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07 Apr 2014

John Bates

Requesting a sum of £1.5m from Infinitesima’s existing investors, Lyons questioned whether this was actually the best way to maximise value.

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“Will they support the plan?” asked Andy Humphris, CTO of Infinitesima, a spin-out from the University of Bristol. His question was addressed to Jeff Lyons, the company’s CEO. It was early 2007, and the two were preparing a presentation for the company’s Board. They would be asking for financing of £1.5m from Infinitesima’s existing investors, and as part of the exercise they would be summarising what the company had learnt over the past three years’ operations, and providing a rationale for their chosen plan of action.

“Do they have any choice?” said Jeff, but in truth he wasn’t feeling anything like as bullish as his tone suggested. Recently Jeff and Andy had sought advice from an executive with an intimate understanding of the industry which they hoped to enter, and his assessment of their strategy had been somewhat less than the wholehearted endorsement they had hoped for. A few days before such a crucial meeting was no time for cold feet, but Jeff wondered whether the course he was charting really was the best way to maximise the value of Andy’s invention. Was there a better alternative? As the two worked through the slides they would set before the Board the question nagged, unresolved, at the back of his mind.

To read the case study in full, email innovation@london.edu.

John Bates

John Bates is a Fellow of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School.