HoxTech Angels launches as 6 start-ups pitch to 20 investors at the Hoxton

HoxTechDreamstake Founder Paul Dowling has written about the need for the UK and London to address a growing start-up funding gap between £150k and £1 million; government Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS), as well as the growth of accelerators and crowdfunding sites have made it easier for start-ups to attract early stage funding, whilst VCs can provide investment for more developed companies requiring larger sums, if they can demonstrate sufficient traction and growth potential.

Investor pooling

Paul believes the gap between these two approaches can be filled by the pooling of funds through syndicates of traditional investors, tech specialists, overseas investors and first time angels, and it is in this spirit that he and Dreamstake co-founder Marina Atarova have launched the HoxTech Angels, an opportunity for serious investors to meet once a month at the Hoxton Hotel, and listen to pitches from start-ups carefully selected from the Dreamstake platform, in a comfortable and exclusive environment.

Last night Paul and Marina, who are well known on the tech scene both for founding the Dreamstake platform, Europe’s largest network of investors and start-ups, scored via an algorithmic ranking system, and for the networking events and workshops they run at Google Campus, played host to 6 start-ups and 20 or so investors in the Hoxton Hotel’s private suite at the HoxTech Angel’s first event.

London Tech scene buzzing

With the London Tech scene buzzing, investment into a Tech start-up can represent an exciting play as part of a larger diversified portfolio, and helps the entire start-up eco-system to develop and grow. Paul stressed the hands on and “emotional” nature of start-up investing, which may involve mentoring, sharing contacts, and no small amount of work on the investor’s part! Although risky (tech start-ups have high rates of failure), working alongside a start-up is often a hugely satisfying experience, and picking a winner can lead to substantial financial gains, plus there is downside protection if you are investing via a tax efficient vehicle.

So, after a quick meet and greet in the Hoxton’s flash “kitchen” space, it was into the boardroom and time for the pitches:

time for medecine1. Time for Medicine

Founded in Cardiff, Time For Medicine is a cloud based specialist medical advice service to help patients and consultants connect. Every year hospitals are dealing with over 100 million visits from outpatients, at a cost of £20bn, and very often attendance is an issue for patients who must travel far from their homes. Consultants are the most expensive human resource that the NHS must pay for. Communicating online can result in faster diagnostics, helping to save lives. To date, 60 consultants have agreed to help Time For Medicine develop their platform, which is already compliant with many NHS services, and approved and regulated by a major Healthcare regulatory body in Wales.
The platform currently offers 20 clinical specialities, which cover one third of all outpatient visits. Patients are able to upload photos of rashes or injuries, for example, and be automatically assigned to the most appropriate consultant, saving valuable time, and for less serious cases, instructions and medicines can be issued online without the patient needing to visit a hospital. To date Time For Medicine has raised £1.6m of equity, with around 65% coming from clinical sources. Joint MD and Finance Director Clive Minihan, educated at Harvard Business School, is looking to raise further investment.

vinoa2. Vinoa

Vinoa is described by founder Cyrus Tchaherdehi as “wine tasting through your letterbox”. Wine can be an intimidating product due to its expense and variety, but it is also a product of interest for many and as such the market interests around 29m in the UK. Vinoa provides a wine shop experience for the home, by offering a subscription service that delivers monthly samples, 4 different wines per box for just £10 per month. Larger bottles are repackaged into smaller ones using the latest scientific techniques, giving subscribers the opportunity to sample a greater variety and purchase full bottles of the ones they like.

Vinoa is targeted at a non-affluent market of around 6m people in the UK, who are likely to spend up to £10 on a bottle of wine, and drink less frequently. This is similar to a number of proven business models such as Birchbox, the cosmetic sample suppliers, and companies such as Majestic and Naked Wines. Vinoa also provides an online store.
Vinoa has begun strongly, attracting 500 members in its first five weeks of trading and being favourably reviewed in the press. They are looking to raise funding at the same time as running a Crowdcube campaign, which they believe to be a strong marketing channel for the product as well as a fundraising tool. The team have put together what they believe to be a conservative set of growth projections which will see them at around 50% of the size of Naked wines within 4 years. They have completed a pre-seed round and already have some notable angel backers.

stylepilot3. StylePilot

StylePilot is a sophisticated search engine for the menswear clothing market, with the ambition to become the foremost search engine for the global male fashion sector. The Company have developed an enormous automated database from which users can explore different designers and styles, get fashion tips, and read about the latest trends. CEO Stephane Mauret explained the “unfair advantage” that StylePilot has over its competitors, being the Style DNA tool they have built which enables users to build a profile of themselves and their fashion tastes for more targeted recommendations. The team believe this a unique feature that differentiates and popularises their offering.
Success to date includes 19k Facebook likes, 26k Twitter followers, and an email subscription base of 23k, plus an average time of 4 minutes spent on the site by visitors. The team have also developed strategic partnerships with Shortlist.com and Attitude magazine. The team are looking to raise funds on an £800k pre money valuation based on 20% of the business. Significant existing shareholder include an ex Versace CEO, a VC at Walmart, and a marketing Director at Moss Bros. The original founder has left Style Pilot ceding strategic control to 3 partners who own around 45% of the Company.


linkhubb4. LinkHubb

LinkHubb is an ingenious solution to the problem of sharing links via email and the “dark social” environment that this creates. Founder Daniel explained that 74% of all links are shared via email, rather than social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. This is a big issue for advertisers, who would like to know what is being shared, and often for individuals as sharing via email can be cumbersome and result in miscommunication.
LinkHubb is a site where people can share links to anything, whether it be planning holidays, sharing a cool article or having a group discussion. The site keeps everything organised and visible, is customisable and can be shared across social media sites.
The team have identified different ways to monetise, including access for advertisers and a LinkHubb for business that allows hubs to be branded and public facing. The website was officially launched last week and the team believe that EBITDA of 2.2m is achievable by 2017 based on the market research they have completed and their growth projections. They are seeking SEIS investment and have a 4-5 year exit strategy.

tutortap5. Tutortap

Tutortab is an online tutoring platform launched in September 2013. The brainchild of founder James Grant, who after skyping a tutor at University subsequently received his highest ever mark for an essay, the product has won 5 academic themed competitions and a number of grants resulting in the team deciding to go full time with the project. 2,000 tutors have already been signed up and bespoke software built, allowing students to pay just £13ph for expert advice and tuition via a video link-up. “The price of a Dominos pizza”, as one reviewer has succinctly put it.
There are 300 active students signed up to the site who on average will purchase 10 lessons each revenue is achieved by taking a 20% cut of all services provided. The team have some outstanding backing from an ex marketing director at Burberry, Head of HR at KPMG and are conducting late stage talks with Barclays Wealth who have expressed an interest in leveraging the service. Development of the site has been outsourced to a dependable contact based in Eastern Europe.
The founders believe there is significant opportunity in China where there is a desire to learn English and to apply for British universities, as well as for those seeking to learn Mandarin. The team are looking to complete fundraising via SEIS.

lobster6. Lobster

Lobster is a social content marketplace that could help to revolutionise the way we procure images and other media online. There is a lack of quality, affordable visual content available for purchase on the web, so to solve this problem Lobster is connecting media buyers to anybody who wishes their sell their personally curated content online.
By registering their Instagram or Flickr accounts at Lobster Media, and adding the hashtag #LM to your images you effectively make them available for sale. The images will be searchable by geo-location and date, a unique feature. Images will be sold for $1, 2 or 3 US dollars. Revenue is achieved by charging a 25% commission on images sold. The team hopes to become the iTunes of social media content!
Sites such as Getty and Shutterstock can be expensive and choice is limited, so Lobster opens up the market to amateur photographers and artists from anywhere in the world. Lobster founder Olga Egorsheva believes the market is currently worth $1 billion and growing. Strategic partnerships have been discussed with Wix, Instagram and Flickr. The team, who recently pitched to thousands at the Tech Crunch Disrupt Event in London, and were part of the Wayra Accelerator programme, are seeking to close an investment round by April 2015.

Overall, the evening was fun to attend with a really good blend of serious questioning on the part of the invited angels, and some humour as well. The pitches were of high quality and plenty of networking took place before and after, with potentially interesting results. The next event is scheduled for 23rd Feb, for more details please contact Marina,  Marina@dreamstake.net, or Paul, Paul.dowling@dreamstake.net

Profile: Studio Graphene: How do you start a start-up? Ask a team of experts?

studio graphene 1You would if you could right? A bit like this article, the process of launching a new business begins with a lot of questions. Firstly, what’s my idea? Then, what problem does it solve? Next, how do I build a minimum viable product, how can I prove concept, and how can I find a product market fit? And finally, how will I tell people about it? Of course that is still vastly oversimplifying how complex and challenging it can be to get a business off the ground. And you thought all you needed was an idea!

EIP launch the Enterprise Network at Nabarro offices, London Wall

eip team

Matt Lenzie and Jeri Dutz put on a great show last night at law firm Nabarro’s stunning new offices on London Wall. The occasion was the launch of The Enterprise Network, or TEN for short, an exciting opportunity for investors to have first refusal on Leisure and Entertainment opportunities in central London, sourced by TEN’s highly experienced advisory team, which includes former Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, Bob Cotton OBE, Paul Clark, Director of Luxury Family Hotels, and hotelier and former winner of the RAC Hotel of the Year award, Robin Sheppard.

Match Capital showcases contacts, fills WeWork with start-ups and investors at MatchUp 1

match introIt’s halfway through January and, surprise surprise, London’s start-ups have funding on their minds. Plus ca change, eh; despite having attracted record levels of Venture Capital funding in 2014, £1.4 billion to be precise (that’s 20 times more than a decade ago), the promise of 5 minutes in the Company of a Balderton, DN, or Passion Capital representative will still bring founders out in large numbers, eager to share their vision for the coming year, which usually involves a cash injection somewhere along the line.

Announcing the launch of The Enterprise Network from Enterprise Investment Partners

eipThey say that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes, and we are the poorer for it, but looking on the bright side, some things never go out of fashion, and London is one of those things. Entertainment, leisure, bread and circuses, call it what you will, is another. That is why Enterprise Investment Partners (EIP) have high hopes as they prepare to launch The Enterprise Network next Tuesday at Nabarro’s offices at 125 London Wall. A limited number of places are still available; http://www.enterprise-ip.com/the-enterprise-network-events/

Chelsea apps talks season begins with visit from Mansoor Hanif, Director of RAN & Programmes at EE

MansoorThe Meetup phenomenon must have done wonders for rooms above pubs. One wonders what they were ever used for back in the dark ages when people went straight home after work and sat sadly in their living rooms, curtains drawn, bathed in the glow of the telly, waiting for Newsnight to finish so that they could check all of the doors in the house were locked before they went to bed and thought about their next day’s work.

MAQTOOB is the app discovery platform enabling a new breed of entrepreneurs


“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs,” (anon)
maqtoob2Most entrepreneurs looking back to when they first went into business tend to cringe with embarrassment. “If I only knew then what I know now”, they say, wistfully, “I’d be making twice what I make now, I’d reach more customers, and my business would be more streamlined, efficient, and secure. I don’t know how I ever made it this far!”

Jorlio is the platform helping us to redefine how we think about events

jorlio1What 3 things do we all want today, and how can we get them? The first part is easy: we want to be more efficient, we want to be in the know, and we want to have fun! The second question is a much harder one. In theory, it’s never been easier to find out what we should be doing, who we should be talking to, and where the best places are to hangout. We all have smartphones, PCs, laptops, even watches and jewellery bombarding us with “important” and “urgent” messages all day long. So why is it so hard to make the right choices? In reality the answer is simple. We don’t have the right filters.

Silicon Round up: Coming down a chimney near you! The best tech Christmas presents, plus amazing new campaign from Apprentice contestant

amateur british toysThere is something refreshingly amateur about many of the best techie, raspberry-pi, internet-of-things inspired Christmas goodies hitting the supermarket shelves this year. The Brits have always been proud of their unprofessional, just a bit of fun, it’s only a game style approach to many aspects of their lives, from the old “gentlemen vs players” days of cricket, where those who played for cash were looked down upon and sneered at (even though they did so mainly because they were working class and skint, unlike the players, who were probably the ones suppressing their wages!), to crazy, not to mention hair-raisingly dangerous hobbies such as hunting, shooting, and horse racing. So, it should come as no surprise that the presents the British like to give their kids can be a little eccentric.

Enterprise Investment partners unveil Imbiba Leisure EIS fund

imbibaMy apologies, if necessary, for posting so much news on Enterprise Investment Partners, the boutique EIS and SEIS investment advisors! Obviously they are a client of mine, but I’m not required to write endless blog posts about them, I am doing so because they appear to be the hardest working team in London at present. If you feel you are working harder, don’t hesitate to contact me with your news and we can have a “who-is-doing-the-most-work-for-their-clients-off!

Silicon Round-up: Interview madness, VAT sadness, Regional badness

From Rodman to Rogen, a ruthless campaign…of PR?

the interviewSeth Rogen and James Franco are comedy’s odd couple; pot smoking, wise-cracking, taboo smashing Hollywood arrivistes with a gift for provocation and a devil may care approach to film making, their latest film sees them get up close and personal with the world’s most talked about crazy man. No, not Eric Cantona quoting, paper hat wearing male rape victim Shia LeBoeuf, but Kim Jong Un, that pesky North Korean dictator.

Tech Highlight of the week! Food Start Up School launches at Shoreditch Village Hall

food start up schoolVictoria Albrecht’s impeccably planned first Food Start-up School event took place in Shoreditch Village Hall on Monday night. Over 160 entrepreneurs, foodies, techies and investors filled the hall and indulged themselves with delicious treats and wine, whilst listening to Jimmy Cregan, CEO of omnipresent and uber tasty Jimmy’s Iced Coffee open the main event with a keynote speech.

The EIP view: Small Business Saturday reminded us of the great business you can back with Enterprise Investment Partners:

small business saturdayThis Saturday, in case you missed it, was “Small Business Saturday”. London Mayor Boris Johnson was busy tweeting about the event on Friday, and the result of his and his staff’s efforts was a really credible engagement by the public; according to the mayor’s office, 48% of UK consumers were aware it was happening, 1.5m Facebook users were engaged, the #smallbizsatuk was trending top 3 on Twitter throughout the day, and over £460m was spent in total on the day. As John Longworth, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce pointed out in his article in the Guardian, small businesses make up 99% of the 5.2m businesses in the UK, but sometimes they don’t get the credit, or the column inches, they deserve. He drew our attention to some surprising facts:

What does the autumn statement mean for EIS and SEIS investors?

autumn statementWith Martin Sherwood, Head of Product, Enterprise Investment Partners

Chancellor George Osborne delivered the Government’s annual Autumn Statement on Wednesday, delivering an upbeat assessment of the UK’s economic recovery as a whole. Although the economy is expected to grow by 1.4% this year, double the level expected when the budget was delivered in March, Osborne told the public that “there is an awful lot of austerity still to come”, and to make matters worse, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has claimed that much of the forecast is based on growth coming sooner than expected, but that prospects in the longer term remain bleak. We have taken a closer look at what the statement might mean for tax efficient investors, with a particular focus on EIS and SEIS eligible products.

Geniac Is The Friend To Small Businesses With Big Ambitions Of Its Own

geniac logoBuilding a business from scratch is a daunting challenge; just ask Eduardo Martinez and Michael Galvin, the founders of Geniac. Their product was in development for more than 6 months before going live in October this year, and the two met over 8 years ago, at Accenture, both management consultants working with multi-nationals including BSKYB, BP and Telefonica, as well as smaller SME clients.

“You can’t be cynical enough!” Praising Raising Finance at KCL E-Connectors event

mad hatters tea partyDid you know that start-up business plans are not worth the paper they are written on, but merely “an exercise in mental masturbation”? Were you aware that investors may trick you into meeting with them simply because you represent their real investment’s competition? Perhaps you hadn’t considered the fact that entrepreneurs like you are overgrown babies obsessed with self-gratification. Oh and a word to the wise; when raising funding, expect people to deliberately waste your time because they want to watch your company fail.

Haggerston Times Podcast (4)

This week’s Haggerston Times Podcast features regular panellists Robin Rathore, David Hardman and Victoria Albrecht, plus presenter Zoe Cunningham.

The panel discuss the implications of Shelly Coutu’s “Scale-up” report for young entrepreneurs, the Food Tech scene and whether 3D printing machines can replace top chefs, the Launch of “Launch 22″, Pi Labs, Bamboo Auctions and the best Christmas parties for start-ups in December (or even February?)

Stimulating chat and tech insight from and for young professionals who are doing it for themselves. The Haggerston Times Podcast.

Corking evening at No. 11 Pimlico Road as EIP discuss alternatives to Solar for EIS and SEIS Investment schemes

eclipseOn Tuesday night, Enterprise Investment Partners put on a wine tasting and product showcase at No. 11 Pimlico Road, the award winning bar and restaurant in Chelsea. The evening was well attended by a mix of investors, drawn from many different industries and backgrounds, curious to hear EIP Directors Martin Sherwood and Christian Elmes view on the future of EIS and SEIS investment now that Solar projects, which, as Christian pointed out, has attracted £1bn of investment flows over the past 3 years, no longer qualify for the tax efficient wrapper.