We need more diverse investors

We need more diverse investors

Growth Capital Ventures’ Jordan Dargue considers the impact that more angels, more women, and more northern investors could make to business growth.

Over the last 15 years I’ve had a varied career. From running the marketing department at a major housebuilder and owning my own recruitment consultancy to setting up a tech-focussed innovation lab and onto my current role as Head of Operations and Investor Relations at an FCA regulated investment firm, it’s been exciting, empowering and educational.

Throughout every role I’ve had, there’s always been a focus on making a difference. Sometimes that will have been within my immediate position. Other times for the greater good of the entire brand. But it’s always been there. I’m passionate about challenging the norm and doing something different — when it’s right to do so — that will make us stand out.

I’m not alone in this. I know I’m not. There are hundreds, thousands and maybe even millions of people who, knowingly or not, want to make a difference.

Of course, making that return on their investment is a key priority, but so many want to see their money do more.

They don’t just want to invest into a fund or on the stock market. It’s invisible. The latter doesn’t even really exist in many ways. They want to see their money help solve social or economical problems.

And over the past year, I’ve seen first hand how investing even a modest sum of money can make that difference. Your money can be part of a collective amount that builds homes. It’s no hidden fact that we have a housing crisis in the UK, and we need more of the right homes, for the right people, in the right locations.

On paper, it sounds simple. The challenge in reality is greater, but every single pound invested genuinely goes into solving the housing crisis.

The problem is, as a country — or maybe even on a global level — we need more people to come forward and make that difference. I talk to investors day in, day out, and they’re all so passionate.

But there’s a distinct gap in three areas.

More Angel investors

If the entrepreneurs both now and in the future have the innovative minds to create the bricks that build the next generation of British businesses, Angel investors are the ones providing the cement to hold those bricks together.

One of the most beneficial ways an Angel investor can be involved in a startup is not through their money. The finances can undoubtedly be paramount to the success of an organisation, but when you’re an early stage startup, you need knowledge, experience and guidance from someone who’s been there and done it.

And this is exactly what the right Angel investor can bring.

So we need more of them. There were nearly 660,000 startups setup last year in the UK. That’s over 1,800 a day. Now sure, not all of these are going to get to a stage where they need funding and support to grow, but if even a tiny fraction do, our supply of Angel investors as a country simply doesn’t match the demand. At least not in terms of being able to offer support outside of their financial investment.

More northern investors

This need for Angel investors is clear throughout the country (with — perhaps — the exception of London), but there’s a huge, clear gap in the north for more investors. And this isn’t just in terms of Angels.

I’m from the north. I live here, I work here and whilst I travel, I can’t imagine ever moving away. I’m passionate about the area and the people who live, work and thrive here. Although we’ve had some huge successes historically, we’ve had a particularly rough time financially in the region. As such, people often have misconceptions around money.

I want to show people that for the most part, these really are misconceptions.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to be an investor.

You don’t need to buy a house to get started with property investing.

You don’t need to only invest in companies that are owned by friends and family to build — or start — your portfolio.

It’s an exciting time to be in the north. It’s arguably the best time to be located here than ever before. But I know we still have a feeling that the opportunities don’t exist, or that if they do, we can’t get involved in them for whatever reason.

That’s not the case. At all. We just need to spread the knowledge that the north is a brilliant place to invest in and from. It’s as ‘simple’ as that.

More female investors

What else should be ‘simple’ is closing the divide between male and female investors. It’s something I’m so strongly passionate about and which I’m doing my utmost to bridge.

Women own 45% of the UK’s wealth, yet only 14% of Angel investors in the UK are female. It doesn’t need a great deal more said about it. We need to get more women investing.

All the problems and struggles faced with getting started in Angel investing aren’t only faced by women. I appreciate it can be daunting to invest. It can be difficult trying to find the right company or opportunity to invest in.

And yes, it’s a male dominated environment, but that’s quickly changing. We’ve seen it in other industries and I have no concerns that it’ll happen with investing.

But it needs to happen faster.

This isn’t a discussion around being equal. We just need more women to come forward and bring their insights, experience and financial power to support the next generation of British businesses.

And if I can help do that in even just a minor way, I’ll be happy.

For more information, please visit Growth Capital Ventures.