Last month saw the official launch of Tech Climbers 2023 in the Liverpool City Region. It was great to see entrepreneurs, investors, and partners coming together in one room at such an exciting time for tech investment in the region.
As well as a launch for entries there was a stellar panel of investors and business leaders who shared their advice on the raising investment in today's ever-changing market.
Here are our top 5 takeaways from the panel:
As Daniel Hayhurst from Brabners LLP put it ‘you only get on chance to make a good first impression’. Before approaching any investors it’s vital to make sure you understand your business inside out. From your strategy and forecasts to due diligence on your investors, get all your ducks in a row. Adam Baron from BDO LLP agreed he advised to ‘be ready to outline what problem you’re solving, why you have a product market fit, and why your KPI’s work’.
Experience can assure investors
All the panel agreed that the key question is ultimately ‘will customers buy your product’. It can be a great piece of tech but if it doesn't have real-world application, it's very difficult to make the business a success. But if you’re a relatively inexperienced entrepreneur looking for funds some investors can be a little wary. Andy Critchley from Arete Capital Partners agreed that a bit of ‘grey hair and battle scars’ can assure investors. As he put it ‘If you’re a young management team it’s easier for me to get your proposal past committee if you augment yourselves with someone who can offer sage advice and has been there and done it before’.
Be transparent and honest with investors
Before and after you’ve secured funding, transparency and honesty are key. Liz Ashall-Payne, founder and CEO of Orcha Health, said the key to her securing high-level investors in the shape of Sir Terry Leahy and Bill Curry was being open and honest. She said ‘don’t be afraid to ask a stupid question’ and ‘be honest at what you’re good at and surround yourself with people who have the skills you need’. It was a sentiment shared by Glen Cooper of Innovus Medical, who urged business owners to ‘be open, talk to your investors, and if there’s a problem – don’t hide it’.
Relationships are key
Building a relationship with your investors is key. As Kirk Ryan CEO and co-founder of Flare Safety put it ‘Angels have been fantastic for us and by building a relationship they’ve been there to give advice and support, to help us find the right focus and prevent us going down the wrong path.’ A sentiment echoed by Andy Critchley, who said they want to ‘embed themselves in the businesses they are investing in’ and Liz Ashall-Payne who added ‘If you look at why companies fail it is quite often relationship based. It’s a long journey with highs and lows and if you don't have a fit on a personal level with investors you'll struggle in the lows.’
It's an exciting time for the region
From pre-seed to tech accelerators, all the panel members agreed that the investment landscape in the Liverpool City Region has transformed over the past couple of years.
As Lorna Green, CEO of Lyva Labs put it, ‘For the first time there’s pre-seed, there's a strong angel investment network, we've just got a launch pad and innovate UK as a pilot that brings grant money to our advanced manufacturing community, there's a new tech accelerator that's been approved as well for businesses a bit further along the process, and the region also has outline approval for a £20 million seed fund which will hopefully launch next year. So it's a really exciting time to be a business in the region.’
It’s a transformation that will open up opportunities for the likes of Andy Critchley who ‘wants to invest more in Liverpool’ and is ‘excited about where this can go in the next 12-24 months’ and Rupert Wingate-Saul from AXM Capital who is on the look out for more Liverpool success stories like Sentric Music to invest in.
As Adam Baron added ‘We’re seeing lots of investors wanting to do more and more in Liverpool and the North West. Investors have raised funds and are looking to put it to work. If you’ve got traction, the funds are out there.’
Tech Climbers celebrates tech by showcasing trailblazing businesses in high growth regions. If you want to part of this year's Tech Climbers list, find out more at: techclimbers.co.uk