Highlights start-ups, scale-ups, buy-outs… with ambitious, driven entrepreneurs

We look to work with management teams who understand the importance of a unified culture and common goals. Who are hungry for success, have the appetite for the journey, and are not afraid of hard work or learning from mistakes.

We want to immerse ourselves in businesses rooted in fairness, transparency and drive. Most of all we want to be part of enterprises whose people are motivated by, and enjoy, making a positive difference to the team whilst generating shareholder returns.


We offer a unique blend of experience, from start-ups and FTSE 100s to élite sport

As partners, we bring you:

  • Our own money (private capital), so we are personally invested
  • A proven ‘toolbox’ of skills and expertise
  • An ability to prioritise and focus
  • The oxygen of our valuable network of contacts
  • Vast experience of the journey to start, scale, float or sell a business
  • Equity-driven principles: we’re all in the same boat – all take the risks, all reap the rewards
  • The feeling that you would definitely want to share the ride with us over and over again!


Three highly experienced, driven business friends, buoyed by the buzz of feeding off each other and enjoying success together.

Chris Cole

Chris Cole


Growing up, I soon realised that I wanted to build companies that my family would be proud of, and would generate freedom and flexibility through wealth creation.

  • I started a sandwich delivery business at 16, failed quickly and went to college!
  • After working at Johnson & Johnson to learn about sales and marketing I joined the team that launched Hydrogen – a radically different recruitment business we built and floated on the Stock Market within 10 years… for £60m
  • Over the following decade I invested in, and grew, Bionic with Jon. Along the way I’ve challenged myself and those around me, had a lot of fun and garnered awards such as Sunday Times Best Company, Virgin Fast Track, and Ernst and Young Entrepreneur
  • By nature I tend to be the results and execution-focused one
  • I loved hearing that the team at Bionic were able to put down house deposits and help their families through realising share options. It’s what building businesses is all about – creating freedom and flexibility.

I don’t do egos: I love being part of a trusting team, and helping people build companies. I’m also a great believer in long-term relationships: Martyn was one of my first clients in recruitment, Jonathan and I were friends from college, and I remain close to the Hydrogen crew.

Jonathan Elliott

Jonathan Elliott


I started my first (questionable!) enterprise at school, having been fascinated by business from an early age. I established my first truly legitimate company during the ‘dotcom’ boom, after six years at BT in sales, marketing and consulting roles. 

  • Since then I’ve led 9 businesses: some thrived and a couple failed. If only I’d known then what I know now…
  • Most recently, with Chris, I transformed Bionic (originally branded Make it Cheaper) from a back bedroom into an all singing, all dancing, private equity-funded ‘fastrack, profit track’ busines
  • Having now established a great management team at Bionic, I’m hugely excited about working with Chris and Martyn at 40Fathoms. We’ll use our funds, time and experience to invest in entrepreneurs and management teams to build the next generation of tomorrow’s ‘pin-up’ businesses
  • I love commercial challenges, problem-solving, and helping people unlock their potential. I believe in the art of the possible, and am passionate about the power of goals and the importance of goodwill and karma.

Guided by the principle of meritocracy, I believe that anyone, given the right focus, can achieve success. As someone who wasn’t your typical A-grade student, this means a lot to me, even if some of my teachers didn’t believe in it!

Martyn Phillips

Martyn Phillips


I grew up with the ambition of playing rugby for Wales but, at 19, suffered a career-ending injury that largely shaped who I am today.

  • Starting in Fishguard, my journey has taken me and my wife along the M4 through Cardiff, Swindon, Reading, and finally London, where I met Chris nearly 30 years ag0
  • During 20 years with the Kingfisher Group, I eventually worked my way up to CEO for B&Q
  • In 2005 I helped Chris start up Hydrogen (business recruitment), where I was a non-executive director until 2015
  • In 2013 I met Jon and, along with Chris, proudly helped to grow Bionic, using some of the tools that are key to the 40Fathoms methodology
  • In 2015 I joined the Welsh Rugby Union as CEO, also sitting on the board of the British and Irish Lions and Six Nations Rugby
  • I’m very big on loyalty, wherever my involvement: when I’m in, I’m in!

I never did get to play for Wales, but came as close as I could without actually pulling on the red jersey! 40Fathoms is the perfect next challenge for me to dive into: it’s now about giving back, helping people fulfil their potential, and working with businesses I would be happy for my family to one day be a part of.


Do you believe your oyster has genuine pearl potential?

To dip your toes and test the water at 40Fathoms, email us at testthewater@40fathoms.co.uk