During this week’s interview, we meet Angel Investor and Decksender member Sam Simpson
This week we are delighted to speak with Sam Simpson. After 20 years working in the tech sector and setting up businesses, he applied this knowledge to Angel Investing. His business accelerator, EH3, works with aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to build and grow great businesses and today, we speak about his path to investment, what makes him notice a pitch and invest, and the UK startup landscape going forward.
The start of his investing journey and what to invest in
After building his way up from junior engineer to lead consultant and technical director, then project and programme management at one company, it closed. Sam went on to set up Roc Technologies with colleague Mike Hockey. Roc was was hugely successful and rapidly grew in 3.5 years, being named the second fastest growing company in the UK in 2017.
After exiting Roc, Sam and Mike began investing – partly to have something to do, partly to meet new people, and partly for the tax benefits. Finding the right opportunity to invest in is a numbers game – in the past couple of years, Sam has seen around 300 pitches and only made 15 investments. He sees Decksender as a great way to see lots of decks direct to his inbox without having to have a meeting.
When Sam started out, he invested in everything from an underpants company to a custom furniture company! Since then, he has refined his approach. He is currently investing in five companies that leverage AI, such as Skin Analytics – a company committed to helping more people survive cancer. This investment has a special place in Sam’s heart after his friend and investment partner, Mike, passed away from contracting melanoma last year. Investing in startups and new technologies can ensure early detection and other societal gains, other than simply financial.
What to look for when investing
There are a number of things that need to fall into place to make an investment. It’s all too easy to leave a pitch and get infused but the potential for the market or the potential for exit are low, so Sam uses an evaluation matrix in order to be more objective:
- Do we love the founder and can we work with them?
- Is it unique and does it need to be?
- How close is the founder to proof point?
- What does the competitive landscape look like?
- What does a reasonable valuation look like?
- What tax break does it fit into – SEIS or EIS or none?
- Flexibility within the paperwork?
Decksender allows Sam to test a number of those elements in just a few minutes and encourages every Founder to attend a Decksender event to ensure they know exactly what to include in their pitch deck – this will make or break whether he takes the conversation further.
The future of investing in the UK
SEIS and EIS tax relief have been transformative in the UK to support investors. He hopes these won’t change as it encourages innovation in the UK: ‘So many startups can get funded to create a thriving startup economy which is essential with the UK leaving Europe’.
Many businesses he invests in have an international element and it is vital to come to an agreement post-Brexit that doesn’t put UK businesses at a disadvantage.
Over the past 3 years, Sam has embraced the Angel Investor world and has learnt a lot about it. In his next venture he is putting this to use and launching a product that will help founders with their startup administration. In time, they will further harness technology to assist with all the operational support tasks a Founder will need, such as providing a platform to support HR so they can focus on building an excellent business.