The Dorset Business Angels (DBA) pitch event took place on Monday 24th June at the Hallmark Carlton Hotel in Bournemouth and welcomed along Dorset Chamber’s President Liz Willingham as a special guest. With 5 businesses pitching, it was a Bournemouth based Dorset gin brand that most successfully grabbed the attention of the savvy investors.
Dorset’s first gin distillery leading the UK’s gin renaissance
The brand, well-known to many in the region sold its first bottle of its award-winning gin in April 2015, just one year after the business’s founder left his successful career as a chartered surveyor in Southampton, with ambitious plans to launch Dorset’s first gin distillery. In just 4 years they have become a nationally recognised brand, leading the UK’s gin renaissance. They have a growing team of 8 staff who distil and bottle over 1,000 bottles a week, supplying to leading brands such as Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Fortnum & Mason and soon Tesco and Ocado.
Presenting to the Angels the founder shared his passion for his brand which has impressively got to this stage of its journey without having sold any equity to date. He talked about the importance of aesthetics for the product saying, “We want people to hug it as well as drink it!” It was evident to all listening that it is a premium brand that is well loved by its consumers.
The business is hungry to scale up to the next stage and has ambitious plans. The founder advised, “We are hugely keen to capitalise on our brand value and move into national distribution, begin exporting and up-scale our facilities and premises to a much larger scale world-class visitor distillery.” The business has identified an investment requirement of £650k for which they are seeking equity funding of £400,000 at a £4m valuation.
The plans for the investment were clearly laid out by the founder who commented:
- “We aim to invest in our building, to restore and fit it out and create one of best distillery visitor attractions in the UK with a world class reputation, thereby allowing us to build brand visibility and reputation and diversify into the ‘experience’ and the night- time attraction economy.
- Investment in to 1000 litre pot stills as well as coffee brewing equipment. This will enable us to significantly increase our efficiency and achieve 1 week of distilleries in just 1 day. It will also enable us to introduce new core lines such as whiskey.
- Investment in our people and create roles to grow reach, efficiency and maximise assets.
- Investment in new products including a monthly subscription- based club with access to exciting spirits and ‘seen it here first’ access to our R & D Lab.”
Keen interest was shown by 5 Dorset Business Angels.
Financial services compliance technology solution
Next to take to the floor was a financial services compliance software surveillance tech business which is already making waves in its sector. The business has developed a patented technology platform to capture, analyse, store and archive for near instant retrieval any communication type – electronic, audio, or market data – in real-time, securely from the source. With the sharp increase in regulatory requirements in financial services, evolving regulation is driving the need for an all-encompassing compliance technology solution. The business is seeking to raise £3m as a blend of equity and debt, with a negative pre money valuation. The investment will allow it to service its sales pipeline of £25million and grow its team of staff and allow significant expansion into the US.
The presentation created much debate and discussion and it was clear that the potential for this product was recognised by the investors present and there was much optimism about the potential growth for this product. 4 DBA investors expressed their interest in pursuing this opportunity.
‘Netflix of fitness’
The next business seeking investment was a company which described itself as the ‘Netflix of fitness’ and promotes fitness Apps and online training programmes. In revenue, with an established and rapidly expanding cloud-based fitness platform, it offers personal home fitness workouts for the body as well as mental health content. Seeking to raise £2million, with a negative pre- money valuation with funds raised to be used for domestic and international growth.
Identifying burn-out in the workplace
A business founded in the wellness sector in January 2018 told investors how it has developed a predictive model for large corporates aimed at identifying ‘burn-out’ in the workplace. The model is currently being assessed by a multi-national organisation in a research pilot study that is looking for ‘burn-out trends in 6000 employees based in the UK and North America. Discussions are also underway with other potential commercial and academic partners. Seeking to raise £350,000 with a pre-money valuation of £2million.
Replacing ‘red-button’ alert pendants
Finally, a ’Care in the Home’ company that has developed technology that replaces the old ‘red-button’ alert pendants used by the elderly, to report an accident in the home. This system is designed to shorten fall discovery times from hours to just minutes and provides ongoing fall prevention by using AI algorithms. The business was seeking to raise £260,000 with a pre-money valuation of £2.4million. Funds raised would be used to embark on a data collection pilot with a large local authority trading company. 1 DBA investor expressed interest.
The evening included a brief guest presentation from the inspiring Head of Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth, Angharad Holloway. Angharad updated the Angels on the School’s ‘Think Big’ vision for the future, combining creativity with technology and will advise on the School’s ongoing STEAM vision.
Don McQueen, Chairman of Dorset Business Angels advised, “It was great to see several new faces at this event. It is always good to welcome potential investors and partners to come along, network and maybe discover an exciting, new investor proposition! We were delighted too to have the presence of Dorset Chamber’s President Liz Willingham, who has shown a keen interest in Dorset Business Angels. I’d like to offer thanks to all our sponsors -Ellis Jones Solicitors, Saffery Champness Accountants and Investec Wealth and Investment.”
DBA was formed in 2013 with the aim to bring investors and entrepreneurs together to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses. DBA provides quality, private equity investment opportunities to local high net worth (HNW) and sophisticated investors (SI).
Four times a year companies are invited to attend an event at which they pitch their business to the savvy Angels in a Dragon’s Den type scenario. Angel investment might come from a single investor or it could be 2 or 3 Angels pooling funds together to support a company. Any investments are in the form of an equity investment and not a debtor’s loan. Investments are made across all sectors.
To book a place at the DBA Pitch Event in October visit www.dorsetbusinessangels.co.uk/Pitch-Evening.aspx