Short Q&A with Christopher Hall, OIC Managing Partner

Christopher tells us about how he is applying his experience in law and corporate finance to early-stage tech investment in Oxford.

 

What’s your role?

I’m a partner in the firm and work with our Research and Investment Team on much of the investment work, with a particular emphasis on the corporate finance aspects of our investments. I serve on the Boards of four companies in our portfolio, and I strive to learn as much as possible about the extraordinary science behind the developments being led by these companies.

 

Tell us a little about some of your career highlights.

In my past legal career I drafted a capital markets law for the Republic of Bolivia. The country was transitioning from a manual trading system to an electronic one, so there was some technology involved as well.

 

Why did you get involved with OIC?

My background is in corporate finance law, with a few years in the telecommunications sector, and I have been an angel investor in early stage fast growth companies for many years. My role here allows me to combine and apply the learning from the key parts of my background.

 

What’s your favourite thing about working with spinout companies in Oxford?

The extraordinarily sophisticated scientific content and the ambition of many of the management teams to change the world for the better.

 

Which OIC portfolio company excites you the most and why?

I can’t name a favourite – there are too many to choose from and I would do a disservice by leaving some out. I sit on the Boards of our Oxford portfolio companies Navenio and Oxford Flow, each of which is fascinating in its own way.

 

What is the best piece of professional advice you have received?

Treating people with whom you deal fairly will always pay dividends in the end.

 

What are the three things key traits in a successful VC-backed company?

I would almost say management, management, management – a strong management team is certainly at the top of any list I would endorse; ground-breaking science for which there is a real need and a clear vision of a path to commercial realisation are close seconds.

 

What book are you reading at the moment

Reading a few at once due to short attention span: Black Wave by Kim Ghattas; Agent Sonya by Ben Macintyre; and Fracture by Matthew Parris. All quite challenging reads-perhaps I shall treat myself to a John Grisham next.

 

Who (either dead or alive) would you have for dinner and why?

Nelson Mandela and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The reasons are self-evident.

 

What advice would you give to someone founding a university spinout company?

Set yourself ambitious but realistic goals, surround yourself with the best team possible, and rely on the scientific knowledge, business acumen and broad-based support that the university ecosystem can make available to you.