Syndicate Room’s recent podcast with Ros Singleton, a telecomms exec with 25 years experience in the sector, member of Angel Academe and Chair of the UK5G Advisory Board, provided some excellent insights into the world of angel investing.
We highly recommend listening to the full conversation:
But if you’re looking for some fast wisdom, here are the three main takeaways.
1. Angel investing is not as complex or exclusive as you might think.
Ros: “I always thought of angel investing as being you know, guys who invest in Mark Zuckerberg, or you know, wear blue suits and march around the city carrying folios, largely being rude and shouting about spreadsheets a lot, that whole thing. I thought that's something for mega rich people. I've been quite successful, but I'm certainly not mega rich, and I'm not the sort of person who can invest a quarter of a million here and quarter of a millionaire there. That would be lovely, but until my companies get me there, I'm not there yet.
So to actually see Sarah Turner [CEO of Angel Academe], who seemed relatively normal, talk about this, made it very accessible and easy to understand, and not like you needed to know everything about business to be able to run it. All those things are the barriers if you had considered it before and, to be honest, I hadn't even considered it before because it always sounded like this fantastical thing. And, you know, then it just made it plausible.
So I got in touch with Sarah, and went to a pitch event and it was just really brilliantly interesting and fun, and I met lots of people I wouldn't have met otherwise. And I saw some great companies pitch. You know, with these amazing founders who just have so much energy and extraordinary ideas and a passion for what they do. And I've actually found it's been brilliant because I've learned so much about so many different things. I really, really enjoy watching the businesses, learning from them, learning from the entrepreneurs, and providing help when I can to them as well.”
2. Founders, focus on what’s important to the business.
Ros: In all of them what I look for is strength in the founders; structure, to a greater or lesser extent. How do you produce what you do? How do you make sure what you do works? How do you make sure your customers are happy? You know, those sorts of things. So I'm quite process oriented.
It's about understanding what you need to focus on. What are the key things that, as a leader of a business, you need to focus on to deliver what you need to deliver to your customers, who pay you and who will help your business grow? It is absolutely about that laser focus on doing that and sorting out the key issues with your business.
With Nix & Kix, Jesse, the CEO, has a very smart structured approach, she meets targets. She understands that when she says she’ll do something that she's committing to it, and so do her team, you know, really good leader, well thought of in the industry, you know, all these things that are actually I suppose common to lots of the more successful businesses I've been behind, and the ones that over time, you realise you can continue to be really enthusiastic about about. That consistency of purpose, and a consistency of focus on delivery, not just for your customers, actually, but also for your teams inside.
3. There is strong support for female founders and investors available.
Ros: Angel Academe is, I should point out, a primarily female investment group: our diversity target is about 30% men. Essentially, we are set up to encourage investing by women as angels into other businesses which have at least one female founder.
So we're out there really to encourage more investment from women, because women actually have a lot of the purse strings, but tend not to be directed towards higher risk investments. We invest in diverse startup teams, and we try and make sure we are diverse as investors as well. We focus quite a lot on b2b tech, we have a few med tech companies in our portfolio, retail tech, some apps, consumer products, soft drinks. It covers a whole gamut of industries and very few of the companies we are invested in, I would say, are ones that you would consider traditionally female or aimed primarily at a female market.
Ros Singleton is one of SyndicateRoom’s super angels. You can find out more about our fund, Access EIS, on our website.