Innovative business solutions, from across a diverse mix of industry sectors, were pitched to the Dorset Business Angels (DBA) in a bid to grab the attention of the astute Angel investors. Enthusiasm and inspiration were demonstrated in abundance at the quarterly pitch event which took place at the Hallmark Carlton Hotel in Bournemouth. In a first for the event, every single company pitching gained interest from investors.
Artful baker, crafting the unexpected!
Described as an artful baker, ‘crafting the unexpected’, this fast- growing business started out in 2016 with just a small table-top oven and a domestic food mixer. This innovative local food manufacturer has already secured listings with OCADO, Amazon, John Lewis, Jet 2, The National Trust, coffee shop chains and very recently ASDA.
Turnover at the end of 2018 was circa £200K and the projection for 2019 is an impressive £1.3M. They have an enviable reputation in the industry for innovation and quality and have won many awards including SME Innovation of the Year in 2017 by Food Manufacture Magazine. There is now a need for an investment of £400K in both equipment and marketing to meet their objectives for 2019. Investors in the room were keen and interest was shown by no less than 6 investors.
Sharing underutilised computing hardware
A company offering services to IT, with a platform that automatically matches the demands of cloud computing with the hardware resources available on users’ laptops, PC’s, servers or even smart phones took to the floor, set to impress. The founder, a well- known and highly respected local and national entrepreneur with a history of successful businesses, informed the intrigued investors that the next stage of the sharing economy has come, advising that at any one instant over 50% of the world’s PCs, Laptops and Mobile Phones are idle and over $1 trillion of underutilised computing hardware is available to use. He commented, “The Sharing Economy has transformed a range of industries; AirBnB disrupted the Travel Industry by convincing the world to share their homes with strangers. Uber disrupted the Transport Industry by convincing car owners to share their personal vehicles with strangers. Our company is on a mission to disrupt the computing industry. We are here to convince the world to share their underutilised computing hardware.”
Investors learnt that the business will create a global network of computing hardware. The Hardware will come from its network of users including GPUs, CPUs and storage. The business will be building a community of 10 million users in 2019 who will ultimately be engaged in the sharing platform, earning money or rewards. The company is now seeking £1.5M of investment to develop and expand the system further in preparation for an international roll-out.
The investors were impressed to learn that the founder has himself invested substantial funds of his own in to the business, personal commitment that is always welcomed by the Angels.
Flood Prevention solution
This local start-up company has a patented product which is designed to limit the damage caused by surface water flooding. The Chief Executive of the Environment Agency advised in a report in October 2018 that ‘surface water is the biggest flood risk of all.’ Globally 2.3 billion homes have been impacted by flood and 25% of UK housing stock has been exposed to flood. The investors were advised that traditionally sandbags have been used as barriers when tackling surface water but they suffer from soilage, seepage and storage issues. Their weight is also a negative factor and storage can be problematic.
The business has spent 10 years developing a barrier which is able to overcome all the challenges faced by sandbags. It is inexpensive to produce and can be easily configured to suit a wide variety of commercial and domestic applications. The present product will prevent floodwater up to a height of 300mm from entering a building. Trials in East London have been successful, leading to orders from owners of residential and commercial property. Interested parties include, Insurers, assistance firms, loss adjusters, Local Government, builders on flood plains, flood interest groups, property owners and business. Options for use include, buying, rental or subscription.
With the effects of climate change likely to increase the threat of surface water flooding around the world, the company is now seeking £50K of seed funding to establish the product in the UK market and ultimately expand into major international markets.
Conversational marketing platform
An early stage conversational marketing platform that helps businesses to use their digital customer conversations as a sales and marketing opportunity sought to grab the attention of the Angel investors. The conversational platform gives businesses the chance to not only answer customer questions and deal with queries instantly, but to deliver rich, personalised and relevant marketing content via their websites and other social media channels – all of which is driven by machine learning & AI.
Explaining the opportunity, investors were advised that the global ‘Chatbot’ market is valued at $703billion and growing at a rate of 35% per annum. It is anticipated that by 2020, 80% of businesses are expected to have some sort of conversational interface implemented. 84% of retailers say mobile marketing is critical to their overall success and their top marketing priority.
Initial product testing has been carried out with organizations such as Bath Rugby, Anglia Ruskin University, with beta testing planned with Visit Cornwall, Celtic Manor Resorts & Hotels and more.
The founders are seeking £125K to complete the current £500K round.
Legal Services communications tracking and management platform
Founded in late 2015, this company has addressed the long overdue need to revitalise the fragmented, labour intensive, dispute resolution process. Despite being fundamental to every case, incorporating true chronology into a case is both time consuming and expensive. Without this detail however, courts are unable to place any weight on evidence that is presented to them, as open communications are liable to manipulation.
The company has addressed these problems through its communication tracking and management platform. This produces a continuous, un-editable, intelligent chronology of events, that gives a permanent record of all interaction and document exchanges between two or more individuals, when required. The business is in discussions with the Law Society and a number of specialist organizations. 8 law firms have now been confirmed as Beta test customers with a further 5 in discussions. The founders are seeking £100K of investment to address the feedback from these Beta testing clients and to continue further development of the platform.
The evening also included a presentation by one of the DBA sponsors, Investec Wealth & Investment. Senior Investment Director, Rob Jones opened the event with a brief presentation, detailing Investec’s view of 2019 for investors, including their interpretation of challenges and opportunities for investors in the year ahead.
DBA Chairman Don McQueen advised, “We are incredibly proud at the momentum that Dorset Business Angels is gaining. Every pitch event brings new investors through the doors and we were delighted to welcome 7 brand new DBA members on this occasion, all enthusiastic and keen to sign up on the night at our annual membership cost of just £30. This is the second time that we have hosted our networking sessions prior to the pitches and it was great to see such a packed room with lots of interesting discussions taking place and new connections being made.”
Continuing Don advised, “We are always keen to welcome new investors and would urge anyone interested in joining us at our next event in April to register on the web site. We would be very happy to see you there and would like to point out that there is no obligation, if attending, to make an investment! I’d like to offer thanks to our sponsors, 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 next DBA Pitch Event visit Eventbrite page.