16th February 2022

4 minutes reading time

Blackfinch bolsters senior management team

Blackfinch bolsters senior management team as new Ventures hire Richard Harley joins high growth technology investment specialist

National investment specialist Blackfinch has further bolstered its Ventures team with the appointment of EdTech entrepreneur and startup investor Richard Harley.

Joining the business as a Senior Ventures Manager, he brings more than 12 years’ experience to the role having previously co-founded ScholarPack in 2011 – an award-winning analytics platform that allows teachers in schools to monitor the progress and wellbeing of pupils more effectively.

Richard was instrumental to the rapid growth of the business which boasted a team of 60 when it was acquired by leading EdTech firm ‘The Key’ in 2018. He continued in his role as Director, growing the company to £5million in annual sales, and advised on a number of other EdTech transactions that took group revenues to £15m. Following a minority buyout from a PE firm in 2020, Richard pursued an Angel investing career focused on early-stage tech companies.

Joining the business earlier this month he is tasked with working across the Blackfinch Ventures portfolio to support company growth plans, help shape management teams, assist with fundraising, and manage risk.

Commenting on his appointment Ventures Director Reuben Wilcock said his ‘experience, expertise and insight’ would prove invaluable for many of the businesses within the Ventures investment portfolio.

“The Blackfinch Ventures team is made up of ex-business founders who can provide invaluable advice to the companies that form part of our growing, well performing Ventures’ portfolio thanks to their own, personal experiences,” Reuben added.

“Richard’s background is perfectly aligned to that. He is an incredibly skilled and knowledgeable entrepreneur and investor who brings a unique understanding of what it takes to not only start a tech-enabled business to the role, but also to scale it up so that it is equipped to capitalise on demand from across its relevant sector.

“A number of businesses have benefited from his guidance in his previous roles and we are delighted to now have him on board to offer that same insight and expertise to the companies we work with.”

Working alongside the wider Ventures team, Richard’s appointment follows a record-breaking year for Blackfinch which raised in excess of £200m in assets under management throughout 2021.

His arrival also coincides with the Gloucester-based, award winning investment specialist’s 9th anniversary (February 12th), which also marks the birthday of evolutionary scientist Darwin who is the inspiration behind the firm’s brand’s ESG values and investment approach.

This is the latest in a string of senior hires for the Ventures team, which also welcomed James Brookner as Ventures Director to work alongside Reuben in August last year.

A former consultant at Accenture, where he worked on projects in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and digital innovation, James is also the co-founder of three companies including one operating in the enterprise software space.

Since it was established in 2018, the Blackfinch Ventures EIS Portfolios have raised a total of £27.9 million which has been invested in innovative start-up and early-stage technology companies across the UK in a variety of industry sectors.

The EIS portfolios now includes businesses such as Candidate.ID, Staffcircle and Kokoon, as well as digital vendor management platform Brooklyn Vendor Assurance, global client engagement platform Clientshare, embedded integration platform Cyclr, real-time market research company OnePulse and hyper-realistic text-to-speech platform BeyondWords.

Commenting on his new role Richard added: “Reuben and the wider team has an incredibly strong reputation within the investment arena. Not only targeting high-growth opportunities, but also for supporting start-ups and early stage and growth stage businesses in a uniquely ‘hands on’ way.

“As someone who has previously sought investment to aid the upscaling of a EdTech company, and having gone on to invest in exciting young organisations myself, I know how invaluable that can be.

“I am very much looking forward to working with the team, and to providing support to those businesses and business owners that are embarking on their own growth journey.”

Blackfinch, which has over £650 million in assets under management and administration, focuses on tax-efficient investments, including Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), and inheritance tax (IHT) mitigation services.

In 2020 the group announced a comprehensive rebrand as part of highlighting its commitment to help create a more sustainable world through its own focus on environment, social and governance factors.