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The romance of private equity: Liquity

“You know what people say to us? They say ‘you’re inventing a new asset class. You’re inventing liquid shares in private companies

Liquity, the London-based startup taking part in the Startupbootcamp FinTech programme, is tackling a big problem for investors and shareholders in private companies: the laborious and lengthy process of matching buyers and sellers.

Barry Shrier, CEO of Liquity, firmly believes his startup is the revolution the industry has been waiting for – a streamlined introduction service for investors to meet shareholders and vice versa.

Potential investors subscribe to Liquity and receive information on businesses that match their criteria. While CEOs and owners of businesses looking to sell can list themselves on liquity and be put in touch with the right kind of investors.

“We call ourselves the Match.com of private company shares – and there are three core elements to our proposition: confidentiality, a curated service and community,” says Barry.

Confidentiality is key. Investors don’t want a large section of the market to know they’re looking to buy (‘that’s not the signal they want to send out’ he remarks) – and CEOs don’t want their employees or suppliers to know their business might be up for sale.

The curating aspect is the filtering part of the platform – an investor specifies criteria and gets quicker access to the ‘golden nuggets’ of potential investments. And the community aspect encourages networking among investors and business owners.

The core focus of Liquity is making the matches relevant, efficient and based on more than just the usual search criteria (sector, turnover, profitability, geography). They’re currently implementing even more refined algorithms into their system to produce better results for investors.

“We’re developing machine learning in our platform going forward – to learn more about investor criteria beyond the ordinary criteria – investors have much more personal criteria.”

“We’re at an incredibly exciting stage – at Startupbootcamp we’ve improved our market validation – in other words – we understand better the needs of our audience”

Barry describes the mentorship he receives as ‘world class’ and guidance at the accelerator has enabled the firm to refine their proposition.

“Imagine being a tennis player who’s been to Wimbledon three times but never won – and then getting a new star coach. Now we’ve got that little extra percentage of perfection in our proposition and we’re re-launching in January”

“My mother still asks me ‘what are you going to do when you grow up?’ become a banker or a doctor?”

Throughout his career, Barry has worked in banking, leading Deutsche Bank’s mobile payments service – before heading up numerous ventures in the fields of communication, clean energy and electric vehicles.

'Why are you an entrepreneur?' 

“The commercial challenge is gigantic – and that’s the thrill – there’s no hiding. You’re deeply, profoundly accountable for your success…or failure”  

With no experience in private equity markets Barry insists it’s a benefit for the success of Liquity.

“To be successful you have to be innovative – and the best way to be innovative is to come at the industry with a fresh perspective”

For this success story to become a reality, Barry is keen to hire young, talented graduates from around the world.

“This might be typical – but having young talent on the team is a necessity for us – and I have always done that – we’ve got three people who are right out of university.” 

Now Barry is thinking about the international launch - to achieve this Liquity is now seeking partnerships with international organisations – accountants, M&A brokers and banks.

All the talk about private equity and shareholders makes me think about Barry's own situation.

"My job is to deliver extraordinary returns to my shareholders, not just amazing ones, but beyond amazing" he finishes. 

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