Insights

Portfolio personalities: across the pond and back again

Craig Letton is CEO of MRM Global, which provides marketing technology for the drinks and hospitality sector. In 2020, BGF invested £2.6 million in the Edinburgh-based business to help fund international growth.

Martin Linden, CEO of MRM Global

1. How long have you been with the company?

Since 2012, when I took over the reins from my parents, who started the business in 2001.

 

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the fact that every day is different and that there is always an opportunity to go after or a challenge to overcome.

 

3. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced at the business?

Covid-19. As a marketing technology business that works solely with major drinks brands in the hospitality channel, we were very exposed and had two quarters where revenue dropped more than 80% due to the lockdown restrictions. It was incredibly tough, but we worked very hard and managed to acquire a number of new customers during that time, which meant that we hit record-breaking sales numbers when the market reopened in summer 2021.

 

4. Why did you choose BGF as a funding partner?

We were looking for a funding partner that could bring more than just capital. We chose BGF for its values, reputation and great people.

 

5. What’s changed since BGF came on board?

BGF’s investment has enabled us to accelerate our growth plan by hiring great talent, expanding into North America and further developing our technology. We’ve also been able to build a fantastic board led by our chairman, Andy Fennel, who was previously chief marketing officer at drinks giant Diageo.

 

6. What’s your most embarrassing experience in your career?

In February 2019, I gave my first ever speech at a marketing conference where I espoused the benefits of focusing your efforts on meeting the specific needs of a particular industry instead of trying to be all things to all people. A month later the pandemic hit and the hospitality sector, which we are entirely focused on, was forced to close for several months. I was taught a painful lesson about how hubris can lead to nemesis – and the importance of diversification.

 

7. What advice would you give to other CEOs?

It’s a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be patient as it takes time to build a great business. I know from experience that you can’t maintain a sprint speed forever so it’s important to pace yourself and be wary of the pace you are setting for others in your team.

 

8. If you weren’t doing this job what else would you do?

I’d love to be a paramedic, firefighter or police detective.

 

9. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

I’d love to use all the lessons I’ve learnt through my career to help other CEOs achieve their business ambitions, while avoiding the many mistakes I made along the way.

 

10. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

I went to high school in the US, which means I have an unusual transatlantic accent and a very North American taste when it comes to music, sports and food.

 

Quickfire round

  • Top destinations to visit in 2022? Whistler, Canada. My mountain bike trip has been postponed since 2019!
  • Who will succeed Daniel Craig as the new James Bond? No idea but I’d love to see a Scottish person in the role.
  • Historical person you most admire? Winston Churchill.
  • Favourite joke or quotation? “Some days you are the statue and some days you are the pigeon.”
  • Beach or country? Country every time.
  • Favourite pastime or hobby? Off-piste skiing and mountain biking. I can’t choose between them.
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a businessman like my dad.

 

BGF Insights 10.05.2021
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