“As an entrepreneur, it’s not just about making money - it’s also about the positive social change you can make.” 

Our autumn Speaker series got off to a tremendous start with a talk on Thursday 9 November 2023, from Nick Bettany.  Nick is not only the Chair of the Bettany Centre Advisory Board but also the son of the late philanthropist Tim Bettany, whose generosity created the Centre.  Over a fascinating hour, Nick talked about how his father’s life as an entrepreneur inspired his journey as an investor and serial business founder.   He also shared some of the thrills and spills he has enjoyed - and suffered - during what has been a rollercoaster ride.

Nick’s father, Tim, was one of the pioneering Cranfield MBA class of 1969.  Having seen his own father devote his entire life to a corporate career with Shell, Tim decided that this was not for him.   On graduating from the business school, Tim acquired and turned around underperforming listed companies before creating an investment management firm, Ashburton Securities, from his home island of Jersey.   That led to investing in hotels and, eventually, on the sale of Ashburton, to retirement on a vineyard in the Loire Valley in France.  Towards the end of his life, Tim endowed Cranfield with a Chair to foster entrepreneurship at the School of Management, which resulted in the present-day Bettany Centre, recently ranked top in Europe for entrepreneurship on the MBA[1].

Nick’s path has been a similar one.  On the day he qualified as a chartered accountant, he left the profession.   He too, worked in fund management and administration before attending business school and then embarked on his own series of business ventures.  An early partnership stalled because his co-founder refused to dilute his shareholding, which deterred further investment.  Soon after, Nick saw an opportunity in the fractional holiday home ownership sector and invested in the Hideaways Club.  Leveraging his contacts in the investment community and using some of his own money, he entered the restaurant business. He opened in Jersey, recruiting a local celebrity chef and gained a Michelin star faster than anyone had ever done before.  A stream of management contracts flowed in, but, as Nick can testify, the restaurant trade is notoriously hard to make money in.

Some of the subsequent adventures he described were truly hair-raising, including a logistics company in Ghana that promised huge returns proved enormously challenging: the terrain and weather conditions progressively destroyed all of the firm’s trucks. 

Throughout these ups and downs, there has been one constant: a business called LV Care, now the LV Care Group.   In 2009, Nick spotted an opportunity in Jersey.   The advent of low-cost airlines selling cheap flights to southern Europe had made lower-cost hotels on the island unviable.  Nick raised money to acquire properties at bargain prices, starting by bootstrapping and then bringing in institutional capital.   The opportunity was to repurpose these failing businesses into top-quality care home facilities, filling a gap in the market: Jersey has a wealthy population but has been served historically by poor quality later-life care.  With some pride in his voice, Nick says that the LV Group is today Jersey’s second largest private sector employer. The Group is now expanding and is already operating on the Isle of Man, with more exciting opportunities in the UK and Europe in the pipeline.

Nick finished his talk with five main lessons he learned along the way.

  1. The team is everything.  Work with people who have honesty and integrity.
  2. Know when to quit and when to stay.  When things have looked very bleak at times, Nick has kept a cool head and found a way through.
  3. At the same time, don’t swim against the tide.  Don’t continue to bang your head against a brick wall.
  4. At each stage, get expert advice from people you trust.
  5. Above all, enjoy the journey!

The Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship Speaker series continues throughout November, celebrating 2023 Global Entrepreneurship Week.

For more information about the LV Care group, please visit https://lv.care.

[1] See www.bloomberg.com/business-schools/regions/europe