Angel investors - what do they do and how could they benefit your business? We caught up with renowned angel investor Mark Pearson to find out…
Award-winning digital entrepreneur and investor Mark Pearson is one of the most active angel and business investors in Europe.
His business journey started when he founded global web-based marketing and advertising company Markco Media back in 2006. Since then, he has invested in 18 start-up businesses from across Europe including the likes of Ve, Paddle, Moteefe and Eventscase.
Not only has this led to him nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurial talent but it has also led to him netting some pretty impressive yields.
We caught up with him to find out why he decided to become an angel investor; what he looks for in an investment opportunity and what the benefits are to businesses who manage to secure an angel…
What inspired you to start investing in start-up businesses?
I built, ran and sold my own technology company between 2006 and 2014. I met many very smart entrepreneurs along the way with some fantastic businesses and so it made sense to invest my own capital and to help mentor and advise the founders and management teams to help them grow successful businesses. I love to surround myself with likeminded, ambitious and hardworking people.
What do you look for in an investment opportunity?
Firstly, I look at the entrepreneur and the management team, that is really what you are investing into. The people behind a start-up business, they are the people that are going to determine whether or not it succeeds. Secondly, I look at the business opportunity, does it have a big enough market opportunity and is it scalable globally? I like the founders I invest in to have huge ambition and vision.
On the flip side, what do you think a business should look for in an angel investor?
Investment is only one thing that an investor brings to the table, they also bring experience, their network and contacts. If the investor has had success in your business sector or area, even better. Also, very importantly is the individual. It always helps if it’s someone you can get on well with, do they understand and agree with your vision, business plan and way of doing business? This is vital to striking a good working relationship.
Which of your investments has proven the most rewarding and why?
To date I have made 17 investments, the vast majority have gone on to become successful businesses with a number of successful exits, some of my most exciting companies are currently scaling up globally and have multi-million revenues, so I’m very excited about the next few years. Investing gives you more rewards than just financial, being a part of a number of fast growth and successful companies is an enjoyable and rewarding journey.
What lessons have you learned since becoming an angel investor?
I now only invest in companies that have a product - at least a basic product - and some early stage revenues in place, as this proves to me that the founder is capable of delivering and is good at sales and marketing. Things mostly take a little longer than you expect and can cost more than you forecast, so always take that into account.
How does the UK start-up scene compare to a decade ago and why is it attracting so much investment at the moment?
I believe the ecosystem has really matured and angel investing has a very important place in creating the next wave of global UK success stories, there has already been at least a first wave of technology companies being built and exited and now I see that we are in a prime position to be able to create some very successful and sizable companies as the skills, funding and most importantly the ambition is there to rival what has come out of the United States for many years.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to win over an angel?
Be yourself, tell your story, outline your vision and explain why you and your business should be backed. Also, be honest and persistent. Investors can be busy people, until they have given you a no, there is still a chance they will invest in you. Keep them updated on your progress, milestones and achievements. Sometimes investors like to see your progress as it gives them more confidence in you.