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.”

The Northern Ireland startup scene deserves more attention

Sam Louis from Angel Investment Network
AIN’s Sam Louis

AIN’s Sam Louis talks through why Northern Ireland’s thriving startup scene deserves more attention.

When it comes to reporting on Northern Ireland’s business climate the focus has, for better or worse, been on Brexit. With discussions about how to resolve the border conundrum continuing, there’s been little talk of much else. However, one exciting aspect has definitely been under reported – the growth of the Northern Irish startup scene. It is worth examining.

I judged the Digital DNA upStart awards in Belfast earlier this year and was overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of exciting companies developing in Northern Ireland. Across all sorts of sectors, there’s really something underway in the Emerald Isle.

Breadth of opportunities

Encouragingly, our data agrees. This year we created AIN’s first ‘State of the Angel Investment Nation’ report. Built on insights from the 100,000 businesses that came through our platform in 2018, it produced a detailed picture of the angel investment landscape. Within this, the report revealed that Northern Ireland had the second fastest growth across the UK. In raw terms in new entrepreneurs it was up 67% on the year before.

This is a great sign of things to come, as confidence builds within the country that top startups can be started and scaled on home soil. N. Ireland’s highest performing sectors were software and property. Cyber security businesses are particularly well represented within the software category. However, we are seeing a really encouraging breadth of opportunities – from health food companies and CBD ventures to dog grooming startups. Northern Irish entrepreneurs are setting up across all industries.

Increasing investment from overseas

Looking to the other side of the table, we’ve always had a strong core of investors coming out of Northern Ireland, many of them from a property background. What’s been interesting though is to watch their attention shift inwards as their home market grows. With increasing investment from overseas, this is something we hope will continue, with NI investors going in alongside international firms to fuel the local ecosystem.

As the world evolves, digital talent and capabilities will play an ever-increasing role in the international standings of the world’s nations. Key areas like Cyber Security, AI and Machine Learning are already a valuable commodity in dictating not only economic growth, but also geopolitical opportunities. As the Northern Irish start up scene continues to develop, especially in these highly technical areas, it has the potential to make a serious contribution to the UK’s already strong representation at the highest levels of the digital world. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, Northern Ireland’s start up scene looks set to grow. Let’s hear more about it.

High-End London Baker Orée Raises £425,000 Funding in Angel Investment Round

London-based bakery, Orée, has raised £425,000 through Angel Investment Network (AIN) the UK’s largest online platform connecting angel investors with startup businesses.

The French-style, high-end bakery started trading in March 2016 and currently has two shops at 275/277 Fulham Road and 147 Kensington High Street. The concept is bringing ‘a taste of the boulangeries and patisseries of rural France to London’. The funding will finance the opening of the next shop based in Covent Garden with a further location in London Bridge set for later in the year. The ambition is for more than a dozen shops across London and an international expansion.

The raise is one of the largest for a food business in AIN’s 14-year history. The highest to date was the £600k raise for Rosa’s Thai Cafe which raised £500k through AIN in 2014 and has since delivered returns to investors via a private equity buyout.

The combination of Orée’s high-quality product offering and high-end, high footfall locations across London, gives it a strong position within the food retail industry and made it an attractive proposition for AIN’s network of investors. Orée bridges the £8bn bakery market and the £6bn café and coffee shop market, both experiencing annual growth of 2.5% and 5.7% respectively. According to data from AIN, food and beverage was the second most popular category among angel investors in the UK for 2018, losing out only to software.

Xavier Ballester, Director at Angel Investment Network who brokered the deal, said: “Orée was of strong interest to our investors with its offering of a premium, authentic French Patisserie to a market that is increasingly captivated by continental cuisine. It satisfies several consumer trends that have characterised the UK casual dining market in the past couple of years, including ‘premiumisation’ and a concern for provenance.

How to Make a Smart Angel Investment

This interview with Mike Lebus, founder and managing director of Angel Investment Network, was originally published in Sifted. You can read the full article on ‘How to Make a Smart Angel Investment’ with views from other industry leaders here.

Mike Lebus, angel investor & co-founder Angel Investment Network

Mike Lebus (UK)

Mike Lebus is co-founder Angel Investment Network, a platform catering to 205,000+ angels which has backed the likes of bed mattress startup Simba, geocoding business What3Words and kids media company SuperAwesome.

An angel investor for 6 years. 

Number of personal investments: I try to make two personal investments a year. Through the venture division of the company (me and three others), we have a stake in over a hundred companies.

Average cheque size: I normally invest £10-25k.

The biggest misconception about angel investing is… that investors should be based in startup hubs like Silicon Valley and London. Online platforms and digital networks now allow investors to find great deal flow wherever they are based.

Do… take the time to meet and get to the know the founding team. When you invest in early stage projects the idea takes second place to the team. This is because the idea will have to change and evolve to be a success; and it’s the team who are responsible for doing that!

“Investors don’t have to be based in startup hubs like Silicon Valley and London.”

Don’t… invest in only one company. No matter how good the opportunity looks, there are so many unknowns when it comes to early stage investment. It’s a much better strategy to invest smaller in more businesses.

The biggest mistake I made was… to miss out on a great opportunity because I failed to build a good relationship with the team. In the early discussions I should have focused on getting to know them, their vision and their processes; instead, I was too blinkered on the valuation and deal terms. It ended up being a waste of everyone’s time. The company went on to do very well!

My personal top tip is to… manage your expectations. If you’re obsessed with returns and timescales, you’ll end up being a burden on your portfolio companies. If you relax and trust the team to execute on their vision, then you can focus on finding meaningful ways to help them with your experience and connections.

My most recent investment was in… Sweatcoin, an app that tracks your outdoor steps and rewards you with digital currency. It’s been the fastest growing health and fitness app in history in every country it’s launched in on the App Store. I know the founder well, so knew how talented he was. I also loved the company’s innovative approach to incentivising people to become more active and get healthier.

Sweatcoin tracks & verifies your outdoor steps using your phone’s accelerometers and GPS location. Those steps get converted into our currency — Sweatcoins.

The deal I regret missing out on is… Funding Circle. We helped them with funding very early on, but I chose not to invest personally. Their IPO last year valued them at £1.5 billion!

If I could change one thing about the European angel scene it would be…More government incentives to encourage more people to invest into startups. The UK have the SEIS and EIS schemes, which have really helped stimulate early-stage investment. I think more European countries should introduce similar incentives.

TechRound Interview with Seedtribe CEO Olivia Sibony

This interview with Olivia Sibony was originally published in TechRound on 21st May 2019.

We caught up with Liv Sibony, the CEO of Seedtribe, a community hub for entrepreneurs, investors and change-makers interested in impact entrepreneurship and using business as a force for good.

Tell us a bit about your career…

I started out at Goldman Sachs before leaving to launch a foodtech startup called Grub Club. It was a platform for connecting diners with unique dining experiences. We sold to Eatwith in 2017.

I was only too aware, from my experiences at Grub Club, of the challenges entrepreneurs face in raising funds and I had always had a passion for seeing how business could be used as force for good, so I then joined Angel Investment Network (having raised money for Grub Club through them) to launch and grow their impact-focussed platform, SeedTribe.

I am also a board member of UCL’s Fast Forward 2030, which aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to launch businesses that address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UN sustainable development goals millennial angel investor technology investors olivia sibony interview
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

How did the idea for Seedtribe come about?

Seedtribe started out as a hybrid angel investment/crowdfunding platform with two complementary aims:

The first was to support impactful businesses and find them funding.

The second was to encourage non-traditional investors (including women and younger people) to back startups by simplifying the investment process and allowing them to invest smaller amounts.

We ran it like this for around a year and helped some awesome companies including:

  • Advanced Sustainable Developments, launching the first complete circular economy solution for food grade plastic recycling in the UK.
  • Airex, an alternative to traditional air floor insulation reducing unwanted heat loss by regulating air flow.
  • Hopes Initiative which maps, analyses, and optimises the energy consumption of businesses, managing energy expenditure, consumption and impact on the environment..

But we soon realised that we could do so much more to make our own impact and help the eco-system develop.

So, what is Seedtribe now?

Seedtribe is a community platform to connect entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, jobseekers and volunteers and together inspire, create and support businesses for a brighter future.

We basically try to support the business-for-good eco-system by bringing together all the right people into events, online discussions, fundraising campaigns and educational workshops.

The new Seedtribe homepage coming soon…

What’s the mission?

We want to be the glue that brings the best, most talented, driven, passionate people together to be the change we all need to see in the world. We are the go-to place where impactful entrepreneurs connect with an invaluable network that help them scale.

Collaboration is the most powerful tool we have for inspiring and empowering change. At Seedtribe, we enable collaboration between individuals, startups, corporates and governments to create a better world.

By connecting the dots, we help each party or person find the right way to contribute. That way, we can get beyond all the noise and bluster, and allow everyone to take meaningful and positive action.

Our system will allow everyone to contribute positive action according to their experience, values and competencies.

What challenges do you face?

Despite reaching a market cap of $500bn and growing five-fold since 2013, the impact space is still in its infancy.

Some people still confuse investing in impact/business-for-good/profit-with-purpose with philanthropy. Even though this could not be further from the truth. ‘Impact’ business do not seek to achieve an environmental/social purpose at the expense of profit, but rather, the purpose and profit-creation are intertwined.

What’s your vision for the future?

I want to see more businesses working as a force for good. At the moment, investment is 100% tied to the idea of only caring about a financial return.

I wish we could see a paradigm shift where we feel more engaged in investing in the future, so that we can make more long-term, sustainable decisions that don’t just revolve around our personal financial returns.

If everyone were encouraged to see investment as the “triple bottom line”, companies would be incentivised to act in the interest of people and planet, we would see less short-termism, and I also think it might engage more people in the world of investing, as they’d see how it relates to their own values and future, not just a return in the next 12 months.

Where can people find out more?

We are currently rebuilding the Seedtribe site to create more of a community focus and attract users beyond just investors and entrepreneurs. They can visit the existing version at www.seedtribe.com and help us shape it at by answering this questionnaire.  I’m also always open to chat so they can connect with me on LinkedIn too!

New low-cost airline Flypop completes SEIS funding on Angel Investment Network

A new British-South Asian low-cost and long-haul airline, flypop, has raised £80,000 in SEIS funding through Angel Investment Network.


We gained a great deal of interest for the successful SEIS raise in Q1 2019 and hope this momentum carries on with the many global angels on the AIN platform. The low-cost non-stop aspect really resonated with a lot of investors from South Asia. They make these journeys frequently themselves and could really relate to this product.

Nino Judge, Founder offlypop

The airline focuses on point-to-point direct flights from the UK to secondary cities in several South Asian countries, starting with India. 
The list of affordable non-stop flights will be between the UK (initially London Stansted) and the Indian cities of Amritsar (Punjab) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat).

flypop ain airline investment
Targeting the 1.5 million Indian diaspora in the UK, flypop‘s service will offer return ticket prices from £350 (including taxes) with the first flights taking place in Q4.

The experienced founding team, with backgrounds including Ryanair, Team Lotus F1, British Airways, Emirates, JP Morgan and UBS, have stated that
flypop will be able to pass cost savings back to consumers via lower airport charges to tier 2 airports and its unique ‘wet’ lease start-up agreements.

There are ambitions to expand further from North America & Europe to South Asia via the UK and the business is now looking to raise £4m in its next EIS funding round. The team at flypop also intend to make the airline carbon neutral, offsetting each passenger that flies with the planting of a tree in a forest in the UK or South Asia.


Airlines still have an exciting allure to them and it was hugely exciting for our investors to invest in an SEIS round for one.

Ed Stephens, Head of Investor Relations at Angel Investment Network:

Good luck to Nino and the team! We will be following their progress with interest.

Former Spice Girl’s Startup breaks investment record on Angel Investment Network

Investors really really want to invest in Emma Bunton: £420k raise for Kit & Kin fastest in Angel Investment Network history

The commercial magic of the Spice Girls remains as strong as ever, as Emma Bunton’s ethical baby product business Kit & Kin, was responsible for the fastest raise in the Angel Investment Network’s 14 year history. It achieved its target of £420k in just one week.

spice girl emma bunton investment record
Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, Founder of KIT & KIN

More than £1m was offered in total for her eco-friendly nappies, wipes and skincare business but Kit & Kin decided to only accept £420k at this time, an amount which included a key strategic investor.

The raise received unprecedented interest from our 170,000 strong worldwide community of investors. The business was launched in 2016 by Bunton and business partner Christopher Money, with their products available through high street retailers as well as their e-commerce platform. The investment will be used for staff, expansion and stock supply to service larger orders.

According to Mr Money: “The raise via the AIN has certainly surpassed all expectations and we ended up having to cap the number of discussions. We’ve come away from the raise with a select few who will bring significant strategic value that will certainly strengthen our offering and help us realise our potential over the years to come.”

Money and Bunton will be hoping to emulate the success of another celebrity turned entrepreneur, Jessica Alba, whose business, The Honest Company, floated for just shy of $1 billion in 2017.

spice girl emma bunton investment record

According to Ed Stephens, global head of brokerage at AIN: “The level of interest for Kit & Kin’s business was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It would normally take around 6 weeks to raise a similar amount – we had pledges for over one million and had to turn investors away…”

As a business it has some great fundamentals, but clearly Emma Bunton’s extra spice was a key ingredient.

Ed Stephens, Global Head of Brokerage

Bunton was famous for promoting girl power and her business was promoted through a new section on our site focused on supporting female founders and investors. This initiative was set up to address the under-representation of women as investors and founders in the industry.

The Spice Girls (1997)

Our investor community in the UK consists of around 17,000 angel investors, but less than 10% of these are women. We want to lead the way in tackling this industry problem starting with increasing the visibility of women-led businesses and helping them to find investment and mentoring from investors.

Here’s a few of the press publications that leapt upon this story (enjoy the headlines):

https://www.cityam.com/275884/baby-spices-baby-startup-kit-kin-breaks-record-fastest

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-6896385/Spice-Girl-Emma-Bunton-raises-420-000-ethical-baby-business-just-week.html

https://www.angelnews.co.uk/blog/equity-crowdfunding/emma-buntons-kit-kin-completes-fastest-fundraise-in-angel-investment-network-history-/

https://www.rte.ie/entertainment/2019/0407/1041170-emma-bunton/

Technology investors must shine a light in uncertain times

£7bn was invested into private UK companies in 2018, down 19% from record levels in 2017 but still significantly higher than any year before 2017, according to Beauhurst. Could this be the beginning of a decline? These are dark and uncertain times; and even those ‘presiding’ over Britain’s exit from the European Union are unable to agree on what the first order effects of this momentous action might be.

technology investors
Data & Image from Beauhurst report on equity investments into private companies https://about.beauhurst.com/research/

Angel investors have far greater flexibility than any other investor type when it comes to adjusting their investment preferences. In times of macroeconomic uncertainty, they can easily defer activity until they have a clearer idea of the road ahead.

The warning signals, then, are there on a wider level. But on the Angel Investment Network platform, 2018 was a strong year with both UK investor and entrepreneur numbers rising to over 30,000 and 115,000 respectively. We now have over 1 million users globally. Our own analysis of the user activity on the site reveals some interesting insights into the angel investment landscape. And perhaps a light for the path forward.

Threadbare Fashion Sector

The High Street has had a tough time in the past year, with high profile fashion brands in trouble including House of Fraser and LK Bennett. According to user data on our site, investor willingness to back startup fashion brands has dipped dramatically with ‘fashion’ as a sector falling from the 6th to the 14th most popular sector in 2018, the largest slide of any category.

The poor performances of high street mainstays may have played some role in this, but more likely it is strong performances from other sectors that have contributed most tellingly to this dip in popularity. Judging from the performances of software, technology and the so-called ‘impact’ sector, it seems that fashion brands looking to raise investment will need to embrace technology and/or ethical mission statements as part of their proposition to regain investor interest.

Fintech Finesse

It will come as no surprise that the technology and software categories grew impressively and retained top spot for both investor interest and number of pitches looking for funding.  The rise of AI and machine learning with applications across so many industries has meant that many new startups have some form of digital technology at the core of their value proposition. The prevalence of industry jargon terms like ‘agrotech’, ‘insurtech’ and ‘fintech’ speak to this intersection between specific industries and the super-industry that software and technology is fast becoming.

Fintech in the UK is a great example. London has developed a well-deserved reputation as a Fintech hub over the past couple of years, thanks, in part, to the growth of companies like Monzo, Starling Bank, Revolut, and payment-linked-loyalty provider, Bink.

fintech technology investors

Their success has inspired a surge of exciting innovation in the space with some very promising startups coming onto the scene including: Coconut – a current account with inbuilt accounting; and Novastone – ‘WhatsApp’ for the finance sector. Both of whom completed funding rounds through Angel Investment Network in 2018, taking their total funding to £1.9M and £5.6M respectively.

We expect the fintech space to go from strength to strength in 2019 and beyond, and it may offer some hope for carrying the UK startup scene on its shoulders if the going gets tough.

The rise of impact investment

Another area starting to show promise is ‘impact investment’. Investor activity on the website mirrored growing societal interest in ‘impact’ or ‘profit-with-purpose’ – the notion that businesses should have some societal and/or environmental good at the core of their mission while still working for growth and profit, allowing investors to invest in line with their conscience without risking their chance of generating returns.

Investor searches for impact-related terms were up an average of 24.9% from 2017. The fastest growing sector was ’renewables’ which climbed from 40th to 32nd (a 25.4% increase in number of searches,‘greentech’ showed a 25.7% increase while ‘environmental’ had a 23.5% increase.

UN sustainable development goals millennial angel investor technology investors
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Some of the companies who benefitted from, or perhaps helped create, this growth in interest include: Verv – an AI home energy assistant – and Demizine – an end-to-end home water recycling system using technology originally engineered for space stations. In both cases, it is interesting to note the core role that cutting-edge software and technology plays in their value proposition.

Off the back of this, we recently launched a spin-off platform, Seedtribe, with the mission of building a community of impact entrepreneurs and investors. We are especially interested in the role technology can play for impact companies in bringing about positive change in the world, while generating returns for investors.

Equity property investments remain popular

As a final point, I should mention the property investment category which performed strongly on the site for the third year running. For context, our site was built to connect startup companies with angel investors, but from quite early on, property development companies would ignore our pitch framework (designed for startups) and submit their equity property deals on the platform. The appetite for their type of deal (25-35% returns per year over an 18-24 month period) was apparently strong among our investor community – perhaps as a less risky avenue for diversifying their portfolio. This remained the case in 2018 and we expect this to continue even with the current volatility in the property market.

Summary

Overall, investor and entrepreneur activity on our site has outperformed the sector at large. But in these uncertain times, we recognise that our efforts to support the early-stage investment community will have to go even further in 2019 and beyond.

Whatever the political climate, UK entrepreneurs will continue to bring out innovative solutions embedded in technology across a variety of industries in 2019. The Internet of Things, robotics and AI systems including software for autonomous vehicles are creating real excitement amongst our investor community, and rightly so. It is up to these investors to continue supporting the industry with capital, expertise and contact; and to light a way in these murky times.

Originally written by Oliver Jones, Head of Marketing at Angel Investment Network, for The Haggerston Times