Dragons’ Den format slain in favour of a more personal way to attract investors

Posted on the 13 July 2015

Dragons’ Den format slain in favour of a more personal way to attract investors

Forget Dragons’ Den – think more investment speed dating, say organisers of the North East’s biggest business investment event, which aims to find funding for the region’s brightest ideas.

Experts behind Meet the Investor are slaying the traditional, highly pressured Dragons’ Den pitch format in favour of a more direct and personal way to connect innovative businesses with well-matched potential investors.

Meet the Investor, which is a component of the region’s annual innovation conference Venturefest North East, will bring together under one roof 25 investors representing billions of pounds-worth of funding sources on 13th October 2015 at Gateshead Hilton. Just like traditional speed dating, businesses taking part will get the chance to spend a few minutes with each investor to introduce their ideas, make an impression and swap business cards.

Venturefest North East Director Simon Green said: “The process of raising funding for a business can mean meeting with many investors before finding the right one. Meet the Investor is about making this process simpler and increasing the chances of businesses raising the funding they need.

“The format is fast and friendly but also very effective. It allows businesses to build a rapport with each investor and tailor the conversation to their interests. If the two prove a good match then a more formal follow-up meeting will be arranged to develop the relationship and explore exciting opportunities to work together.”

Venture capital fund managers, angel investors, banks and representatives of crowdfunding platforms will be on the lookout for ideas to support with everything from £1,000 start-up loans to multi-million pound investments. The investors are focused on identifying innovative businesses with strong potential in a broad range of business sectors and stages of growth, from social enterprise to tech start-ups and from the creative industries to high value manufacturing.

Meet the Investor builds on the success of last year’s event, which enabled 51 businesses to take part in over 250 one-to-one meetings, with 17 businesses being offered funding as a direct result.

Prior to the event, businesses are given support from the Business Growth Service to refine their business proposition and polish their presenting skills. They are then allocated slots with potential funders that best suit their market and stage of development.

Wesley Hartley, Investment Manager at Northstar Ventures, took part in last year’s event and is looking forward to meeting more businesses in October. He said: “The strength of the event is its focus on getting businesses ready for investment prior to the meetings. Often when we meet businesses for the first time they pitch very well but when we get under the hood of the actual business proposition it isn’t actually developed enough to be viable.

“Meet the Investor spends time preparing companies for the meetings, ensuring their ideas are fully developed and they are confident communicating them. When we make an investment we are investing in the person behind the idea as much as we are the idea itself so this event is especially exciting as it introduces us to lots of potential new companies at once.”

Venturefest North East is a key element of the North East LEP’s innovation programme and is part of a national network of innovation conferences supported by UK innovation agency Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Applications for Meet the Investor are invited from businesses, charities and social enterprises online at www.venturefestnortheast.com