Bored of the adage 'If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail'? You're not alone. Sadly, truisms - much like a parent's advice - tend to be worth heeding. When it comes to funding, it's best to do it well in advance. Too many companies leave it until there's a cashflow crunch before acting. As trusted advisers, accountants need to play the role of parent, use their wisdom to identify future funding opportunities, model a couple of scenarios, and help clients find a source of finance that doesn't leave them with unfavourable terms.
Overall VC investments in 2020 are at par with previous years – but in Q3 2020, venture capital funding for all female founders is on pace for its worst year since 2017 (US data). In the week of Global Women's Entrepreneurship Day, four of Europe’s top early stage venture funds (Speedinvest, Amplifier, La Famiglia and Redstone) got together to look into the reasons behind the grim statistics and explore what changes need to take place for more female entrepreneurs to get to a term sheet.
During lockdown, the UK Government awarded over £130m of grant funding for Research and Development (R&D) activity to innovative businesses and their collaborators in the United Kingdom. The awardees were from multiple sectors including creative, engineering, digital health, education and sustainable energy.
Since the launch of London’s Silicon Roundtable in 2008, UK tech startups have enjoyed more than a decade of strong interest from Venture Capitalists (VCs). Spurred on by the success of fast-growth consumer tech companies like Uber or Deliveroo, VCs have sought out startups that could break into the public zeitgeist to become the world’s next big thing. This culminated in more than $13bn being pumped into British technology startups in 2019. Then, the pandemic struck.
The year 2020 is a year like no other. While data shows the pandemic hasn’t affected the overall amount VC dollars invested in tech companies (on par with previous years; US), it has already had a disproportionate effect on the funds allocated to women-led businesses. Venture checks for female founders are at their lowest since 2017. The broader picture is even grimmer, with a real threat to roll back the last 30 years of economic progress for women (according to the International Monetary Fund).
When it comes to equity crowdfunding, the go-to platform for any European investor, young company or growth stage business is either Crowdcube, Seedrs, or both. In the first half of 2020, the two platforms topped Beauhurst’s State of UK Crowdfunding report, with similar, impressive performances. Seedrs closed 95 deals and raised £49.7m, while Crowdcube secured 97 deals and generated £48.5m – all throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fintech business lender, MarketFinance has secured an additional £50m from one of Israel’s largest asset managers, Viola Credit, to lend to UK SMEs under the HM Treasury and British Business Bank CBILS initiative. The announcement comes as MarketFinance launches a 'unified application' process in which SMEs will, through one application, be presented with a variety of finance options and be able to select those best suited to their needs.
For startups, the importance of quality professional advice cannot be overstated. While business owners are quick to seek advice from lawyers and accountants there is considerable resistance to seeking financial advice. A survey conducted by OpenMoney earlier this year, which polled 2,080 adults, provides a worrying insight into how business owners view financial advisers and the advice that they provide. We spoke to Pradeep Oliver, Partner, Cripps Pemberton Greenish who gave us more insight on the topic.
European VC funds are raising a record amount of capital in recent years - $13B in 2018 with over 40% going into funds greater than €250M. Venture is not only a vital source for startup companies to achieve growth and create value through innovation - it is key for the overall economy. In essence, it is a two-sided business, where exceptional founders are matched with capital. While a lot has been said and written about the ‘front’ facing side of the venture industry, how do venture capital firms emerge and raise their funds?
It is often said that turnover is vanity and profit is sanity. But, even more importantly, do not forget that cash is king. Put simply, businesses fail because they do not have enough cash or other liquid assets to pay their bills or meet their immediate obligations. So, whilst increasing turnover and growing profitability are what every business owner is aiming to achieve, it is crucial to still have a very strong focus on cash flow and the levels of cash in the business.
The amount of information we are exposed to exceeds our ability to process it. Out of the about 70,000 thoughts we have per day, our short term memory can hold no more than seven for only about 20 to 30 seconds. How does this relate to branding? Our long-term memory stores our associations with specific brands which is also ultimately the desired effect of marketing campaigns or PR activities - for people to remember your company (or you as a person!) when in need of the products or services you provide.
I was asked very recently by a company to explain how I would approach their projected Intellectual Property (trademarks, patents, code of the platform) concerning their Balance Sheet or Statement of Financial Position. To make it even more complicated and they have asked me to consider both UK accounting rules as well as the US.
Asto Business Capital loans are now available on the Funding Options platform as part of a long term partnership with the business finance marketplace. The Santander-backed app joins Funding Options’ roster of more than 200 lender partners, offering loans of as little as £150 or as much as £150,000, to help small businesses plug urgent cash flow holes.
2019 was a record breaking year for VC investment in UK startups ($13.2bn, an increase of 44% compared to the previous year) and the amount of VC dry powder in Europe is higher than ever before(more last year’s raises here). Success stories of companies raising millions without a formal pitch deck (Hopin, an online events platform) or still in beta and during lockdown (Clubhouse, a voice-based social media app) do sound inspiring.
Conducting a regular business audit is a vital document that is needed to help monitor and inspect the financial situation of a company. To prevent losing track of assets and overheads a business has, audits help bring clarity to managers where their cash in-flows and out-flows are going to and from.
Since the Coronavirus outbreak, multiple concerns about the pandemic deepening social and economic inequalities have been raised. The latest ‘Ecoystem’ webinar session brought together leading investors and one of world’s largest engineering and manufacturing companies in a conversation on challenging industry perceptions to break down barriers to VC funding and innovation.
OurCrowd, a crowdfunded-venture investment platform, has announced the launch of its Pandemic Innovation Fund. The Fund plans to raise $100m for investment in urgent technological solutions for the medical, business, educational and social needs triggered by global pandemics and other health emergencies.
We are in a state of an unprecedented global health crisis. Coronavirus has spread with similar speed and impact to an earthquake – with confirmed cases surpassing 5.5 million people in under six months’ time. Economically, according to IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, the world is facing the 'deepest recession since the 1930s Great Depression'. A shock to the system, which has transformed the way we work, communicate and live. And fundraise. Last week a research by Plexal and Beauhurst revealed investment in UK tech startups has dropped by 50% year-on year. What should companies fundraising know, how to prepare and how has the VC landscape changed?
Over £7.25bn has now been paid to more than 40,500 businesses under the UK government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). More than 130,000 applications were also received for the newer Bounce Bank Loan Scheme (BBLS) on the first day of launch alone, with SMEs able to apply for between £2,000-£50,000.
Money most certainly does not buy happiness, but it does make the world go round. And the lack of money can lead to hardship in many ways. A question that I keep overhearing recently is about whether it is still possible to raise finance during the coronavirus pandemic. The simple answer is yes… maybe!
A staggering 66% of startups have less than 12 months runway and 39% have less than six. These bleak statistics paint a somewhat gloomy picture and yet, in the UK alone, we saw a steady 8.5% increase in the number of companies being registered last year, so these figures are certainly not deterring the business leaders of today. Here James Hyde, CEO and co-founder of James and James, explains more...
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the economy hard, and small businesses in particular. The UK Government is moving at great pace to implement unprecedented economic assistance measures, but even with their best efforts, the dramatic drop in footfall over recent weeks has made it difficult for small businesses to survive even in the short interim period.
We invest in people that are very similar to us. That in itself it can be a good thing, the problem is that men invest mostly in men! Having spent the last eight years in venture capital investments working with many entrepreneurs during their journey from early stages into growth, I realised that there are differences in the way the women entrepreneurs in my portfolios experienced the fundraising journey.
Let’s face it: if your business is growing fast, you’re likely to need capital. There are different ways of financing it (advanced or discounted sales, strategic partnerships, bartering, grants & loans, crowdfunding) with Venture Capital one that arguably poses the greatest risk for both founders and investors.
A survey of 200 startups and scale-ups – commissioned by Envestors in 2019 – has uncovered a number of misconceptions which are ultimately impacting the ability of companies to successfully raise funds using the crowdfunding model. Furthermore, the results show the approach - which hasn’t changed since its genesis in 2011 - is ripe for disruption.
In the last two articles in this series I have looked at various aspects of finance and this time I am going to stay with the financial theme but from a very different angle – tax. But tax is a very broad topic and I wanted to focus on one unusual aspect of the UK tax system, and that is R&D (research and development) tax credits, and it is unusual in the fact that this time it is HMRC giving you money rather than taking it.