Enterprise News

Angels send out mixed messages

Dec 06/Jan 07 issue

Business angels in the UK are pleased by the present level of innovation from entrepreneurs and remain buoyant about market activity, a survey by London Business School has found, although the perennial difficulty remains in finding people who can turn a business idea into a commercial reality.

On the whole, the survey found, angels are feeling positive about deal flow. Julian Costley, a member of the London Business School’s Enterprise 100 angel network, says: ‘[There are] lots of backable ideas emerging [with a] greater sense of realism on the one hand, but still a strong flow of genuine innovation and quickness to see where new technologies can be applied to the real world.’

Views on deal flow focused on two areas: ‘the idea’, which is causing little concern to those angels who went on the record; and ‘the management team’, which is troubling them more.

London angel Peter Radcliffe states there ‘is no shortage of good ideas and well thought through business plans’. He goes on to add that for him the key issue is ‘finding great people who have the hunger and capability to execute’.

There appears to be vigorous activity across all areas. ‘[We have] good equity markets, significant inflows into VC companies and significant M&A activity,’ notes London-based investor Ian Zilberkweit. Many angels perceive high liquidity in the markets. ‘There is also an appetite among VCs for follow on deals,’ says technology investor Paul Atherton.

The survey also found there is not complete unanimity among the angels pertaining to buoyancy among the VC funds. London-based Tony Morris feels a more negative sense emanating from the institutions. ‘Leading “Series A” institutional VCs do not express great confidence in the market,’ he argues.