Published: April 28, 2020 | Updated: April 28, 2020

Angels are only too pleased to tread as first online pitch event is hailed as a huge success

By Andrew Diprose, editor

A huge success.

That was the verdict after the inaugural Dorset Business Angels Virtual Entrepreneurs’ Pitch event attracted an immediate investment for one company.

There was also the prospect of investment for three others from six potential ‘angels’ who wished to proceed to due diligence.

Five businesses were invited to pitch and some 24 investors joined the Zoom event.

The new ‘route to market’ for the pitching entrepreneurs turned the usual quarterly pitch event format on its head, resulting in shorter presentations and an even higher attendance than usual of investors.

Frank Guinn, Vice Chairman of Dorset Business Angels (DBA), pictured left, hosted the online pitch and kept a firm charge on attendees present in the ‘room’.

Prior to the event businesses had submitted five-minute pitch videos and questions had been provided by investors in advance of the virtual pitch.

Once online, the entrepreneurs were invited to do a one-minute summary presentation followed by five minutes of Q&A’s by the investors present.

Entrepreneurs then left the conversation and platform.

The angels subsequently discussed their interest and commented on the opportunity that had been presented.

Frank said: “The current Covid-19 restrictions have hugely impacted on the service that we are offering, with the result that we’ve been forced to reconsider what we deliver and how we do so.

“We’ve evolved new working methods and attitudes and come up against new technology challenges.

“We’ve come a long way in a very short period of time.

“Our next event will be on July 6 and, if online again, we would seek to encourage more investor interaction and tweak the mechanics of how the event is run.

“We said when initially launching this virtual pitch event that we would largely gauge its success by whether investor interest was achieved.

“We are delighted to be able to report that it was. We are also extremely pleased at the investor interest that we secured in attending our event too.

The virtual online pitch event underway using Zoom.

“It’s very likely that in the future we will occasionally continue to do virtual events, even when the need for social distancing might not exist.”

The business that secured immediate investment was an energy storage systems and electric vehicle charging business which aims to produce the first demonstrator and become one of the major five energy suppliers in the UK.

Other businesses securing investor interest and have entered into due diligence included:

  • A start-up that has produced Europe’s first prebiotic sparkling soft drinks and is now seeking to gear up for a launch into the UK market with an ambition to establish the brand in a small number of well-known independent stores.
  • A company manufacturing the only product currently available that combines a bowl of multi-wholegrain cereals, milk and vitamins into one easy ‘grab and go’ 330ml carton.
  • A company taking the SMART approach to supply a cost-effective, innovative security solution for the preventing the theft of any electrical device.

Frank said: “We would like to thank our sponsors Saffery Champness Accountants, Ellis Jones Solicitors and Investec Wealth and Investment for their support.

“The expertise that they bring to the table, along with that of the DBA Board members, is invaluable.

“It enables us to react very quickly and assist in delivering services to investors and entrepreneurs within the requirements laid out by the Financial Conduct Authority.”

DBA was formed in 2013 with the aim of bringing investors and entrepreneurs together to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses.

DBA provides quality, private equity investment opportunities to local high net worth and sophisticated investors.

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 two or three 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.