RECAP: Investment Conference 2017

Our second annual Investment Conference: Next Round was an enriching afternoon for both entrepreneurs and funders, packed with panels, presentations and pitches. Some of the biggest names in UK in all types of investment, from crowdfunding to venture capital, gave over 100 entrepreneurs insider tips for securing equity funding for their business. Let’s look at some of the highlights.

What’s Trending

First, Matt Adey from the British Business Bank gave an insightful presentation on the latest trends in business funding. He made sense of the vast amounts of data from across the UK and found that:

  • Despite having more funding options than ever, SMEs have become more reluctant to seek funding over the past year.
  • While there have been fewer equity deals in the past year, those deals have been of greater values.
  • Most SMEs do not worry about the impact of Brexit on their business, and the statistics reveal no significant change in the equity funding landscape since the referendum vote last year.

Accelerate to Prosperity

Next, Catherine Young of South African consulting firm ThinkRoom moderated a panel of representatives from some of the world’s best business accelerators: Rose Lewis from Collider, Kevin Monserrat from Microsoft Accelerator, and Max Kelly from TechStars.

  • Entrepreneurs interested in entering an accelerator must choose wisely. There are many poor-quality accelerators, whose mentors only use the accelerator to add something new to their LinkedIn profiles.
  • It’s ideal for accelerators with mentors who are experts in your industry.
  • Rather than expecting an accelerator to teach you how to run a business, use it to fill in gaps in your growth.

Hit Your Crowdfunding Target

In the crowdfunding panel, we heard from Oliver Woolley of Envestors, Goncalo de Vasconcelos of Syndicate Room, Saul Gindell of Seedrs, and Lex Deak of OFF3R.

  • Equity crowdfunding platforms collaborate more than they compete. There are different platforms for different entrepreneurs.
  • Platforms are tired of seeing “me too” businesses that copy successful ideas and “flimsy” tech that adds no real value.
  • Valuation is tricky. The best approach is to settle on a number that feels “fair,” not the highest one possible.

Spread Your Wings with Business Angels

We heard insider tips on business angels from a panel of experts moderated by Jacqueline Watts of A City Law Firm: Tim Mills of Angel CoFund, Ed Stephens of Angel Investment Network, Stephen Page of Startup Funding Club, and Roderick Beer of the UK Business Angels Association.

  • Angels are very diverse in demographics and specialisations. But overall, they are getting younger.
  • Angel platforms strive to find angels who add value beyond the cash they provide, usually in the form of experience and connections.
  • Most angels do it for the tax incentives—and that’s fine!

Catalyse Your Success with Venture Capital

David Fisher from Edge, Paul Excell from ScaleUp, Will Fraser-Allen from Albion Capital, Roshan Puri from Calculus Capital, and Philip Edmonson-Jones from Beringea had a lively panel discussion on the world of venture capital.

  • London is awash in investment money, so entrepreneurs are free to consider what firm is right for them, rather than what firm will accept
  • VC firms don’t only offer money—they also help with their experience and connections.
  • The team is the most important aspect of a high-growth business.

Grow without Investment

Finally, John Mullins of the London Business School presented an opposing approach to investment: not seeking it at all!

  • The vast majority of VC-backed companies end up failing.
  • Most of the world’s successful companies have grown without any outside investment.
  • Investors are paying you to execute your business’s Plan A perfectly, but Plan A almost never works. Do you really want investment funding under these conditions?

Pitching Contest

We also introduced a new feature to the Investment Conference: a pitching contest with prizes for all finalists, including £1,000 in cash for one lucky company chosen by VC firm InTeahouse. Congratulations to our four finalists:

  • Fourth Place: TrustMe, a public blockchain solutions company.
  • Third Place: FinVerity, a peer-to-peer lending platform that connects entrepreneurs and lenders across borders. Winners of the £1,000 cash prize.
  • Second Place: Grocemania, an on-demand grocery delivery company.
  • First Place: KidSitter, a platform where parents and businesses can get a qualified child-minder to their door in two hours.

Meet even more funders and entrepreneurs under one roof at the flagship Business Funding Show on 22nd February 2018. The all-day exhibition will be held at East Wintergarden at London’s Canary Wharf. Get your early bird ticket here!

Stay tuned for in-depth coverage of each panel and presentation over the next week!

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