What do you currently do?
I currently invest in pre-seed start-ups. Pre-seed means start-ups that are only in the mind of entrepreneurs or only in a business plan. It is by far the riskiest stage of investment, because you are literally investing in a person’s thought, but I find that my experience and knowledge in start-ups helps us mould that idea into a business proposition which has a much stronger chance of success.
Many of my investments are in solo-preneurs or small teams that other investors think would not be investible at such an early stage, mainly because they lack track record or the full set of skills required to be successful. My pre-seed investment helps them achieve that track record and plugs any gaps in skills by placing a team around them.
My investments range from tech based ventures to property and FMCG. 75 per cent are tech based, the remainder in food, retail and property.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
When I launched my first start-up I took every risk under the sun. From being a sole founder and having to everything alone, being underfunded, leaving my job, leveraging as much personal debt as I could to keep things going. With hindsight, I feel that had I had someone with experience to guide me through my first experience, I could perhaps have made some different decisions which would have meant that business could have survived, still as innovative but in a slightly different form.
It’s that experience which has been the inspiration behind my willingness to invest at pre-seed. Not only so that I can help those entrepreneurs with great ideas avoid basic mistakes and have the ability to help mould the idea into something that has the best chance of success using my experience and knowhow, but also to give them access to the advice, knowledge and skills they need to help them succeed.
I firmly believe that the entrepreneurial drive is innate and that it’s so important to foster this spirit in any entrepreneur, young or old, looking to start up or grow their business.
Who do you admire?
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
What defines your way of business?
What advice will you give to someone who is just starting out?
Third, listen to what your target market is saying and how they respond to your proposition and be prepared to adapt your proportion based on whatever will work in the marketplace.