On Thursday 17th September, I hosted the latest West of England Quarterly Investment Briefing. The topic for the afternoon was ‘people powered investment’ – a theme which invited our speakers and attendees to explore the importance of diversity in the investment process – whether in the advisors, investors and professionals who facilitate the process or in the founding team and employees or ‘cultural co founders’ as Reid Hoffman likes to call them.
The Quarterly Investment Briefing was created back at the start of 2018 and is an event and newsletter designed to support investors and enablers of investment to network, share insights and learn together. Each event offers a chance to hear the latest data on who has successfully raised in the region, and which companies are hoping to raise equity investment in the next quarter. I also always invite a lightning speaker or two to bring a new perspective or share an update on something related to investment and the quarterly theme.
To set the scene, I shared some insights about the 16 companies that have successfully raised investment since the last event (£8million between them) and then described a couple of the tech acquisitions that have happened in the last month or so.
After that, and having established the theme we gently explored Project Sage 3.0, a report by Suzanne Biegel and Sandi M. Hunt released in July 2020 to put the spotlight on the ‘gender lens’ investors and how this category has grown over the last 3 years. The report looks at the global picture of funds with a public commitment to gender diversity and emphasises the significant growth in the number and the geographic diversity of funds investing with a particular emphasis on gender – whether seen in their own fund managers and investment committees, in the founding team or in the products, supply chains or employment practices of the companies they invest in.
During the event we also heard from three lightning speakers. Jenny Tooth (CEO of UK Business Angels) and Irene Graham (CEO of Scaleup Institute) offered an update on the work they are doing together to map, engage and amplify the investment activity in the creative industries and Charles Fallon (Co-founder and Partner at SI Partners) offered his perspective as an angel investor and advisor/mentor to creative businesses seeking to grow and/or exit.
Creative Scaleup Programme – Investment Support
Irene and Jenny are undertaking a piece of work for the Creative Scaleup Programme which is being run by the West of England Combined Authority. The programme is a two-year pilot funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It aims to help creative businesses in the West of England access finance through an intensive sustainable growth support programme. Whilst the programme helps creative companies to become more investment ready, Jenny and Irene are working to better understand and map the investor landscape locally and to build understanding, skills and engagement related to investing in the Creative Industries. Ultimately, their goal is to build investment capacity locally.
I was particularly interested to hear that, of the three regions the programme is running in (West of England, Manchester and Birmingham) we have the most interest and connectivity with surrounding areas but that our local market is still nascent with an emphasis on a handful of strong individuals when it comes to investing. If you would like to know more about their work, skip to 16:15 in the video below.
Charles Fallon, Co-founder, Partner and Global Client Lead at SI Partners
Charles was our second speaker of the afternoon, whilst he lives locally his portfolio of work usually sees him travelling widely and supporting clients across time-zones (their team of 30 can be found in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and until Covid-19, in N America). SI Partners is a growth consultancy and M&A firm with a passion for creative and technology led businesses. Charles shared insights from his perspective both as an advisor and as an angel investor himself. He has a wealth of personal experience to share, not least on when might be the right time, and the right approach to go into take funding from the USA.
I also invited Charles’ thoughts on the challenge that Jenny and I have talked about for years – the lack of ‘lead angels’ in the region – that is those angel investors that are willing to take the lead role as a domain or sector expert in order to give other investors confidence to part with their cash. We pondered whether the very title invites too much pressure and what the profile of a lead investor should be – a good entrepreneur is not necessarily a good investor after all. Skip to 38:40 in the video below to find out more about SI Partners and some of the advice Charles shares with founders.
Gender lens investment activities with a local connection
During the event, I highlighted a handful of groups that are taking gender lens investment action and have a connection with the region. If I’ve missed anyone, please let me know.
- Inclusive Angels – set up by Alice Stephenson and Amy Newton in Bristol
- Ada Ventures – Matt Penney card, one of the founders of this fund lives locally
- Alma Angels – A new group whose founders include David Fogel, a big advocate of all things South West.
- Angels Academe – supporting more women into angel investing and investing in women led businesses.
And with that, I rounded off the event by sharing insights into who is currently raising investment (28 companies shared their executive summary this quarter and they are raising £13million between them). If you are an investor, or representative of a fund and you would like access to this information, please get in touch