Mark Bigley |
Building And Selling A £175m Logistics Business

Mark Bigley founded Secured Mail in 2006 with a £500,000 loan from the UK SME loan guarantee scheme.

Secured Mail is a nationwide mail delivery logistics company that at its peak delivered over 500m items per year, with a turnover of £175m and 300 staff.

Mark was responsible for delivering the business plan and successfully negotiated two venture capital fund raisings and the acquisition of DHL’s DSA business.

Mark Bigley and the management team successfully negotiated the sale of Secured Mail in 2018.

Mark Bigley

In This Episode, We Cover

  • Mark Bigley starting his career by working for free to demonstrate value, and taking this attitude with him for the rest of his career.
  • On being the custodian of a company.
  • Mark’s small dabble in politics and what it taught him about people.
  • Raising £500,000 through the small business loan guarantee scheme to start Secured Mail.
  • Growing Secured Mail through funding, organic growth and acquisition.
  • Why you shouldn’t consider your PE partners to be your friends.
  • How to prepare for investment effectively.
  • And much more!

Enjoy this episode with Mark Bigley!

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Selected Show Notes

  • Mark talks about his career, starting from childhood — [1:27]
  • Offering value for free before expecting a financial return — [8:00]
  • Being the custodian of a company — [11:00]
  • Working as a town centre manager and the business education it gave him — [13:00]
  • Working with his brother developing Intellectual Property and Patents — [22:00]
  • Mark’s small dabble in politics and the lessons he learned from it (how everyone is in their own filter bubble) — [22:50]
  • We often want the same things, the way we think we should get there is different — [25:50]
  • On first considerations on the postal market — [31:30]
  • Raising £500,000 through the small business loan guarantee scheme (taking £0 salary in exchange for some equity). Getting a postal licence, access to the Royal Mail Network, and zero clients — [32:45]
  • Explaining the initial development of Secured Mail (partnering and contracting with other firms). Having a week to find alternatives after partner acquisitions — [35:00]
  • Hiring own vehicles and drivers and logistics network in 7 days to bring things in-house — [37:00]
  • Putting quality of service in the hands of somebody else creates huge hidden risk [37:30]
  • Taking investment from Private Equity in 2008 after acknowledging being under-capitalised; 1 month before the global market collapse — [39:00]
  • The trials and tribulations of raising money whilst raising a business. The need for advisers. Things to do and not to do — Really Good Information — [40:00]
  • On Private Equity being your best friends until things don’t go as well as they expect. You might have the same aim but that doesn’t make you friends — [48:00]
  • What happened with Secured Mail after the fund raise (MBO) — [49:00]
  • Finding a new funder that would provide intellectual and vision stimulation [50:00]
  • Decision criteria for selecting a new investment partner — [54:21]
  • On attempting to make an acquisition that didn’t quite work out to then making a different acquisition (buying DHL infrastructure and people) — [56:21]
  • The benefits of getting rid of waste. The fallacies of cost cutting. The benefits of investment — [1:03:30]
  • It’s the pace of innovation that keeps you alive over a long enough timeline (the erosion of business moats) — [1:06:20]
  • Only being able to attract certain types of talent into the organisation. On the need to change talent as you grow — [1:08:00]
  • On being too collegiate — [1:12:00]
  • Hiring people better than you — [1:13:00]
  • 2 important acquisitions prior to the Secured Mail sale (2014–2018) — [1:19:00]
  • IPO opportunities — [1:22:00]
  • Dealing with not having a company to run after doing it for so long — [1:25:00]
  • What’s next — joining two others and acquiring various logistics companies — [1:27:30]

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