Telling the truth about SME life today

LIVE: London Funding Conference

19.10: William Robins, partner at Keystone Law, on stage now.

Robins will be looking at how a modern law firm should help entrepreneurs and investors. What lies beyond the traditional approach” “The theme is that there is true merit in the process of getting investment, the documentation, and negotiating it in detail: it gets you a better deal. More quickly, more easily, and with less litigation. It will get you a better deal and a better valuation.”

Why is he telling us this” “Even lawyers don’t like unsuccessful deals. And the litigation team especially doesn’t like shareholder disputes. That’s why engaging in the process is so important.”

Bear with us, folks, Robins is speeding through his presentation. It’s really good, but he’s too fast! We’ll be sure to get his presentation up on the site later on.

19.25: Robins is done – and there’s now some clever networking opportunities: a funding clinic, a banking session, investor/investee mingling. We’ll be back at about 8pm for part two of the conference. 

20.15: Guests are slowly making their way back into the auditorium – they’re having such a good time networking that it’s hard to force them all back in! Next up is Michael Blakely of Avonmore Developments, on the rise of the super angel. He will be followed by a keynote by Luke Johnson and a Q&A panel moderated by Matthew Rock.

20.30: Michael Blakely is (finally) on stage, and the audience is back in the room. Blakely will talk about deal breakers – he’s a professional angel.

Main reasons why entrepreneurs find it hard to raise money:

A lot of entrepreneurs don’t fully understand the difference in the type of money: angels and VCs are not the same.

“Of 1,000 businesses I see, I could bin about 150 immediately. As a general rule, angels won’t invest in a company looking for £1m. VCs won’t look at companies looking to raise any less than £750,000. Angels want simple deals – it’s their own money, they’re more likely to take a punt. A VC is investing someone else’s money, so there are many more attachments and due diligence.”

“As a startup, why would you need to raise £1m” You don’t, so you’ll go down the angel route to start with.”

He sees around 300 presentations from companies a year – and about 60 per cent of entrepreneurs don’t describe what their business does within the first two minutes. Most people make up their mind within a minute or two.

“What is the problem you’re solving” How are you going to do it” You can give me the rest later, but I need to know what the problem is.”

On business plans: a business plan should be 20-30 pages max. “Your business plan will change every week, if not every day, so don’t get too caught up. The most important document that you’re going to have is your executive summary – this is what you should send to investors to start off with.”

Getting the deal done: the first person you want to find as your investor is your lead investor. “It doesn’t have to be the biggest investor of the round that you’re raising, but it has to be someone who can pull everyone together. If you’re trying to raise money from ten individuals and they’re all asking questions, you won’t have any time left to run your business, and it will be impossible to get over the finish line. A lead investor will get the deal across the line.”

Continue reading on page four, below.

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