Data & Deals: Successful Private Equity investing in Creative & Technology

This week Joe Hine speaks with Mark Sargeant from Phoenix Equity Partners. They discuss the constantly evolving world of private equity investment in the creative and digital sectors. 

Founded in 2001, Phoenix Equity is a leading mid-market private equity firm with over £1.7bn invested across 60+ deals. They specialise in backing ambitious UK founders and were a pioneer in marketing and digital services with their investments in Karmarama (2011) and later 1000heads (2019). Both companies achieved significant growth and successful exits. Mark Sargeant, a Partner with nearly 20 years at the firm, played a key role in both these stories. 

In this episode, Mark demystifies Private Equity explaining how it really works, from raising funds to investing decisions and how the culture of the Private Equity business will define its success.  

Mark emphasises what Phoenix looks for in a target business and how it approaches the growing influence of digitisation and data. He addresses the challenges and opportunities in balancing creativity with financial success, particularly the movement towards recurring revenue models that attract private equity interest.

Mark insists on the importance of alignment and shared values between private equity investors and business founders, and the steps entrepreneurs should take to choose a PE partner. He explains the benefits private equity brings to the economy, helping businesses scale and avoiding cultural clashes commonly seen in corporate acquisitions.

They also discuss:

-  The integration of customer-centric strategies in investment practices

- The essential balance between creativity and financial health

- The rapid advancement in digitisation and the growing importance of data

- The changing dynamics of private equity and the ability for swift investments.


05:36 Valued people, culture, and entrepreneurial opportunities at Phoenix.

10:24 How private equity firms assess founders and businesses.

17:57 Opportunity in merging businesses for customer centricity.

23:57 The digital sector's recurring revenue model promotes stability.

34:13 Assessing fund deployment and investment strategies is crucial.

42:35 Private equity funding drives business consolidation and exits.

47:09 Private equity brings massive benefits to the economy.

Podcast videos

Video 1: Mark Sargent's advice to entrepreneurs on PE investment

Video 2: What do PE firms look for in a potential business?

Video 3: When is the right time to exit?