Mutch forms ‘dream team’ of advisers to boost start-ups

SOFTWARE entrepreneur Martin Mutch is pulling ­together a “dream team” of ­advisers that he believes will fill a gap in business start-up support.

Martin Mutch: believed to have sold his business for at least £10m

Mutch wants to build a “growth accelerator” that will instil core functions such as branding, marketing and acquisition strategy earlier into the development of a business.

He says that by doing this it makes businesses more scaleable and more appealing as an investment proposition.

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Mutch, who sold his Edinburgh-based Rocela business in December for a sum thought to be in excess of £10 million, has enlisted eight practitioners from a number of disciplines such as mergers & acquisitions, branding, marketing and sales.

He is looking at developing the consultancy either as a standalone business owned by the contributors or as a co-operative. At some stage he can foresee it taking equity stakes in client companies in exchange for the advice given.

“It is a pooling of talents. I have been thinking about doing this for about 18 months,” he said. “The aim is to bring in those core functions that businesses need a bit earlier in the process.”

Mutch said that when he was setting up in business he did not know how to go about certain things, such as human resources and communications. He said the established advice agencies did a “great job” but were not able to offer the sort of added-value help he required.

He learned a lot by networking and talking to those he considered inspirational such as Keith Neilson, chief executive of software firm Craneware, and Bob Keiller, who heads the oil company Wood Group.

Mutch said his accelerator would handle pre-funding businesses, moving them quickly on to the next stage by harnessing advice from mentors and experts in their own field.

It would be part of the growing “eco-system” of business advice that includes the state-backed Business Gateway network and privately funded incubators such as Entrepreneurial Spark, which is supported by Royal Bank of Scotland, and the technology-based operation CodeBase run by Jamie Coleman.

Equity and venture capital funders tend to come in as firms develop sustainable models with revenue and profits streams.

He said the typical client for his consultancy would be “someone with untapped ideas, ambition and a commitment to exploit them.”

Mutch, a former EY technology entrepreneur of the year, set up Rocela in 2002, growing it into a global business with 80 consultants and revenue peaking at more than £30m. He said that its software saved client firms more than £500m in 12 years. He sold the business to Dublin-based Version 1 which is in the process of making a second acquisition.

Mutch is also involved in setting up Retina, an international photography festival based in Edinburgh.