Fundraising New Year’s Resolutions for Startups

Whilst we’ve seen some huge successes in terms of fundraising in the last year, it’s important to remember the companies that have been successful, not only have worked very hard and persisted to get there, they often have clever hacks and systems to help. 

As many of you are thinking about new year’s resolutions from a personal perspective, here are some recommendations for hacks, tips and processes that could improve your fundraising in 2022.  

Look after yourself to look after your startup  

Get exercising

Running a startup means there is always too much to do. Important investor meetings get diarised, exercise and eating healthily, not so much. But if you are not creating the best version of you, are you going to be presenting your start up optimally when you pitch to investors?

Make sure you are looking after your physical and mental health, it will likely pay off with you presenting yourself in the best manner possible, and in the quality of your pitch with investors.

Sleep well – keep your phone out of the bedroom 

Avoid blue light – keep your phone out of the bedroom

Now’s the time to start getting some actual quality downtime. If you check your emails in the middle of the night, it can quickly become a self enforcing habit that effects your sleep and alertness.

Lack of sleep has a number of negative effects, including impacting memory – important when recalling key metrics in investor meetings.

Keep your phone out of the bedroom and ideally have a pre-bed curfew to avoid blue light before bedtime. Leave it charging in another room over night to ensure that this doesn’t slip. 

Try the Pomodoro Technique

Raising investment whilst balancing the everyday tasks of running a business is an arduous process, it’s easy to get bogged down in the never ending cycle of replying to emails and firefighting tech bugs and customer complaints. 

Reclaim your time by planning and blocking out time using the Pomodoro Technique. 

With the Pomodoro Technique, you create a list of the key tasks that you need to do. 

Break the tasks into 25 minute segments (the optimal amount of time that people can generally concentrate effectively for).

Then fill your day with the appropriate amount of tasks. Set a timer for 25 minutes and get started on the task in hand, ignore the temptation to check your email, or anything else for that matter. When the timer ends, have a scheduled five minute break before jumping into the next segment.   

It’s a unique way to stay focused, avoid distractions and obtain a sense of flow when working. Find out more about the Pomodoro Technique here.

Pimp Your Zoom Set Up

External webcam versus internal webcam

The large majority of investor meetings are still happening virtually, and it looks like that might be a lasting legacy of the pandemic, with all but a small minority of later stage meetings likely to take place over video calls. 

With so many investor meetings, how can you make sure that you present yourself in the best possible way? Firstly using meeting scheduling software such as Calendly can be useful for sharing gaps in your availability, making it easier to coordinate meeting times with investors – it can also be integrated with Zoom or Google Meet to automatically schedule a video call.

Think about your backdrop – what kind of message do you think a cluttered backdrop sends to investors? You could use a virtual background, but sometimes using a real background will give investors some insight into what you like and help build rapport, whether it’s books you enjoy reading, pictures or some unique memorabilia. 

Whilst you can make it work with pretty much any kit for video calls, having an external mic will make your voice feel warmer, like you are there in the room; an external webcam can give you a much clearer image and more of a contrast to get you stand out from the background; and a ring light can help you ensure that you maintain the focal point. 

Find more tips here.

Use a CRM 

CRM for investor management

Do you find fundraising dispiriting? You’re not alone. Investors are typically very busy and often looking to invest in something that specifically meets their criteria, meaning that it’s not uncommon for messages to not receive a response.

On the Angel Investment Network platform, you can keep track the stage of investor conversations. You can also use software such as Pipedrive, ForceManager or Trello to categorise your investor conversations by stage.

It means that you can set yourself clear targets: i.e get X number of investor meetings this week, rather than fixating on the goals of raising investment, which can take longer, and you need to focus on getting more people through your funnel to get yourself in a position where they will convert.

CRMs have the advantage of letting you set yourself reminders to follow up with contacts, giving you analytics as to how long it is taking for contacts to get between stages, as well as adding in automation, i.e an email that it sent to investor contacts when they get to a specific point in your funnel.

In Summary

We hope you have had a chance to restore over the festive period and have come back invigorated. If you are about to embark on a fundraising journey, now is the time to think of a few habits and hacks that could go on to pay dividends for you. 

Wishing you every success in 2022.

The AIN Team

Looking Back & Looking Forwards

Looking Back

When we reflected on the year at the end of 2020, a few things sprung out: the sheer chaos inflicted by the Coronavirus, or COVID, as we now call it. It caused all kinds of new problems – with new startups emerging to solve these problems.

Redundancy and furlough led to the talent pool increasing and the quality of start up teams increased, a key predictor of startup success.  Productivity jumped as people found new ways to save time, skipping their daily commute and switching meetings to shorter Zoom calls. 

Whilst 2020 was devastating on a personal front, there was no shortage of innovation. So where does that leave us towards the end of 2021?

The Antisocial Networks

Whether it’s Brexit, anti-vax debates, or anything in any way political, it’s clear that social networks are incurring serious strain in their never-ending challenge to chase engagement. Facebook’s recent rebrand ‘Meta’ makes logical sense to deflect some of the focus away from it. 

Facebook’s commitment to the metaverse has led to considerable interest in the space from Venture X, with key investors coming out as hugely bullish, even if very few people can clearly define what the metaverse is, or will become. So what is a metaverse, anyway?

According to Andy Liu from Unlock Ventures “It’s the intersection of the physical and digital worlds, where augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain-based environments enable people to develop and live in new ‘worlds’ — a fully immersive experience to express themselves, connect, interact, conduct commerce, and experience a whole new reality.”

One of key questions on investors’ lips is will the metaverse be dominated by the Metas and Microsofts, or more nimble startup? Eitherway, expect an onslaught of new metaverse startups emerging in the new year.

Good COP, bad COP?

COP26 had some clear outputs from cutting methane emissions to curbing oil and gas exploration, protecting forests and shifting from coal to clean power. Whether COP26 went far enough or not to keep the goal of a 1.5 degree temperature rise by the end of 2030 is still for discussion.

 However, in the words of AIN’s Head of Impact and CEO of SeedTribe, Liv Sibony, 

If you’re looking at predictions, one thing I would say is that big companies and governments are now committing to much higher standards of environmentalism, and that demand will stimulate growth/the market for start-ups offering environmental solutions, especially in the B2B space’. 

Whilst it’s too early to see the direct impact on start up innovation, it will certainly be interesting to see the startups that step up as a result of COP induced changes in legislation. 

Are we WFHing?

As the COVID pandemic started to recede, only to spike again with Omicron, one of the things that became clear is that no one knows where they are going to be working. 

There was the colour coding your bookshelf stage, the pimping your home office with external mic, light and webcam, and then the ‘pingdemic’, with those in shared offices in particular, waiting to be pinged. 

In short, we’ve tried a lot of different ways of working over the last year, and the one thing that we can agree on is, well, it’s hard to predict where we’re going to be working next year. 

Whatsmore with escalating inflation and a spiral in wage demands, there’s a clear war for top talent emerging. How to attract and retain top talent is going to be clearly front of mind for startups in 2022. 

Diverse Investing

According to Nadine Campbell, Ace Entrepreneurs,in the UK while just 5% of founding teams have two female founders, research has also shown that only 1% of venture-funded startups have black founders. In the USA, black startup entrepreneurs still received only a tiny fraction, 1.2%, of the $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups.

With movements such as Black Lives Matter providing a catalyst for a growing number of new funds and outfits supporting underrepresented founders, there’s a growing acceptance about how diverse team are better rounded, have less blindspots and ultimately, are better positioned to achieve a higher valuation multiple. 

We see some positive steps in the right direction and challenge our whole investor community to think about what you can do to help accelerate this.  

In Summary

At AIN, our mission is ‘to connect the world to enable investors to back the great business of tomorrow’.

For us, it has been a strong year, we’ve launched a fund, AIV capital, enabling investors to back later stage, high potential companies, we’ve had record number of investors signing up to the platform, and a 15% increase in investor connections being made with entrepreneurs. 

Ultimately, it wouldn’t have been possible without you, our investors and entrepreneurs, and the AIN team for all their hard work. 

We know how hard it can be to switch off, but hope you get a chance to recharge in the festive period. See you in 2022.  

Tips from the Top: Transitioning from founder to leader, how to be the one in five

In the next of our Tips from the Top series, we speak to Ed Lowther who leads The Soke’s Founders Development Programme, a first-of-its-kind course designed to provide vital knowledge, understanding and skills to founders at the helms of fast growth businesses.

When Harvard Business School spoke to its 141 HBS alumni who led start-ups, they asked: “What does someone who aspires to your role need to know?” The research revealed that of all the possible areas to focus on, there are two essential areas that over 80% of the group unanimously agreed on.

At the outset, a founder needs to assemble a founding team – a series of vital decisions around choosing co-founders, appointing key talent, splitting equity, recruiting advisors, and managing a board. These are all vital, but highly demanding tasks that a founder must achieve alongside building their new business that if not done correctly can lead to early failure, no matter how brilliant the idea. Founders reach these decisions through a combination of instinct, experience and the use of trusted advisors or mentors, in combination with key skill development.

Secondly, for those looking for investment, or looking to invest, a founder needs to foster a critical set of leadership skills needed early on, that in turn helps to attract further investment and support the business on its path to success. What’s clear is that early development of specific leadership skills in communication and conflict management is where a founder can really differentiate themselves.

Whilst many founders may believe that they naturally possess the skills to successfully build their business to success, the reality is that few come to the fundraising table with the array of skills needed to successfully lead an organisation from an idea through the teething stages to growth and finally exit. This is particularly the case when founders are required to run a company not purely to satisfy their own ambition (management, creative, financial, or otherwise), but to meet the expectations of investors and other stakeholders, including staff.

So what steps can founders can take to improve their skills in communication and manage conflict with their co-founders or staff?

  1.  Your business is founded on a great idea – it does not mean all your ideas are great.

In business journals, strategy reports and insight magazines, much is made of creativity being at the heart of business success and growth. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is vocal in encouraging his employees to think creatively, eager for them to predict future trends and allowing them to share their ideas freely, to improve the prospects of the company. The stratospheric growth of Tesla suggests that his approach is bearing fruit.

For those at the beginning of this journey, the thought of fostering creativity can feel like a luxury, alongside all the other business demands. Innovation is however proven to create growth. Businesses at all stages need to remain nimble as their customers’ needs and demands change. How successfully a founder facilitates the communication of ideas around their business and across functions is a marker for future innovation and adaptability for the business idea to survive in the market. 

Create dedicated time for creativity and innovation as part of routine business operations, giving space for open communication between the founder and team members of all functional areas. Foster an environment for the team to be creative and openly communicative, without it all being founder-led, so that ideas are assessed on their own merit, whatever the role of the team member in the company.

  1. Learn to share through building communicative resilience

Once a founder has the fundamentals of their new business in place, the idea is taking hold in the market and revenue is growing, it’s an exhilarating time. Few businesses can grow rapidly through organic growth alone and therefore a founder must also accept the challenge of securing capital through external sources. It can be an exciting but risky time, with a number of factors that can damage a business just as it begins to succeed. Much of the damage comes from the amount of time that is needed, coupled with the energy required to be successful, which takes away a founder’s dedication to their clients. Customers can sense neglect, just at the moment a business wants to secure their lifelong loyalty.

At this moment, a founder will be at their communication limits, often exhausted by the sound of their own voice, as they describe the brilliance of their business, the financial plan and the superb team assembled to make it succeed, to yet another room of potential investors. The key skill to develop here is ‘communicative resilience’, a combination of sustaining a consistent and engaging narrative of the idea, clear understanding of the business strengths and challenges, and a willingness to answer penetrative questions designed to interrogate a founder’s financial shortcomings. This combination tells investors that you can share this with them and make it successful at the same time. 

Be mindful that you communicate the strengths of the business in a way that puts the business idea at its heart and that through additional financial support, this idea will flourish. The moment that investors sense that a founder does not want to share and is more interested in their own success irrespective of the idea, the fight for their funding is lost.

  1. Conflict is inevitable – fail to prepare for it, prepare to fail.

It’s likely that as a founder builds their team, they have been successful in recruiting a diverse team, all with unique skills and often varied or differing opinions. In fact, this diversity is often a key ingredient for driving a business forward as these individuals bring perspectives to the founder that they would not otherwise have seen, helping them grow the business successfully.

The differences in this team that exist through individual variances of cultural background, learning styles, personality and many more factors besides, overlaid with managerial expectations, accountability issues and communication styles, will inevitably lead to conflict. And at this point, the founder needs to establish a pathway that is neither a hierarchy of opinions, where ‘I win because I’m more senior,’ or that a conflict is simply ignored.  Without establishing this early on, conflicts cannot be resolved satisfactorily and can lead to increased stress and decreased performance in the team, which will impact business growth. 

Plan to navigate conflict by setting out a framework for all employees to identify and resolve issues between each other, building a culture that celebrates diverse perspectives with a way to manage the conflict that this diversity can bring. It will help shape the best outcomes for the business and build genuine trust and respect between team members, managers, and the founder.

StartUpBuzz

In the run up to the festive period, the AIN team highlights some of the companies that they are most excited about. With two companies shaking up the property market, a chocolate brand targeting the very top of the market, and a company that is revolutionising 3D printing.

Virtual View App 

During the pandemic, viewing properties has been difficult, at times impossible, but one of the lasting effects of it is more and people screening potential properties with virtual tours. 

Virtual View’s ‘Vieweet’ app helps amateur photographers create a 360 view, or virtual tour on an app. It’s useful for viewing potential property to buy or let, but other use cases span insurance, interior design and surveying. 

Key Facts

– Vieweet currently collects data on the 7% of the UK properties sold every month 

– Partnerships with some of the largest property sites including Zoopla

– Customers include some of the largest estate agents, such as Purple Bricks and Countrywide

‘The thought of them already collecting data on 7% of UK properties sold every month before turning on the revenue taps showed me just how confident the founder is. The levels of data they can gather on each home will help further stimulate several other industries’ Xavier Ballester

Find out more about Virtual View App

PropertyLoop 

Continuing the property theme, PropertyLoop is an end to end lettings platform. Making life much easier for property landlords. It’s also the world’s first commission free letting platform. 

Landlords typically spend thousands on unhelpful agents just to find a tenant. On PropertyLoop, landlords list their property only once, the listings then are posted on to hundreds of portals including Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. PropertyLoop verifies renters identities, as well as sorting tenancy agreement, deposits and renewals.

There’s also a ‘Smart’ tools service where tenant report any issues with the property online, where it is automatically sent to relevant, qualified contractors who bid for the work. Property Loop takes care of all the access, proof of work and invoicing so that landlords don’t have to. 

Key Facts

– Multi excited founders 

– sold one of London’s biggest retail estate agency chains, taken care of $1 billion of property every year. 

– 95% of the market still being dominated by High Street Agents, the ‘Blockbusters’ of the Property Market

Total Addressable Market – £1.7 trillion rental market

‘Having spoken to a number of landlords about PropertyLoop each of them said they would be crazy not to use it. Everything to do with the running of your property under one roof and free is definitely a problem being solved!’ Xavier Ballester

Firetree

Firetree

There’s expensive chocolate, and then there’s Firetree – chocolate is priced at a price point that you wouldn’t really expect to see chocolat at, more the territory you would expect to see a fine wine.

Firetree is a new chocolate brand positioning itself at the top of the end of the market, and therefore avoiding the competitive mid-market with the likes of Cadbury and Mars. Chocolate is roasted in its shells using a slow chocolate craft production process to ‘optimise their complet taste characteristic’.

Firetree believe they are the only serious player who can capture the top of the market with an experienced team that combines both mass market and high end chocolate experience. 

Key Facts 

– Set for £1m in revenues in 2021

– Retailers include Harrods, M&S and Ocado

– Vegan, Dairy-Free, Nut Free, Halal and Kosher Certified. 

‘ I tasted them and know just how delicious they are. My wife is a big chocolate snob and says she has never tried a better chocolate. Firetree could be the brand to take over the super premium category.’ Xavier Ballester

Find out more about Firetree.

Wayland Additive

Wayland Additive

Wayland Additive have overhauled additive manufacture (3D Printing) of metals, making it faster, more reliable and allowing for the printing of larger structures than has commonly been possible. 

Wayland aims to create metal Additive Manufacturing (“AM” – 3D printing) machines to sell to  industrial organisations, including in the aerospace and medical industries. With highly advanced tech created from the worlds of scanning electron microscopy and electron beam lithography. 

As a result of these innovations the machine will offer higher productivity, unparalleled process monitoring and control, and versatility in materials.

Facts

– First client signed in N. America (£850k) and working with the MOD

– £29m pipeline of opportunities

– Raised £2.1m of a £3m round backed by Longwall Ventures

To hear more about Wayland Additive, reach out to Ed Stephens directly ed(at)angelinvestmentnetwork.co.uk.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

SixtySecondStartUp with CheckMates

In this week’s edition of #SixtySecondStartUp we catch up with Leah Zabari, founder of CheckMates, an app to connect you with anonymous support during difficult times.

  1. What does your company do?

Checkmates is a mobile app designed to help individuals connect with anonymous support during difficult times.

Checkmates uses algorithms and a dating app “swipe right” style in order to help the individual find profiles they can relate to.

Our focus on imagery and metaphors to describe each user’s story erases the need for potentially triggering language. Therefore putting the user in control of their information and how they would like to receive support.

  1. Why did you set up this company?

In 2017 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although she received fantastic treatment and support from the NHS and Macmillan cancer support, I really struggled as a carer and a family member to find the support I needed. I was receiving therapy at the time but what I really wanted was to meet someone who was going through the same thing, someone I could relate to and who knew how I was feeling.

This sparked my idea of Checkmates; and the more I went through my vision and values for Checkmates, the more it became evident that this was a platform for everyone; loneliness and the need for support and help is not just an issue for children. Statistics show this to be an increasing worry for older adults. Everyone needs to be heard and listened to, and to feel supported.                                                                                                                                                     

The MyCheckmates App
  1. How did you get your first customer? 

We are currently undergoing a testing period of our first version of MyCheckmates app with our community. Until we have refined the last final details we want to make we haven’t launched our paid feature Checkmates+. We are aiming to launch MyCheckmates to the world mid 2022 after our upcoming seed round.

  1. We knew we were onto something when? 

We did a lot of market research before we began developing MyCheckmates; we shared a survey asking everyone if there was a time in their life they would have used MyCheckmates had it been available; this had a 100% positive response. The following question was asking them to share what the challenges were they were facing, the answers left me speechless. 

Everyone was going through such different experiences and yet everyone felt alone. Addiction, bereavement, mothers with daughters battling eating disorders, unemployment struggles, breakups/divorce, nurses suffering mental health issues due to their work through the COVID 19 pandemic.

No matter who you are, everyone needs support, everyone needs to be reminded they are not alone.

  1. Our business model: 

MyCheckmates is working on a freemium model meaning a basic version of the app is free for all, however a paid version with many more features is available and strongly encouraged in order for users to get the most tailored support to their needs.

We currently have a monetised weekly mental health check-in newsletter and a biweekly podcast breaking down the stigma around emotions.

MyCheckmates has huge room to expand into many different areas of mental health; including mindfulness and meditation features within the app, and in person events to find support within small communities, both of which we are working on currently.

  1. Our most effective marketing channel has been: 

Social media! When Checkmates started out as scribbles in my notebook one of the first things I vowed was that the service Checkmates was offering was to be accessible for all. This has mainly shown itself in the form of a free version of our app but has also come through in other aspects of the company’s profile; such as its community services. All our social media is free, interactive and allows everyone to feel like part of a team. We share resources, testimonies and tips and tricks to check-in on your friends mental health as well as your own.

  1. What we look for when recruiting:

Enthusiasm, honesty and flexibility. As a startup things change all the time, we are a small team currently doing a little bit of everything; filling in gaps when needed and constantly learning new skills in areas some of us haven’t studied since highschool! 

With our app having such a huge focus on mental health we want everyone in our team to be passionate about improving the services that are offered to those struggling. We are a business, but a business created to help our users. Passion and a desire for positive change has to lie at the forefront of all decisions.

  1. The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:

Assuming I needed a technical co-founder before I could get started. 

As a solo founder the first thing you read online is *ALERT ALERT* you need to find a technical co founder to be taken seriously. This is not true, being a non-technical solo founder isn’t easy, don’t get me wrong, but I was the one with the ideas and vision so why not get started straight away? If partnership is the right thing to do then I strongly believe it will happen. Working with business partners; whether that is investors, co-founders or employees you work closely with does not work unless your personal relationship is solid too. You have to have the same vision and trust each other; you can’t fake or force either of these things.

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

In total, 45% of adults feel occasionally, sometimes, or often lonely in England. This equates to twenty five million people.

5.0% (1 in 20,) of people in the UK (2.6 million adults) reported that they felt lonely “often” or “always” between 3 April and 3 May 2020, about the same proportion as before the national lockdown due to Covid-19. Of those asked, 30.9% (7.4 million adults) reported their well-being had been affected because of their loneliness in the past seven days. 

This figure is ever growing, especially with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. As well as the heartbreak and isolation that the pandemic has brought many individuals more broadly, the social distancing measures and the limitations of household bubbles has denied many people the opportunity to meet new people and find the support they need.

  1. We worked with AIN because:

We are about to embark on a first fundraising journey that will allow MyCheckmates to be taken to the next step and start providing support to the people that need it. We have all the ideas, the passion and the projection. All we need now is just a little extra help from investors to make this happen. When Drummond got in touch it came at the perfect time with our BETA launch, it is a fantastic way for us to be able to share MyCheckmates with the people who can help make this happen.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

#SixtySecondStartUp with Society

Up next for #SixtySecondStartUp we have Matthew Billington, Co-founder of Society. Matthew noticed that student usage of Facebook was falling off a cliff and set up a startup to help student societies manage their members with their own branded apps.

What does Society do?

Society is your own branded community app in an instant. With over 1,700 clubs with group chats in over 217 Universities in the UK and worldwide, Society is now the fastest growing app at University for clubs and societies.

App features include push notifications direct to all your members for instant alerts and updates for events and announcements. It has your club’s calendar of events, an instant searchable network, personal profiles, direct messaging, group chats, free e-tickets and much, much more. And, it’s completely free for students. 

The Society App

Why did you set up Society?

When I entered my 4th year as a dental student at King’s College London, I soon discovered that being elected President of the KCL Dental Society of 800 members came with its fair share of problems. Engagement was falling and falling, Facebook was becoming increasingly outdated especially with freshers. Year on year, we were seeing a progressive decline in engagement with university students.

With popular event booking platforms such as Eventbrite and Fatsoma, having high transaction fees, I wanted to create a platform with the lowest possible ticket transaction fees for students, whilst remaining free for free events. WhatsApp groups were also a terrible way to manage a society and events. 

How did you get your first customer?

After engaging with Presidents from other dental schools I soon discovered that nearly every new President of a university society is in the same boat, re-creating the wheel, each and every year.

I originally came up with the idea of the Dental Society app to have a profound and positive impact on committees and society members at all 16 dental schools. Helping committees to save time through automating event management, certificates, ticketing/e-tickets for events, whilst having the committee displayed and available for all members to directly contact through the chat. 

We knew we were onto something when?

Suddenly, the Presidents of King’s College London Medical Student Association wanted to use the Dental Society app. Then 18 months ago when the app was re-engineered and relaunched as “Society” for all student clubs, Aston’s African Caribbean Society wanted to use the app. That’s when we experienced exceptional growth from 12 clubs to 800 clubs to now over 1700 clubs in the last 18 months.

Our business model:

Society co-founders chose pre-monetisation to maximise and prioritise viral growth without friction. Over the next 12 months, we are proving multiple revenue streams to find optimal ways of aligning monetisation with viral growth.

Our most effective marketing channel has been:

Word-of-mouth with students. The new academic year saw more than two hundred Society Ambassadors attend Freshers Fairs at Universities across the UK to promote the Society app to clubs, societies and students. All ambassadors wore the Society hoodie while spreading the word about the features and benefits of the app. The awareness campaign was a huge success.

Society Brand Ambassadors

What we look for when recruiting:

Insanely great people with ideas and raw talent, passion and energy that don’t need to be managed. They have to believe in the Society app, our vision and be fun. 

The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:

Not immediately realising the full potential of the Society app as an instant community app for absolutely everyone in the world. ESN UK is set to digitise the student exchange experience with their new Society App partnership. Formally the Erasmus Student Network, ESN is the largest student-led organisation in the world in over 1,000 Higher Education Institutions in 42 countries.

Together with Society App, ESN UK are launching a new app specifically for their members to help them to develop skills to a higher proficiency. As seen in The Daily Telegraph, the ESN partnership presents a global opportunity for the Society app and is one of the pathways to having a world-wide presence in 2022 with student brand ambassadors in every country.

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

Significant traction has been made in the new academic year post covid lock downs. In the last 90 days, clubs have doubled and grown by 100% across 1,700+ Clubs, now also with 1,700+ Group Chats. Memberships have grown by 130% and engagement has grown by 700%. Over £50,000 has been collected via Society Pay, the in-app payment gateway. This exceptional growth since launch only 18 months ago, means the Society app has already cornered 13% UK market share and is expected to double in 2022.

The app’s success reflects UK University only, excluding parallel, international and enterprise markets. There’s still time to invest in the Society app (EIS approved) this year to support the team growth of student brand ambassadors and react native developers, which will allow greater scale and global ambitions to be achieved. 

We worked with AIN because:

AIN was highly recommended and we found AIN to be one of the best ways to reach and communicate with potential investors.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

StartUpBuzz



At AIN, we celebrate connecting investors to back the great businesses of tomorrow, whatever they do. With this in mind, our latest round up includes a new form of property marketplace, a platform using AI to reinterpret education and a company making new types of soup!

Soupologie

Soupologie

Whilst you may think there isn’t much to differentiate soup, Soupologie would beg to differ. Soupologie makes award winning soups and ready meals that are driving a number of innovations including: the world’s first ‘5 a day soup’ and ‘first free from the 14 main allergens soup’. 

Capitalising on the plant based movement, the company has achieved strong growth and has even released two cookbooks. With an exit focused management team and strong revenue growth, the company is on a fantastic path.

Key Facts

– On track for £3.2m revenue in Y/E May 22

– Products sold at Waitrose, Tesco, Ocado and leading supermarkets 

– Over 21k+ followers on social media  

“Soupologie have steadily built a strong business core around an innovative product range. Alongside executing the fundamentals of the business brilliantly, they amplify the brand exceptionally well through wide reaching media campaigns and an enviable following. The combination is powerful and we knew it was something that our network would be keen to see” Sam Louis. 

Find out more about Soupologie here.

Vesta

Vesta

Vesta is a marketplace for buying and selling rental property, and has sold over £50 million of property since it’s launch in 2018. 

It’s the leading marketplace of it’s kind covering buy-to-let, student accommodation, and portfolio properties for example. The properties often come with a tenant in place – if you buy a property with a tenant in place, the tenant is happy as they don’t need to find somewhere else to live, and the buyer is happy as they have an immediate rental income. 

Key Facts

– The rental market is expected to be £1.7 billion by 2025 

– Vesta has a growing pipeline currently worth £100 million.

– Revenue currently > £20k a month

“This is a space that has been of interest to me for some time and Vesta clearly sets out what the investment options and how much I can hope to generate from the moment I buy the property” Xavier Ballester.

Find out more about Vesta here.

Habitat Learn 

Habitat Learn

Habitat Learn is an ecosystem of products designed to remove the barriers of learning. With the ethos that ‘when online learning works better for all students; all students work better.’

Habitat Learns comprises a suite of products easily integrating into existing education technology. This includes: 

– Video conferencing software, designed specifically for education, as well as providing high quality live stream content, there is AI captioning and translation, and digital watermarks to safeguard IP. 

– Advanced analytics including everything from live recording, invoicing and student attendance records

– An option to get notetakers to take notes remotely. 

Key Facts: 

– Projecting £3m revenue in 2021, (£600k: 2020)

-185 customers (universities and colleges) including Harvard, Yale and Cornell

– Experienced team founding multiple successful startups 

“With lockdown Edtech has seen a real surge but I also looked back to my uni days where I spent most lectures frantically scribbling and missing half of what was said… Oh to have had Habitat Learn!” Xavier Ballester. 

Find out more about Habitat Learn here.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

#SixtySecondStartUp with Alpaca Coffee

In this week’s #SixtySecondStartUp we catch up with Alpaca Coffee who are making ‘better coffee for you and the planet’:

A ceramic coffee mug is great for sipping hot drinks like tea or coffee, go to Spice Kitchen and Bar to take a look to the 11 Best Ceramic Coffee Mugs of 2022: Reviews & Top Picks.

  1. What does Alpaca Coffee do?

Alpaca Coffee looks to bring better coffee for you and the planet. We are working towards being UK’s first fully sustainable coffee brand by promoting sustainability at every touchpoint:

Ethically-Sourced Specialty Coffee: Traceable sources to support family businesses that adhere to international standards on sustainability, better pricing, and quality

Zero Waste Roasting: Roasted via circular technology with biofuel instead of fossil fuel 

100% Plastic Free & Compostable: 100% plastic-free, from our labels and our bags, all the way to our shipping boxes and compostable tape.

Offsetting Our Carbon Footprint: For every 10 bags of coffee sold, Alpaca Coffee will plant one tree in the Amazon Rainforest.

  1. Why did you set up Alpaca Coffee?

I fell in love with specialty coffee during a trip to South America, but soon became aware of the negative environmental impact of the coffee industry. Due to this, we decided early on to become the new industry standard and to put sustainability at the core of what we do, making quality and sustainable coffee accessible for everyone. 

  1. How did you get your first customer? 

We validated our idea with a Kickstarter campaign. The featured by Kickstarter and our >200% oversubscription jump started our initial customer base and we are fortunate that a lot of the customers from then have stayed with us since then. Despite the fact that we have grown since then, I will never forget the moment my best friends tried our coffee and their amazed look. 

Alpaca Coffee

  1. We knew we were onto something when? 

Kickstarter was a start, but when we were featured by the UK Government as part of the SMB Climate Hub, among other publications such as Goodfind and Wherefrom, we knew we were onto something. 

  1. Our business model: 

B2C with a focus on e-commerce. We are rapidly expanding into the retail and B2B space so hit us up for a chat ?

  1. Our most effective marketing channel has been: 

We are currently organic-heavy with our marketing, and so far has offseted >1,300,000 grams of carbon with >3000 bags of coffee sold. Social media has brought in great ROI, from word-of-mouth through user-generated content to collaborations with brands with similar philosophies. The team is working hard to further our presence by strengthening our branding and unboxing experiences. Stay tuned for our launch in December ?.

  1. What we look for when recruiting:

We look for people who share our values in sustainability and understand our mission. Being a challenger brand, we want to recruit fearless, passionate people. Diverse backgrounds, perspectives, talents, and ideas are important to us and we are driven forward by this diversity.

Coffee?

  1. The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:

Saying yes to too many things. I’ve learnt that it’s important to approach any part of our business with a clear goal and understanding of the return on investment. We now approach anything we do together as a team with a clear understanding of how it fits with our mission and vision, and how it drives the business forward.

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

We are part of the “fourth wave of coffee”. As one of the most consumed drinks in the world, the quality of coffee as well as its impact on the environment and society, has become increasingly important to people around the world. As a specialty coffee company with sustainability at its core, we hope to become the new industry standard and push for better coffee for you and the planet. 

  1. We worked with AIN because:

AIN democratises angel investment and offers an unprecedented access to a supporting ecosystem and community of entrepreneurs and investors. This helps level the playing field and empowers entrepreneurs like us to grow. 

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

Emerging from the pandemic – Startup sentiment in the UK and USA

Angel Investment Network, the world’s largest angel investment platform, surveyed the views of startups in the USA and UK to see how they have responded more than a year and a half after the pandemic first hit. This involved interviews with 1,205 startups in the USA and 667 in the UK. The key findings in the overall report we have published are:

1) Confidence returning
Similar numbers in both territories are now positive about the next 12 months. In the USA 76% of respondents are now confident about the next year, with 72% confident in the UK. However more US startups are very optimistic about the future, 52% against 42% in the UK. This could of course be down to a naturally more upbeat mindset but the research also reveals some particular challenges in the UK – for example the impact of Brexit. Meanwhile 70% of respondents in the USA are confident about the country retaining its status as a ‘startup hub’, versus 65% in the UK.

2) Networking and bootstrapping have been ways of mitigating stalled investment
62% of US startups have seen growth negatively impacted with 59% in the UK negatively impacted. The research also reveals the similar approach to mitigating the impact of stalled investment. The top strategy adopted in both countries was focusing more on networking. Other strategies adopted included delaying launch plans, holding back on marketing and hiring and  bootstrapping businesses as far as possible..

3) Raising investment is biggest challenge goingforward
Raising investment remains the biggest challenge going forward and there is a firm belief in both countries that government has a key role in making the conditions more favourable through tax relief. The report also looked at the biggest bugbears for startup founders. Number one in both countries was investors demanding too much of a stake in the business. Time consuming due diligence was also a pressing concern as were very slow rejections.

As we look forward, startups in the US and UK can be the engine room of economic recovery in both countries – nurturing their growth is vital.

Here is the full report

#SixtySecondStartUp with IBS Coach

Liamhl Asmall shares the story of IBS Coach, a digital dietary treatment for the 800 million people affected by IBS.

  1. What does your company do?

We help the 1 in 7 people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to get instant and effective digital treatment from the phone in their pocket. It may come as a surprise, but IBS is one of the most common digestive conditions on the planet. It’s not life threatening and is still taboo (which is most likely why it’s been so overlooked for so many years), but it severely impacts relationships, work, travel, and ultimately, quality of life.

In one study patients with IBS were willing to give up 15.1 years of their remaining lives to achieve perfect health. People are desperately seeking a cure.

  1. Why did you set up this company?

Healthcare for IBS is inefficient and unaffordable. It is incredible that patients have to wait a reported 1 year to see a specialist on the NHS, or pay up to £320 for private treatment. We set out to solve this problem that our friends and family had faced. Our mission is simple: to make effective digital treatment accessible, affordable, and scalable for this 800 million person IBS healthcare market.

The IBS Coach App
  1. How did you get your first customer? 

When developing a medical product you’ve got a long road to walk before you can sell to customers. Our journey went from achieving medical compliance to setting up a closed beta testing group for people with IBS, to launching in the app stores. The overwhelming positive feedback gave us confidence that patients would buy our product. We launched commercially in October this year and had our first sale almost immediately. It’s a good feeling to know we’re helping people manage their IBS.

  1. We knew we were onto something when? 

We interviewed 30 people with IBS at the start of our journey and just listening to their stories and frustrations showed us there was a clear need for an affordable, simplified treatment for IBS. Very early on we shared a post on Facebook and had almost 200 sign ups in the first 24 hours. These were early points of validation and were supported by lots of desk research.

  1. Our business model: 

IBS is a lifelong condition that needs ongoing symptom management. Because of the ongoing nature of IBS, we aim to support patients throughout their life. The business model is a recurring revenue subscription and we are currently testing our acquisition channels and pricing. One of our goals is to establish a marketing flywheel with our next SEIS fundraise. 

  1. Our most effective marketing channel has been: 

Organic sales in the iOS app store. We’re now putting marketing spend behind Apple Search Ads and Google Ads which are ‘high intent’ channels. We’ve run multiple Facebook campaigns to test landing pages and messaging, and we’ll be exploring ways we can partner with brands.

  1. The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:

One of the early mistakes was focusing too heavily on the product (we have a great product, and as a medical product we perhaps needed to spend a lot of time here!). However, if I were to start over I’d spend slightly less time on product and more time testing sales channels. It’s a fine balance as founders have to wear many hats. The risk is that founders focus on the jobs they like, or feel most ‘comfortable doing’. It’s good to be aware of our bias towards tasks.

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

IBS is a lifelong condition and the latest reports suggest the rates of IBS have actually increased during Covid. Couple the above with the mass adoption of digital healthcare, the large unserved market, and the scalability of our effective digital program and we have the right trends for our company to grow. 

  1. We worked with AIN because:

AIN has a reputation as one of the best platforms to share our ambitious plans with engaged angel investors; We hope to make many new connections and raise our current SEIS round.

If you are interested in learning more about IBS Coach, please get in touch via the Angel Investment Network platform.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

AIV Capital completes investment into meat alternatives business Eat Just Inc.

AIV Capital has announced investment into alternative food business, Eat Just Inc. Eat Just Inc develops and markets plant-based alternatives to conventionally-produced egg products. Founded in 2011 by Josh Tetrick, the San Francisco based business is reducing dependence on chickens and battery farms for egg production by creating a realistic and viable alternative from mung beans.

Eat Just Inc. has raised over $500Mn to date and will use its latest round of funding to continue to improve the unit economics of the business and to focus on international expansion outside of the US. It was announced recently that the key ingredient in its plant-based JUST Egg products received approval from the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) expert panel on nutrition. This opens a pathway for the initial launch of JUST Egg to occur in Europe in mid-2022. Its high profile produce was also on the menu at Barack Obama’s recent 60th birthday.

The company has also raised over $400Mn for its subsidiary, Good Meat which focuses on cultivated meat as an alternative to traditional chicken based products. Good Meat is the first company in the world to receive regulatory approval to sell the cultivated meat products which are now available in Singapore. Earlier this year, the company secured rights for a manufacturing facility in Qatar as a partnership between Doha Venture Capital (DVC) and Qatar Free Zone Authority (QFZA).

AIV Capital is the recently launched institutional investment arm of Angel Investment Network, the world’s largest online angel investment platform. Led by experienced investment manager Ethan Khatri, AIV Capital’s focus is on investing between $10 -$75Mn+ into established businesses ranging from Growth/Series B to pre-IPO and has a flexible approach utilising both primary and secondary capital. 

According to Khatri: “We are delighted to have partnered with CEO, Josh Tetrick and the team at Eat Just Inc. With the demand for plant based products soaring they offer a viable alternative to conventionally-produced egg products and are offering impressive returns for all stakeholders. This is a prime example of the sort of business we will be working with at AIV Capital. One with a strong management team with a demonstrated edge in the space they operate in.”

#BehindTheRaise with Euclideon Holographics

Derek Van Tonder shares the story of Euclideon Holographics and the key learnings from taking it through multiple rounds of funding, including the importance of benchmarking your company for investors and building meaningful relationships:

Tell us about what got you into start ups: 

Euclideon Holographics was founded because we tried out traditional Virtual Reality helmets and we really didn’t like them – we hated the cord, the screens in front of our eyes were awful because we couldn’t see anything, and most importantly, they gave us motion sickness. So we decided to solve that problem by removing the screens in front of your eyes and moving them onto the walls around you to solve all these problems with VR, and Euclideon Holographics was born.

Why did you decide to raise investment?

Our products have been very successful and many customers even purchased them before they were properly finished (in beta) – we are using this success to prove to investors that their funds can make a good profit when we use investment money to set up warehouses and showrooms around the world. 95% of our customers have seen our holograms in person before committing to purchase, so it makes sense to put showrooms closer to our customers, and that requires investment capital. We are also using fundraising as a way to network with new partners. Many of our investors end up working with us in the business, for example by becoming a representative for our products in a far-flung region of the world that we normally would not easily be able to access. Since they are shareholders, they are passionate about our company and it works very well.

What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?

Be careful of scammers, using a service like Angel Investment Network greatly reduces the number of shady people you will have to deal with. Make sure that you understand your market very very well – investors don’t just want to know how much you could sell if only 1% of the market bought your products – they need better and more realistic estimates than that. Ideally, you should have proved that people want to buy your product/service before raising investment. Investors may love everything about your company and technology but could be scared away by the risk factor – you have to be absolutely transparent about risk with investors. If you have debts, disclose those. If you are at all cagey about disclosing financials, many investors will see this as a big red flag. The gold standard is to have an independent, 3rd party accountant sign off on a copy of your balance sheets before you raise capital. Every serious investor will ask for this, and rightly so. Investors also like you to be very clear about what’s in it for them – you should not give “pie in the sky” and overly optimistic projections and forecasts. Instead, try to find companies similar in size and scope to your own and use them as a benchmark for comparison purposes. For example, we use the company Tritium, they are literally in the same street as our HQ, with a similar number of employees, and they are also an Aussie technology manufacturer with their own factory. Because they are very similar we can show them to investors and talk about their great success story.

What attracted investors to your company?

Shareholders of Euclideon Holographics are interested in a long-term pre-IPO Intellectual Property play, they are investing with us because we have a lot of unique IP and patents, we have proven that customers want to buy our products, and we are offering new Hologram products not seen before that solve a lot of the problems with Virtual Reality. And we also support popular 3D simulation engines like Unreal and Unity. Manufacturing our products in Australia is also seen as a big advantage to our customers, particularly with regards to our military clients, Australia is seen as a “safe” and friendly country by military buyers. Australia is viewed favourably as a hi-tech and very stable Western democracy so that also helps us.

My biggest fundraising mistake was…

At first, only emailing investors and not touching base with them in other ways. You should reach out to them on LinkedIn, send text messages, phone them, everything possible – otherwise you will never know whether your important email got stuck in their spam/junk filter. The absolute gold standard is to have a Zoom call with every investor. Investors like to invest in people. You need to meet them somehow, ideally in person if you can.

Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?

AIN has consistently delivered quality investors to us over the years as we have expanded our operations. We now have an excellent shareholder list and many of our shareholders are actively involved in helping us distribute our products and find new opportunities and clients all over the world.

What has the funding enabled?

We use our funding for expansion and to fund R&D on new products. For example, our first foray onto AIN netted us $700,000 (AUD) of investment, which we subsequently used to refine and commercialise our Hologram Table product, which is now our 2nd most popular bestseller.

Keen to hear more?

Listen to Derek in the extra video for #BehindTheRaise:

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

BehindTheRaise with Paperclip

Rich Wooley is the CEO and founder of Paperclip, a challenger marketplace taking on eBay. Rich shares lessons from his fundraising in #BehindTheRaise: What’s the biggest thing he thinks investors look for? What would he do differently if he did it all again? And well, does AIN really work?

Tell us about what got you into start ups:

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset – my first business was at school selling Big Red chewing gum that I imported from the US, it certainly made me more money than my paper round!

At university, my housemate, Alan, (later, co-founder) and I made good money importing clothes from the US and selling them on eBay, and we saw an opportunity there for a challenger marketplace to take on eBay’s monopoly. We shelved the idea at the time, and both went into our respective management consulting careers – but eventually I thought that if I didn’t do something entrepreneurial soon, I might never, so I took a career break and started attending startup events in London like AngelHack and London Startup Weekend. I pitched Paperclip, we came second place, and we got to work.

Why did you decide to raise investment?

Being a marketplace, we realized that we’d need to go for a few years without any discernible revenue, and so we sought investment to fund the runway. Not only this, but we wanted to get a strong network of investors onboard that could add value on the journey – introductions for commercial partnerships and to other investors, and so on.

Marketplaces are always tricky, and it can take a while until the critical mass of buyers and sellers and unit economics start to take shape. However, when they do get it right, they have the power to influence people’s everyday lives – which is something that excites me a lot. Platforms like Amazon, JustEat, Uber, Deliveroo, and Depop are a testament to that – they provide value to millions of people, and have made massive returns for their investors, but they were cash hungry at the start and required significant investment to get to that scale – we are no different in that regard.

What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?

It’s always tricky at the start.  Your personal network can help a lot at that time – my first investors were a friend from university, a family friend, and my old boss! But other than that, seek investors that add value in the right areas -speak with founders that have exited similar or complementary types of businesses.

Any government support such as grants can help a lot to get momentum going, and speaking to pre-seed funds that can match fund will help things significantly: if you have an offer on the table for match-funding (e.g if you raise £100k then the fund will match that with £100k), then it helps things along significantly.

I’d suggest not being too inflexible on your valuation, but be wary of adapting your investment terms to something you’re not comfortable with, such as giving away too much control or appointing directors that don’t share your vision, or that might become an issue later down the line. The right kind of investors can make your journey far smoother, the wrong type can make it hell.

What attracted investors to your company?

I think investors like the concept of what we’re trying to solve and the novel way that we are approaching it – it helps that the secondhand goods market is massive and also set to expand 500% over the next 5 years – and so the potential is huge. However, at the start, investors are mostly investing in the actual team – and having a strong team really helped with that.

We were fortunate enough to get some high profile investors onboard at seed stage, such as  David Buttress,  co-founder and former CEO of JustEat and Hayley Parsons, the founder and former CEO of GoCompare. Most people in the UK would have either seen or used their platforms, and so it added some credibility to our cause.

Rich Wooley, CEO, Paperclip


My biggest fundraising mistake was…

Probably the biggest fundraising mistake I made was not pushing back on some of the investment agreement terms in our first VC raise. There are a bunch of reporting, corporate governance and approval processes that I have to go through. For example, I need to gain approval for spending over £5,000 on something, or hiring someone with a salary of over £35,000. 

These terms ultimately do benefit and protect our shareholders, so they’re not all bad – but for the stage we’re at, they can be slightly onerous; they  can slow things down at times or take me valuable time to report.

Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?

Over the years, I had heard of Angel Investment Network, but I never wanted to pay for it!  Then one day at the Natwest Accelerator, two of the founders I was mentoring came over and told me they’d raised over £250k each on the platform, and so I signed up right away.

I’ve also tried other platforms, both UK and US focused, and have never had the same level of success on them. It’s clear to me that Angel Investment Network has the largest and most active pool of angel investors in the UK – perhaps in the world; I’ve met some incredible people and received investment from all over the world; Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa – the list goes on.

What has the funding enabled?

Investment has made a huge difference to the talent we have brought onboard, and the build phase that we’re in. Some of our investors have made valuable introductions, and so it has had a massive impact on our business. Going forwards, I can see that the investor base that we have will be able to provide us even more value as we grow.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

Four benefits of backing more diverse startup founders

The worldwide startup ecosystem is well established and growing strongly in many different territories. The success of Angel Investment Network in creating more connections between founders and investors globally is testament to that. However, while investment in startups has rebounded strongly after the worst of the pandemic, we can also follow this with an increase in funding for diverse startup founders. Why does this matter? Well, it’s not just about having better representation for the sake of it, important though this is, it actually also makes better sense commercially.

In the UK while just 5% of founding teams have two female founders, research has also shown that only 1% of venture-funded startups have black founders. It’s a similar picture in the USA, where according to Crunchbase, black startup entrepreneurs still received only a tiny fraction — 1.2 percent — of the $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups through the first half of the year.  To disrupt this, here are four reasons why we need to boost investment into more diverse founders.

  1. It can lead to new business opportunities
    Many diverse business startups can offer products targeting diverse consumers uncatered for currently in the market. However, if the investors themselves are not more diverse, they may not have the same understanding of the market to know where the opportunities are. This is a challenge many female founders also face. For example, we can purchase most groceries online except ethnic food – which you still have to visit your local market, small grocer or if you’re lucky, there will be a small selection in the supermarket however, it’s unlikely you can order online. As this is a minority need many would struggle to get backing from a British bank however, Mariam Jimoh founded Oja, developed an app that delivers ethnic produce from local groceries to customers’ doorsteps. After much hard work, she was successful in finding funding. As one of only a handful of success stories here, we know there are many other missed opportunities to serve a potential market of many millions.
  1.  New markets can develop and thrive
    New markets thrive on having dynamic businesses and competition. However if certain businesses are unable to grow, their products or services remain in need and the circulation of money in the economy then shrinks. We can create opportunities to serve different markets, have more alternative viewpoints in the business decision and drive forward education and revenue based around new business variations which cater for wider groups. Let’s also remember these are emerging and growing markets too, so there are fantastic opportunities for investors with the right foresight.    
  1. More diverse teams do better
    Just as in nature, having diversity is key to the health of ecosystems, the same applies to diverse teams in startups and wider existing businesses. Research has shown that companies with diverse management teams are more innovative and have 19% higher revenue. In many of the fastest growing sectors such as tech, this growth is key to success. So diversity is not just about a tick box activity, it’s about the make up of high performing teams, who are going to positively impact the bottom line. The reverse is also true. The more we can represent the whole of the country and their different needs, the better solutions we can develop and ensure new markets can flourish
  1. Backing more diverse founders across the globe can help tackle some of our greatest challenges
    Of course while it is important to look at backing more diverse founders at home, we also need to look at more diversity in funding globally. So much capital is concentrated on a few established, wealthy hubs. However, having more underrepresented founders across the globe we can also potentially have new insights and ideas for tackling many of mankind’s most pressing problems. People on the ground in countries most impacted by climate change may well have some more untapped and innovative solutions, but often they need the contacts and capital to turn their idea into reality. By looking at ways we can boost nascent startup ecosystems in developing countries, we will be in a better place to address many of the problems threatening the planet with sustainability based solutions which could become hugely profitable.

So where to start? The first thing we need to do is look at how we can support micro-enterprises. They are on the very first rung of the startup ladder and the more of these we can support, the more chance of startups on a pathway to Series A and even Unicorn status can emerge. This is why Ace Entrepreneurs has created our first micro funding program for the diverse community. While we have seen a huge democratisation of startup funding in the past few years, we now need to complete the journey and make sure a truly diverse startup ecosystem can flourish.

By Nadine Campbell, entrepreneur and founder of Ace Entrepreneurs. The ACE Entrepreneurs Investment Program has been launched to tackle a funding gap for black-owned businesses. 

#StartUpBuzz

Here’s our pick of companies raising investment on Angel Investment Network at the moment. 

From launching podcasts, to helping you select the most appropriate emobility solution, or a modular sofa that will actually fit through the front door, these are the startups that are solving meaningful problems with capable teams, and a clear route to market. 

Auddy 

Whilst starting a podcast may seem deceptively easy, actually launching it successfully, building a user base, maintaining growth and monetising it, are a lot easier said than done. That’s where Auddy comes into help. 

Auddy is one of the UK’s leading podcast publishers. Using cutting-edge data and analytics, they make the business of podcasts hassle-free. They work with top creators to produce and market premium shows before distributing them to all major platforms. They then provide advertising and sponsorship sales, paying properly meaningful royalties back to the creators.

Controlling the end-to-end process means they can also produce private shows for corporate’s internal employees or leading branded content for a company’s content strategy. These are high margin jobs and provide a diversified revenue stream beyond pure consumer publishing.

Key Facts

Founder has numerous IPOs and exits, including for Virgin

B2B clients including Vodafone and Open University 

Acquired leading UK branded podcast publisher – Radio Wolfgang

‘Auddy has an incredible team behind it, driving a sophisticated business model in what is a rapidly expanding market space. We were hooked from the off and we think it’s an exciting opportunity for the network!’ – Sam Louis 

Find out more about Auddy here.

Electric Rider


In big cities, suddenly electric mobility solutions are appearing everywhere. Electric Rider is an online marketplace selling emobility solutions from ebikes to escooters, even electric unicycles. 

The trend for the electric revolution appears to be getting strong momentum, buoyed in part by London and other major cities introducing low emission zones.

Electric Rider makes it easy to find the most appropriate electric mobility solution for the user – with a ‘help me choose’ solution finder, as well as flexible payment options. 

Key Facts

The emobility market is forecast to grow at 20% year on year

Electric Rider achieved £1million gross revenue with 30% margin in first 18 months

Over 55 brands in stock and growing

‘Impossible to ignore what they have achieved in such a short space of time. Along with the current move towards electric transportation in cities it was a company that I really wanted to help raise.’ – Xavier Ballester

Find out more about Electric Rider here.

Cozmo

Ever ordered a sofa with a long lead time only to find it didn’t fit through the door? Or pulled a muscle in your back trying to lug a sofa up the stairs? Cozmo is a new type of sofa company, reinventing what sofa purchasing should look like – modular and delivered in a box. It’s also a sustainable solution, allowing easy changes to both configuration and also its design with changeable top covers.  

Key Facts

The emobility market is forecast to grow at 20% year on year

Electric Rider achieved £1million gross revenue with 30% margin in first 18 months

Over 55 brands in stock and growing

Find out more about Cozmo here.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

#BehindTheRaise with Wedo

Wedo is a Neo-Bank set up for the freelance community by 5 times founder Indiana Gregg (Indy); in our latest #BehindTheRaise Indy shares her top tips for fundraising success:

Tell us about Wedo and how you came up with the idea

Wedo is the place to start or grow your online business: create live video and audio alleys, share content, take payments and send and receive money completely hassle-free.

I’m a 5x tech founder and have also run a digital media company where a lot of our gigs came from freelance sites. I had an exit five years ago and focused on learning everything there is to know about the freelance communities that were shooting up and getting tons of traction; so, I became a freelancer myself. It quickly occured to me that this rapidly growing piece of the global workforce would soon be in trouble. Freelancers pay to play. It’s not very cool. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a more fair way to serve them with an ecosystem where they weren’t having as much as 20% of their earnings paid as commission fees. Wedo was the answer.

I started building a prototype at the beginning of COVID and by June, 2020, we had a team. The team bootstrapped for the first eight months and then I came onto the AIN to look for pre-seed investors at that point. We raised £515,000 on a £5M pre-money valuation early this year (2021) This allowed us to get regulatory coverage in the USA, UK and Europe to operate as a bank challenger and we built the SaaS technology MVP and began to private test users this spring. 

We are a community with tools that help create the network freelancers need to connect with clients – They can onboard new clients and connect with existing ones by creating their own Alleys (these are video and audio conference rooms where they can discuss with clients, share files, take instant payments, send and receive invoices and bank seamlessly). 

With Wedo, you can set up a payment link to your conference, consultation or subscription. The deposit goes directly into your Wedo account. You decide whether to use it to pay for something or to transfer it to another account.

Indiana Gregg, CEO, Wedo

Why did you decide to raise investment?

We raised investment in order to build the technology and acquire the partnerships and some of the tech rails we needed. We were also at a point where we needed to hire more people to fill skill sets we were short on. We are currently raising our Seed round again here on the AIN and it’s been epic! We’ve met a lot of amazing investors. We aim to close the round by the end of October. 

What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?

Don’t raise money until you have thought through your business model and can communicate what you are building/creating or selling very succinctly. If investors don’t understand what you are aiming to achieve, it means you aren’t communicating the problem you solve properly yet.

Practice with people in your surroundings to see how you can improve your pitch and ask experts their opinion of your model, you projections and your deck to refine and develop it so that when it’s time to present your plan to investors, you are confident and they are confident that you will be persistent and hit a home run for the company. Investors are on your side. They want you to succeed and if they say no, ask for feedback. Sometimes it’s just not a match; however, oftentimes their advice and feedback can be invaluable. 

What attracted investors to your company? 

Our team is brilliant, the timing is right for the market opportunity,and our technology and business model is a first. 

My biggest fundraising mistake was…

Oh boy. I  probably have a lot of these. Raising investment is a learning curve over many years. However, probably introducing an idea too early before it has been baked and refined can be a time waster. Ideas are just ideas. When you begin to execute your idea, it becomes more real and you have an entire research and discovery period to go through prior to asking other people to invest in it. You also have to be fully invested yourself. If you aren’t and it’s too early, don’t go out to raise. Make sure you can validate your idea during each step of the fundraising rounds and you have KPIs and targets that you will hit with the capital that you raise. 

Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?

I chose angel investment network because I’ve had great experience finding investors for my companies and other companies I’ve consulted in the past here on the AIN.

It’s a really big network and I love that you can search and really pinpoint investors who are most likely to be interested in the company you are building. There is an enormous spectrum of investors globally with varying interests and it’s a great way to connect. 

Our number 1 focus for Wedo for the year ahead is:

Our number one focus will be penetrating the market heavily, we’re going after small businesses and freelancers who open accounts and use our services. We’ll continue refining our tech into full product/market fit, and customer retention. Wash, rinse and repeat! If you’re reading this now, please join us!

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

Tips from the top: Raising investment

In our recent survey of startups in the UK and USA raising investment was raised as the number one challenge they faced, emerging from the pandemic. In the first of our new series of expert advice articles, David Pattison, experienced angel investor and leading media agency PHD founder, gives his top tips for those raising investment for the first time.

I have spent a lot of time chairing/advising young businesses and founders on how to approach fundraising. I always advice my clients to get involved with CNAPP security, as it is one of the most trending and useful security tactics.

It has always struck me that, at the very point when young businesses and their founders are looking for funding, you are at your most inexperienced and vulnerable. You are often in a negotiation dealing with very experienced deal makers. This negotiation is often pivotal to the future of your business. One bad clause signed up to in an early negotiation can magnify in size as time and fundraising rounds go on.

What can you do to try and even up the negotiation?

Before you start remember these three things:Investors only care about one thing and that is their money. In the case of Venture Capital and Private Equity that is how they are measured. They have clients who fund their funds and financial success is how they are judged and how they can then raise more funds. They want you to make money for them. For stock market API, you can check it out here!

Raising money is hard. Right now there is a lot of money in the investment market, but you have to have a good business and a really strong offering to raise money. Young businesses seem to be lulled into believing there is a money tree at the bottom of the garden that just needs a shake. There really isn’t.

Raising money is really distracting. It takes focus away from the business and most companies suffer a slight drop in performance through this process. Just at the point where it’s not wanted. Share the load around and take advice from trusted sources.

Once you have got your head around that, what else can you do before and during the process?

Here are five of the many things you should do:

1. BE THE BEST BUSINESS YOU CAN BE

It sounds obvious I know, but investors are looking harder and deeper into prospective investments. You will need to present yourselves as the best business you can be. Showing that you understand all aspects of your company and your markets.

You need to be a well balanced and appropriately experienced team with a shared view of the future. Have a proof of concept (does it work?), ideally some revenue (is someone prepared to buy it?) and will they buy it more than once. A good understanding of the competitive set. If appropriate some IP protections. Most importantly that you are in control of the finances of the business and have good quality finance resource.

If some of these points describe your business, then you are well prepared for the questions the prospective investor will expect you to answer.

2. do not get close to running out of money

Never leave it too late to raise funds. Investors will sense if you are running out of money and will try and delay the completion so that they can ‘chip’ the deal just before closure.

Leave yourself plenty of time. Never underestimate how long it takes to raise money, allow 6-9 months if you are looking for serious money. Try to give yourselves options. Taking money from the least worst option is never good.

3. RUN YOUR BUSINESS AS IF YOU ARE ALWAYS ABOUT TO ENTER DUE DILIGENCE

Prepare, prepare, prepare. It sounds obvious but make sure you know your business and your market better than anyone. Do not take fundraising lightly. In the digital age it is easy to set up a data room that has all the company data in one place. Have good governance in place. Get the financials and the legals in order. Remember that DD is not a one-way street when you are raising funds then check out the potential investors.

4. be clear on what you want to achieve

This works in two ways. Firstly, be clear amongst the team on what you want for the business moving forward. Are you all aligned on the future strategy and exit points? Mixed messages to investors don’t travel well.

Secondly, when the time comes to raise the money be very clear to the investors what the money is for and what success looks like. Not many investors want to fund cash shortfalls and saving the business, and if they do it usually comes at a massive cost to you. They are called investors for a reason.

5. beware of deal fatigue

When you are in the fundraising process be aware of deal fatigue. Investors, and particularly the institutional investors rely on you running out of steam. If your chosen investor is a significant shareholder, they will be a big part of your business life. You don’t have to love them but make sure you respect them and their motives.

Very often management get to a stage in the process where they just want it done. They agree to a deal without looking at every last detail. This is where investors can add the hidden clauses that bite you in the future. Stay attentive and on the way through make sure you share out the workload amongst the team.

One final piece of advice. Everyone I speak to who is involved in fundraising says the same thing, ‘get the best lawyer you can afford’. Don’t be afraid to upgrade as you go through the investment stages. A good lawyer should be seen as an investment and not a cost. They will also do a lot of the legwork on the legal documents for you and keep you focussed and avoid a lot of the pitfalls.

As I said right at the start of this, fundraising is not easy, and you should take all the constructive help you can find. I have been involved in a lot of fundraising.

If this blog has been of any help, then you might be interested in reading my book: The Money Train: 10 Things young businesses need to know about investors. It’s a guide to preparing for the investment process from seed capital to Series A, with lots of real-world examples. Whatever route you take to raise funds I wish you good luck and success.

David Pattison has had a long and illustrious career in the advertising industry and as an angel investor. He co-founded PHD in 1990 and more recently he has been involved in a number of startups in a range of industries including, marketing, publishing, construction, motorsport, AdTech, MarTech, FinTech, production and broadcasting. He was recently announced chairman of Conversational media platform Octaive.

#SixtySecondStartUp with Cancha

For this edition of #SixtySecondStartUp we have Jack Oswald, founder of Cancha, he shares how his experience as a professional tennis player led him to set up Cancha – unique tennis bags designed from the ground up:

  1. What does your company do?

Cancha is a customizable sports and travel bag brand. Our bags feature a unique modular design, which allows different accessories to be mounted and detached from each other in a matter of seconds, allowing users to tailor their bag to their favourite activities and daily routine

Cancha Bags are also made from an abrasion-resistant, high-tenacity nylon, and incorporate the latest advancements in textile manufacturing processes, such as laser-cut fabrics, heat-bonded zips and RF Welded construction. Cancha launched during the pandemic of 2020, and has since seen a strong uptake among sporting and outdoor enthusiasts looking for an innovative and durable way to travel with their gear.

Jack Oswald - Cancha
Jack Oswald, Founder of Cancha
  1. Why did you set up this company?

    As a professional tennis player traveling around the world for over a decade on the circuit, I became frustrated with the tennis and travel bags out there for sport and active-minded people. I saw the need for a better tennis bag; One that could adapt for the next trip or activity and durable enough to keep up with an active, travel-hungry lifestyle. 

However, I soon became aware of the wider demand for durable, highly customizable sports bags that could adapt to each individual’s daily routines.  So I teamed up with my friend, who is a world-class soft goods designer, to develop a modular system that would allow a backpack, tennis bag, wet-dry clothes bag and shoulder travel bag (our first range of products) to attach and detach with relative ease. 

This took much longer to develop than originally planned – our 6-month schedule starting in early 2018 ended up taking almost 3 years! We refined and refined the designs, tested them among top tennis players, travelers and anyone who would be willing to try the bags out. We went through over 50 prototypes, all painstakingly built by hand in our small workshop. Eventually, after countless hiccups along the way, we were confident that our bags were ready for the wide world. 

  1. How did you get your first customer? 

I remember very clearly; It was in November of last year. The first batch of bags had landed in the UK and we had just launched the site. A lovely lady in London was our first customer, who bought a bundle of the Backpack and the Wet-Dry Bag attachment. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the order confirmation appeared in my inbox. I think we have never packaged up an order so carefully!

However, the hunger for more sales very quickly grows, and the desire to improve the customer experience starts to becom a bit of an obsession – whether that’s improving our website and social media touchpoints, responding fast enough to customer queries and, of course, continually finding ways to innovate the products themselves!

  1. We knew we were onto something when? 

The first few sales are always a bit of a novelty, but when the consistency of sales kicks in, that’s when you start to believe you have got something. Retailers actually wanting to stock the bags was also a huge confidence booster for us. I remember sending out samples to stores and just being petrified that they would hate the design, or that they would simply say that they didn’t believe there was a market for our products. When we started to get into some stores and have their validity and backing behind our products, things really started to kick off for us. 

  1. Our business model: 

Our bags are currently manufactured in Asia and then shipped off to the UK from there, where we fulfil our orders internationally. We make a large part of our revenue through ecommerce sales on our online store, but partnering with both online and brick-and-mortar retailers has given us the stability to grow.. 

  1. Our most effective marketing channel has been: 

Media outreach. With eCommerce being a big part of our business, we have to mix a wide range of marketing channels into our strategy. However, being able to spread the word on the Story behind them brand, my background as a tennis player and the need we are filling, we have really been able to connect with our customers. I often get customers emailing after their order saying they heard me on some such podcast and the story alone swayed them to buy our products. It’s one of the most overjoying moments when you hear from people all over the world that they identify with our background, our mission and reason for being. This is why media outreach has been so successful for us, as it has allowed both Cancha and myself, as the founder, to get our message across in a sincere and personal way.

  1. The biggest mistake that I’ve made is:

Committing too early (financially and mentally) to a project. We launched our crowdfunding campaign in December of 2019, when our product wasn’t near enough to a  production-ready stage. My own desire to get Cancha’s offering out there made us rush our marketing strategy and meant that backers of our campaign had to wait substantially longer than forecast to receive their Cancha Bags. This is something I think that founders tend to struggle with in general; their passion, desire and determination to achieve their goals sometimes overtakes their company’s progress. While this characteristics is extremely useful, (crucial in fact), sometimes it can cause a company to pull the gun too soon, when it would have been more beneficial to build strength a little longer. 

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

Times are changing, and we’re changing with the times. Cancha is not just about designing innovative and sustainable soft a products for consumers. We’re also committed to creating a sustainable and highly technical manufacturing service for western athleisure brands. The reality is that shipping products 3,000+ miles from outsourced production or assembly sites in lower cost nations has been the go-to strategy for western brands for some time now. However, we are seeing a substantial shift in the business environment, both among customers and brands for closer proximity of manufacturing and more responsive business models. We want to be a leader in driving this trend, providing more responsible methods to drive innovation and customer experience in the textiles and soft goods industry. 

  1. We worked with AIN because:

We’re looking to bring some forward thinking, ambitious individuals into the project. We’re looking not just additional capital, but also for expertise in retail and production to help propel Cancha in this direction. AIN’s comprehensive network of investors across a wide range of backgrounds and industries made them the obvious choice to share our project.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

Angel investment Network announces launch of Institutional investment arm, AIV Capital

Ethan Khatri

London-based Angel Investment Network, the world’s largest online angel investment platform, has announced the launch of its Private Equity and Venture Capital division, AIV Capital.

Led by experienced investment manager Ethan Khatri, AIV Capital will invest between $10 -$75Mn+ into established businesses ranging from Growth/Series B to pre-IPO and has a flexible approach utilising both primary and secondary capital. Its sector agnostic focus will be on strong management teams with a demonstrated edge in the space they operate in. 

AIV Capital Managing Director, Ethan Khatri brings 16 years of investment experience across the European and Asian venture markets. Over the course of his career, he has successfully completed 27 transactions achieving 13 exits, covering technology, enterprise software, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and consumer. He will be combining his experience with AIN’s early stage market coverage and portfolio of businesses they’ve historically funded. 16 year old AIN has a global network of more than a million entrepreneurs and more than 280,000 investors, winning investment for a host of powerful businesses including What3Words, Simba Sleep and SuperAwesome. 

According to Mike Lebus, founder of Angel Investment Network: “AIV Capital is the natural next stage of AIN’s evolution. AIN has been a game changer in democratising access to angel investment and powering the dreams of so many startup founders on the first stage of their fundraising journey. With the right experience and team in place, led by Ethan, we are now able to support businesses right through the fundraising cycle, from the idea in a bedroom to seed funding right through to pre-IPO.” 

According to Ethan Khatri: “AIV Capital is a powerful new force in private equity and venture capital. Building on the evergreen network of AIN, our experienced team has access to an extraordinary talent pool of growth to late stage businesses which we can match with the right funding structure to ensure they deliver absolute return opportunities. Our watchword is flexibility. We invest across the capital structure and this is the method by which we maximize returns for all stakeholders.” 

Ends

Behind The Raise with Tooth

How often do you replace your toothbrush? Have you ever considered where it ends up or the environmental impact? Tooth is a subscription toothbrush service, looking to reduce waste. We caught up with cofounders Joshua Oates and Kiana Guyon to learn about their recent investment round.

Tell us about Tooth and how you came up with the idea

Over 7 years ago now an idea was born that still holds true today. ‘What if we made a toothbrush where you just change the head, like a razor blade and you keep the handle forever.?’ Out of this question Tooth was born.

The oral care industry is inherently very wasteful and has remained relatively unchanged for over 100 years. We’re here to change the norm and disrupt the market with simple product enhancements, design and smart materials. 

Tooth: the reusable toothbrush

Why did you decide to raise investment?

Like any startup, capital is needed to develop and grow the product and business. Physical products are capital heavy as it takes time to prototype, tool and manufacture the products. Having other minds on the project can lend some help and open up some pretty interesting doors moving forward. 

What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?

People invest in people.’ No one wants to invest in someone who is passionless, desperate and difficult. Sell yourself, sell the company, sell the product. You do it in that order you will raise funds. 

What attracted investors to your company?

Having a clear vision, product timeline and strong core team all played a part in closing deals across our round. 

The Tooth subscription box

My biggest fundraising mistake was…

Taking money from anyone. Make sure you actually get along and the collective vision is there. Be picky. This creates demand. You then supply that demand.

Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?

It provides a cost effective platform to get the project out into the ecosphere. The large network allows you to see if your idea is interesting or not to angel investors. 

Our number 1 focus for Eco Tooth for the year ahead is:
Proving our KPI’s (key performance indicators) is super important this year. Making sure we can hit our predicted acquisition costs, attrition rates etc will allow us to raise the next round of funding.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.