True has announced its third investment fund of £275m. Having achieved this goal in just five years after announcing the close of its first fund, the firm is reflecting the entrepreneurial ambition it has for the consumer businesses it is setting out to invest in.
Co-founded by Matt Truman and Paul Cocker, whose unique combination of experience in the finance and retail sectors, as well as teaming up to then become entrepreneurs and ecommerce business owners themselves, has been instrumental in supporting rapid development at True, growing the firm to over £600m AUM in just five years. As private equity owners they are distinct, but the approach they have taken has also been very different. True places equal importance on people, planet and profit – emphasised by its recent B Corporation certification – believing that, when done well, business, including private equity,can be a force for good and they relish working with businesses that share the belief.
The positive but sustainable growth trajectory of the firm is mirrored in the performance of True’s current portfolio – with an average of 42% revenue YoY growth – such as women’s loungewear brand hush, online community fitness platform Zwift,British cycling brand Ribble, and online furniture business The Cotswold Company.
True takes majority and minority positions, investing up to £50m, in future-fit, digital-first businesses that are capitalising on the shift in consumer behaviour – the core component of True’s investment strategy, whether that is the move to more sustainable brands or the channels through which people shop. Recently the shift towards online, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, has meant True’s portfolio has outperformed.
Matt & Paul set up True with the aim to be more helpful investors, given that they had been through the process themselves of growing an ecommerce business. With this experience they knew there was a gap for the unique business model they have now established – they had seen first-hand the disconnect between innovative tech startups, new, growing and established consumerbusinesses, which ultimately hindered the flow of insight, best practice and growth for all. Today, True adds value to its portfolio brands and partners through its unique sector-specific ‘Live Network’. Their portfolio benefits immeasurably from the 360-degree view they’ve built of the sector. It enables their Early Stage seed fund, which includes businesses such as men’s make-up brand War Paint, female sexual wellness brand maude and workplace mental health platform Unmind, to readily connect with both their PE portfolio and international Partners such as TJX Warner Bros, 7-Eleven, Johnson & Johnson and Marks & Spencer. The result of this has accelerated growth and business transformation for all.
Co-founder and CEO Matt Truman says: “Five years after launching our first fund, I am so excited to announce our third, and now with over £600 million assets under management. I am incredibly proud of the True team, as well as our brands and partners that have made it all possible. By supporting businesses in what we believe is the right way, we have proved you can scale a portfolio and be proud that the growth hasn’t come at the expense of people or planet.”
Paul Cocker Co-founder of True adds: “This is another exciting step forward for our team and I think a really strong endorsement of the results we’ve had by taking a deliberately different approach at True over the last few years. I am a passionate believer that there is a better, more diverse, more inclusive way to build an investment firm than is typical in our industry, which is why we’ve actively sought to learn from the B Corporation assessment process. We seek to draw on the cultural benefits our new approach brings, and our own experience of the challenges of building a business, in order to be more helpful to the entrepreneurs and management teams that we partner with. I’d like to say a huge thank-you to all of them for the critical role they have played in helping us reach this latest milestone. We now have a massive opportunity to help more great brands grow in the right way – and I can’t wait for the next stage of the journey.”
Kate Bartman, CEO of women’s loungewear brand hush, which has been in True’s portfolio just over a year says: “The team and I have been really impressed with the level of ongoing support we have received from the team at True. They’ve actively helped to attract new talent for our team and introducing new technologies too – one that has already resulted in us growing revenue significantly. Not only have I been surprised by the level of considerate assistance we’ve had from True, but it’s been great getting to know and share best practice with other founders and leaders from the portfolio, who share similar challenges and experiences to us.”
Eric Min CEO & Co-founder of Zwift comments: “I have really enjoyed working with the True team over the last few years – it’s very clear that they are all hugely passionate about what we are building at Zwift. They have been a real support to us as investors – strategically, culturally and through their network and I am delighted to see them take another significant step on their own journey.”
Ralph Tucker CEO of The Cotswold Company: “I took on my role as CEO of The Cotswold Company in part because I believed in the value True, as a disruptive investment company, could add. Over my first 18 months that has proved to be the case many times over. The team have helped us adapt to the post-Covid world quickly, moving from high support to light touch in tune with the market volatility and always both supporting and challenging when needed. The live network within True has also been exceptionally useful and we have utilised several digital leading companies sourced through True to advance our conversion rate optimisation, social media influencer strategy and fraud prevention, along with advice on numerous topics to help shape our strategy and accelerate our growth.”