Entrepreneur says Suffolk accent is his secret weapon

Posted on April 9, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox

A serial entrepreneur says people often underestimate him because of his strong Suffolk accent. 

Glenn Cooper is the chairman of St Helens-based Inovus Medical and is best known as the founder of bollard manufacturer ATG Access, which was sold for more than £22m in 2019. 

Speaking to BusinessCloud at an investment roundtable the Ipswich Town fan said he uses his country accent to his advantage when it comes to negotiating with lawyers. 

He said: “I’ve got a broad Suffolk accent. I sit with these lawyers and say ‘I don’t understand any of this pre and post-money stuff, give me the idiot’s guide because I’m the boy from Suffolk’. 

“Did I understand that stuff? Yes I did, but don’t think the lawyers and corporate finance advisers have all the knowledge. Be prepared to play the idiot and never give up.” 

Under his leadership ATG Access become a global player in the installation of road blocker, bollards and vehicle barrier systems. 

The manufacturer took investment from mid market private equity house LDC in 2013. 

Mr Cooper said: “I knew it was the right to get investment when I could see the markets growing really fast. With ATG Access we could see we had a fairly strong position in the UK. It was developing in the Middle East but it was exploding in the US. There was no way we could have managed these regions effectively without investment. There was too much opportunity. If we didn’t have the right people and the deep pockets to do the travel we’d have lost the opportunity. 

“LDC didn’t interfere. Like all these private equity guys if you hit your numbers they’ll continue to support you and help. LDC came in with a 100-day plan. They linked us with people in the marketplace and it gave us more credibility. 

“Investors do bring a lot of discipline and challenge you. The biggest mistake you can make with investors is only sharing good news. If you’ve got issues then get them on the table. Telling them too late damages the business and your reputation. Before you take any investment do your research.” 

  • The other speakers were Chris Eccles, CEO, ChargePoint Technology; Martyn Gould, consultant and founder of rightsignal; James Bedford, digital cluster development manager at STFC; Marc Schmid, founder, Redmoor Health; Paul Woods, managing director, Proactive Despatch; Amman Ahmed, founder, MusicForPets; Laura Simpson, co-founder, My Bespoke; Chris Reid, founder and CEO, Connect Childcare; and Jon Davage, head of corporate, Bermans

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