With such a big year under its belt, he revealed what he considers the biggest moment for the business. “The CoFund passed its 100th investment milestone, so although we had a portfolio of less than 60 companies, we’ve supported more than half with follow-on funding rounds, and some with more than one follow-on,” Mills revealed.
“This fits with the CoFund’s approach as a long term investor – although we love to see overnight success, we know the reality of building a world class business usually takes longer.”
According to the CoFund’s figures, technology, in particular medtech, fintech, cleantech and biotech, accounted for the largest portion of the organisation’s funding last year.
Shedding light on the interest, Mills said: “Angels can be an interesting indicator of what sectors are likely to be disrupted in the future and where innovation is flourishing.
“Whilst institutional funds have reduced early stage investment into areas such as cleantech, medical and bio, we have seen that angels – often deeply experienced in these sectors – are recognising major opportunities and going for it. I predict that over the next few years, institutional investors will begin to follow.”
He highlighted that the entrepreneurial culture in the UK has resulted in more ambitious founders than ever before. As such, it’s common for the business owners to look for major partnerships and international expansion in order to achieve growth plans.
“In addition to that building a successful business and taking it the distance to achieve its potential is rarely possible as an individual or a small team, therefore hiring the right people and building the team is one of the key challenges almost every entrepreneur faces,” Mills added.
“This is also an area where investors can be a big help, bringing knowledge and networks of contacts, and often an added layer of credibility that helps identify and attract key hires.”
Mills lifted the lid on Angel CoFund’s best success stories to note three very different businesses – lending service Ebury, Gousto and children’s TV app platform Hopster, the latter of which is backed by Davina McCall.
“All have followed the growth party through angel investment, to mainstream VC investment, and are continuing to accelerate,” he detailed.
“In each case we invested alongside some great angels with really deep sector knowledge, who helped the founder teams build the foundations for future growth, and gave them the strength and positioning to attract tier one institutional support.”
Closing on what 2016 has lined up for angels, Mills said the investors used to be hard to find, seemingly preferring to hide in the shadows – something that’s going to change.
He said: “I believe this year we’ll see a greater number of angels and syndicates recognising the benefits of promoting themselves and the support they can provide as they actively build their own ‘brands’ in order to compete for the best investment opportunities.
“The UK has some particular structural advantages in areas such as fintech, which are likely to continue to grab the headlines, but this can all prove a little distracting and misleading. It’s far better not to focus on the sector, but focus on the team. The one lesson we are sure of is that disruptive, scaleable businesses come from every region across the UK and in every conceivable sector – the team is key.”
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