For video games developer and publisher Team17, being on AIM has been a platform for expansion and a means of strengthening its culture.

Playing an agile game

Given its dynamic growth over the past few years, it’s probably not surprising that one of Team17’s flagship franchises is a strategy game.

Founded in 1990 and admitted to AIM in May 2018, Wakefield-based video games developer and publisher has been a constant innovator – in its content, its approach to development and in its business model. And that has been rewarded with record revenues and operating profits in its recent financial year.

The company has a roster of its own proprietary titles but also creates games in partnership with independent (“indie”) developers worldwide. It is focused on the premium – rather than free-to-play – area of the market and its portfolio currently comprises more than 100 games.

"We are not dependent on a particular title or platform," says CEO and co-founder Debbie Bestwick, "and we have an incredibly agile approach and are super-selective about the number of games that we sign up and develop."


gamers across the world1

Not your average CEO

She had wanted to be in the gaming world since she was 12. She had been a female founder of a business while still in her teens. She has only ever had one job interview. A games fanatic who wears her heart on her sleeve and keeping her hair purple, Debbie Bestwick does not conform to the stereotype of the public company CEO.

The prospect, therefore, of an intense round of meetings with potential investors for the IPO looked intimidating. But, she says, she received great advice from other CEOs in her industry as well as from her professional advisers. “They told me to be myself – ‘they will love you for being you.’ On the roadshow I soon discovered it was OK to be me.” And the resulting IPO was heavily oversubscribed.

"The IPO has been a good and positive experience."

Debbie Bestwick

CEO, Team17

Providing fresh incentives

Team17’s IPO raised £107.5m, the proceeds of which were used to repay debt and to distribute to existing shareholders. It also put Team17 in a secure financial position and provided the company with ready access to additional financial capacity to support future M&A plans.

It also gave the company a higher profile and enhanced credibility among its international partners and importantly allows the company to attract high quality talent to support its growth plans.

Importantly for Bestwick it also enabled the company to start building an employee benefit trust, thus embedding the ability to incentivise both current and future employees. It was a way for the business to give back to its employees through incentive schemes and shareholdings. Although gossip about the share price is firmly discouraged – “I don’t talk about it and I am the biggest shareholder,” she says – equity participation is proving very popular. According to Bestwick, up to 50 per cent of the company’s employees contribute each month towards buying shares as part of the scheme. “They are in Team17 for the long term.”

Staying focused

It took just 91 days between the decision to float and Team17’s IPO taking place. “We were committed and focused,” says Bestwick – “and we wanted to get back to our day jobs.”

For someone who “loves to learn something every day,” the IPO certainly delivered on learning. One critical lesson was to ensure that the company focuses on business as usual during the process. “You have to make sure that the City doesn’t distract you,” she says, “and to keep everybody’s feet firmly on the ground. The IPO has been a good and positive experience. The City is now a part of us – but we are not part of the City on a daily basis.”

91 days

from the decision to float to IPO

1 NewZoo Global Games Report 2019

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