You too can be a Business Angel...

Last Thursday and Friday EBAN – the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and other Early Stage Investors – held its annual winter conference in Brussels and as a result of BvD’s collaboration with EBAN I was kindly asked to be both a speaker and a delegate.

For those of you who are unaware of EBAN, it is an organisation that was set up specifically to help serve Business Angel Networks and their members. It represents over 250 Business Angel Networks from across Europe and indirectly over 20,000 private individuals who either in isolation or as consortiums invest in entrepreneurs and early-stage companies.

Now, before I attended the conference I had a picture in my mind of a Business Angel being a serial entrepreneur who had sold a single or multiple businesses and was happy to provide both funding, expertise and mentoring to young growing companies – individuals who typically have millions at their disposal and would be happy to invest anything northwards of €100 - €150k+ into the millionaires of the future. I suspect that this is an image that most of you have as well. 

What became very apparent at the conference was that whilst the vast majority of investors fall into this category there is also a growing trend for employed individuals who are prepared to maybe invest say €10k as part of a consortium of Business Angels, who together as a group may provide upwards of €50k to one company. This was something that had simply never entered my head as option for those people who are not averse to an element of risk around their savings.

Why this is so topical, is that given the continued shortage of funds for newer, smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, I found it interesting to read earlier this week, that the Arab State of Jordon has also been looking closely at ways to resolve these very issues for its Jordanian entrepreneurs.

Oasis 500, a fund launched by King Abdullah II, has taken the concept of Business Angel “mentoring” to a higher level. According to reports, entrepreneurs with business ideas are put through a “boot camp”, which serves two purposes, one to help the entrepreneurs obtain the skills they need to run a business and secondly to enable the investors to take a good look at the individuals, their business idea and their aptitude.

The EBAN conference already incorporates a “pitching for investment” session, so I will wait to see if EBAN and the Business Angels of Europe are interested in pursuing the “boot camp for investment” option as well.