In this series we look at applications that won people a role, and break down what made them so effective. This candidate offered a broad range of skills and experience, and they were able to articulate how they could add value against those criteria they did not 100% match wth.

LIGNIA® Wood Company

LIGNIA® Wood Company is a producer of sustainable modified wood. The company is helping to tackle issues around the limited supplies of legal and sustainable hardwoods – such as reducing deforestation and increasing sustainability awareness – by producing a modified wood under the brand name LIGNIA®. They were looking to appoint a Non-Executive Chair who had experience in fundraising and scaling a start-up up to £10m+ revenues.

Fundraising experience
The successful candidate will have had full or part responsibility for securing significant funding from VC and institutional investors, as well as taking the business through an IPO. Please evidence your relevant experience including organisations, roles held, dates and scale.

Successful 30-year career in VC and plc with extensive experience on both sides of fundraising. As a VC (3i, SEP & Touchstone) I have led 100+ funding rounds from seed to Series C/D. As a plc CEO & NXD I have completed multiple IPOs, two major equity raises (£150m + £100m) and debt facilities (£30m + £50m). I am well connected with investors including specialist environmental technology funds as well as generalist investors, private and public.

Candidates will have founded or been instrumental in a business through the start-up and scaling stages (e.g. scaling from no revenues to £10m+ revenues), having had C-level or Board responsibility for driving the business from start up losses through to profitability. Please evidence your relevant experience including organisations, roles held, dates and scale.

Directly initially as CIO then latterly as CEO, I grew Touchstone Innovations net asset value 10-fold from £46m to £503m and portfolio from £26m to £459m. When the company was acquired in 2017, it had 72 employees. My responsibilities included group strategy, finance, legal, shareholder relations. Indirectly as a hands-on company creator and builder, I've helped 100+ companies during their formative and growth phases from 0 to £50m+ revenues.

Prior board experience
Candidates will be highly credible and will ideally have previous board level experience as a Non-Executive Director or Chair in a fast-growing international organisation. Please evidence your relevant experience including organisations, roles held, dates and scale.

I have 15+ years experience as a non-executive director across 20+ fast-growing private and public companies (UK, international and continental European headquarted businesses). I gained experience as an Investor Director, i.e. appointed to represent the interests of the lead investor or investor syndicate. For 5+ years I have built on that, operating as an independent non-executive Director. Having been Interim Chairman and chaired subsidiaries, I am ready and take on the Chair role.

Manufacturing experience
Ideally, candidates will have previous experience in manufacturing and will be familiar with the trends, drivers and dynamics of this industry. Please evidence your relevant experience including organisations, roles held, dates and scale.

Although an engineer by training, having started my career in the automotive industry, I have not run manufacturing operations. However, as an investor and NXD, I do understand the journey from lab to pilot to commercial manufacturing, whether in-house, outsourced/licensing or through joint venture. We use outsourced manufacturing in Scandinavia to supply markets predominantly in US & China in the international pharmaceutical company on which I am on the board.

Joint ventures / licensing
Ideally, candidates will have built, worked, advised or sat on the board of a business which has successfully expanded internationally through joint ventures or licensing deals. Please evidence your relevant experience including organisations, roles held, dates and scale.

Touchstone Innovations managed as an outsourced service, the patenting and licensing activity for Imperial College London, with a staff of 25. Developing intellectual property strategies, then making commercial judgements as to whether to develop, manufacture & commercialise ourselves, or out-licence was our core task. During the latter stages of development and commercialisation, joint ventures and risk sharing collaborations were also commonplace.

Covering letter

As an engineer with experience of high-growth businesses and a keen interest in travel and exploration, I am drawn to environmental technologies that have impact. From what I understand, Lignia has a significant commercial opportunity as its materials offer both a step change in performance and they substitute scarce/protected raw materials.

I have a basic understanding of wood modification technologies and am keen to learn more, but it was Paul Lamacraft at WIM, who approached me to ask if I would consider applying for the Chair role at Lignia. It appears that technology adoption has been slow across the market, but the timing may now be right. I am excited to hear that Lignia has strong customer demand as manufacturing capacity comes on stream.

If manufacturing experience is a "must have" for the chair and I don't tick all of your boxes, then I perhaps I can still add significant value as a complimentary non-executive director. However, if my experience in strategy and fundraising coupled with private & public board experience is what you are seeking, to compliment the executive team, then I believe I would make a strong candidate for your shortlist.

The opportunity to invest in Lignia is part of the attraction to me, in order that I am aligned with the team and shareholders.

P.S. I occasionally sail yachts, so I also appreciate the beauty (and maintenance burden) of teak decks. However, that will not influence my views on which high-margin products to keep in-house and which geographies or volume products could be considered for out-licensing!

You can see more of our Successful Applications series by clicking here.

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