Sceptic to Champion: Air Ticket Arena on Angel Investment Network

Fundraising on Angel Investment Network – A User Story:

Kresimir Budinski first reached out to me through LinkedIn. He is the founder of Air Ticket Arena – the first fully-automated platform allowing passengers to bid for unsold seats on scheduled flights; and helping airlines to recuperate some of the £120 billion in lost sales each year through unsold seats.

He recently closed a £350,000 of seed fundraising through Angel Investment Network.

Kresimir, or ‘The Bishop’, as he is affectionately known by his team, complimented me on my article about SEIS & EIS Tax relief. He had apparently used it as an explainer throughout his fundraising. Both for investors he had found through Angel Investment Network and other channels.

I thanked him and wished him luck with the fundraising. And we left it at that.

Messages like this are relatively frequent (depending on the quality of my article!). So I didn’t think any more of it.

But I was to hear a lot more from Kresimir and the story behind his fundraising. A few months later, pleased with his progress (now overfunding), he shared his fundraising experiences with me in full. It struck such a chord that I had to share the story.

It’s a tale of how courage through scepticism can bring great opportunity. And it’s a useful case study for anyone considering looking for investors on the Angel Investment Network platform, and more importantly, for anyone fundraising in general.

So, in the charismatic words of their Head of Marketing Grgomir ‘George’ Garić, the story of Air Ticket Arena’s fundraising journey from intense initial scepticism to success….

Air ticket arena fundraising

Part 1: Fundraising Scepticism

I had always considered investors a type of mythical creature, living somewhere in a distant fantasy land, creasing themselves with derisive laughter at most investment proposals. By investors, I mean real investors who can offer advice as well as capital. Not just people who masquerade as investors because they have a bit of cash.

Of course, I had heard about the likes of Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, and hundreds of other projects backed by investors – but I had never met anyone who would actually boost my bank account.

Except for my wife, of course.

In my life before Air Ticket Arena, I had met many who claimed to be investors. But few of them understood the symbiosis required between entrepreneur and investor to make a partnership mutually motivating. The interaction between idea and capital needs to be good for both the idea and the capital. The idea needs to grow and so does the value of the capital.

Too many investors wanted to buy into projects at way below the value of the idea and all the preceding hard work. They refused to realise that this was not optimal for the business and therefore not optimal for their investment.

Given these early experiences with “investors”, my approach to any kind of investor was always going to be like visiting an 18th-century dentist. Suspicious in the extreme.

Part 2: Misplaced Hope

So, when I started working on Air Ticket Arena and Kresimir, suggested fundraising our seed round through Angel Investment Network. I thought it was the beginning of the end.

I sincerely believed that Angel Investment Network, despite their 13-year history and impressive track record, was just another portal where anyone – even my mother – could masquerade as an investor.

So why did we go with them?

Sometime in 2009, a seemingly beautiful thing happened. Kickstarter kickstarted. This was the first time I had heard about crowdfunding.

The theory seemed inspired to me. This was a real innovation in the investment scene which promised a more efficient process for both investors and entrepreneurs. And promised to harness the power of the crowd with all the social proof that can bring.

Then equity crowdfunding platforms like Crowdcube and Seedrs emerged. Icing on the cake. Or so I thought.
Fundraising through crowdfunding

I had heard complaints about these platforms from founders who had tried them. But I dismissed them as over-fussy.

When Kresimir asked me to prepare a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube for Air Ticket Arena, it was a joyous occasion and I dove into the work with relish.

We prepared almost everything for the campaign and then one week before the launch, Crowdcube refused us. Their reason? We didn’t have a high street bank account. Right.

Not to be deterred, we immediately approached Seedrs hoping to re-purpose the material we had put so much effort into for the Crowdcube campaign. After a 15-minute call, they claimed that our valuation was too high to run.

My high hopes were thoroughly misplaced and I found myself floundering in a sense of gloom about the prospects of fundraising. Not simply for myself, but also for other regular people who do not have access to investors through their personal network.

It was in this state of despondency that Kresimir insisted we chance our hand on Angel Investment Network. You can imagine my reaction.

I already considered this platform inferior to the likes of Crowdcube and Seedrs who had just thoroughly disappointed me.

Thus, it was without much hope and intense reluctance that I agreed to create a pitch on Angel Investment network…

Part 3: Faith Rewarded

fundraising

Six months later, we have raised £350,000 and filled our seed round. The strength of the discussions means that we are now overfunding as I write this.

At this point, while we enjoy the security of fundraising mission accomplished and while the experience is still fresh in our minds, I thought it might be helpful to share some key findings from our campaign on Angel Investment Network.

– Are the investors active and real?

Most of the investors we spoke to were active and engaged in the investment community and had the capital to invest. Even those investors who did not ultimately invest provided useful feedback for us with which we were able to improve our pitch and even our business. The platform also monitors the activity of investor users. Anyone suspicious is removed pending investigation.

– How can I tell if an investor is really interested?

It will be straightforward to identify investors who are seriously interested. They will have read your pitch in detail and will ask the most pertinent questions so will stand out from the others.
It is also very important to do your own due diligence of any investor contact – you can be sure they’ll be doing it on you. So, don’t be afraid to ask people to identify themselves if their profile is not clear.

– How can I keep prospective investors interested?

When you are happy that a prospective investor’s interest is genuine, engage in dialogue with them in a clear manner. Your job is to clarify what you have written in your deck. Keep focused on it. Try to also give the impression of progress and momentum – update investors you’ve not heard back from as well as ones you actively talking to.

– What should I say about valuation?

Avoid any talk about valuations after a one-minute talk or a first email response. Send an investment package and give them up to a week to investigate the opportunity. An excellent counter-question is to ask them how much they want to earn? None of them gave us an exact answer.
When you do come to declare your valuation make sure that your reasons for it are clear and grounded in the reality of the space in which you are operating.

– What sort of investors should I aim for?

Expect that your investors will more likely be from a similar industry to your project. If it is a project from the travel industry, then more than likely the investors will come from the travel industry. These investors will certainly be most helpful to you. However, there are many investors who are interested in investing in an area but are not necessarily experts e.g. Bankers interested in AI. So be prepared for this too.

– Do I need to have all the legal stuff prepared?

Make a clear legal pathway for investors who make you an offer of investment. Your investment contracts need to prepared and ready to send. An offer is never really finalised until all the forms are signed and the money is in your account, so you don’t want to have any delay in sending over the necessary documents when an investor declares an offer.

– How much effort is required?

Prepare to invest time and some money to ensure your pitch is as good as possible and that it gets the exposure it needs to raise the capital you need.

To be successful your pitch needs to be excellent and you need to market it well. We wrote 50+ articles explaining our concept from a variety of angles which we shared across social media channels. Angel Investment Network were very willing to re-share these posts which helped to create a buzz.

What I want people to understand from our story is that anyone with a good idea can raise money from angel investors. It requires dedication and hard work, but so does running a successful business!

At this point, on behalf of the whole team at Angel Investment Network, I’d like to thank Kresimir, George and the guys at Air Ticket Arena for taking the time to share this. All the best with the business!

Want to know more about Air Ticket Arena?

Check out their explainer video below:

Want to share your experience on Angel Investment Network and get featured as part of this user story series?

Please contact me on oliver@angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk or on Twitter

The Top US 10 Cities Of The Year For Private Tech Acquisitions

PrivCo has released its 2014 Private Tech Company M&A Research Report.  The report included a Top 10 Ranking for private tech acquisitions, with Silicon Valley ranking as the #1 metro area with 281 private tech company acquisitions in 2013. Ranked just behind it were New York (Ranked #2) & San Diego (Ranked #3). Interestingly, up-and-coming tech hubs like Chicago, Austin, and Atlanta are challenging traditional leaders like Boston, which fell to the ninth spot on this years report, despite being Ranked #3 in last year’s Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A.

 

Distribution of Venture Capital Deals in the US by Industry, Q1 2014

In the first quarter of 2014, software companies also received three times the number of deals of the next closest industry category, Media & Entertainment. 46% or 126 software deals were completed in Q1, compared to 40 in Media & Entertainment. Biotechnology companies were third with 8% or 22 deals. The following graphic provides a comparison of deals by industry for Q1, 2014.

Google Ventures has been the most active corporate VC since 2012

Here is the list of the top 25 most active corporate VCs since the start of 2012:

Interestingly the top 10 most active investors participated in more than 40% of the VC deals during this period. Google Ventures and Intel Capital combined to participate in more than 1/5 of all corporate venture capital deals, which is pretty staggering.

Infographic – New SEC Rules on General Solicitation

The SEC has lifted the ban on General Solicitation and permits startups, private companies, venture capitalists, and hedge funds to openly advertise that they’re raising money in private offerings.

Angel Investment Network’s Weekly Funding Roundup

Here’s a roundup of some of the recent seed-stage and angel deals from around the world: 

  • Liquor.com, a site featuring award-winning articles, hand-selected cocktail recipes & bar guides, bags $3.1M Series B funding
  • AcuityAds, which uses real-time bidding for advertisers to bid on ad time just before a consumer loads a webpage, raises $3M funding
  • Chairish, an online marketplace to buy and sell pre-owned furniture, has raised a $3.2 million seed round
  • Kissmetrics, a web analytics startup that helps small e-commerce companies make data-driven decisions, has raised $7M funding
  • Nifti, a new shopping service that helps you keep track of when items you want to buy go on sale, has raised $800,000 seed funding
  • RedMart, an online grocery service in Singapore, has secured nearly $3.5M Series A funding to grow the business
  • Swell, a new mobile listening experience for news & information that learns what you like as you listen, raises $5.4M Series A funding
  • TB Biosciences, which is developing a point-of-care test for the detection of tuberculosis, has closed $1.5 million Series A financing
  • Maker’s Row, the marketplace that connects American manufacturers with businesses, has raised $1M seed funding led by Comcast and Index
  • Viableware, which designs software & hardware products intended to replace traditional bills in restaurants, lands $6.5M Series B funding
  • KartRocket.com, a do-it-yourself (DIY) e-commerce platform for Indian SMEs and retailers, has raised seed funding
  • Riskive, a stealth-mode cyber security technology start-up, has secured $2.2M in seed funding
  • Panjo, a marketplace for the world’s most ardent auto, sport, and hobby enthusiasts, has raised $1.6M seed funding
  • NatureBox, the leading online service for healthy snack food, has secured $8.5M Series A funding led by General Catalyst Partners
  • LiveMinutes, an online collaboration service you can use for meetings and web conferencing, has closed a $1.4 million seed round
  • Geepers, whose vision is to create the primary geo-physical address protocol in the digital world, has secured angel funding
  • SnapLion.com, a platform which enables users to develop mobile applications, has raised funding from venture funds and angels
  • Crowdly, an online platform that helps big brands promote themselves on Facebook, has raised $1.2M seed funding
  • Hall, which provides a cross-platform, cross-device messaging service to businesses, has closed $5.5 million Series A funding
  • TheShoppingPro, an internet-based startup aiming to make the online shoppers’ life easy and rewarding, has raised Rs 22 lakh angel funding
  • Addvocate, a service that helps companies put some operations management behind its social media efforts, has closed $2M Series A funding

To get regular updates, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network or register for our blog at http://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.net/wp-login.php?action=register.

Have you managed to raise capital for your company?  We always love to hear from entrepreneurs who manage to get funded.

Or are you looking to raise funding?  Send me a summary of your project at mike@angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk and we’ll try to help.

 

Angel Investment Network’s Weekly Funding Roundup

Here’s a roundup of some of the recent seed-stage and angel deals from around the world: 

  • Vaultize, a cloud-based enterprise file sharing and sync (EFSS) and mobility vendor, has raised Series A funding from Tata Capital
  • Yellloh, a web-based platform dedicated to elevating the level and quality of online discussions, has closed seed funding
  • SoThree, the developers of Umano, the app that’s revolutionizing the way you listen to articles on the go, has raised ~$1M seed funding
  • SnoopWall, a patent-pending antispyware program that blocks remote eavesdropping, has secured funding from the Angel Breakfast Club
  • TouchOfModern, the online source for high-quality, innovative design products from around the world, has raised $3M Series A funding
  • Instacart, which offers grocery delivery services from multiple local stores within an hour, has raised $8.5M Series A funding
  • MarkITx, the premier online marketplace for buyers, sellers and wholesalers of secondary IT equipment, secures $2.15M seed funding
  • TrustRadius, an online platform for user-generated reviews of business software, has raised $5 million Series A funding
  • Codeanywhere, an online code editor pitched as ‘a Google Docs equivalent for developers’, has raised a $600,000 Series A investment
  • Privy, a customer acquisition and retention solution for multi-unit local businesses, lands $1.7M seed funding
  • Opbeat, a collaborative web operations platform you can set up in minutes, has raised a $2.7M Series A round led by Balderton Capital
  • Parenting information and e-commerce firm wauwaa.com, has closed €220,000 seed funding from angel investors
  • Mark43, whose software lets police officers spend less time doing paper work and more time in the field, has raised $1.95M seed funding
  • TalentBin, the “talent search engine” that turbo-charges talent discovery across the web, has announced $2 million Series A funding
  • Waygo, an app that instantly translates Chinese characters into English by hovering a smartphone camera over it, gets $900K seed funding
  • Soma, a charitable water filter maker, has closed $3.7M4 seed funding led by Baseline Ventures and Forerunner Ventures
  • EyeEm, a community and marketplace for high quality mobile photography, has raised $6 million in ventrue capital funding
  • Proven, the leading on-the-go employment app, has announced the closing of $1 million in additional funding

To get regular updates, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network or register for our blog at http://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.net/wp-login.php?action=register.

Have you managed to raise capital for your company?  We always love to hear from entrepreneurs who manage to get funded.

Or are you looking to raise funding?  Send me a summary of your project at mike@angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk and we’ll try to help.

 

The Top 20 Cities for Venture Capital Activity in the US

Here are the 20 the most capital-dense start-up communities in the US, according to research by Richard Florida, Co-Founder and Editor at Large at The Atlantic Cities

Which of these are you most surprised to see in the list?

Angel Investment Network’s Weekly Twitter Roundup

Angel Investment News:

  • Global venture capital financing hit $US10.4 billion in the second quarter of 2013: http://ow.ly/mKhZI
  • Mena investments up $200m in 2012 according to the Mena Private Equity Association’s annual report: http://ow.ly/mKkxi Infographic – €5.1 billion market shows European angels on the rise! http://ow.ly/mKCln
  • China’s venture capital market warms: http://ow.ly/mMHf2
  • ‘Super Angels’ in UK having growing influence in investment market: http://ow.ly/mSMzB
  • US Venture Capital Investment Amounts Doubled In Q2. Bay Area Companies Raised More Than NY, LA & Boston Combined: http://ow.ly/mTEDO
  • Renaissance Venture Capital Attracted Nearly $300 Million In 20 Michigan Companies: http://ow.ly/mTCNp

Business Plans & Pitching:

Fund Raising:

  • Tech guru and author Guy Kawasaki provides a top 10 list of the lies that entrepreneurs tell: http://ow.ly/mKicM
  • 5 Things to Avoid When Raising Mo2ney for Your Startup: http://ow.ly/mMHyj
  • The SEC’s Removal of General Solicitation Changes Everything: http://ow.ly/mRpwS

Marketing & Social Media:

Start-Up & Entrepreneurship:

To stay updated, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network or register for our blog at http://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.net/wp-login.php?action=register.

Read anything interesting? Feel free to add links to any articles or resources you’d like to share with the angel community.

Or are you looking to raise funding?  Send me a summary of your project at mike@angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk and we’ll try to help.

Angel Investment Network’s Weekly Funding Roundup

Here’s a roundup of some of the recent seed-stage and angel deals from around the world:

  • Combat Gent, a fine menswear etailer that equips men with everything they need to get the job done, has closed $1.84M seed funding
  • NuMedii, the startup looking to convert pages of drug safety data into faster drug-development times, grabs $3.5M Series A funding
  • Ludei, a development platform that helps developers to deliver and monetize HTML5 apps, has received $1.5 million funding
  • Lifecom, a market leader in clinical decision support solutions, has completed a Series A Financing round of over $1 million
  • Inadco, a leader in native digital advertising, has raised an $11 million Series B round led by U.S. Venture Partners
  • Playblazer, which offers a cloud-based SaaS platform for social and multi-player game developers and studios, has secured angel funding
  • PokitDok, a price transparent health and wellness marketplace where consumers shop directly from providers, raised $4MJ Series A funding
  • WhatsNexx, a leading edge provider of cross-channel marketing automation software, lands $2.33M venture capital financing
  • Chupamobile, the leading marketplace for buying and selling App Source Code, has raised new funding from US & European angel investors
  • my6sense, which provides mobile content discovery solutions for consumers, has raised $2 million angel funding
  • Taiwan-based web and mobile game publisher Pubgame has raised a Series A round led by The CID Group and appWorks Ventures
  • Outbox, which digitizes your postal mail then puts it online for access via web, iPhone, Android or iPad, raises $5M Series A funding
  • Ad tech startup Yieldbot, which helps connect publishers and advertisers to better target their display ads, attracts $5M Series A funding
  • rollApp, whose platform enables Windows and Linux apps to run on any device with a web browser, gets $1M Series A funding
  • Cubresa, a medical imaging company building the world’s only hand-held, MR-safe gamma camera, has closed $500,000 angel funding
  • Karnataka-based mobile app developer Robosoft Technologies has secured its first institutional round of funding from Kalaari Capital
  • Pixate, whose mission is to reduce the complexity of creating apps, has closed $3.8M Series A funding from Accel Partners
  • FIGS, a startup offering up fashionable medical scrubs, has raised $2M seed funding
  • Mingyian, a platform that connects Western celebrities to their fans in China, has raised $500,000 seed funding
  • SigFig, a web platform for tracking and analyzing your personal financial investments, has secured $15 million Series B funding
  • Artsly, a video platform providing short lessons in makeup, music, photography, food, painting & crafts, lands $175,000 from Kima Ventures
  • Cashback and coupon website Cashkaro has raised $750,000 seed funding from a group of UK based angel investors
  • ClusterFlunk, a virtual meeting place for college students to collaborate on assignments & prepare for exams, closes $100,000 seed funding
  • Snyppit, an app that allows you to share video moments of your life with friends and family, gets $521,000 seed funding
  • CL3VER, the first professional HTML5 web platform to create engaging 3D for web & mobile (without plugins), lands $800,000 seed funding
  • Engrade, an edtech startup that integrates people, tools, data & curriculum on one user-friendly platform, raises $5M Series B funding
  • Quartzy, an online suite of lab management tools for the academic life science community, has closed $4 million Series A financing

To get regular updates, come follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/angel__network or register for our blog at http://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.net/wp-login.php?action=register.

Have you managed to raise capital for your company?  We always love to hear from entrepreneurs who manage to get funded.

Or are you looking to raise funding?  Send me a summary of your project at mike@angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk and we’ll try to help.