A varied program, meeting new people, getting to know some of the entrepreneurial private business clubs where the most distinguished minds of the London business world gather, network and form business ties. This and much more was promised to us by the British capital and guess what? London delivered. With Matija Nakić from the Croatian startup Farseer, the winner of the Podim Pitching Competition, we went to London’s startup hubs, met the representatives of the local startup environment and further strengthened the British-Slovenian connection.
The UK reduces the risk of private investments through the SEIS and EIF schemes
The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), announced by the British government’s Chancellor George Osborne in autumn 2011, offers private investors in smaller startups a more favorable tax base at an early stage and less investment risk.
The second corporate investment scheme (EIS), one of four venture capital schemes, encourages investment in companies by introducing tax breaks. The condition being that a maximum of £ 100,000 is invested per tax year – there is a possibility of investing in various companies. A company seeking an investment must be based in the UK, but under special conditions, foreign companies can also benefit from funding. These thus gain not only entry into a new market but also access to private British investors.
The SEIS and EIS schemes allow investors to claim an income tax relief (50% for SEIS and 30% for EIS) and to offset losses if the investment proves not to work out. Check out other benefits at the link above.
Entrepreneur and angel investor Alexandre Massart introduced us to both schemes in more detail, focusing primarily on the development of entrepreneurial opportunities in the segment of advanced technologies, fintech, payment systems and web solutions. During our visit to London, he listened to the ambitious entrepreneur Matija Nakić and gave her many tips for a successful British market penetration: who can bring her to the market, how to segment it, who to focus on first, and more.
British corporate cream comes together in a number of private business clubs
London is home to many exclusive business clubs that offer their members a professional and innovative infrastructure for business growth. They are intended to connect successful entrepreneurs with investors, as well as with a new generation of innovative entrepreneurial enthusiasts, who get to know them through pitching events. It is a place for intimate dinners, business seminars, breakfasts, socializing over coffee – all with the aim of networking and promoting growth.
Alexandre took us to one of these clubs, specifically to Home Grown, where we attended an entrepreneurial event organized by the SFC Capital venture capital fund. SFC is a leading UK fund in the early start-up financing segment that has successfully brought together a larger group of business angels. The fund benefits from the UK’s public SEIS & EIS scheme for investing in a startup company, which we’ve mentioned above.
At the club, we attended one of the pitching events called Crocodile Lair, where we got to know 4 companies (Route Konnect, The Round, XeroE and Odore) that have already received an angel investment and are now in the process of raising the next round of funding for rapid growth and market penetration.
We also listened to a lecture by an experienced entrepreneur, investor and author of The Dirty Word, Alister Esam. The book solves the challenge of unmotivated employees in companies, which results in monotony, routine and the death of creativity. He shared his painful experience of running his first company eShare, which he successfully sold, but learned how his own perfectionism drained him and his team. He entrusted us with the path of personal and business growth until the establishment of Process Bliss in 2018, which offers tools for more successful process management in the company. Tools that contribute to the empowerment of every employee, increase independence and creativity, and give a sense of freedom in the workplace.
The event was followed by socializing. The organizers provided a very relaxed and productive networking atmosphere for the nearly 100 participants of the event. Among other things, we forged ties with SFC Capital founder Stephan Page and fund operations manager Angelika Burawska, Home Grown membership executive Isobel Apter and Alator Capital founding partner Michael Blakeley. Michael is also the founder of The Entrepreneurs Collective (EC), a private association that provides assistance to business founders and connects them with investors and industry leaders.
We managed to gain insight into another business club, namely London’s most iconic Home House, where we were especially interested in its business model and a tour of the infrastructure it offers to its members.
TMRW, the largest coworking space and the epicentre of technological development
In addition to a business trip to London, the winner of the Podim Pitching Competition also receives a one-year desk rental in TMRW coworking, where we are warmly welcomed every year by its founder, serial entrepreneur and investor Francois Mazoudier, and TMRW program director Marcela Donatello.
We left Matija in good hands for a few hours, where she received a lot of advice on the strategy of finding, choosing and conducting conversations with investors. Matija and Francois continued to work on the strategy of attracting investors, which they set at the Fundraising Bootcamp in Zagreb, an intensive program for attracting investors, organized by Francois and his team. She gave us a small insight into the advice she received: she should be very selective when it comes to choosing an investor and establish communication when she’s ready for the investment and not before.
Slovenian and Croatian embassies in London as a support base
Farseer also met with representatives of the Slovenian and Croatian embassies in London, which serve as a “support base” for companies entering the British market. In an interesting debate, we mainly touched on the changes and opportunities in the British business environment that emerged after Brexit. Jana Bajec Povše, economic adviser at the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in London, gave the team many useful tips and offered help in the future.
There’s never too much business advice
We also supported our participation in many events with some 1:1 meetings, among which we would like to highlight the entrepreneur and investor Deepali Nangia, who specializes in investing in startup companies run by women founders. We chatted with her about Farseer’s product and business model and the opportunities to finance its further growth. Deepali, who herself is an active angel investor (Atomico Angel 2021, Alma Angels), as well as a partner of the highly successful venture capital fund Speedinvest, took a close look at Matija’s pitch deck and gave concrete feedback for improvement. She will also introduce Farseer as an investment opportunity to her network.
We have enriched the forming of new business ties by socializing with Slovenian entrepreneurs who live and do business in London. Jaka Levstek, co-founder and director of the London-Slovenian startup studio D.Labs, shared many experiences related to the British business environment, but did not skimp on concrete advice to Farseer regarding further steps in product development and market conquest. With the D.Labs team, Jaka helped develop more than 100 digital products of technology companies. Among their clients are also the most famous names of the global technology scene.
Another Slovenian entrepreneur – co-founder and technical director of Bulbshare Tine Hamler – gave us some helpful advice. He presented his entrepreneurial path, which began with participation in the entrepreneurial accelerator Telekom Slovenije TS Startup, and continued with the inclusion of Peekster in London’s accelerator Wayra, and being one of the finalists of the startup competition Startup Battlefield (TechCrunch Disrupt) in New York.
We learned about the individual steps, key decisions and strategies for achieving the goals, which was interesting both for us from the support environment of Tovarna podjemov, which strives to give entrepreneurs the most stimulating environment, and for Farseer, which is entering the British market. We also heard about the pivot of the entrepreneurial idea and the merger with another company from which Bulbshare sprang up.
And what did Matija say after coming home?
“During three jam-packed days of my official Podim London trip, the Podim crew introduced us to several angel investors, VC’s and fellow founders. We also had official visits to the Croatian and Slovenian embassies. The startup scene is unbelievably strong, there are 3-4 pitching and networking events every night. I was impressed by the Homegrown club, a charming club and hotel in Notting Hill with the sole purpose of bringing founders and investors together.
The tax reliefs the UK government offers enable entrepreneurs to create a perpetual investment cycle, making tech startups flourish.
We also went through our investment strategy with Francois Mazoudier and Marcella Donatello from the Fundraising Bootcamp, which was useful as always.
This was truly working hard, playing hard trip, but the play details I will keep to myself
Farseer is starting its London office, so it was extremely useful to get a “who’s who” of the London tech scene together with our good friends from Podim” she said when she arrived back home.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed
Thank you to everyone who was willing to share their precious time with us and Matija. Thank you for all the advice, handshakes and a sincere desire to continue connecting. Thanks to SpiceStartups for giving us the opportunity to attend the Demo Day: Seed Sprint event, which allowed 8 selected startups (out of 300+ applicants) to present themselves to the assembled crowd.
We look forward to seeing you again. Hopefully in a few months in Maribor at Podim Conference, which will take place between 16 and 18 May 2022.