key criteria for successful investments: insights from experienced investors


So welcome, everyone. It's nice to see everyone after a year and a half. This is first official Pushy party, Connected, and to come down to our event. So we're excited to see some new and old faces. But just to start off and just to read the description about Cisco and Roundabout, we're the largest tech metre community in Europe with 14,000 members in the class. If you'd like to join, you can always go to our Meetup page or just become one of Ireland. Well, maybe that's for you to decide, but we happen to be quite fun and we work with all over. We are now in our time as well and stick around, come have a chat with us and we're excited to have you all here tonight. Without further ado, I'll pass it on to Stan.


I think. James, I'm just going to say a quick little words. Sponsor of the evening.


Sorry, guys. Hi, everyone, I'm James Goodman, World Canada Lgt Vestra, the sponsor of the evening and we're delighted to sponsor the event and it's great to be able to be back at these in person events. I'm sure a lot of you will agree with that. Thank you to Connected for putting us all together and getting us all in the room. I won't keep you for long, as we're all keen to hear from experienced investors, founders and network, but I'd just like to briefly tell you a little bit about Lgt and how we work with founders and investors, both pre Exit and post Liquidity X. We were set up in 2008 by entrepreneurs with the goal of changing the client experience of wealth management. The risks our bounds took themselves to scale a business, especially in 2008, resonates with a lot of entrepreneurs who represent the majority of our clients that we manage personal assets for. Because we are entrepreneurs, we understand the journey that you're all on and we like to assist early on whether that's introductions to lawyers or friends of the firm. Which is why we're really excited to build a relationship with Connected, who've already proven to add value in this space.


One more thing. We like to talk to clients about non financial matters, things like personal and emotional values. We work with the school of life and leading philosophers to put together a series of short stories exploring the relationships between philosophy and business. And I put around the room that kind of pattern books, which are those stories, so feel free to take them home, read them, kind of connect the philosophy side of business and deeper thinking than just talking about money. I'll leave it at that for now, but if I can hear more about how we work with founders who are scaling their business or looking to derisk, I'd be delighted to have a chat after the panel and enjoy the evening.


Everyone can hear me?




Excellent. Again. Welcome, everybody, to Huckle Trees home. Connected. I'm just going to kick off a quick one line introduction from each of us and then we'll go into specifically everyone's backgrounds and how they got into.


The positions they're in today and we'll.


Talk a little bit more about the kind of things that an Asian investment might look forward and opportunity. So I'll kick off. Sam Luckett co Founder chief Strategy Officer Connected. I'm joined by Share.




Hi. Silvery Finance guy by qualification. Amazon Delivery Groupon. And now just angel investing and just having fun, really.


Hi everyone. I'm Francesco, co founder and managing partner of Sigorandabout Ventures and Sigorandabout Ether Group. And yeah, right now, investing in the tech and also having fun. Engineer by background, by the way.


I'm Michael niston, I'm a full time agent investor. My background was in advertising, planning and buying. And I had a media agency, which I exited a few years ago and now I do this full time. Angel investing. Yeah, having fun.




So thank you very much for that, guys.


I think we'll kick off with we.


All know a little bit more about who you are now, but if we can start from Michael. How did you find yourself in the position that you're in today and tell me a little bit more about your journey. Again we'll go. Bill, as well, about your journey as a business person. How did you get into angel investing and also why?


Well, as I said, my background is in advertising, planning and buying.


I had a media agency which I called MNC, which I had some ownership in. We specialise working with startups, so it's something which from a long time ago, I've kind of seen how startups work and they operate. And some of the big companies we worked with were Confused, moonig, Oakburn, Gerland and Trivago, which obviously are big names now, but when I was working with them, they were very small companies, sometimes four or five people in a room. So you get to learn a lot about businesses, how they operate. And I've always kind of loved the chaos of that kind of startup environment. So I was at the agency for 14 years and as I'm sure you guys will all know, it's a long and hectic journey at that length of time and there's only so long you can go before you burn out. So I kind of structured everything that I would exit a few years ago. My plan was to do a bit of travelling, but life doesn't give a shit about your plans. COVID comes across and yeah, so I just figured, well, let's just stay to invest. I did some a few years ago, about four or five years ago.


And I always think in tough times there's great opportunities out there and the experiences I had when I was growing the agency was in the recession of 2008. That's really when our business grew. We were ahead of the game, we could be very smart with budgets. And so I've always felt very strongly that in recessionary periods there's real opportunity. And I just think with all the time last year it just felt like a good time to do it. And there's so many great companies, great people, let's go for it. And that was my journey last year.


Michael looking at me because he won't disclose it, but he's an investor in connected as well, so he's passing on good vibes, which is great.


Is that okay?




Thank you. So, finance guy by background, but in terms of ancient investing was, I think, a happy accident. So it goes back to 2012, an event, a finance event where typical event where we have a whole bunch of people trying to sell you software. I was working at Amazon at the time. So, of course, the most interesting person in the room to speak to because I had a big budget. But actually the least interesting because trying to get any of that money to a small company and so a lot of people wasting a lot of time but trying to help them out. So I found what there was one founder that had a four person company at the time, got chatting to him and I gave a bunch of feedback on where he was going, the company, what he was thinking. So two years passed. I was living in Luxembourg at the time, I happened to be in London. I met him and say, hey, George, be great to catch up, to see what's happening. So thank you very much. Actually, we adopted all your feedback and we're now a 14 person company. So it scaled pretty nicely.


I'm getting louder.


I like this. And so he scaled companies, like 40 person company, take a lot of feedback on. I walked in the room, saw what he done, and went, oh, shit, if he's actually built this, Amazon needs to buy it. And so I went back through, took it to the corporate team, we looked at it, we went back and forth, spent a bit of time. In the end, we didn't we didn't have the technology. But I got close to George slightly. I thought, we'll keep on working together. Long story short, George said I was more of a sales guy. He was an incredible engineer. I was out with one as a result of trying to buy the company. Met the board, the main investor behind it. He eventually had me to aboard another company that he was in, where we ended up buying Georgia's Equity away from him. And that was my first investment. So he started on a boat trip, basically. Yeah.


Hi, everyone. So my journey started as a software engineer. So just to see, is there any programmer or engineer here in the room? Yeah, always. Few of us, we're like, we learn everything in the code. And that's actually how the journey started. So I came to an event years and years ago, this now friend of mine, Luis, has this Meetup going. And with Paul, my co founder, we kind of helped out and then took over. And then meetup Grew. And over the years and I've been working as an engineer, and then I decided to mess out of frustration because in 2016, a couple of guys came to pitch right here in the States, but different locations. Jonathan Tom. Fast forward. Their mondo idea is mondo. And then fewer coming to talk about.


Trying to find other engineers to join.


His team when he had this company that then became Ziggo, another unicorn. And we started to be, okay, so what are we doing wrong here? And friend of mine had this crazy and still going, by the way, with a healthy feedback arm to control basically weight in a grand reality. And I thought, wow, why is nobody funding this type of thing at the early stage? And then the reality is that because most of the VCs and investors out there come from finance, and I don't really want to take the gamble in the early stage. So I started to buy these companies, and then for an hour like, well, we've got meetup, got the company. Why don't we make this more formal? So we launched with our own money, a BC this year, made for investment so far. Got yesterday our first hard commitment from a listed fund. And so hopefully we'll be raising an actual institutional round for the fund early next year and still we start, we continue to invest right now with our own capital and, yeah, small tickets. Fun so far.




And for many people in the room who are preg companies who have never done a round of fundraising before, and they really start here, thinking, ultimately, what does an angel look for? I'm going to get on to the negatives that might turn you off, but let's say a page decades your desk now, what are the things you're looking for that are like, I need to speak to this person and I appreciate as well. Again, from my experience, investors have very different views and obviously we can't capture everything this evening, but for the purpose of this conversation, we'd love to find out a little bit more about Michael, what excites you, and then we'll go into some other turn offs as well.


It's tough for all of you because every angel of us will have their own different sets of motivations. And I think, really, it's about trying the best that you guys can to try and say, what are our motivations? For some, and I'll put myself in this, obviously, money is one motivation, we're here to invest it. But that is actually not my main 100% motivation in investing. I've now got time to spend, I'm not working day to day. So for me, the investments are about as much keeping my brain active and as much trying to get involved in the companies and where can I add value? And trying to feel important in that sense in a kind of company in a very different way to when I had my own type of company. So, for me, what I'm looking for in any type of investment, I'm looking to really get involved, add value. Specifically, I've got a background in advertising, planning and buying. So it's trying to look at the companies and think, right, do they have the same type of things that I think the other companies I used to work with in advertising that made them successful, be it university paper, blah, blah, blah.


So I can kind of think ahead, like, two, three years ahead. Can they actually be a route where I can get involved? So whilst I get kind of quite bored also, when I'm just being told unicorn this, unicorn that, you presented numbers, everyone takes those with a pinch of salt. What interests me more is having a clear and succinct and realistic objective, whether that be a company valued today, 1 million, that could be 30 million in five years. That interests me more than being told, well, this could be 500 million, a billion, because, of course it could happen, but 99% chance it can't happen. So it's about having a clear business plan, how are we going to hit it and then how I can get involved in that. But most importantly, as every investor will tell you, it's about the dynamic and relationship between the investor and the founder. It's all about the founder and found the team. Do you share the same kind of viewpoint, synergy viewpoints, in how you look at life, how you look at business? And that is the most important thing. And it comes down to trust and respect and whatever your core value sets are.


And to me, without the founding team, and it's cheesy, everyone says, but it is true. I walked away from many investments, I thought this would be great, but my gut wasn't doing it about the founder or the founding team. So that was the most important thing.


Yeah, thanks. So I think as well, from our perspective, I know roy can't help me be here tonight, but I know that him and I myself in particular, when we think about our execution plans and I say this, lots of people use our platform and call me and ask for help is I rarely think of things honestly further than almost three months down the line. Having this sort of unicorn sort of fallacy is like almost kidding yourself. There's a lot of work needs to go into these businesses and I try and break everything down in three and six months time horizons. Of course there's a macro theme which in our case we want to be in the US in approximately twelve to 18 months, but we break everything down in very small detail. And for those who don't have investors, find yourself someone you can share those ideas with. Michael is an investor in our company and he's really great to bounce ideas off. And we have a very informal, formal relationship and I know I can walk, stop him at 11:00 at night and be there for me, I think.




Come in for an afternoon and kick some ideas around with us. And that's how I try and think about things in a very logical way of what are the major things we need to do in the next three months. Right now I'm really thinking for the year end, and that's about as far as I've gotten.


But I think there are probably two distinct views of angels. I think there are those that do it from a financial point of view, and whether that's they're doing it full time, that's how they're going to generate cash, or I also see financial angels who are doing a long side of the job. Quite another one for last year. Is this seas or EIS? And they're just managing their income tax. There's a lot of those type of people out there.


And I was going to take a.


Buddy of mine the other day and his fault piece is I need to have 100 investments because at 100 something's going to work. It's very much a portfolio strategy. And he knows that he's going to write small tickets. He's not going to follow on. But he's named investor. And what he likes is he likes to know that he can contact the founders if he wants some information about the business. But generally he likes to invest in companies where the founders don't call him. That's definitely one type of evangelist investor, which is not the category and I'm not in that category, but I think that when I'm looking at an investment, the first thing is, do I want to spend any time with these people? And that's the first one, actually, do I want to spend time with these people? If the answer to that question is no, then I'm already done. Because what's the point? You've got there's so many places you get involved, so why invest money in a place where you wouldn't want to spend time? And that's true. Is that would I want to work for this company and with these people?


And if the answer to that is no, why would I give them money to go and hire people? Because I wouldn't work there. So I wouldn't want anybody else to. So that's my second one. The third one is, can I add value? Because if I can't add value, then I'm taking the place for somebody who could. So I'd rather they get somebody else into the business that can actually add value to them. The fourth one is, which is probably, I'd say even more important, is what will I get out of this? And it's not the financial return, it's will I learn something? Am I going to get something? Because if the company is not successful, at least I can turn around and say I learned something, I supported people I liked and I gave an opportunity to that company to exist in the world. Because I think that at the point you make the investment, you should be happy that fails, you should be very happy to succeed, but you should also be happy if it fails. So that's my criteria. Thank you.


Cool on my side. Done both right and doing that. Now, the fund, for now, the figures are pretty much the same and it does change a lot. So that's something that if you haven't raised money before, if you only raise angels, you need to figure out because a fund is effectively a company itself, it has its financial numbers and so whilst an angel has, for example, a virtually unlimited time horizon, a fund does not, for example, and also fund as a portfolio. So within those small companies, let's be 25, 30, some funds do like the present rate, I would think of 100. But within that cohort, there has to be the financial returns. It doesn't matter if you got a unicorn, the cohort before, if that fund fails, it's going to be a sigmonier. So because of all of this, a fund investment will always be different from an angel and because of that always sort of keep the distinction in mind when you approach them. For a fan, it doesn't make sense that you would sell next year for twice the money, from 1 million to 2 million. You've got to go for unicorn.


For an investor, an angel, it might not be the case. And so, from my perspective, it's the same if I put money because I knew the founders in the company, it's just me. And if I think as Celebrate Ventures then going, we look at the technical side, we look at the business side and we think, how would this particular company fit within our thesis and portfolio? So it's about the company as well as the portfolio, whereas an investor, I guess, would just concentrate on the company. And so these are kind of two distinctions to keep in mind, I guess.


It's going to add one example.




So I looked at one investment, really interesting business, got excited about it. I had some reservations about, was the business model going to work? So the guy said, well, speak to our lead investor. So I called the lead investor and said, So why did you choose to invest? And are you not worried about this? Not worried about that? And he said, well, no, because as long as if this exists and it saves one life, I'm happy with my investment. Now, he's written a quarter million pound ticket, which is a big angel ticket, quarter million. And his only metric was, if this saves one life, I'm happy. So there's all different types of people's motivations as well. They'll be angels.


So let's get on to some of the common themes around we touched on moles of founder, how hard they work, gelling, business model, alignment, all that kind of stuff. What are the common thematics around turn offs? So I can give you loads of case studies where I've spoken to some really good founders who are doing some really interesting things, and then you flip through to the last page of the deck and they're pre product free customer. They're trying to raise 30 million quid at $9 billion valuation and won't budge. And I'm a giggle to myself this morning because you've got two weeks to be ready. Yeah, I was giggling to myself this morning because my first ever startup was dating app to the fitness community in 2013. And I had a moment at about 02:00 in the morning last night.


I thought, I've not looked at Pitch.


Deck in seven or eight years. I'm going to look at now and remember why we got rejected. First of all, the idea was shit. And then secondly, we were two very junior, inexperienced founders looking for 2 million quid at a 20 million valuation with no customers or products that category as well. Over to you guys. Are there any just like Quick, like, Guys, don't do this, don't do this. How important is valuation and phil, actually, from your perspective as well? From a technical perspective, any guidance on valuation?


Kick up off.


I have a break.


My former cognitive watching, so how are you watching?


I tend not to spend too much time on valuation, which probably sounds ridiculous, but I think that if you like it, then, yeah, the valuation is in some ways, the valuation can be really important if you're purely looking at financial plan, because how do you make the return here? But I think that if you really step back, the key question is, can these people build a big business? And if you don't get the answer to that question, then it doesn't matter what the valuation is, it's a waste of time anyway. And if you think they can, then the only question is, can they build a really successful business? And if you talk about five X, ten x, 20 X, your money, it kind of falls into the who cares brand here, right. Unless you're doing a fund, it's more actually, they're going to be successful. So I think that's I don't worry too much about valuation. The thing about what I do look on valuation is, though, it gives a sense of the mindset of people. It's that actually where is their mindset? And actually it gives a sense of if they're putting so much valuation on something that's not even built yet, and you said that wasn't a good you get a sense that they're throwing up.


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In this podcast, seasoned investors discuss their investment strategies and criteria for successful investments. They emphasize the importance of investing in people and companies that align with their values and goals, and the value of adding value to the companies they invest in. They also discuss the differences between angel investors and venture capital funds and the common turn-offs for potential investments. The discussion highlights the importance of a solid business model, company valuation, and the mindset of the founders as key factors in successful investments.
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About the Organizer: David Cagigas David Cagigas, the visionary founder and current CTO of Edworking, is a skilled content writer who shares his expertise and passion for educational innovation through engaging, informative articles. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for simplifying complex topics, David consistently delivers high-quality content in English, captivating readers and fostering meaningful conversations within the Edworking community. Adept at task management, David ensures timely production of well-researched content, while his proficiency in project management helps him lead teams and oversee the development of various educational projects. His holistic approach to writing and management has made him an invaluable asset to the Edworking team, driving the company's success.
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