FirstStage Capital, a service enabling individuals (business angels) to invest in the best high tech start-up companies in the UK, is launched this week. FirstStage Capital is the only service in the UK focused on technology start-ups that leverages the Internet to deliver professionally vetted investment opportunities to its network of private investors and venture capitalists. Such opportunities are usually confined to those ‘in the know’ from the City. Now, by exploiting the Internet medium, FirstStage Capital levels the playing field. The service at http://www.firststagecapital.com is regulated by the SFA (Securities and Futures Authority).
FirstStage Capital services focus on the needs of the investor. The two founding partners are both themselves business angels and have a detailed understanding of angels’ requirements. FirstStage acts more as a brokerage than any of the database matching services that are now flooding the Internet by providing a screening process, drawing on the partners’ experience as top-ranked City analysts.
FirstStage bridges the national gap created by existing business angel networks, which tend to be locally based, enabling investors anywhere in the UK to examine the best opportunities in the rest of the country.
FirstStage specialises in high tech, a sector with significant potential for return on investment, despite the recent shake-down. The focus is solely on first stage funding of between £50,000 and £1 million, which might come from one individual (minimum investment £20,000) a syndicate or a corporate investor. Each business proposal from entrepreneurs is vetted by FirstStage analysts who are experts not only in technology but also in finance. This means that only good quality, well-presented proposals appear on site.
The investor can search through 'ShowCase' - opportunities that are especially highly rated - and 'MarketPlace', a wider spread of business plan synopses. The site is secure and all parties remain anonymous, corresponding via private email on the site and deciding what information they would like to release about themselves, until they choose otherwise.
Entrepreneurs submit their business plans online at firststagecapital.com for a fee of £195. The process requires entrepreneurs to think deeply about the commercial prospects of their proposal and to clarify and prioritise their needs. Those proposals considered by FirstStage Capital to be of greatest potential interest to investors meet up with FirstStage analysts to see if they are eligible to join the limited ShowCase section where their profile appears on the website as a two page investment report.
For an annual fee of £295, each business angel registered with FirstStage Capital has a personalised website tailored to their stated preferences, which makes the matching process fast and efficient. Angels are asked:
- amount available for investment (minimum £20,000)
- if they prefer to be a partner in a syndicate or an individual
- trackrecord as an angel
- areas of business experience
- if they wish to be actively involved in the business
- geographical preferences.
Information is kept strictly confidential and is not made available to any other company. When investors log on, they access an individual listing of business opportunities matched against their profile. They may then correspond by private email. The entrepreneur receives a profile of the business angel along with the request and so can decide whether to pursue the enquiry. Angel and entrepreneur can maintain anonymity and exchange information until each is satisfied that the relationship would benefit from greater transparency.
FirstStage has also formed strategic partnerships with a number of organisations in order to provide authoritative and relevant content; Simulacra Media, a new media strategic consultancy and production company; leading international law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, which will be the sole provider of all legal content on the site in the form of regular articles and a Q&A forum; and Key Communications, a top 20 UK communications consultancy.
"This is the opportunity for private investors - ‘business angels’ - from everywhere around the UK to become involved with promising high tech companies at the very beginning," said CEO Jason Purcell. "Despite all the dot.com millionaire stories, the odds are stacked against both the investor and the entrepreneur without family or City connections. FirstStage Capital maximises the entrepreneur’s chances of getting that initial stage funding and setting up on a sound business footing, which is more important than ever in the current climate. It cuts through the ‘weeding out’ process for venture capitalists because each business proposal is vetted. And it provides the high tech start up with access to partner resources."
Jason Purcell is confident that there are thousands of wealthy individuals throughout the UK willing to invest significant sums of money in high tech start-ups. "The problem for entrepreneurs and private investors has been how to meet up. They could be in Taunton or Inverness or points in between. But they’ll almost certainly be on the Internet. That’s the rationale behind FirstStage Capital."
Visit http://www.firststagecapital.com Certain areas of the website are password protected and available only to members.
A selection of photographs are available from the photo library at the FirstStage Capital Press Room on www.firststagecapital.com, either as colour prints or .jpg files. Please contact Gail Sheridan or Hillary Box at Key Communications if you would like copies.
Members of the press wishing for a 30-day password for review purposes should contact Key Communications at the address below.
About FirstStage Capital
FirstStage Capital (http://www.firststagecapital.com) is a network of business angel and venture capital investors that provides first stage funding and advice for high technology start up companies. FirstStage Capital puts the investor’s needs first, providing a faster, more effective service for the entrepreneur looking for funding of £50,000 to £1m. A single web location brings together investors, entrepreneurs and advisors. Investors access dynamic and rapidly growing early-stage companies in the form of pre-screened, well-written proposals matching their investment criteria. The content is personalised to their interests and constantly updated. In forum rooms, professional advisors present information on topical legal and financial issues, and answer FirstStage members’ questions.
Jason Purcell, FirstStage Capital, 15-16 Margaret Street, London W1N 7LE. 020 7637 9292. firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Sheridan/Hillary Box, Key Communications, Kings Court, 2-16 Goodge Street,London W1P 1FF.020 7580 0222 email@example.com
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