As part of our Active Intros series, we speak to a different member of the Active team each month to find out what’s keeping them busy, which consumer trend they’re most excited about and the one brand they couldn’t live without.
This month we chatted with our Associate, Daniel Linegar. Daniel joined Active in 2020, just a few weeks after the first Covid-19 lockdown. Since then he has been involved in a number of our new investments and supports our portfolio companies Context Travel, Whocanfixmycar and Northern Monk, alongside his focus on deal sourcing, execution and diligence.
We caught up with Dan on a drizzly January morning to find out more…
Tell us about your career so far and what led you to join Active
I started out as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company in London, where I spent most of my time in the consumer sector working for global corporates and private equity firms. I’ve always been fascinated by consumer behaviour and innovation, and what gives some brands an edge.
This experience gave me a real understanding of the challenges faced by many of the incumbents, and the size of the opportunity for nimble, founder-led companies to disrupt industries. My exposure to growth investing at Bain also gave me a good introduction to getting under the skin of a market and business by asking the right questions and thinking carefully about the value that can be created within an investment.
I was excited to join Active given its focus on brands people shout about and its hands-on approach to supporting founders on their journey. I joined in April 2020, just a few weeks after we entered the first lockdown – an interesting and somewhat crazy time to join! Since then, I’ve worked on several new investments including Classified Cycling, Subdial, Vinterior, and Piglet in Bed and supported our portfolio companies Context, Whocanfixmycar and Northern Monk.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I split my time between identifying and qualifying new opportunities, executing investments, and portfolio management. The mix can significantly change from month to month. For example, if we’re in a due diligence process for a new deal this would take up most of my time until the deal is over the line.
Outside of a deal process, a typical day might involve meeting a new founder, speaking to an industry expert in our network, reviewing a strategic and financial plan with a portfolio company, and discussing exit planning with another.
What consumer trend excites you most right now?
I’m excited by the consumer’s growing focus on health & wellness, accelerated by changing demographics and innovation. This is allowing brands with a clear understanding of their customer to scale rapidly while making people happier and healthier – a “win-win” situation. These brands are often able to build loyal communities around them that elevate the experience for their customers and drive further growth.
What’s your top advice for founders when raising capital?
Start planning early. Understand what specific milestones you need to prove before the next fundraise and consider how you will respond if certain milestones are not met.
Be very clear on what differentiates you from the customer’s perspective. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your insight into your customer and broader industry dynamics.
Outline the key decisions you’ve made and why, and what key decisions lie ahead. Showing investors how you have thought about these decisions in the past gives them insight and confidence in how you will approach key decisions in the future.
What do you love most, and least, about your job?
I love the “aha” moments when speaking to a founder who understands exactly what makes an opportunity exciting and communicates it in a compelling way. I also love the thrill of being able to enjoy brands and products as a consumer that we have partnered with as investors – a small but inspiring part of the job.
One of the parts I love the least is when I feel a business will be successful but the key hypotheses we need to believe are not sufficiently proven for us to make the investment.
Name one brand you couldn’t live without
Dishoom – my favourite restaurant, wows me every time. Love the atmosphere, food, cocktails, and also their cookbook. Worth queueing for!
About Effing Time – a light-hearted podcast about watches
Top book recommendation
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat – great insight into how to become a more intuitive cook