Start-up Spotlight – in association with Invested Investor
Business Weekly has introduced a new series featuring entrepreneurs involved with the new Invested Investor initiative launched by Alan and Peter Cowley. Invested Investor is designed to increase the success of early stage startups by sharing angel investor and entrepreneur war stories.
In the first of the series, Simon Thorpe, UKBAA Business Angel of the Year in 2016/17, explains via Q & A why he is inspired by Elon Musk and Martha Lane Fox. Simon has an investment portfolio of close to 30 early stage technology companies and has achieved five exits including Swiftkey, CMOS Sensors, VocalIQ and CentraStage.
He has made a career out of his passion for backing aspiring entrepreneurs creating innovative disruptive technologies.
Why/How did you become an investor?
I am driven by entrepreneurship and innovation as that’s what creates value (and jobs) in an economy. Both my parents were entrepreneurs so I have it in my blood!
By investing in budding entrepreneurs I can support them with skills learned over four decades. My experience in equity investment and research led me to invest in startups in 2009 when I could see many new technologies emerging. Essentially I invest in the digital revolution.
What does your company invest in and at what stage ?
Usually start up, including pre-revenue; sometimes in scale-ups alongside Venture Capital funds. Ordinary or preference shares; Technology focus. B2B and strong IP sought but not essential: Examples of investments include Swiftkey, Vocal IQ, Roadmap Systems, Spectral Edge, Resolver, Abundance Generation, Dressipi, Viewranger and Healx.
Please give top three factors that influence your decision to invest.
- Founders with ambition and a can do attitude
- A differentiated technology supported by IP
- A large, preferably global, market
Who inspires you and why?
- Martha Lane Fox – she is a successful entrepreneur, a UK digital champion and a strong advocate for female entrepreneurs especially in technology.
- Elon Musk – for his vision and relentless ambition.
If you could offer an early investor one piece of business advice, what would it be?
Investing is for the long term (7-10 years) so take your time, get to know the management team and do your research before investing. Angel investing is risky so be prepared for failures.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Simon Thorpe (left) with Peter Cowley