In our latest Meet The Investor interview we speak to experienced angel investor Bryony Marshall. She discusses why the present investing climate is a return to ‘normal’, the common mistakes startups make in their fundraising journey and how to avoid them. Plus the importance of networking and community and why we need to first understand the barriers to diversity in the startup ecosystem before we can look at solutions.
Why did you become an angel investor?
For me, angel investing is a way to directly support innovative ideas and help amazing founders on their mission to change the world. As an angel investor you are usually some of the first funding into a start up, and I am using that opportunity to ensure funding reaches a diverse founders.
What are the most exciting sectors gaining your interest at the moment?
I have always been interested in healthtech and am always excited by new developments in this space because of the direct impact on the quality of people’s lives.
How should startups approach fundraising in the present climate?
The last few years were an abnormality, and we are now returning to normal. Investors got so focused on growth they momentarily forgot about fundamentals like a path to profitability. When cash is no longer easy to come by, needing to constantly raise to grow starts to look like quite a risky strategy. From the startup’s perspective they also need to de risk their futures by ensuring they raise enough to give sufficient runway to reach a meaningful milestone before they need to raise again.
What is the most common mistake startups make in their fundraising journey?
Losing momentum in the fundraising process. Ideally startups should have mapped out the steps in their process and have all materials ready at the outset. New questions that come up should be answered and added to a FAQ knowledge base. Every meeting should build on the previous and finish with an ask or action.
What are the common traits of the successful startups you have supported?
Single mindedness of the founders, when you know they’ll do anything to succeed and won’t take no for an answer. Also, being strong storytellers, this is important for getting everyone on board from investors, to key hires, to customers.
If you could offer just one piece of advice to a young startup, what would it be?
Talk to other startups, find networks and communities where you can learn from other’s experiences. As an angel investor, being part of the Alma Angels community is invaluable to me for all the same reasons.
Are you positive or negative about the UK retaining its place as a key startup hub?
I lean towards optimism, while acknowledging that the challenges have increased, mainly due to economic conditions. I believe we can continue to attract talent, foster innovation, and maintain a supportive environment for startups, but this requires more acute attention than it did previously.
Founding teams and indeed investors still have a very low representation of women or indeed ethnic diversity. How can this be improved to ensure we truly democratise the ecosystem?
We talk about the ‘barriers to women’ or ‘barriers to diversity’, while these barriers exist, how can we be surprised that we have low representation? In many cases these barriers haven’t even been properly identified, so we don’t even know what needs to change. Or worse, they are and the change is dismissed as being in some way unworkable by those who benefit from the status quo. This is just step one, with the barriers gone, we can then look at how to attract, promote and retain.
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