Meet the investor: Damon Bonser, The British Design Fund

The Spinning Hat founder launched his SEIS and EIS fund to support British product businesses last year. Find out if you meet his investment criteria...

Firm: The British Design Fund
Name: Damon Bonser, CEO

Where are you based?

London. As CEO of the British Design Fund, I oversee the fund raising as well as finding those amazing product businesses that, with our investment and support, can grow into the brands of tomorrow whilst delivering returns to our investors.

What kind of investor are you?

We invest capital and expertise in exchange for equity in early-stage product design and manufacturing businesses.

I decided to launch the British Design Fund because I saw a real lack of structured equity investment into early-stage British consumer product businesses. This was especially true when you try and find funding outside of the crowdfunding model, and try and find an early-stage investment vehicle that will provide the expertise along with the investment that these businesses so desperately need in the crucial first few years.

What kind of deals do you finance?

We invest in early stage UK consumer product businesses, who embrace exceptional design to create products which have the potential to become huge worldwide hits.

What kind of person do you invest in?

The team is, of course, key and we look for teams that have the passion as well as the commercial foresight to overcome the many challenges that they will face throughout the early years of taking their products through to market.

How do you source prospects?

We are very unique in our focus on early stage UK consumer product businesses so we receive many enquiries directly.

However, we do also work closely with the best product incubators in the UK such as Design Council’s SPARK and Brunel’s CRL to find start helping those companies that we can see potential in.

What is your ideal investment?

A team that is passionate about the sector they are designing products for and whose products solve a genuine problem that needs solving.

What are your USPs?

No other early stage fund exists that focuses purely on UK consumer products and delivers the expertise needed to see those products through to launch in the market.

What are the hot sectors?

We avoid overly “trendy” sectors like Internet of Things (IoT) as we find they get oversubscribed and overvalued with many companies that don’t often solve a problem that really needs solving.

Three things a company should be able to offer an investor?

  1. A clear understanding of the risks involved in the investment.
  2. A clear appraisal of the market they sell in.
  3. A clear understanding of the routes to market and the margins expected by any intermediaries involved.

What is the cardinal sin when looking for investment?

Not knowing your competitors!

What continuing involvement do you like in an investment?

We remain involved by not only providing sector specific mentoring but by also being involved in the monthly board meetings and making sure good governance practices, as well as clear reporting, is being followed.

What has been your best performing investment to date?

We will have to wait and see – we are only just getting started!