Piers Linney is a passionate businessman and a very successful entrepreneur; he is the Director of the government development at British Business Bank, which has invested billions to unlock capital for UK SMEs. He has founded and been the CEO of technology and communications businesses with combined revenues of over £50m and over 400 employees. Piers is also a former Dragon on the popular BBC Two television series ‘Dragon’s Den’ and appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire programme when he spent 10 days in a Young Offenders institution. He is a confident and charismatic business keynote speaker and will not fail to impress corporate audiences or employees. He also delivers refreshing Q&A sessions providing no-nonsense answers to questions within his many spheres of expertise.
Piers comes from a small mill town in Lancashire where he setup his first business at the age of thirteen by developing a Sunday newspaper delivery round and purchasing the newspapers direct to cut out the local newsagent. He worked hard at his local comprehensive school in order to obtain the results to further his education at the University of Manchester, where he studied Accounting and Law. In 1997, Piers moved to London to London for law school and to start his career as a lawyer with City law firm SJ Berwin where he specialised in venture capital and corporate finance. This is where he first experienced management teams and investors cutting deals. After qualifying Piers became an investment banker at Barclays de Zoete Wedd and then Credit Suisse. He learnt key skills working as a banker in the City of London and New York, which would help him progress as a businessman, adviser and entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur at heart, Piers knew that he had to leave his job as a banker in order to achieve his business goals. Piers saw the business opportunities that the internet held, and he decided to set up his own internet enterprise; he ran his own corporate finance and alternative finance advisory business and became a partner in an alternative investment fund. After several successful business ventures and some not so successful ones, Piers and his business partner acquired a mobile data and airtime provider from Dixons and sold it five years later when he co-founded a cloud service provider which was named as Microsoft’s worldwide Hosting Partner of the Year and provided communications to end-customers including FTSE- 100 BAE Systems and Aviva.
Piers has been interviewed on channels such as Bloomberg, Sky News, CNN, CNBC and BBC. He also appeared in ‘The Secret Millionaire’ on Channel 4 and on BBC Two’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ where he spent two years deciding whether or not to invest in future businesses. During his time as a Dragon he invested £100,000 into publishing start-up Lost My Name (now Wonderbly) in exchange for just 5pc equity, which valued the business at £2.0m,thehighestvaluationeverseenintheDenatthattime. Wonderblyhasnowsoldover 3m personalised children’s books in over 200 countries and was #1 on last years Tech Track list of the UK’s fastest growing companies. Wonderbly has raised £16.5m with investors including Google Ventures and is one of the most successful investments made in the Den.
Piers’ work with UK SMEs ensures they have access to equity and debt growth capital. Creating partnerships between small innovators and large enterprises, Piers is a trailblazer in this space. He is also a Trustee of Nesta, the UK’s leading innovation charity with a £450m endowment.
Piers has been recognised as one of the top 100 most influential Black Britons and won the inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year award at the EY sponsored Black British Business Awards. In 2017 he was a recipient of the Barbados Golden Jubilee Award for Outstanding Service in the UK and in 2018 he was recognised as one of the UK’s top 20 Ethnic Minority Executives in the Financial Times / EM Power list. He sat on the Cabinet Office SME Panel and the Board of TechUK. Piers is also a champion of diversity and social mobility and was a founding trustee of Aleto Foundation, which was created to identify and develop the next generation of leaders from communities who have historically found it challenging to access jobs due to their backgrounds.
Piers’ passion for business and encouraging entrepreneurial thinking is evident in his speeches, which he delivers in a confident and engaging manner. A champion of small businesses, he can speak about the importance of SMEs in the UK economy, technology in the business world, and the need for small businesses to have greater access to finance and growth. He shares his own story and extensive knowledge with corporate audiences around the world, never failing to impress.