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What does the 2019 General Election mean for startups and SMEs?

“Next week voters face their starkest choice yet, between Boris Johnson, whose Tories promise a hard Brexit, and Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party plans to “rewrite the rules of the economy”. Mr Johnson runs the most unpopular new government on record; Mr Corbyn is the most unpopular leader of the opposition. On Friday the 13th, unlucky Britons will wake to find one of these horrors in charge.”  – The Economist 

The result of the election, for better or worse, is inevitably going to have an impact on the potential fortunes of your startup. We’ve done some investigating into the manifestos of the three main parties topping the polls – Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrats, to shed light on what their policies might mean for your business. This article touches on just a few of the policies and their potential impacts. We do not intend to offer a value judgement of any form, instead, we hope to provide a high-level overview of policy changes. 

The Conservative Party 

The mantra ‘get Brexit done’ dominates the Conservative manifesto, with few radical policy changes that could negatively impact small businesses, other than the economic impacts of Brexit itself. They hope to leave the EU in January and continue negotiating a trade agreement with other countries throughout 2020; experts predict that to leave without a deal would make average incomes 8% lower than they would otherwise have been after ten years.

Embedded within the manifesto are some modest policy changes that could benefit startups; they have promised not to raise income tax and VAT, cancelling “plans to lower Corporation Tax, keeping it at 19 per cent,” with the hope to “redesign the tax system so that it boosts growth, wages and investment”. They also pledge to clamp down on late payments and “support start-ups and small businesses via government procurement, and commit to paying them on time” in an effort to “support small businesses that are exploited by their larger partners.” 

Additionally, they plan to “expand start-up loans, which have particularly high take-up from women and BAME entrepreneurs”. So far, the British Business Bank has supported “90,000 smaller businesses with over £7 billion in investment or loans, and will continue to grow.” They have also announced a £3bn National Skills Fund, which will provide “funding for individuals and SMEs for high-quality education and training”. 

The Labour Party

Labour, if elected, hope to negotiate a new Brexit deal within 3 months, prioritising protecting workers rights, a UK Customs Union and an alignment with the single market – then putting the deal to a second referendum. 

Nationalisation prevails in their manifesto, requiring increased taxes on businesses and individuals. Corporation tax would be increased from 19% to 21% by April 2020, with further rises taking it to 26% by 2023. For small businesses – which Labour have defined as those with a turnover below £300,000 – “the current 19% corporation tax rate would be retained initially, rising to 21% by 2023”. These actions could taint the current attractive corporation tax rate in the UK, which helps promote foreign investment.

Additionally, they plan to “rapidly introduce a Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 or over” using “public finances to help small businesses manage the extra cost”. They plan to give individuals working regular hours for more than 12 weeks, the right to a regular contract, as opposed to zero-hours. Further, they plan to get rid of entrepreneurs’ relief – the charging of capital gains tax at 10% on up to £10m raised from selling a business, in an attempt to reform what they believe is currently “an inefficient system of tax relief”. The manifesto also mentions setting up a Business Development Agency, which would offer “free support and advice on how to launch, manage and grow a business”.

The Liberal Democrat Party 

The ‘middle way’ appears to characterise the Liberal Democrat manifesto, relative to the increasing divergence of the Labour and Conservative positions, offering a centre-left stance on free market capitalism, With regards to Brexit, the push to stop it in its tracks by revoking Article 50 is clear, in favour of open markets and a liberal society.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto offers an apparent end the Brexit saga and unreformed taxation policies. This would not only see an end to Brexit anxiety, but means that small businesses would also be able to operate under the same terms as they are used to. Liberal Democrats want to take Corporation Tax to 20 per cent “and keep the rate stable with a predictable future path.”

Vince Cable, Jo Swinson’s predecessor, is a firm advocate of the startup scene, just days before the election, he is giving talks on topics such as ‘The State of Entrepreneurship in the UK’. His party introduced the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Growth Accelerator, a 4-year programme helping rapidly expanding SMEs. Further to this, R&D programmes, support for flexible IP rules, and regional creative enterprise zones demonstrate the party’s alignment with the needs of small businesses. 

The Lib Dems wish to broaden the role of the British Business Bank, by introducing a ‘start-up allowance’, to encourage entrepreneurship by helping with living costs during the formative period of businesses. Additionally, they hope to “support investment in new UK digital start-ups by reforming the British Business Bank’s support for venture capital funds to enable it to help funds ‘crowd in’ new backers rather than acting as a funder of last resort.” From a training and development perspective, they are proposing “a new Skills Wallet for every adult, giving people £10,000 to spend on approved education and training courses”. 

These policies demonstrate that innovation and business entrepreneurship remain a priority. Yet the uncertainty brought about by Brexit and its subsequent effects on business arguably tarnish the potential contribution of such policies, making the advantages seem merely compensatory in comparison to the damage already caused. It is also worth remembering that manifesto claims are not always substantiated, as the Institute of Fiscal Studies’ General Election Manifesto Analysis shows. It makes for some interesting reading as we wait to see the outcome of Thursday’s election. 

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SeedTribe relaunches as ‘UK impact hub’ – powering profit-with-purpose driven businesses

Ethical investment platform SeedTribe has relaunched as a new UK-focused impact hub. The platform connects startups with individuals, corporates and governments interested in helping profit-with-purpose businesses. SeedTribe’s new remit includes mentoring, networking and recruitment, as well as investment.

SeedTribe uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”)  as its impact framework with all businesses on the platform at Stage 1, raising up to £1M and driving revenue. Businesses that appear on the platform are heavily vetted so only the most inspiring are selected. Businesses are featured free of charge, but have the option to buy “add-ons”. These include helping with their fundraise, advertising a job to the network or showcasing an event. 

New content

New content includes spotlight interviews with founders, advice and guidance for startups who need support. There are also events, opportunities and a free match-up service enabling individuals to connect with businesses. Following extensive research and discussions with the network SeedTribe has identified five key areas of focus. These are:

1.     Mentors/Advisors
2.     Corporates giving financial or in-kind support in line with their values and fields of expertise
3.     Recruitment opportunities
4.     Interesting events they can attend
5.     Investment or other types of funding

Businesses winning investment and support

Businesses on the SeedTribe platform winning investment and support include: Teysha Technologies, a natural polycarbonate platform creating fully biodegradable substitutes for plastics and PinPoint who use data science to detect the early signs of cancer.

The site is powered by Angel Investment Network – the world’s largest online angel investment platform, with a global network of more than 1 million entrepreneurs and 200,000 investors.

Olivia Sibony is the CEO of SeedTribe and she was recently named one of the UK’s Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs for her work on SeedTribe.

She said: “Our entire ethos is using business as a force for good, meaning profit and purpose need to be interlinked. Over the past 18 months I have been approached by so many people who believe in our mission and want to help in ways beyond simply funding.” 

She continued: “Our community is dedicated to finding solutions to the world’s most intractable problems, helping impact-driven entrepreneurs  meet the people and institutions who can teach, support and fund their ventures. We believe in the power of collaboration and together we can empower business to be used as a force for good and transform our world.

Olivia is urging anyone keen to help SeedTribe’s mission to reach out. Please visit seedtribe.com for more information.

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Angel Investment Network celebrates 15th anniversary

From a vision of opening up the closed world of angel investment to an expanding global network of a million users

AIN London team

From a proposal for a rabbit mashing factory in Russia to successfully funding What3Words, Angel Investment Network (AIN) co-founders Mike Lebus and James Badgett have seen it all. It has now been 15 years since our co-founders and childhood friends formed AIN, now the world’s largest online angel network. What started in the early days of the internet as two friends having a vision of an interconnected network of angel investors and startups has led to a platform now spanning 90 countries and more than a million users. Meanwhile the team is now 25 strong with team members in the UK, USA, Mexico, Spain and Nepal.

Our co-founders in earlier times…

Living and breathing the startup world since the early noughties, the team has successfully raised funds for standout companies like What3Words, Novastone and Rosa’s Thai. In the last few years the company has been developing at a breakneck pace with the launch of two spin-off brands, SeedTribe, a community for impact-focused businesses, and BrickTribe, which connects investors and lenders with property developers with proven track records. 

In the last year alone, AIN has received over 100,000 pitches from entrepreneurs across the globe, with the figure doubling over the last two years. Alongside existing markets there has been a rapid growth of startups coming from emerging markets. Meanwhile investors registering on the site have surged nearly 40% year on year, now standing at more than 200,000 registered business angels. 

Alongside the online platform, AIN also runs a successful broking division, which has seen exceptional growth in the past 12 months. AIN has been involved in several significant raises in 2019, including eco-friendly baby product business Kit & Kin, fully customisable bio-polymer plastic company Teysha, and Pin Point, a data science offering early cancer detection.

Our co-founders James Badgett and Mike Lebus today

Speaking about the anniversary James Badgett said:
“When we first set up, no one looked for investment online. Most investment came through personal connections, which not everyone has access to. We saw that good ideas weren’t getting the funding they deserved, because entrepreneurs’ access to angels outside their immediate circles was severely restricted. We imagined a platform which gave all entrepreneurs access to a national and international network of investors; and, of course, the only way to do that was online. It is remarkable to see how it has grown and we are proud of AIN’s place at the epicentre of the startup scene in the UK and now spanning the globe.”


Mike Lebus said:
“When we set up AIN, angel groups tended to be focused on a regional basis. Applying to them, following up, getting feedback, arranging meetings, etc was fairly laborious. We had the idea of creating a portal to streamline the whole process for entrepreneurs and investors. I feel immensely proud to have helped brilliant companies like Sweatcoin and What3words on their journey to huge success. However, of course there are no guarantees of funding and the startup idea needs to capture the imagination of any potential investors. Over time you do get a sense of what will work and what will sadly remain a pipe dream. We launched the broking division to apply our team’s expertise of selecting high quality dealflow and to help our investors identify the best prospects.

With AIN now having a footprint in every continent (except Antarctica where unsurprisingly there doesn’t seem to be much demand), we can’t wait to see where we’ll be 15 years from now! Happy anniversary AIN.


 

PinPoint raises £1m with support from Angel Investment Network to fund early cancer detection

HealthTech startup PinPoint Data Science has successfully raised over £1m, supported by Angel Investment Network (AIN).

The PinPoint Test uses AI/Machine Learning to rapidly ‘rule out’ cancer from a simple blood sample. It may be used for all cancer types. AIN was the only external organisation PinPoint accepted investment from in a round that lasted just six weeks.

The investment will be used for implementation trials starting mid-2020. It will also include R&D on improved versions of the product, an expanded full time team, regulatory compliance, the purchase of new equipment and the development of new products. Leeds-based PinPoint was formed in 2018 and now has a team of nine working full time. 

According to the CEO Giles Tully: “These funds will help our ambition of enabling doctors to make better, smarter and more efficient decisions. In 2018, over two million patients who presented with vague symptoms were sent for testing to check for cancer. 92.6% of those patients did not have cancer and yet still had to undergo invasive diagnosis at a huge cost to the NHS and great concern for the patients. PinPoint has already achieved nearly 25% rule out. Last year this would have given over 500,000 patients peace of mind in a few days and saved the NHS over £150m. Our technology will save lives, improve patient experience and significantly reduce costs.”

According to Sam Louis, Head of Consultancy at AIN, who led the fundraise: “This is one of the most exciting businesses we have worked with in recent years. Like all the best startups they have developed a solution to a very real problem. In this case it’s a problem that’s very close to home for a great number of people. We were delighted we were the only organisation they worked with to raise the funds. It was really encouraging the investors we sourced were aligned with their vision.”

PinPoint is one of the companies featured on the new SeedTribe website. SeedTribe, powered by AIN, is an online community connecting profit-with-purpose startups with expertise and investment.

Bioplastics company – Teysha Technologies – completes £1.2m EIS funding round on Angel Investment Network

Amsterdam: Plastic waste floating in a canal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

According to the UN, 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year. If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Confronted by increasingly urgent global issues, more and more entrepreneurs and investors are working to see business objectives align with what’s best for the planet. The bioplastics company Teysha Technologies are doing just this, by helping tackle the world’s plastic problem. 

With a world-leading team, Teysha has created a material patented, renewable, fully biodegradable plastic substitute. Using organic waste matter, they can create polymers for 100s of different applications: whether you need a hard casing for a lipstick packaging or a flexible wrapping for a retail item, they can do it. From building insulation to car dashboard moulding, the potential is vast.

The product also completely bio-degrades back into earth-friendly organic matter, and even this process can be tailored. For example, the product can be broken down in water in a matter of hours, weeks or years, or it could be waterproof yet still breakdown in compost.

Coca-cola “coke” bottle washed onshore – maria mendiola

Teysha has successfully raised £1.2m of investment, supported by Angel Investment Network (AIN). It is also one of the handpicked companies featured on SeedTribe, an online community connecting profit-with-purpose startups with expertise and investment. The investment is being used to deliver prototypes and secure contracts, allowing them to tap into the global bioplastics market which is set to be worth $43.8Bn in 2022. 

Duncan Clark, Director of Operations at Teysha Technologies said: “We are delighted with the interest we have received from AIN investors. Made from all-natural and inedible agricultural waste streams, Teysha’s second-generation bioplastic is the result of decades of R&D. One of the biggest challenges facing bioplastics, as this new industry evolves, concerns the fate of the products when their use has ended, our product tackles this by breaking down to its constituent earth-friendly organic building blocks.”

According to AIN’s Sam Louis, Head of Consultancy, who led the fundraise: “Teysha’s technology creates an incredible opportunity for how we produce materials. The investors on our platform were really drawn to its ability to answer the growing demand for sustainable plastics, its inherent versatility and the ability to create so many different products depending on need. It’s exactly the sort of company we love to be involved with and we have seen a significant rise in interest among investors for impact-led businesses of this type.”

With exciting times ahead, the company’s future is looking undeniably bright. Teysha is part of a movement of companies paving the way for change. This is made possible by the foresight of investors, who are using their influence to support businesses which align profit with purpose, to help create solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

If you’d like to explore pitches from a huge range of entrepreneurs around the world, click here.





How is Angel Investment Network different from crowdfunding?

From crowdfunding sites to online platforms like Angel Investment Network (AIN), there are a multitude of options available to entrepreneurs looking to fundraise. Making the right decision can be a daunting task and it’s sometimes hard to choose the right strategy and identify value. You may be asking yourself, where does Angel Investment Network stand in all of this, if it’s not a crowdfunding site? 

We’ve highlighted a few of the ways AIN differs from crowdfunding, offering a valuable alternative to the ubiquitous crowdfunding sites:


1. Sophisticated investors

Our investors are self-certified as sophisticated investors and/or high net worth individuals. They are typically looking to invest a significantly higher amount than the average crowdfunding investment of just £68. Instead, ticket sizes average at a healthier £50,000. With AIN, you’ll have less small ticket investors and a lower administrative burden, making it easier and quicker for you to raise money. 

2. International Reach 

We have investors from almost every country in the world. Crowdfunding platforms can struggle to achieve this because of varying regulations around crowdfunding in different countries.

3. A flexible service 

AIN offers a very flexible service that grants you access to a large network of potential investors. Unlike crowdfunding, once the initial connection is made, users can take further discussions off-platform and we don’t take part in processing payments. How you then work with them is entirely up to you and the investors: round size can change, valuation can change, it’s as flexible as you like, for as long as you like.

On AIN companies can even complement their profile with any other fundraising avenues that they are exploring – there’s no exclusivity. 

4. No hidden fees

Our platform works on a straight upfront listing fee, and can even be free. With crowdfunding, you will usually be charged a commission on all the funds you raise during your campaign. Our fee doesn’t change if you get more investment, making it a very cost-efficient option.

5. Diverse sectors and investors 

Often crowdfunding platforms can be less effective with businesses that aren’t as universally appealing or consumer-facing. We have companies from almost every sector on the platform, from IT and communications startups to medical ventures. AIN allows users to broadcast their idea to thousands of potential investors looking for new businesses to invest in.

We don’t just have angels, we also have family offices, funds, Venture Capital, and Private Equity firms on our network. It is rare that you would find these on a crowdfunding platform.


We have raised over £300 million for startups around the world, and have built a global network of thousands of entrepreneurs and investors.

Could you benefit from our global network of investors? Click here to get started.

#SixtySecondStartup

Welcome to the first in the series of our #SixtySecondStartup blog. Each month we will be profiling a different founder with some quick fire questions.

This week we are talking to Julian Hall, Founder of Ultra Education C.I.C. Ultra Education teaches young people aged 7-18 entrepreneurial skills to help them grow or start a business. Through their app they ensure that all young people, regardless of their background, have access to the tools needed to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Our interview with Julian:

What does your company do?

We teach entrepreneurship to kids aged from 7-18 years old. We have developed an A.I. powered chatbot that can deliver entrepreneurial education to kids at scale through a native mobile app.

Why did you set up this company?

We believe that entrepreneurship is a great vehicle to help increase the life chances of children and young people. It helps them to develop life and work skills.

We knew we were onto something when:

A parent told us that their child never concentrates in school but we had captured their imagination in less that 20 mins. 

How did you get your first customer?

Word of mouth! I told the story about how my own daughter picked up entrepreneurial skills by watching me working at home. After we realised these skills could be taught and started sharing that idea, we got immediate demand from both parents and schools.

Our business model:

Is a subscription based mobile app powered by A.I. and supported by human mentors in the chat. 

Our most effective marketing channel has been:

Word of mouth through social media. We promote the successes of our ‘kidpreneurs’ and which other people also share on their social media channels.

The biggest mistake that I’ve made is: 

Not growing our team early enough and not capturing the impact of our work.

We think that there’s growth in this sector because: 

More and more kids want to work for themselves and have ambitions that schools are unable to currently support on their own. Entrepreneurship is becoming common place, but kids and young people still don’t have access to on demand support. 

We worked with AIN because:

We believe that angels are not just thinking about a monetary return but also a social return.

Get started today and view pitches from a huge range of entrepreneurs around the world.

A worldview on startup stats

Angel Investment Network connects startups and investors from all over the world. But what does the current global startup climate look like? We have drawn together some statistics to give a brief global overview. 

In terms of numbers, the USA has by far the most number of startups at 46,606.  The UK comes in third place, with 4,901, just a couple of thousand behind India.

However, despite the USA having the highest number of startups, it is Uganda which has the greatest number of entrepreneurs per adult population at 28.1%. Interestingly, 5 out of the 15 countries with the highest proportion of entrepreneurs are in Africa, and Southeast Asia and South America are represented by 4 countries each.

Moving on to unicorns, meaning private companies with a value of over $1 billion, China is in the lead with 149 unicorns, compared to 146 in the USA. These two countries are vastly ahead of any other, with the UK and India coming in a distant third with 13 unicorns each.

Whilst these statistics only scratch the surface of the global startup landscape, they show that it certainly is an exciting world out there! 
All statistics and infographics are from the article Startup Failure Rate and 80+ Other Startling Statistics About Startups.

Angel Investment Network has networks around the world. Wherever you are based, if you are looking for investment find your country’s network, register and then upload your pitch.

Angel Investment Network reports strong annual revenue growth

Angel Investment Network (AIN) has announced strong growth, with annual revenues up 9.4% year on year and a record number of deals for the broking business. AIN now has more than a million users in total on the platform.

AIN received over 100,000 pitches in the past year from entrepreneurs across the globe, with the figure doubling over the last two years. Alongside existing markets there has been a rapid growth of startups coming from emerging markets. Meanwhile investors registering on the site have surged nearly 40% year on year, now standing at more than 200,000 registered business angels.

Alongside the online platform, AIN also runs a successful broking division, which has seen exceptional growth in the past 12 months. Revenues have increased by 22% as demand for the team’s expertise increases. AIN has been involved in several significant raises in the past 12 months for a variety of business. This includes eco-friendly baby product business Kit & Kin, fully customisable bio-polymer plastic company Teysha, and Pin Point, data science offering early cancer detection.

Despite ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and a global slowdown, AIN’s results reveal the buoyant startup culture both in the UK and internationally and the popularity for this method of financing.  The biggest demand among investors over the past year has been for software-based business, however food & beverage and property ventures are also seeing impressive growth. Fast growth worldwide markets include India, Canada and Australia.

Additionally AIN has been expanding into new areas including a property investment site, BrickTribe and an impact-driven online hub SeedTribe, catering for the increasing demand from investors for businesses with sustainability at their core.

According to AIN co-founder Mike Lebus: “AIN is the largest network connecting angel investors with startups, and we continue to see strong growth with investors keen to connect to our wide pool of early-stage businesses. We reflect a strong, growing and resilient worldwide startup culture which has now taken root in every continent of the world. We are particularly encouraged by the performance of our broking business as more and more investors are coming to us for access to high quality dealflow.”

He continues: “We continue to operate a lean and agile business model and we are able to launch new products to respond to the needs of our users. This includes our two new standalone platforms, BrickTribe and SeedTribe, which we built to fulfil demand that we were receiving from our investors.”

AIN’s Olivia Sibony named one of the UK’s top 10 Women entrepreneurs

Olivia Sibony, CEO of SeedTribe and Angel Investment Network’s Head of Impact Investing has been named one of the UK’s top 10 Women Entrepreneurs. 

The accolade came from Business Game Changer Magazine in its annual showcase of The UK’s Top game-changing Women Entrepreneurs. The UK’s Top Ten Women Entrepreneurs recognises the outstanding contribution made by individual UK business women. This contribution is either to their businesses, their local communities or by inspiring and mentoring other entrepreneurs. 

Olivia was recognised for three key reasons. These were:

– Founding and exiting her business, GrubClub, selling to EatWith, feeding tens of thousands of diners through hundreds of chefs, one of whom went on to earn a Michelin Star.

– Founding and launching SeedTribe. The UK’s central hub for Impact Entrepreneurs, supporting and connecting hundreds of entrepreneurs, encouraging using profit for purpose.

– Launching the Female Founders Hub for Angel Investment Network, responding to data that showed just 1 in 10 of our investors are women and a low percentage of female founder teams. She was recognised for ‘empowering thousands of women to gain confidence in becoming active investors and using their skills and money to help shape the world’.

According to Olivia: “I am honoured to have received this accolade. My success is in huge part thanks to the incredible network of entrepreneurs, colleagues and supporters with whom I’ve worked closely all these years. I look forward to continuing this work supporting female founders, as well as entrepreneurs running inspiring businesses that are able to align profit and purpose in order to address some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.”