Several times a year Dorset Business Angels (DBA) investors invite businesses to pitch for investment in a Dragon’s Den style scenario. At its latest event in September, at the Royal Bath Hotel, an interesting and exciting mix of entrepreneurs were vying to win the attention and investment of the successful DBA investors. Four very impressive pitches were made from a diverse mix of sectors including sports, property, travel and wellbeing.
DBA was formed in 2013 with the aim of being a catalyst in Dorset to bring together entrepreneurs and investors to help accelerate the growth of start-up businesses. Their vision is to turn Dorset into one of the UK’s best regions for setting up high growth and start-up businesses by providing quality private equity investment opportunities to local high net worth and sophisticated investors.
Innovation supporting sports clubs…
Eager to impress the Angels was a London based company which has developed an App for sports clubs. The founders, as sports club members themselves, identified at first hand the problems that amateur sports clubs have administering themselves and running their clubs effectively and efficiently, with many being run by teams of volunteers. They built a messaging platform to access that challenge and the software developed enables clubs to chat, organise, make payments and organise events with great ease. Benefits were recognised as member retention, time savings and increased revenue opportunities. The market opportunity was identified with the UK having 151,000 clubs with a turnover of £6bn. Germany has 91,000 clubs and the USA has 1.5million. The pitch grabbed the attention of investors and several of them expressed their interest in pursuing a conversation with the entrepreneurs.
Pioneering audio solution for insomnia
The captivated investor audience was then introduced to a former sleep deprived business man with experience in developing medical products. He advised the investors that several years ago he suffered insomnia which resulted in him visiting a sleep clinic. He discovered audio which allowed him to take his mind off whatever he was thinking about and preventing sleep. This was the catalyst for him discovering and developing a product that solves sleep issues. The canny business man advised that at some point in their lives everyone will struggle with sleep, whether it be long haul flights, a snoring partner, mild insomnia or noisy neighbours and that sleep represents a third of our lives. The company’s answer is audio and they developed a product which is a regular blue tooth noise cancelling headphone with pioneering acoustics. The headphone is designed to be comfortable, enabling the user to wear in bed or to wear for long periods of time. The product has EG sensors – motion sensors and environment sensors and measures brain waves, the ‘gold standard’ of measuring sleep. If the user is really struggling with sleep it provides the consumer with clinically validated audio via an App, audio that’s proven to help people relax and switch off. Users are protected when sleep is detected and the app introduces active white noise technology which masks out any disturbances that might compromise sleep. The business related that the core innovation is intelligent audio which adapts as you fall asleep and adapts over time as the system understands what’s working for you.
It was reported that Initial demand for the new product has been incredibly high and although still in a period of pre- order, with shipping to start in November 2017, over 17,000 orders have been placed with a value of £3million. Particular interest has been shown from a number of athletes and high- performance sports players approaching the business wanting to secure orders. Interest has come from, among others, the British Olympic swim team, Premiership football teams and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. The Angel investors recognised the exciting future that lies ahead for this young company and interest was expressed by several investors.
Commercial property sector research and search platform
Next to take the floor was a business that has developed a platform for the commercial property sector with a data-driven CRM & market research platform. The platform helps clients to make money, save time and offers a research function. Partnering with many of the leading well- known commercial property brands, including Zoopla and backed by an incredibly strong team of staff whose experience includes Rightmove, Hampton and M& C Saatchi. The system provides a rich map of data comparisons, allowing surveying companies to save time looking for data, search for sensitive data, view deals that have been done and allow them to view future fee potential relating to the deals that they’ve already done. Subscriptions to the platform are growing. The UK and global market potential was discussed and shared with the Angel investors. One investor expressed interest to meet with the founders again to learn more about the opportunity.
Show casing restaurants and bars…
The fourth presentation to investors came from a talented team of Bournemouth University graduates who have created a video content market place and App. Recognising a gap in the market place to innovatively review restaurants and leisure hospitality venues they have developed a solution which allows venues to show-case their offering through the use of engaging video. This also helps consumers to make a more informed decision on whether to visit a venue. Currently capturing venues across London the team were looking for investment from the Angel investors to achieve marketing goals such as signing up 1500 businesses in the next 18 months and to be able to expand on to an android platform which would open up the business to a further 5.6 million users in London. They also plan to double the size of their core team. Whilst incredibly impressed with the enthusiasm, dedication and vision of the team no investors came forward to express an interest in the business.
Future pitch events
DBA Chairman, Don McQueen enthused, “The quality of pitches this evening was fantastic, certainly very inspiring and providing some incredibly interesting investment opportunities that we will be pursing. Everyone was really engaged and the pitches brought about lots of discussion and interest from a packed room of investors. We are particularly keen to hear from new investors who are interested in joining our future pitch events which are gaining quite a reputation, not just in Dorset but across the UK. Please E: firstname.lastname@example.org