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Dominic McGregor: Social Chain co-founder on starting over, ‘vulture capitalists’, global expansion, sobriety and Steven Bartlett

Dominic McGregor is arguably perfect identified for co-founding Social Chain with new Dragons’ Den superstar Steven Bartlett.

The pair dropped out of the University of Manchester to release the fledgling corporate, with the adventure culminating at the company going public after which departing for pastures new in 2020.

With Social Chain, which is now turning over greater than €600m and within the stewardship of others, the marketers have set about carving new paths for themselves.

What Mr Bartlett did subsequent – launching his Diary of a CEO Podcast, making an investment in UK and US corporations and beginning a couple of of his personal in addition to becoming a member of Dragons’ Den – could be very documented.

His trade spouse and perfect pal, then again, has selected to fly beneath the radar relatively – till now.

In an unique interview with BusinessAre living, Mr McGregor unearths why he selected to release a brand new trade from scratch – as an alternative of taking a comfortable function in anyone else’s trade – in addition to his plans for international growth.

He additionally talks concerning the significance of sobriety in his lifestyles and his perspective to trade, the need to assist marketers keep away from so-called ‘vulture capitalists’ and hints at someday getting into politics.

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Towards the top of 2021, Mr McGregor introduced Fearless Adventures with fellow Manchester marketers David Newns and Charlie Yates.

The multimillion-pound fund was once designed to assist develop the following technology of direct-to-consumer start-ups, one thing Mr McGregor is keen about following his revel in with Social Chain.

Asked why he determined to release a brand new trade from scratch after already completed extra special luck together with his earlier project, he stated: “Steven and I had the ability to go our separate ways after Social Chain.

“The revel in was once nice and we had completed what we had to do however in the long run we had other stories and other incentives.

“Because of my understanding of what I went through as a founder and the toll it took on me personally, I always had that in the back of my mind that I wanted to help others in similar situations.

“It felt like I had a few choices comparable to taking a non-executive director function or a City function someplace however this felt like the item I sought after to do.”



Dragons' Den star Steven Bartlett onstage at the Good Business Festival 2022 in Liverpool Town Hall
Dragons’ Den superstar Steven Bartlett onstage on the Good Business Festival 2022 in Liverpool Town Hall

Fearless Adventures has now boasts a close to 30-strong staff and has subsidized the likes of Love Island superstar Montana Brown’s moral swimming wear emblem Swim Society, Pets Purest and, maximum not too long ago, a transport era company.

On his motivations for putting in place an funding corporate which additionally mentors founders, he added: “Entrepreneurs are very lonely and when you grow a business to a point where you have a bit of traction, who do you turn to?

“The solution is most probably companies or circle of relatives pals. Agencies can come up with recommendation that will help you develop your small business however in fact they’re concerned with their very own luck moderately than essentially that specialize in the buyer’s luck.

“It was that kind of issue with the agency landscape that I experienced that made me want to build something where I can invest in companies and support them and give those entrepreneurs the meaningful support that others might not get through private equity or venture capital.

“I believed that one of the simplest ways to develop was once to create an embedded project capital trade the place that trade supplies fairness but additionally helps.”



Social Chain was founded in Manchester by Steven Bartlett and Dominic McGregor
Social Chain was once based in Manchester by way of Steven Bartlett and Dominic McGregor

The funding international is a distinct panorama to that of social media however Mr McGregor stated the teachings he learnt development Social Chain have helped him navigate those new waters.

“In terms of social media, we were the best at it and we had been doing it the longest so Social Chain was born out of a business expertise rather than anything else”, he stated.

“With this, the financial institutes and investment world has been around for decades, if not centuries.

“Coming into a brand new business is at all times more or less scary however I believe having the revel in of doing issues another way and having a way of thinking from social media and the fashionable international it more or less complemented itself moderately effectively prior to launching.

“Launching any business is challenging and that’s what we tell entrepreneurs.

“Finding nice other people is hard in addition to making a emblem and advertising and marketing your self.

“In no way was it easy but having been there once and going again you have got relationships and connections and you know what good looks like when hiring people.

“There are benefits however it was once no longer as easy as the usage of the similar blueprint.”

Just like his best friend, Mr McGregor is now assessing the attributes of a budding entrepreneur to see if they have what it takes to secure investment from him and his business partners.

On what he looks for, he said: “The maximum essential factor is the founder or founders.

“Ultimately you are backing people. Business plans change a million times, industries and landscapes change and evolve over time so you need to back the people who can adapt.

“You additionally want to have a look at the place the trade is in this day and age, the product and emblem however all of this is secondary to people who arrange the trade.

“For me the focus is always to look at the founder, finding out what motivates them and if we believe in them.”



Steve Oliver, CEO of MusicMagpie

Mr McGregor and his trade companions are at the cusp of even better alternate for his or her new corporate after not too long ago receiving the backing of a swath of distinguished buyers to fund its long run enlargement.

The likes of Steve Oliver, the co-founder and CEO of musicMagpie, have invested within the company in addition to James Cox, founding spouse at Stonebridge Capital and tech-entrepreneur Alex Packham, who not too long ago offered his corporate ContentCal to Adobe.

Others come with Jerry Roberts, chairman of Living Ventures Group of Companies which was once at the back of The Alchemist, and Chris Donnelly who based Verb manufacturers and Lottie.

On the significance in their funding in Fearless Adventures, Mr McGregor stated: “It allows us to give the maximum to our portfolio.

“When we discuss to companies who’re on the lookout for funding we will say we’re subsidized no longer simply David, Charlie and I but additionally ten superior marketers and that actually provides them convenience that we will supply that added worth.

“There is also the fact that when it comes to funding we can provide that a bit quicker instead of purely self funding like in our first few deals.

“We have exterior capital now which permits our corporations get entry to to that capital to assist them develop.

“One phone call from Steve Oliver who has been a fantastic CEO and created a great business which is now listed on AIM, for me, he can be immensely valuable to any portfolio company.

“Having him invested in us and subsequently invested in the ones corporations is extra essential than the cash for me.

“We have got a great table around us, great people. Some have asked not to be named for certain reasons but we are in the process of potentially raising some more funds from some tech investors to go after a tech-focused business.”



David Newns, Fearless Adventures co-founder
David Newns, Fearless Adventures co-founder

With the extra investment and reinforce, Fearless Adventures is now having a look outdoor of the United Kingdom for enlargement and is focused on opening new workplaces the world over.

“In terms of the headcount, the business is probably at a point in the UK where it has reached a really nice mature stage and it is not going to grow exponentially”, Mr McGregor stated.

“I’m not interested in running a business with 200 people in an office again.

“There are numerous problems that include that and when companies scale too temporarily.

“Culture can be sacrificed so my thought process is that we scale the business by going into new regions where we maybe have similar sized offices across the world which act as launch pads into new territories.

“I don’t see this trade being 200 other people being sat in Manchester once more. I believe it’ll be an excessively other fashion as a result of in the long run the theory is that we put other people into corporations and develop as they develop.

“The mindset is that as the business needs less support from us and they can stand on their own two feet, we will hire people into them.

“Our headcount around the portfolio may succeed in 1000’s however Fearless itself may stay moderately a lean staff.

“We are not against aggressive expansion but we will probably want to improve the business model and maybe get an exit under our belt before we go and try to conquer the world.”

Over the previous couple of years, Mr McGregor has spoken publicly about his struggle with alcohol and his determination to change into teetotal.

He talks about it frequently on his social media and tells BusinessAre living how essential it’s to him in my opinion but additionally to his perspective to trade.

“In the business world, when it comes to the culture around alcohol, it’s something that has gotten worse and worse”, he stated.

“That assumption that a good company culture is to go out for drinks on a Friday night probably helped me get into the bad situation I was in at Social Chain.

“I glance again now and I realise that it was once moderately poisonous.

“For me, the business world is historically about long lunches and Friday drinks and it’s more about alcohol than networking and I don’t think that has to be the case.

“I’m difficult it and looking to create a greater international and open other people’s eyes to another way of life.”



No 10 Downing Street
No 10 Downing Street

After operating for a time in Downing Street remaining 12 months after being employed by way of the Government to assist its social media technique, Mr McGregor has no longer dominated out a run for public administrative center someday.

“I don’t have five or ten-year plans but the world of politics interests me in the future.”

He jokingly added: “Why does Andy Burnham’s term as mayor end?”

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