About The Start-Up Series

The Start-Up Series – the UK’s largest seed funding competition – was launched by Startups.co.uk and investment promoter Worth Capital in 2016 to back the UK’s brightest entrepreneurs.

Click here to enter The Start-Up Series

Every month, one startup will be selected to receive between £150,000 and £250,000 of Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) or Enterprise Investment  Scheme (EIS) funding – subject to terms – from Worth Capital, and will also win press coverage on Startups.co.uk.

This is not a ‘prize fund valued at X’ scheme, where you may win some services for free. The Start-Up Series is a serious investment competition that invests real money into real businesses.

Find out how to enter the Start-Up Series here, and set off on your quest to win up to £250,000 for your business – as well as invaluable advice and support.

Because the investment will come from an EIS & SEIS fund, businesses who are considering entering need to satisfy the following criteria set by HMRC:

  • You must be a UK resident and run a UK-based business
  • You must be over 18 years old at the time of entry
  • Certain financial services and property businesses are unlikely to qualify.

About Worth Capital

The Start-Up Series was established to solve one thing: the perennial problem of access to funding. In a survey we carried out with readers of Startups.co.uk, access to funding was the number one challenge faced by those starting and growing a business.

But it’s not just about the money. Securing investment is as much about the expertise that comes with the financial support – which is why our competition partner Worth Capital is the ideal adviser for your growing business.

Formed to help new entrepreneurs gain access to not just equity funding, but the expertise to turn ideas into successful sustainable businesses, Worth Capital’s founding team consists of experienced entrepreneurs, innovators, and marketers.

Paul Soanes and Matthew Cushen have a track record of backing successful start-ups and helping them accelerate their growth.

Worth Capital’s partner, Amersham Investment Management, is the fund manager for the Start-Up Series Fund, which invests in the winning businesses. The fund is eligible for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) investments, and is fully compliant with the rules that financial services firms have to abide by.

The Worth Capital team

Among other ventures, Paul Soanes started experiential agency iD in 1994 with just £2,000. It has since billed £100m-plus, with the likes of Unilever and Britvic on its client list.

Promotional space media owner Brandspace – another of his agencies – operated from 1,000-plus venues such as airports and railway stations, and was sold to Octopus Ventures in 2008.

Matthew Cushen is a successful investor, his first investment delivered 8x his initial stake in four years. He’s a retailer by trade, having worked with Virgin Retail and the John Lewis Partnership.

He subsequently became an innovation consultant, and still works with some major global businesses, including IKEA, AB InBev and Waitrose. Each month, Matthew shares his thoughts on raising funding – and other valuable advice for entrepreneurs growing their businesses – in his blog posts.

Hayley Etherington spent eight years at a leading marketing agency, working for global brands such as Nespresso, L’Oreal and Philips, and helping startups to gain traction in cluttered markets. Her wealth of experience brings a diverse set of skills, also adding great value to the various startups Worth Capital invests in.

Start-Up Series success

Non-alcoholic booze, insulated foam building blocks, innovation in kids food; what do all these things have in common?

They’re all previous winners of the Start-Up Series!

There’s no ideal sector for a Start-Up Series winner. Whether for consumers or B2B, we just want to see innovative products or services, in high growth or underserved markets, with the  potential to build a loved brand.

What’s more, this is no London-centric competition… Whilst HMRC statistics show 67% of SEIS funding for startups was directed to London and the South East of England in 2017/18, Start-Up Series winners span the length and breadth of the country.

RentalStep, the inaugural winner, is based in Liverpool; the second, Itsy, just outside Manchester, the third, Not Dogs, in Birmingham. As of September 2019, 56% of Start-Up Series funding had gone to businesses outside London and the South East.

Similarly, a report by Beauhurst found that female founders received just 8% of all equity funding raised in the UK in 2018. In comparison, the Start-Up Series has directed 40% of funding to businesses with a female founder.

Why should you enter the Start-Up Series?

This is unique support for the best of UK startups. There are a number of reasons why you should apply for The Start-Up Series:

  • Unrivalled opportunity – up to £250,000 of seed funding, with each monthly competition resulting in a winner
  • Support – Each winner will receive support from Worth Capital via an experienced investment director
  • Media coverage – Winning a high profile competition and the exposure that generates is valuable when talking to customers, potential employees, and future investors

But don’t just take our word for it. Read our winner’s stories to find out how winning the Start-Up Series helped their businesses thrive.

Click here to enter The Start-Up Series

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