I dropped in on one of Doug Richard’s Windows of Opportunity events last week and found a theatre full of entrepreneurs, all looking for advice and information on how to fund their business. The programme was wide ranging but focused a lot on online funding platforms. I thought I’d share some of the pointers (see below).
I went because funding is an issue for a lot of the businesses I work with and I know Doug does a good job of educating entrepreneurs.
Delegates surely got what they were looking for, and more. There was something for companies at all stages of development, from ideas in the bedroom to revenue generating and growing business. Lots of meaty talks from engaging speakers too, like angel investor Dale Murray, Seedrs founder Jeff Lynn and Platform Black’s Sales and Marketing lead. And of course Doug Richard, whose sharp wit and straight talking approach kept everyone on their toes.
One of the messages that came across loud and clear was that if you are open to online funding sources, there are LOTS of crowd sourced or peer-to-peer funding models on offer.
Here are 5 of the options covered at the event:
Seedrs online platform for investing in start-ups. Up to £150,000 can be raised, with the minimum investment set at £10 (Seedrs holds the share and manages the investment)
Marketinvoice SMEs can raise cash by auctioning invoices from large customers to generate bids from global professional investors who advance up to 90% up front
Platform Black – similar to Marketinvoice but for larger/more mature companies
Ratesetter – matches creditworthy borrowers who are looking for a low cost loan with ‘Smart Savers’ who are looking for a better return than they can get from a bank
Funding Circle – same as above; average rates of 9.5% – 10%
All these platforms make a compelling case but I can’t help thinking they beg a question around the value of personal relationships. Call me old fashioned but being able to look your investor or bank manager in the eye is important. Just like it’s important – and useful – to be able to build a relationship with him/her as your business grows. That of course assumes you HAVE investors and/or a supportive bank manager. Both are hard to come by so it’s not difficult to see how digital technology and market forces have spawned new alternatives. And they’re plugging an important gap.
NB you need to do your own due diligence to get comfortable with how the above platforms work, but the websites I looked at did a pretty good job of communicating the processes and heading off questions.
The last event in the Windows of Opportunity series takes place in Portsmouth on 27 November. Oh – and the events are FREE because it was funded by the government, via the GrowthAccelerator programme.
PS I’m interesting in views on the whole relationship issue.