportunities by not spotting the initial pot of gold, often this hidden deep within a strategy and not even known by the founders themselves in the initial stages. Institutional investors face the same challenges but have more resources to allocate, even then golden opportunities slip through the nets on a daily basis.
Tell us your memorable experience or success story.
Mattresses! We are so focussed on technology investments in this day and age that we often forget the more simple things in life. I was lucky enough to invest in the early stage of a mattress company in Europe who recently went through IPO, resulting in more than 25x return on my initial investment …. not a bad day at the office on that one! On the flip side, I was presented with an investment opportunity a few years back which I decided was not for me, the plans were loose and presented high risk at best, my gut instinct said go for it as I liked the CEO and thought the concept was solid, but my head stopped me moving forward due to the weakness of the paperwork. That particularly company recently sold for an amazing multiple, I would have made in the region of 100x my initial investment …. you really just can never tell!! The moral, spread your risk, diversify and always go with your gut instinct, this often is far more reliable than business plans alone!