Darren Harper is a seasoned industry disruptor – directly involved in establishing a number of high growth businesses, and their teams, from the ground up.
He is now an advisor, mentor, and trainer to ambitious business founders, and senior management teams – specialising in strategic assessment and development of actionable and innovative, growth and succession plans. He is a great believer in driving towards simplicity – making common sense, common practise.
I have always been curious and imaginative. My PhD taught me how to research and critically assess data, then develop my own considered opinion, which I could effectively communicate to my peers.
I also learnt that the pace of academic life was not for me. This led me to enter into the entrepreneurial business world, where I was introduced to a frustrated Post Doc who had the idea of building a business to make research antibodies, that actually worked, for research scientists across the globe. His passion and a shared frustration led to me joining his startup called Abcam and building the production division (initially whilst writing my PhD thesis). Over the next 2 years I went through a massive learning curve; designing, sourcing and overseeing the development of my own production facility; travelling across the world to develop international development partner and tester networks; helping to develop one of the first social networks ‘The Worlds Antibody Gateway’; and learning, through a number of hard lessons, how to be a good manager and leader within a rapidly growing business. Abcam went on to exceed all of our initial expectations and last time I looked had a market Cap of £1.2bn on AIM.
I became a “high-growth” addict and through an introduction from a colleague I took the next step on my business education when I was asked to join a company called Library House, which was initially established to find investment opportunities for a collection of massively successful business Angels, including the founders of Acorn, ARM, GlobespanVirata, Interactive Investor to name a few. Over successive years my appetite for high-growth businesses was more than satiated as I surrounded myself with hugely successful entrepreneurs, many of whom acted as mentors for me. I also got to profile and meet thousands of fast growth businesses across Europe, and develop an in-depth understanding of the DNA behind success. I built a research and analysis team, which at its height had around 40 employees, where I honed my management skills; developing internal training and promotion frameworks to ensure talent was nurtured and wherever possible retained. I learned to quickly assess businesses and their teams for the investment community, government programmes, and potential acquirers. I also led a team that developed groundbreaking events and reports, being one of the first people to define: the Cambridge Cluster and Tech Clusters across Europe; The Cleantech Industry, and MediaTech.
Disappointment with the generally poor state of professional business networks and associated events led a colleague and I to establish The Business Leaders Network (BLN). Over the years I have become acquainted with some of the world’s most outstanding business minds and entrepreneurs, across almost every industry sector you can imagine, who constantly challenge and inform my opinions, and have kept the “fire in my belly”!
My journey then continued when I was approached to help establish the governments flagship GrowthAccelerator initiative. Through the course of working with SME’s to define coaching and training to take them forward I had a light-bulb moment and decided this was my next chapter.
I established Auspex Ventures to help company founders and leadership teams on their own high-growth rollercoaster, sharing some of my own personal wisdom, and that of the many truly incredible people who have mentored, and got drunk with me, over my crazy business career.
I look forward to speaking with you!
I suspect anyone looking at this page uses LinkedIn so why not check out my background, and more importantly any shared connections, so you can ask people you trust for their opinion about me and my work.