BBAA National Investment Summit, 1 July 2011

The UK was identified as a more dynamic hub than the US for new entrepreneurial investors in technology at the BBAA National Investment Summit, held on Friday 1st July, attended by over 200 representatives of the early stage investment community. A line up of some of the Europe’s top Super angel investors: Stefan Glaenzer, co-founder of White Bear Yard and new Passion Capital fund, Mattias Ljungman from Atomico Ventures set up by the Skype founders and Alex Hoye, seedcamp investor, reviewed the climate for investing in fast growth start-ups.

“We need to stop worrying about what is going on in the US,” said Stefan Glaenzer, “we have excellent opportunities here for investment. All the best businesses are run by UK and Europeans. We are more flexible, giving us competitive advantage - take the fantastic growth of Groupon for example.”

Speaking about his approach to investing, Alex Hoye commented “As entrepreneurs we have been on the other side, we understand the challenges of raising equity. At the same time start-ups now have lower costs of taking a business to market, before they need significant levels of cash. ”

“It’s all about adding value right through to exit”, said Mattias Ljungman, at Atomico, “we understand the importance of keeping the entrepreneur motivated and are careful not to take too much equity off the table”.

Prof Rob Wiltbank, USA who had interviewed 30 of the most prolific angels in Silicon Valley, Texas and Boston presented the approach that the US Super angels are taking to investing. Key to their success is their capacity to rapidly “read” the entrepreneur and make fast decision, whilst many have become specialists, having a very narrow area of technology in which they investors.

Sector experts Hugh Campbell from GP Bullhound and Luke Raskino from Unilever new Business; Rob Wylie, Web Partners and Jonathan Jenkins, UnLtd. presented the latest sector trends and hot areas for investing in mobile/m-commerce; healthcare; cleantech including social impact investing.

Participants also heard about two new equity funding initiatives to support SME growth being launched into the market place this year. Rory Earleypresented the new £50m Angel co-investment fund being administered by Capital for Enterprise which will be aimed at leveraging investment from angel syndicates, due to operate form autumn 2011. John Watson of Lloyds Banking Group, presented the new £2.5bn Business Growth Fund which will focus on investing between £2-£10m in businesses with £10m+turnover.  

Trends in angel investing around the world were presented by Karen Wilson from OECD based on her recent international survey and who concluded that whilst the market is still mainly invisible, unlike VC investing, there remains a significant lack of engagement of women into angel investing.

Speaking with Mike Southon who moderated the event, Anthony Clarke, chair of BBAA concluded: “We are in a very positive climate right now with a government that is supporting angel investing in the UK, as seen with the increase for 30% in the EIS tax relief for investors and the new Angel co-investment fund coming on stream. However, there is still more to be done. Notably, we have heard at this conference that immigration is still a key issue in holding back entrepreneurial talent from coming to the UK; whilst more could be done to target EIS on high risk businesses; also reducing red-tape and increasing access to procurement for entrepreneurs; finally superfast broadband is needed everywhere to enable all small businesses to benefit from the opportunities of global digital connectivity. BBAA intends to take these messages forward and continue to lobby for change”.

The BBAA Conference was sponsored by Lloyds TSB Commercial.