Facing down the Dragons

IoD South West – Young Directors

The perennial issue of raising finance was the topic of this morning event. The speakers had some entertaining stories and Brian Dorricott from SWAIN was on hand to put the ‘Dragons’ perspective (though he was also speaking as someone that had built two successful high tech companies himself).

The mix of speakers was refreshing. Rob Law of Magmatic and infamous Dragons Den fame was there with his Trunki. Having turned the dragons down he has built the company on a mix of friends & family, bank debt, blood, sweat and tears. Mark Steer from Null Hypothesis – The Journal of Unlikely Science – was there as a SWAIN success story, fresh from being recognised as the fastest SWAIN deal, 11 days to handshake (though it wasn’t quite clear when the money actually hit their account, still impressive). Mark Bullingham was part of the team that saw their sport & brand marketing company bought and then MBO’d out a couple of years later as brandRapport.

Talking to Rob and Mark before the formal session it became clear why Mark had seen such quick success. They had a successful print based product with growing subscribers, clear route to a digital market and a clear idea on what they wanted from their Angels above the cash injection.

The common message from the Q&A was that the team and relationship with potential Angels was probably the most important factor to raising early stage finance. This ties in with the ambition of Open Coffee and some ideas I’m working on with South West Screen to provide opportunities for relationship building between entrepreneurs & creative inventors to get to know and be known by potential investors.