Giving a voice to city’s investment angels

PUBLISHED: 21:05 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 23:14 24 October 2018

From left are angel investor Simon Thorpe; Katy Tuncer, CEO of Horizon 37; Tony Quested, owner of Business Weekly; entrepreneur Richard Lucas; Peter Cowley; Alan Cowley, co-founder of Invested Investor and Soraya Jones, director of communications for the project. 
Picture: Keith Heppell

From left are angel investor Simon Thorpe; Katy Tuncer, CEO of Horizon 37; Tony Quested, owner of Business Weekly; entrepreneur Richard Lucas; Peter Cowley; Alan Cowley, co-founder of Invested Investor and Soraya Jones, director of communications for the project. Picture: Keith Heppell

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‘Invested Investor’ launch at Bradfield Centre hears from authorial team about investing before the venture capitalists

Guests at the publication of The Invested Investor at the Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park. Picture: Keith HeppellGuests at the publication of The Invested Investor at the Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

The publication of The Invested Investor at The Bradfield Centre on Thursday (October 18) provided an opportunity for networking enthusiastically taken up by an appreciative Cambridge audience.

Author Peter Cowley’s contribution to investors’ decision-making processes is not only a book: there’s a website, regular podcasts and events to encourage the investment community to establish best practice and achieve optimal outcomes for both early-stage start-ups and their angel investors.

“The project started two-and-a-half years ago and at that point it wasn’t going to be a book,” Peter told the Cambridge Independent at the photoshoot minutes before the launch event. “Alan, my son, joined me, we recorded a whole series of podcasts and Kate (Kirk, the Cambridge Phenonmenon writer) wrote it – if you read it, it sounds like it’s come out of my mouth but she produced the words, I’m the author. She interviewed me over months – the thing behind it is social change, to get entrepreneurs and angels to work together.

“Angels are early-stage investors, where the firms involved would probably raise venture capital later on.”

Dr Soraya Jones, left, is the director of communications for The Invested Investor project, which has highlighted the strong understanding needed between start-up entrepreneurs and their early-stage investors. Picture: Keith HeppellDr Soraya Jones, left, is the director of communications for The Invested Investor project, which has highlighted the strong understanding needed between start-up entrepreneurs and their early-stage investors. Picture: Keith Heppell

Peter, of course, has been an angel investor for more than 10 years and has been involved in 65 startups. He was named UK Business Angel of the Year 2014/15, and Best Angel of the World by the World Business Angel Investment Forum in February 2017. In July he was elected president of the European Business Angels Network (EBAN) – the pan-European community for early-stage investors covering more than 150 member organisations in 50-plus countries.

The Invested Investor describes how investing in early-stage businesses – before they start fully delivering on their potential – is fraught with risk as well as vast rewards. The chances of success – of the right angel investor being on board with an early-stage technology business entrepreneur – can seem minimal, but somehow Cambridge is very good at it.

“It’s like a marriage,” Peter says of the angel/entrepreneur dynamic. “Where the communication is better, it works better.”

Written with help from hundreds of angel and entrepreneurial colleagues, The Invested Investor includes “real-life stories and the lessons learned from both successes and failures”, plus it’s got some great – funny/wise – cartoons scattered throughout.

The front cover of The Invested Investor, author Peter CowleyThe front cover of The Invested Investor, author Peter Cowley

The evening began with thanks from Alan and Peter, plus contributions from Jeanette Walker, director of Cambridge Science Park – now, as she noted, in its 48th year and thriving.

Tony Quested, owner of Business Weekly, followed, and remarked how incredible it was that in the last 30 years Cambridge has had remarkably few “dodgy” entrepreneurs. Subsequent speakers suggested it may be that the collaborative nature of the hub is a key part of its success, and scaling this inclusivity up has been vital to the successes it is currently delivering.

Contributors to The Invested Investor: The new rules for start-ups, scale-ups and angel investing include Jonathan Milner, founder of Abcam; Fiona Nielsen, founder of Repositive, and Jon Bradford, the man who helped shaped the Bradfield Centre.

Some guests had already read the new title.

Guests networking at the Bradfield Centre prior to the stakeholders' short talks on the project. Picture: Keith HeppellGuests networking at the Bradfield Centre prior to the stakeholders' short talks on the project. Picture: Keith Heppell

“The book is a great read,” said Babraham Bioscience Technologies business acceleration manager Dr Karolina Zapadka. “I wished I’d read it earlier in my career. I’d recommend it to all young entrepreneurs. It helps to understand the value of smart money – and bringing the right people on board at the right time.”

The Invested Investor: The new rules for start-ups, scale-ups and angel investing is on sale now at Amazon, priced at £14.50.

Peter Cowley will be at the Cambridge Independent Science & Technology Awards on November 1, where he will present a copy of The Invested Investor to winners.

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