Industry Insights

Meet the Investment Competition panellists for Venturefest Yorkshire


It’s time for another update as we move closer towards Venturefest Yorkshire 2015.

Last week, we announced the eight businesses who have been chosen to pitch at this year’s Investment Competition. Hopefully you’ve had chance to take a look at the finalists and find out a little more about each of the start up and more established businesses which will be appearing at the event on March 12th.

The competition requires each of the finalists to deliver their business pitch to both an investment panel and a roomful of potential investors. The panel will judge each of the presentations and then choose a winner who will receive a prize package and support worth £50,000. The investors who attend, will be able to invest seed or growth capital into any of the pitching investment opportunities, should they wish to.

As the organisers of this year’s Investment Competition, GrowthFunders has invited a number of esteemed businessmen and women to attend as panellists; all of whom are experienced in the world of early stage investing and growth businesses.
Now, we'd like to introduce them to you. 

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The panellists

Russell Dalgleish


Exolta Capital: Website / Twitter

Russell is an active Angel Investor whose true passion lies in helping solve the complex challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

Currently, Russell holds two major positions, splitting his time between Exolta Capital Partners, a leading advisory business and WeAreTheFuture, a Social Enterprise which focuses on supporting young entrepreneurs. Operating from offices in London, Edinburgh, Leeds and Geneva, Exolta specialises in providing unparalleled business growth guidance to agile and ambitious businesses. WeAreTheFuture, meanwhile - of which Russell is chairman - is a not-for-profit Social Enterprise whose mission is to help young people with a burning desire to become entrepreneurs succeed.

Prior to this, Russell was a Partner at Hamilton Bradshaw Venture Partners. 

Adding to his already-busy schedule, Russell is also a keynote speaker and can regularly be found delivering speeches at events where he shares his excitement for entrepreneurship and his experience on how to successfully grow businesses.


Gaynor Dykes 


Grant Thornton UK: Website / Twitter

Gaynor is a Regional Manager for GrowthAccelerator, now part of the Business Growth Service, a government-backed service that has supported over 20,000 growing businesses throughout England. It has also provided access to over £100million of external finance from across the UK funding market.

Prior to joining GrowthAccelerator in 2012, Gaynor’s career progression has been in banking, finance, and professional services, working alongside SMEs from a wide range of industry sectors. Gaynor has also set up and managed the delivery of several government-backed access-to-finance business support initiatives, which have enabled her to develop a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by growth businesses.


James Downing


Silicon Valley Bank: Website / Twitter

James has wide experience across the banking and wider financial markets, as well as a strong track record of providing support, assistance and thought-leadership to prominent technology companies.

Working as part of Silicon Valley Bank, James often liaises with companies, venture capital and private equity firms, corporate venturing partners and the wider tech ecosystem.

James’ experience lies in growth financing, panel speaking and portfolio management. For example, he spent 7 years managing a tech and media client portfolio at Barclays Bank.


Mike Ormesher


JEMM Corporate Development: Website

An experienced Software Executive & Consultant, Mike has over 25 years in the Software and Services market. He is also a Chartered Accountant holding a number of commercially-orientated positions in General Management, Business Development, and Fund Raising, amongst others. As well as this, Mike has also been an executive director in numerous VC-backed and FTSE listed companies.

Currently, Mike is the Owner and Principal Consultant at JEMM Corporate Development, transforming the top-line growth, operational effectiveness, and sustained improvement in their clients’ profitability.

Hossain Rezaei MBE


The You Company: Website / Twitter

Hossain is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, NED and mentor.  He’s been involved in 15 start-ups over the last 35 years, notably Pride Valley Foods, a business he started-up, scaled then exited in 2006.  This unique food business was his 12th enterprise and was sold for £20m to Gruma, the world’s biggest maker of tortillas.

Since his successful exit Hossain turned his attentions to supporting other entrepreneurs and innovators.  He is an active business angel who invests in early stage companies.  He has co-invested alongside VCs in a number of technology businesses sharing his experience and knowledge with the entrepreneurs he invests in.  He is an investor in and acts as chairman to REALRIDER, Hyperdrive Technologies, The You Company,  and dedicates the remainder of his time to his latest start up – YuCo Ltd, a revolutionary User Centric Insurance App.


Nigel Walker


Innovate UK: Website / Twitter

Nigel is responsible for Access to Finance at Innovate UK (the new name for  the Technology Strategy Board), where he heads the organisation’s support for innovative SMEs in gaining access to business support and private sector funding to accelerate the journey from concept to commercialisation.

Nigel has a background in the financial services industry, having spent over 10 years at each of Deutsche Bank and GE Capital.  At GE, he established the European ‘Access GE’ programme, advising, coaching and mentoring management teams of businesses owned by VC and private equity firms on operational excellence, acquisition integration, strategy development and leadership.

Countdown to Venturefest

So, to recap:

  • Venturefest Yorkshire takes place on March 12th 2015.
  • The eight finalists in the Investment Competition have been chosen and announced.
  • We’ve just announced the investment panel.
  • You can now reserve your space at the Live Investment Pitching Event.

What to expect from us over the coming weeks:

Some further posts on

o   What to look for when investing in early stage businesses for the first time.

o   How to make money from investing in start ups and growth businesses.



The competition is now closed. The winner of the Venturefest Investment Competition was health food company, UGOT who pitched to perfection on the day. If you're an entrepreneur looking to pitch at offline events, download our checklist of top 10 points to cover when pitching to investors and make sure you make a great impression.

10 points to cover when pitching to investors

Driving Growth.
Creating Value.
Delivering Impact.

Backed by

Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) is backed by funds managed by Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s leading private equity and alternative asset managers.