With Tech start-ups in Britain having attracted around £600m of investment in this year alone, there is a huge and palpable appetite within the flourishing sector that is up by 30% from 2013 and nearly 10 times up from 2010. London is now home to 3,000 tech start-ups and is regarded as the capital of Europe. Who needs Silicon Valley, when we have Silicon Roundabout?
It’s with this evolution of businesses and expanse of opportunities that comes the alternative and savvy CrowdVestor. With the banks having reduced their appetite to risk, and with Venture Capital a tough door to push open, Crowdfunding has allowed businesses a highly accessible cash for equity source. This source has this week drawn the eye of City Hall who are now rewarding enterprise through a new initiative to invest £85m into start-ups over the next 3 years (as of January 2015). That equates to one investment a week and means £250k per venture will trickle into the sector, in a deal partnered by Wellington Partners and Playfair Capital.
Funding is becoming a more available commodity within a sector where development costs, marketing, sales development and salaries consume pounds before the get go. Businesses can tap into one of the 87 Crowdfunding sites in the UK alone, in a market that that has raised £1.6 Billion of funding in 2014 alone.
Setting up a business from scratch is a massively daunting decision and prioritising time when the business has no customers, no product, and nearly no cash is a major day-by-day decision… But despite these obstacles more and more people are taking the Entrepreneurial plunge, with around 8,000 start-ups setting sail every week in the UK alone, equating to around 500,000 a year. The failure rate is around 20% in the first year, but with a one in five chance of making it into month thirteen, it’s clearly still hugely appealing.
Access to cash aside, (banks, friends and family, savings, angel investors) making it to month thirteen, or past month three clearly requires a unique blend of timing, structure, product, delivery, people and funding. (Not necessarily in that order). The founder of that business will have to have an unswerving belief that leaving the security of employment (bonus, pension, health, dental and subsidised canteen), in order to face a brave new world is the right way.
In order to attract any investment there are still basic requirements – product, people, positioning and plan – A solid business plan and route to market is essential. Staying lean and flexible is a must and goes along with absorbing and reacting to research and user group feedback.
Its important to look at the market your company is playing in, what is going on, who is on the move and where the niche exists. None of us want to be the next eToys, Pay by Touch or Pets.com (you haven’t heard of them…) and we all want to be the next Airbnb, Just Eat or Spotify (you have heard of them). They mapped the route, got some revenue, got the product working, got multiple rounds of funding and now they are flying. But importantly they adjusted their proposition to the market when the market wasn’t so sure about their proposition…that’s the measure of a good CEO, a gentle hand on the tiller.
A founder should never be negative, never tired, their strategy is clearly mapped out from day one to day exit and gone, and they are solely driven to take the business to that next level and into the stratosphere. Clearly a founder rises at 4am, checks emails, does a conference call with Japan, before a six mile run, porridge, a Mandarin lesson and having read the FT thoroughly, they arrive at the office primed and ready for a 7am kick off.
With the expertise out there and interested in working with the right start up and with Google Ventures pumping £60m in to tech start ups, this is a great time to be in London. Lessons have been learnt since the DotCom bubble burst of March 2000? Any business needs to get a strong and credible management team, with a range of skills (not the same ones), ideally tapping into a fantastic Non-Executive who brings with them huge experience, a battle hardened spirit and credibility in the market, the likes of Martha Lane Fox, Brent Hoberman, Harriet Green or Terry Leahy will do nicely.