I began my career at Unilever, Marks and Spencer, and Harrods Limited. After a decade, I moved into venture capital in 2000 with 3i plc, later joining YFM Group, Electra Private Equity plc and Acuity Capital. Many roles followed, including one at technology merchant bank Restoration Partners, where I co-founded Inogesis, a start-up connecting blue-chip organisations with technology innovators to deliver outstanding innovation through collaboration.
Opportunity pushed me in the direction of impact investing. Investments can be sustainable and inclusive; in fact, if they’re not, why invest? But creating something that had a positive impact on humanity, that made the world a better place, made me much more mission-aware.
I have always been drawn to the small island in the south-west of Ireland where I spent my early childhood. My wife and I run a suckler beef herd there using agroecological systems. The disparity between the simplicity of low-input farming and pioneering agricultural technology and techniques further directed me to impact ventures.
So my desire to make a positive impact on society and the environment is what naturally drew me to becoming part of Ananda’s team.
The challenge of shifting perception. It is straightforward to take a delivery start-up and present it to ten investors who know that sector, but much harder to present something where you are changing the meaning of an idea. Convincing people to think differently is the biggest challenge facing humanity. Asking people to think differently: that’s what I enjoy about Ananda.
Talking about failure is brave and crucial to founders. We have some incredible success stories. But this is an industry built around patterns. If you present a repeatable pattern, VCs will absorb it and fund it. Yet to really thrive, founders need to control the narrative of their failings to successfully build impact at scale, and this is something we do not put enough emphasis on.
When I am not engrossed in work, I love being outside – I enjoy being present in the rhythm of the outdoors. You’ll find me immersing myself in hedgerows learning about natural history or with my 1966 David Brown tractor – a passion (or curse!) inherited from my father. Paradoxically, the entrepreneur David Brown is the DB behind the iconic Aston Martin DB.