Case Study: Orka Technology Group
Maven's investment in digital shift-worker management software specialist Orka has aided them in achieving impressive growth. It started with a good idea which has developed into a sector disruptive product that has now achieved impressive traction within a competitive marketplace.
Watch Tom Pickersgill, Co-Founder of Orka and James Darlington, who lead the investment discuss how Maven bought into the concept and Tom as an individual early on, despite the business being pre-revenue. Since then, ongoing rounds of funding and the skills, experience and vision of Tom have helped turn Orka's promising business model into a fast growing emerging company.
Tom: We’re a software company that builds products and tools for hourly paid frontline workers which enable companies to engage and be relevant for this growing workforce. We knew we had a good idea and something that people wanted to buy. I reached out to Maven about the fact that they've got the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund money to back early-stage businesses and provided a bit of context for what we were and then Jim contacted me and we took it from there.
James: I originally got introduced to Orka when it was just a team of one which was Tom and we've seen that over the past five years grow into a team of 45. Maven always looks for us in the management team and the founding management team had the skills, the desire, and the experience from previous jobs to take Orka on the journey that it's gone on to today.
During that time, I thought about getting to know Tom a little bit better, from my perspective I just understood the total addressable market but also the opportunity that was in that market.
That was when we ended up actually investing in Orka in September 2017 with just a small tranche of 200, 000 pounds and then subsequently in five years we invested £2 million. The first 12 months of that 200k and where that was spent was essentially allowing Tom to come into the business full-time on some sort of a salary which is a little bit more comfortable for him that allowed him to focus wholly on the business and also bring in a couple of the founding directors in Nick and James as well while in the background building out the product ready for commercial launch.
Tom: It's all about personal relationships and Jim was really supportive of what our vision was and showed real appetite in helping us achieve our vision to build out our team from zero he helped them in the early days very much.
James: The key thing that we brought to Orka was experience and know-how. We've got a portfolio of over 100 businesses in my Manchester office alone and a few hundred across the UK wide Maven portfolio, so you've got Investment Directors, Managers and Partners across the Maven network who are all dealing with these issues. I think that some businesses that maybe didn't have venture capital or private equity backing, they maybe felt a little bit alone and not knowing where to turn whereas with Tom he could turn to Maven and myself.
Tom: The money is important, it helps you accomplish things you needed to do but you know, this can be a lonely place when you're building a company and you need that kind of support that as Jim gave us the confidence to build out and keep going, even on the harder days and that's a big part in the first few months and years of growth.
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