British Business Angels Association

Finding business angels has just got easier thanks to this network


Who are you?

Anthony Clarke, chairman of the British Business Angels Association (BBAA). I also chair the London Business Angels network and am MD of London Seed Capital.

What do you do?

BBAA is a trade body representing 23 business angel networks across the UK and a number of associate members, such as brokers and lawyers. Formerly known as NBAN (National Business Angel Network), which was effectively a portal matching angels with deals, we now focus at a local level helping you fi nd networks in your area that represent individuals looking to make sub-£2m investments.

Why should I care?

Business angel investment is a growing source of fi nance. In the US, £25bn is invested each year – more than VC money. In the UK, from what we know £600m to £700m is offi cially declared but it’s likely to be much more and programmes such as Dragons’ Den are making people increasingly aware of business angels. If your business has no profi t record or asset base, it’s an equity risk and debt finance won’t be suitable – it’s also likely that you won’t be ready for VC investment. Most angel consortiums put together also include a number of ‘active’ angels who can offer a wealth of experience and entrepreneurial know-how.

What can you do for me that I can’t do for myself?

Help you find business angels. There are 18,000 according to government stats, but there is no offi cial database, so how the hell do you find them? Angel networks are facilitators attracting investors looking for opportunities and manage the process of both sides.

What mistakes will you prevent me from making?

There are a lot of people out there who will claim to have good contacts in the angel community and charge you hefty fees up-front and then not deliver. The BBAA demands all member networks’ fees are transparent and that they release quarterly levels of activity.

How else will you save me money?

A fair percentage of you won’t be ‘investment ready’ or have the explosive growth potential angels look for. It’s not in networks’ interest to fl ood investors with unsuitable pitches, so they won’t take you unless they believe they can raise the money you’re looking for. As an example, London Business Angels only accepted around 40 of the 800 deals presented to us last year. Networks will also be aware of or running any public sector schemes and pilots available that offer fi nancial or expert assistance.

Give me an example of one business you’ve worked with this year?

Cambridge Biostability has developed a way of stabilising vaccines so they don’t have to be frozen when transported. It has immense potential but is very high risk and fi ve years in isn’t yet profi table. However, through London Business Angels network it’s raised more than £4m and plans to fl oat on AIM this year.

Why should I trust you?

We have a strict code of conduct but aside from that we’re dealing with established networks that have their own rules and won’t tolerate timewasters or angels misbehaving.

OK, so how much will it cost me?

Using the BBAA won’t cost you anything as only networks and associates become members. If the network we help you find thinks it can raise the finance you’re looking for it’ll charge a registration fee of between £300 and £2,500. You could typically expect to pay a success fee of 5% on monies raised.

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