Praetura Ventures grows operational partners team with three heavyweight hires
16th February 2022, 3:26 pm
- Joining the team at Praetura are Helen Verwoert, previously Chief HR Officer at Dr. Martens; Andy Barrow, the former CTO of tech giant ANS, which has just merged with UKFast; and Paul Johnson, the outgoing founder and CEO of SaaS business MPP Global, following its recent acquisition.
Praetura Ventures, the Manchester-based venture capital investor, has announced the appointment of three industry experts to its team of operational partners.
The appointments come a year after Praetura launched the initiative to support promising founders with additional expertise and mentoring, as it continues to build its more than money approach.
Helen Verwoert, who oversaw Dr. Martens’ transformation from a heritage brand to an iconic global brand as Chief HR Officer, is among the hires and will mentor Praetura’s portfolio companies on areas including staff wellbeing and company culture.
Entrepreneur Paul Johnson, who spent more than two decades building MPP Global before its £37.1m sale in October, also joins as a newly appointed operational partner. Founded in the Northwest of England, MPP Global provides its subscriber management and billing platform to media companies such as Sky, NBC Universal and L’Equipe. Paul will bring significant international commercial experience to the team.
Tech guru Andy Barrow completes Praetura Ventures’ trio of new hires after 12 years as the Chief Technology Officer for Manchester tech giant ANS, where he was responsible for technical strategy across cloud computing, data analytics, application development and managed services. He will mentor Praetura’s portfolio founders and help them to grow their technology capabilities and expand their network of contacts.
Building on Praetura Ventures’ commitment to providing ‘more than money’, the three new operational partners will be responsible for helping Praetura’s portfolio companies to scale and develop, while mentoring each founder as they grow their business.
All three will join Praetura’s existing operational partners, which include Social Chain co-founder Dominic McGregor; former leader of Apple’s US consumer retail business Colin Greene; Catherine Barber-Brown, The Co-operative Bank’s former head of strategy; Mark Slade, founder and Vice Chairman of OSTC; and Steve Caunce, the former CEO of AO.com.
Since the launch of the programme, the operational partners have added significant value to Praetura Ventures’ portfolio by helping businesses such as Culture Shift, Futr, XR Games and Enthuse to increase their service offering, build in-roads with target clients such as the NHS, and navigate the everyday challenges founders face when growing a business.
Praetura Ventures’ portfolio of fast-growth companies continues to grow at an impressive rate. Overall, the portfolio’s total annualised revenue increased by circa 150% in the 18 months leading up to January 2022, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Helen Verwoert, former chief HR officer for Dr. Martens, said: “Companies live and die by the strength of their internal culture, but the challenge of getting this right has never been harder. After a long and fulfilling career leading HR at one of the leading footwear brands in the world, I’m looking forward to working with fast-growth companies in new sectors and helping them to develop a culture that attracts world-class talent.”
Paul Johnson, co-founder of MPP Global, said: “As someone who has built a business from the ground up over the past 20 years, I’ve worn many hats and seen many significant shifts in business. The opportunity to work with founders, many of which are still at the beginning of their journey, is one I relish, especially having already seen the success of Praetura’s existing operational partners and the impact they’ve had.”
Andy Barrow, former CTO at ANS, said: “I’m incredibly excited about the chance to support a new generation of entrepreneurs and founders alongside Praetura Ventures, and I look forward to passing on the skills and insights I’ve learned from a career spent in tech, which is now mission critical to the success and future of nearly every business today. As someone who has lived and worked in Greater Manchester their whole life, I’ve seen first-hand how Praetura Ventures is changing the face of VC for businesses in the North and UK-wide, and this is just one core example of that.”
David Foreman, managing director of Praetura Ventures, said: “We created the operational partner programme as we truly believe it takes more than money to help founders build the best business they can. We know our investment can only take a business so far, and we understand that sustained growth and development comes from learning from people who have been in a founder’s position many times over.”
“To have Helen, Paul and Andy on board alongside our additional operational partners is a game-changer for us and our portfolio founders, who will get the benefit of support and mentorship from business experts who have helped to create global powerhouses.”
The operational partners will work with Praetura’s current portfolio, which has grown with several new recent investments, including Percayso, Illuma and Coadjute. The new additions take the total number of operational partners from five to eight in just under a year, with the programme likely to grow again in the coming years to service Praetura’s expanding portfolio of businesses.