Piers is of Barbadian and English heritage. His father grew up in working class Manchester and his mother grew up in Barbados before coming to the UK in the early 1960s to train as a nurse with the NHS. His parents have been his most important role models. Piers grew up in a small mill town in Lancashire in North-West England where he attended the local comprehensive school after failing his 11+ to the horror of his parents. This wasn’t the fault of his primary school as, although he was capable in all subjects and was expected to pass, he didn’t do the work to learn the necessary examination techniques. With aspirations of being his own boss even at the age of thirteen, Piers gave up on his week-day paper round and cut out his local newsagent by going direct to the wholesaler to start his own Sunday paper round. He trebled his weekly income for one morning of work to fund the purchase of a new BMX bike. This was his first entrepreneurial endeavour and his first business disposal, when he sold the round several years later. This continued as he made money selling household products door to door. As he grew older, Piers remained determined to get into business but also wanted to attend University.
After two runs at his A-levels following a change of one subject and a year out to attend night classes, Piers went on to study Accounting and Law (4 years) at the University of Manchester. His course covered law, accounting and economics as well as social accounting and responsibility, corporate finance theory and economics and law. Piers received the Law Faculty’s RG Lawson Prize for Law and Economics in 1994 for the highest mark in the final examination. Although Piers secured a training contract in Manchester after a six week work placement, after attending Law School in London, he became determined to qualify in the City and successfully qualified as a Solicitor in 1997. After 68 applications, he secured a training contract in London with renowned City law firm SJ Berwin where he specialised in venture capital and corporate finance and experienced management teams and investors cutting deals. Even during this time Piers remained involved in a number of entrepreneurial ventures in business services, film and media. After qualification, he went on to become an investment banker working in mergers and acquisitions at Barclays de Zoete Wedd (BZW) and then Credit Suisse where he also gained experience of leveraged buy-outs (LBOs). When applying to Credit Suisse for its graduate programme, he was not invited for interview, but thrived in a far more senior role he found himself in only several months later. The skills he learned in the City would create the basis of his success in the future.
Once Piers had accumulated a deep understanding of corporate and venture capital law and corporate finance, he realised that a job in the City could never truly fulfil his career desires. In 2000, he resolved to leave and start his own internet enterprise as he recognised the enormous and disruptive opportunity the Internet posed. Since leaving the City, Piers have been involved in a wide range of sectors and businesses through direct investments and via a number of funds ranging from property to pharmaceutical research to dance music. Ever seeking new opportunities, after running his own corporate finance and alternative finance advisory business, he also became a partner in an alternative investment fund, providing structured equity and debt finance to small cap publicly traded companies.
In 2007, Piers led, with his business partner with Simon Newton, the buyout of Genesis Communications, a mobile voice and data reseller company from a FTSE-100 company. By consolidating the market and moving to an online self-service model, the mobile business became a sector leader with revenues of £43 million before it was sold in 2011. With his visionary eye, Piers was convinced that business communications would converge with IT and become much more than just telephones, he could see the transformational potential the internet would have on communications, before anyone in his space. This created the birth of what we know today as Outsourcery.
Developed through four acquisitions, the Cloud Service Provider business showed the promise of achieving success from the outset and proved its potential in 2010 when it was named as Microsoft’s worldwide Hosting Partner of the Year. In 2013 Outsourcery was one of three award finalists and the only one in EMEA for Microsoft’s worldwide Server Platform Partner of the Year. Having invested millions of pounds of his own money developing the business, Outsourcery was floated on the Alternative Investment Market in May 2013 and has since raised almost £20 million to fund the expansion of the business.
As an extension of his interests in the power of the internet and technology, Piers was a founding member of the governance board of the UK’s Cloud Industry Forum, a body which aims to provide transparency through certification to a Code of Practice for credible online Cloud service providers. Because of his industry profile in on cloud computing, Piers regularly appears in the media to discuss the benefits of cloud computing. His interviews have been featured on Bloomberg, Sky News, CNN, CNBC, BBC and widely in the national, regional and business press.
Piers appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire in 2011 which covered the ten days he spent in Wolverhampton’s Brinsford Young Offenders’ Institution. Although Piers already knew the struggles faced by today’s youth, it was during these ten days when he realised the importance of inspiring other people; one of the young men Piers spent time with in the institution as employed by Outsourcery and after working with the company for two years has now become a cloud consultant. His media profile also stems from his position on the panel of BBC 2’s prime-time programme Dragons’ Den. On the show, Piers is able to use his skills of seeking out the importance of new innovations and his resources to invest in new businesses across a range of sectors.
Piers was named on the Thomson Reuters sponsored Powerlist 2014 as one of the top 100 most influential black Britons and is a trustee of The Powerlist Foundation, which seeks to identify the leaders of tomorrow and which announced in June 2014 that it had successfully bid to open a central London Leadership College under the DfE Free Schools programme. Piers was selected as the first ‘Entrepreneur Leader of the Year’ at the inaugural EY sponsored Black British Business Awards in October 2014. He was also an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Finalist in 2012 and 2014. He is a trustee of NESTA, the leading innovation charity, and Plotr, the government-backed careers inspiration platform. He is involved with Virgin Unite as a member of its 24902 Community and a number of other charities as their Patron. He believes in doing good with success and in the power of business as a positive force for change. In his charitable activities, Piers is keen to capitalise on his professional and personal experiences to encourage the entrepreneurial talent which lies dormant in others as well as creating a level playing field so individuals are only limited by their own ability and aspiration and not social or institutional barriers.
Piers is now focused on applying his experience, resources and networks to establish workinsight.org as a national digital platform to create opportunity and inspire young people irrespective of their socio-economic background, academic record, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or even just a bad haircut.
In addition to his work-life, Piers is a keen cycling and mountain-biking enthusiast, especially downhilling. He owns five bikes for road (Condor Leggero frame), cross-country (Lapierre Zesty), cyclo-cross (Condor Terra X frame), downhill (Evil Undead frame) and a hard tail (Evil Sovereign frame and full Chris King).
Piers is passionate about entrepreneurship, diversity, technology and social mobility. He is intuitive and excited about what the rapid evolution of technology, communications and the internet has to offer the business world and he enjoys sharing his own knowledge and experience with others.
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