Calculus begins the year with a successful exit for Once Upon a Time

Calculus Capital has sold their investment in London-based marketing agency Once Upon a Time (OUAT) in a deal that netted investors an expected total return of 1.8x, excluding the tax benefits associated with investing through EIS.

OUAT is a marketing agency that delivers the full range of marketing services; from advertising, branding, media, all forms of creative, shopper and in-store marketing and the production of physical and digital assets. Examples of high-profile brands they work with include Disney, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Netflix, William Grant and BMG Music.

Founded in 2013, OUAT received investment from Calculus Capital in 2015. Since its foundation the business has acquired seven specialist agencies. In 2019 the company went international with the purchase of Ideawork Studios, a US company with offices in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

OUAT Chief Executive and Co-founder Joe Garton, who has led the MBO as part of a wider re-financing initiative, said: “When we founded Once Upon A Time we had a mission to build a new generation of agency based on sectors people love such as entertainment, sport, hospitality and music. The investment from Calculus Capital has been instrumental in providing us with the capacity to grow the company.”

John Glencross, Chief Executive at Calculus Capital said: “Our business philosophy is to invest to ensure promising businesses can reach their full potential. Our investment in OUAT underlines our track record in the creative sector, which bodes well for the UK Creative Content EIS Fund we launched last year. Our support has helped the agency grow from a business with less than £10m of revenue to one with more than £43m and has delivered our investors a solid return in just over four years.”

In September Calculus announced the successful sale of its stake in gene therapy business Synpromics. Glencross added: “We have a number of deals close to fruition at the moment and 2020 looks like being a strong year for exits as well as new investments.”