At the end of June, we welcomed Tyler Stanley-Owusu for a seven-week internship to give him an insight of how GCP and the private equity industry works. Throughout his time here Tyler will be writing a blog series going through his experiences and what he has learnt.
In his first entry Tyler discusses his impressive background which includes starting two businesses whilst still in full time education, why he wanted to learn more about the PE industry and what he has been involved in since he started with GCP
My route to private equity
In March 2015 whilst studying for my A-Levels and still living at home, I started a dropshipping company called Emporial. I sold everything from sports apparel and pet goods to everyday accessories. At the time, I was several months into my obsession with entrepreneurship. I was consuming all the information I could on how to start a business, and constantly watching YouTube videos featuring the likes of Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs & more. So, when I saw an advertisement for a course on how to start a dropshipping company, which requires very little capital, I was sold and within two years it was valued at $22,000 by Shopify. It was an interesting experience and certainly one that shaped a number of my future decisions. Propelled by that early success, I co-founded Empires Media, a small digital marketing agency, while studying Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Initially the business was set up to offer Facebook advertising, website creation, Google AdWords, SEO & email marketing. Learning these skills was the easy part but landing and securing paying clients was more difficult. From a standing start I had to learn how to effectively cold contact, plausibly pitch and ultimately close with a limited track record to fall back on. In the following years, my partner and I built the company into a profitable small business which I am delighted to say is still running today.
Through Empires Media we were fortunate enough to work with dozens of founders, all on their own individual growth journeys, where we quickly realised there are limits that keep so many small businesses at or below the break-through level. At times, despite excellent results generated through paid advertising, for some companies we were barely able to move the needle. Though out of our scope, there were three common challenges we noticed such companies face: frameworks for growth that would facilitate the successful transition from small teams into large organizations with teams and departments, a rigorous understanding of their finances and the development of a strategic growth plan.
Why I chose the industry and starting at GCP
Whilst working with some great founders we were keen to expand so we could compete with the larger agencies. I began compiling a large list of high growth companies , and quickly realised that none of these companies were short of cash to fund their activities. And that’s when I discovered the world of PE & VC!
From my experience working with founders, I knew growing a company required much more than just good marketing, and so I wanted an education in finance, economics, accounting, organisational performance & strategy before pursuing a career in private equity. The Masters in Management programme at London Business School promised to give me that foundation across several modules, and it delivered.
During my time at LBS, I was an active member of the PE/VC Club, which afforded us weekly networking events with school members all linked to the PE industry. It’s through this community that I discovered the Future VC programme which, every summer, takes in a cohort of 20-30 individuals from diverse backgrounds and matches them with funds. Individuals are given access to a personal mentor, weekly masterclasses by industry experts & networking events. I saw the Future VC programme as an excellent opportunity for me to accelerate my understanding of the sector. This led to me being offered the opportunity to join GCP.
My first two weeks at GCP has provided a steep learning curve. I shadowed Origination Director, Michael Gray at the Deloitte EMEA Entrepreneurs’ Summit meeting with 4 prospective investees, assessing their partnership potential giving me a glimpse into how competitive the PE world is. The very next day I joined Finance Partner John Marsh at a BVCA ESG Conference to gain insight into how the largest VC/PE funds are structuring their ESG initiatives, proving that ESG is a genuine concern of corporations and not just an afterthought. Investment Director, Ravi Monteiro also gave me license to evaluate the Information Memorandum of a potential Marketing Technology opportunity, aiming to assess their compatibility with GCP’s investment criteria. These learnings culminated into one, when I observed the investment committees of two potential deals. The most fascinating realisation I took from the ICs was that in working in PE, you get an appreciation for the way the entire corporate ecosystem comes together to get deals done. The due diligence from end-to-end involves everyone from bankers to accountants to lawyers to management teams, Meaning that a VC/PE fund really is truly informed before making any investment.
I look forward to learning more during my time at GCP, and I’m very grateful to the team for making me feel so involved.