“How hard can it be? I’ve got the idea I just need to sell it.” Defeat. Not an option. Not possible. The idea is brilliant. That could be true but there are ways you can destroy the potential of your idea without even realising it. Here are seven things you can do to increase the chances that your company will be one of the 3% that last more than three years.
How do Business Angel Networks such as Xenos, London Business Angels, ABA, AngelsDen and Envestors filter the investment opportunities that they present to you, the Business Angel? Are they using the right filters? Are the filters right for you? Or is there another agenda that might mean the opportunities that are presented are skewed?
When looking at an investment with a team of people, I make sure that all the people are “aligned”. That is, if you take the long term goals of all the people individually does it make a coherent picture and is that somewhere I want to be?
For my investments, the five year goal is to be well on the way to an exit and returning my capital (along with a good return) or a good dividend. If there’s little chance of either of these, it is not an investment that I’m interested in. When looking at companies, one filter is the future return and exit potential of the investment. If I use a Business Angel Network to do filtering for me, I need to be sure that they are using the same filters. If not, they will throw away potential good investments and highlight investments that are not for me. Are they?
One way of answering this question is to look at the material networks use to demonstrate their success. What goals do we find?
- Number/Value of investments. I’ve also seen “number of jobs created in year after investment” and “Gross Value Add”. For me, the problem with all of these is that they do not include my goal: to exit with a good return on investment. The consequence of this type of network is that they will focus on increasing the number of deals without concern for the future exit potential. One could argue that to achieve their goal of maximising deals, they need to get as many inexperienced investors as possible to make as many investments as possible before they realise they don’t know what they are doing and lose their money.
- To have exits. I would expect any network that has been around over five years to start having successful exits (as well as failures) amongst the companies that have been invested in. If the network is promoting all their exits it implies that their goal is long term; that they are helping their companies and keeping in touch with them after the investment has taken place. In fact, this is almost like a Venture Capitalist Fund which is all about potential for exit. In addition, this type of network needs good quality investors who are experienced and know what they are doing (perhaps these are good people to learn the trade from).
Which networks in the UK have the same goals as investors? And what evidence do you have that their interests are aligned with yours? Are you a member of Beer & Partners, EIN, OEI, TVIN, LINC or OION? Have you asked them? And if not, what answer did you get when you did ask?