Mobile banking startup, Movivo, closes circa £200k through angel investors

Mobile banking startup, Movivo, one of our portfolio companies, just officially announced the successful close of its funding round on the UK Business Angels Association.

Movivo is a potentially life-changing app for mobile phone users in emerging countries. It provides an invaluable service for the 2.5 billion people who still don’t have bank accounts because of infrastructure issues.

They previously secured financial backing from Microsoft, a leading Silicon Valley investment fund and top British VC firm. Their investment was based on the strength of their idea and its potential to help emerging countries.

But the experience of the founders was equally important. The team comes first on my list when it comes to deal evaluation for investors – you can read the whole article here.

At Movivo, the team had experience working at Huddle.com, a collaboration platform used by the UK government, US Department of Homeland Security and large corporations including KPMG and Deloitte.)

How did we help this promising mobile startup?

As an insight into the way we work at Angel Investment Network and how we raised £188k for Movivo, I wanted to show you how we launched them to our network.

The first part of our strategy is always a carefully curated mailout. This is sent to our network of angel investors and investment funds.

This mailout is designed to build leads from potential investors. We entice them with the main impressive pieces information; they can then get back to us with questions and requests for introductions.

I have copied below a screenshot of the mailout we sent last June. This ultimately raised close to £200,000 for Movivo:

Angel Investment Network's fundraising mailout

What do you think?

The Lean Startup Revisited – Does it really work?

The so-called ‘Lean Startup’ methodology, coined by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries, has come into vogue in recent years and aims to address the problem of heavy cash outlay during the early stages of your business. In other words, it advocates proving your concept as far as possible without building the finished product. It aims to take the financial risk out of building a startup (as far as that is possible!).

The Lean Startup for Entrepreneurs - Does it really work?

The lean startup methodology is all about experimentation, feedback and iteration. Or to use the vernacular of a school science teacher: hypothesis, evidence, synthesis and improvement. The idea is that rather than spending hours and hours writing a ‘perfect’ business plan, keeping your ideas hush-hush and finally launching a fully developed product in the hope that investors and consumers will be won over, you test hypotheses by collating customer feedback from your MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

The Lean Startup Experimentation Loop

For example, you could throw up a landing page selling a product/service that, as yet, does not exist, and measure the popularity and interest in it. By this means, you can calculate whether the idea is worth pursuing and how it can be optimised; or whether you should ‘pivot’ or iterate, or change the concept entirely. For more information on what lean startup means, you can visit www.theleanstartup.com/.

But in this post I want to address the question of how far this lean startup method has proven itself as viable. Ted Ladd is a professor and entrepreneur who has conducted research on this question and recently published his findings in an article for the Harvard Business Review. Click here to read the full article.

In a nutshell, he concludes that while the experimentation and customer feedback produced by following the method does impress investors and presentation panel judges, it does not necessarily indicate subsequent success. He states a number of possible reasons for this:

– Too much feedback erodes entrepreneur confidence
– Method may produce ‘false negatives’ when there is no clear rule in place to stop testing and start scaling. In other words, entrepreneurs are experimenting so much that they always end up with negative results.

This leads him to say that while the lean startup method has considerable benefits for entrepreneurs, it is important that the testing and experimentation on a micro-level is combined with a broader strategy. That way, only the priority areas are tested; and time and confidence are not wasted testing every aspect.

He ends his article with the following:

“The popularity of the lean startup method is well deserved. But, as is true of any business process, the method must be tailored and employed with reflection and constraints, not blind allegiance. Just like the new ventures it creates, it will improve as researchers and practitioners propose, test, and incorporate refinements.”

Food for thought…

Angel Investment vs Venture Capital – Which would you choose?

VC's vs Angels
This morning I read a great post by Venture Spring. Venture Spring is a hugely well respected ‘venture development’ company which “helps Fortune 500 companies innovate like startups” according to their company mantra. The article is about the differences between venture capital funding and funding from angel investors.

Startups are often all too eager to take one option over the other based on their own preconceptions. It’s important to realise that one may be more suited to one type of startup over another (and vice versa. So, understanding the points of difference could be crucial to the way in which you approach your fundraise; and how your company ends up being run down the line. So it’ll be worth your while familiarising yourself with the key points…

You can read the full article on their site here. (It’s a 5-10 min read).

Or, I’ve summarised the key differences for you here and (added in a few that they missed!):

Angel Investors:
– are private individuals investing their own money
– can make quick decisions regarding investment
– can be flexible in the amount they invest
– can provide expertise, contacts and support as well as capital
– can feel personally attached to your business
– can be as hands-off or hands-on as you require
– can qualify for tax breaks like SEIS and EIS
– do not have to be given board positions

Venture Capital Firms:
– are whole companies that invest in startups
– are run by professional investors investing money from corporations, individuals, funds and foundations
– take board positions and have a strong say in how the company is managed and grown going forward
– invest much larger amounts than angel investors
– do not usually invest at seed stage
– generally invest not less than £1million
– take a longer time to make investment decisions and broker deals

What’s your take on the issue? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter

AIN on IntelligentCrowd.tv

Xavier Ballester, the co-director of our brokering division, appeared on Intelligentcrowd.tv offering some pearls of wisdom to investors and entrepreneurs alike, including:

– How we evaluate startups worth working with
– Why we exchange part of our cash success fee for equity shares in our clients
– Recent exits and hot prospects including Brightnorth, Superawesome and What3Words
– How we raise money for our clients

Check out the interview below:

Proposal Tip of the Week

What’s the point of a proposal? Why use sites like Angel Investment Network? Why not just send your full business plan to people you want to invest?

Well, for a start, not everyone has the contact details of a large number of investors just sat in their inbox. Networking/Connection sites like Angel Investment Network hold the key to advertising your latest business venture to thousands of prospective investors so that you can find the right ones to suit the nature of the project. That sounds a little sales-y, I know, but it’s important to understand in order to realise the significance of the short proposal instead of the full-blown business plan.

When you’re marketing an idea to thousands of people, not just in the fundraising community but anywhere, you cannot simply take it for granted that people will actually take time to consider your idea; in any marketplace thousands upon thousands of ideas are competing to grab the attention of the onlookers. Precedence is not always, and certainly not necessarily, defined by merit, but rather by the ability to capture attention.

Don’t think ‘I know my idea is brilliant, so why wouldn’t investors read my business plan? They’d be stupid not to…’ That attitude will help you raise the square root of nothing. Think instead ‘How can I make it so that investors literally cannot wait to get their greedy paws on my business plan and start properly digesting my idea?’

Here’s where your short proposal comes in. It is meant to be pithy and concise. Something that can be easily understood and result in them wanting to know more. It is the first rung on the ladder towards them investing; and that can often be the hardest part – getting them to step onto the ladder. Once they’re on, of course some may fall off on the way to the top, but at least you’re beginning to win them over and it becomes progressively harder for them to get off.

As such you should consider your proposal as a ‘hook’, to use Nir Eyal’s term, or in internet-speak a CTA (call-to-action). In your proposal make them love your idea enough to take the next step. Tell them the best bits. Don’t swamp them in superfluous detail.

Proposal Tip of the Week

It’s funny what working near a beach for 3 weeks will do to one’s ability to keep their blog updated! But I’m back in the office now, back to the grindstone so your weekly dose of pitching/proposal advice is back up and running.

The previous 4 tips have talked in general terms about the ideal structure for your proposal: Tip #1 advised you to put your achievements first, Tip #2 encouraged you to then articulate the problem you solve, Tip #3 how you solve that problem and Tip #4 told you to make it clear how big the market opportunity is.

This week I wanted to talk about tone. How should your pitch come across? Funny? Serious? Detailed? Light?

When I arrived in the office this morning one of my colleagues was bragging about how he had re-written someone’s proposal for them after they had got no interest from investors after 90 days on Angel Investment Network. Now the business wasn’t bad at all, but it wasn’t an Uber or Facebook by any stretch of the imagination. The reason the guy had done so poorly was that the way he had written his proposal was about as exciting as watching paint dry in prison.

My colleague made no drastic changes – the fact of the business and its products (innovative power tools) were beyond his control. And yet his changes resulted in 82 investors contacting the entrepreneur. 82. When previously he’d got zero.

What did he change? He injected some life, some enthusiasm, some excitement into the proposal. The subject matter remained the same, but he gave the proposal a buzz. He infused it with a sense of success just around the corner; and that’s what intrigued the investors.

So give yourself a fighting chance and make sure you strike the right tone…

Proposal Tip of the Week

So far in this series we’ve discussed 2 of my 3 recommended first steps for starting your pitch in a way that makes investors instantly grasp the value of your idea.

Third up is the natural corollary of the problem, that is, the solution.

Tip #3 “How do you scratch that itch?”

Once you’ve made the effort, as set out in Proposal Tip #2, to give a cogent explanation of the problem, and the investors have started to relate to the pain point, then you hit them with your solution.

How you do this will depend hugely on what your solution is, but the key point is to make it super clear. No one will understand your solution as well as you do – so don’t expect them to. Set out your explanation in as simple as possible terms as if explaining to a total novice.

Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of being too technical at this stage under the mistaken belief that if they sound like a genius then the prospective investor will fall head over heels and want to invest.

Wrong.

If someone doesn’t understand your idea quickly they’ll look elsewhere for an idea they can understand and relate to quickly.

You’ve been warned for this week…

How Funding Works – Infographic Timeline

For many entrepreneurs, no matter what stage they are at in their fundraising journey, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees and hold a sense of the bigger picture in mind. This helpful infographic, courtesy of Funders and Founders, gives a clear picture of the funding process from Day 1 to IPO.

To read the full article which gives a detailed analysis of all the stages follow this link

Back-to-Basics: How to Start a Startup

Even though i’ve been in the startup business for a while now, when i stumbled across this infographic by Funders and Founders, it reminded me how useful it can be to glance back at the basics once in a while. In an increasingly fraught and complex world, it is not only extremely helpful, but also motivating to step back and see the workings of the bigger picture; to catch sight of the wood for the trees. Details are important; but occasionally we can get bogged down in them.

As every successful person ever will tell you – if you get the basics right, the rest will follow.

This is true even for the most seasoned of serial entrepreneurs. Especially as a number of the processes outlined in this simple infographic will remain crucial throughout the life of your startup, not just at the beginning. So whether you’re just starting out or a startup veteran, it’s worth casting your eyes over this one…

The Biggest Reason Startups Fail

Ask a sample group of people why startups fail, and, assuming they have a vague understanding of the modern world,  they’ll give you a host of different reasons. Misfiring team. Poor product. No market. No business model. Delusional founder etc. And undoubtedly, they are all true depending on the circumstances in which the particular startup failed.

But there is a root problem to many of these problems. And it’s a simple one: a lack of tracked data, or perhaps simply a wilful ignorance of it. Data is the only means of empirically measuring the performance of your startup and building good practices upon proven foundations. In other words, tracked data gives you actionable insights where you would otherwise be guessing. Build upon what you already know to be true and your chances of avoiding ultimate failure will be much greater.

What this means is that failing on a low key level can be invaluable for the knowledge it provides; and as such, a failure can be considered a success if you properly understand and learn from the data you receive. Knowing what not to do can thus be as important as knowing what to do throughout the early stages of your venture.

This is the important point about success and failure. Micro-failures are useful stepping stones to ultimate success provided the data is tracked and learnt from after each attempt. As Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, puts it; “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Here’s the article that got me thinking: Why do Startups Fail?