It’s May. How did that happen?! Anyway, taking a look at the TH blog I’m reminded of why I never kept a diary: that the minute there’s anything interesting going on in your life, there’s no time to write about it (professional diarists excepted, of course). Anyway, the point is, if you judged from our blog you’d imagine this has been a quiet year for us, whereas it’s probably been the most busy we’ve been since we set up shop together almost nine years ago. So, now that we’ve almost reached 2016’s mid-point, I thought I’d capture some of the highlights.

What you will have seen here, of course, is a lot of cross-posting from Angel Academe. For those out of the loop, AA is our network of largely (though not exclusively) female angel investors, set up as part of Sarah’s mission to encourage more female HNW’s to invest – and invest specifically in female-founded tech start-ups. So far it’s been quite a year for us. Among other things we’ve: screened close to 100 business; held our first 2016 pitch-based “studio” event (with another one right round the corner); closed three funding rounds since January, with another three in the pipeline; and run the second of our Investor Academe workshops for those new to angel investing. We also launched the third year of Entrepreneur Academe, the mentoring programme we run on behalf of the City of London.

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Birdsong, one of the 2015 Entrepreneur Academe conhort

For details on all our Angel Academe, Investor Academe and Entrepreneur Academe work, check out the AA website. Many thanks to our sponsors for their continued support of our work: Thomson Reuters, haysmacintyre, Kingsley Napley and of course the City of London.

Our big consultancy gig of the year has been working with the fabulous Wales Millennium Centre on their digital strategy. We’ve been in Cardiff pretty much every week since January, really getting under the skin of the organisation (as is our wont), and figuring out what it really needs to achieve through digital means. It’s a crucial point for the organisation as it begins to commission its own work alongside the work it does as a presentation house. If the musical Only the Brave, which we were lucky enough to catch during its inaugural run, is anything to go by, then there’s an exciting future ahead for the Centre, and we’re delighted to pay even a small part in that.

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Sarah takes a snap of the Wales Millennium Centre

We’ve been doing work closer to home, too. Our Future City is a project that brings together educationalists with professionals from the arts, culture & heritage sector to improve “the lives and life chances” of children and young people in the city through an engagement with creative practice. Simon’s been helping them think about the impact of digital media on young people and how they might develop a programme around “digital skillfulness”. It’s also been great to be working once again with our old friend Marc Jaffrey, OBE.

Following her success in last year’s UKBAA Awards and Tech City Awards, Sarah made the Maserati 100 list, which celebrates those helping to build the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. There’s also been a fair bit of public speaking for us both, with engagements for (among others): Mass Challenge/Wayra, Cass Business School, the Digital Catapult, Goldman Sachs, the Association for Cultural Enterprises, Brighton Aldridge Community Academy… the variety alone should give you a good impression of how diverse our work has been over the year. Oh, and of course we’ve kept up our long-standing associations with UKTI and Innovate UK.

Lastly, I’m still managing to keep my skin in the creative game, with my DGMFS Media project now releasing digitally-distributed music: my own, and that of friends and fellow travellers. If nothing else, it’s an education¬†about what it means to be a creative practitioner in the digital age.

That’s it for now: just a snapshot, as I say. As ever, you can keep up with us on twitter: @turnipshire, @simonphopkins and @angelacademe. We’ll try to back here with another update before the year’s out ūüėČ


I was delighted to be asked, earlier this week, to deliver a presentation on behalf of the Association of Cultural Enterprises. ACE was hosting a day at the Jewish Museum in Camden looking at a variety of issues around digital marketing and campaigns – specifically in the commercial areas of the arts and heritage sector.

I kicked off the morning with a talk about creating a practical digital strategy. For anyone who was there, here’s the slide deck.



I was followed by three fascinating presentations – and rather more visually engaging ones than mine! – all looking at specific campaigns, warts and all. Hattie Clarke, Marketing Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery looked at how the gallery launched a product range around the Vogue 100 show. Under the banner ‚ÄúRelationships not Transactions‚ÄĚ Hannah Talbot, Head of Marketing, Communications and PR at the Jewish Museum aimed discussed two campaigns aimed at driving user engagement, including an especially successful one that explored stories around LGBTQ and faith. Finally, Clare Kelly, Ecommerce Manager at the Tate gave a a detailed overview of her work with some especially fascinating insights (for me) around paid search, retargeting and comparison shopping. The afternoon closed with a lively workshop unpacking some of the morning‚Äôs themes

Thanks again to ACE inviting me down – a real treat.


Angel Academe

Mush founders Sarah Hesz and Katie Massie-Taylor (participants on this year’s Entrepreneur Academe) tell us about the 5 key things they learnt when launching their app.

Screenshot 2016-05-05 13.53.43Mush is a new free app that seeks to connect local mums who have kids the same age. The app (finally) went live on the app store and google play at the end of April.

  1. Learn to be patient

Refreshing the App Store status became a frustrating exercise. When everything about your product and your launch is planned and executed according to your plans, the helplessness of not knowing when you might have an app approved is hard to stomach.

Apple is a law unto itself and notorious for running a doors-closed review process, lasting from a few days to a few weeks (with no apparent pattern). Google is a hell of a lot easier… so that’s something to be grateful for.

  1. Get over it, you’ll…

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Angel Academe

Angela Bradbury from Chime Advisors, one of this year’s Entrepreneur Academe cohort, tells us Why Cash Isn’t Really King

‚ÄúCash is king.‚ÄĚ This phrase seems to be one of those things people say without really thinking about what it means or whether they truly believe it.¬† I‚Äôm told as an entrepreneur that you need cash to cover your bills and payroll before you‚Äôre able to realise revenue.¬†Investors are told¬†to keep a certain proportion of funds in cash for easy access in case of crisis. Both of those concepts clearly have merit. But why do we say cash is¬†king? It sounds more like cash is a resource to be deployed by the king when necessary. ‚ÄúCash is an army‚ÄĚ, perhaps.

So cash is essential, but it’s not enough. The really important thing is to know how to prioritise it, and what to do with it. In other words, knowledge is…

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Angel Academe

Reflecting on my own 20+ year career, there are various people who’ve had a profound impact on it and still do. They supported and championed me, they took chances on me and they inspired me. I’m eternally grateful. I’m still in touch with most of them and seek out their company or work with them whenever I can. I think everyone needs mentors at some point, but this is especially important for women in tech where there are still so few role models.

Mentoring comes in different shapes and sizes. From speed-mentoring sessions when you try to extract or give as much value as you can in 5- 20 minutes, to long-term structured mentoring relationships and everything in-between. What I’ve learnt is that mentoring relationships can’t be forced. There has to be personal chemistry and a good match in terms of skills and experience. Timing is a factor also.

At Entrepreneur…

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Angel Academe

Julie presentingRaremark’s vision is to transform one million lives affected by rare disease. Julie Walters, Co-Founder and CEO, is a graduate of last year’s Entrepreneur Academe and we’re especially proud of our involvement with her and Raremark’s achievements.

Practical help from many of our Entrepreneur Academe mentors, particularly developers from Thomson Reuters, has helped them launch a pilot of their service with 2 rare conditions. While Angel Academe, with support from legal partners Kingsley Napley, has helped them put together a smart syndicate of investors including a leading Entrepreneurship Fund as well as several angels to raise £515k. An opportunity to top up this round is now live on crowd-funding platform Syndicate Room until 13 March.

This business resonated with us immediately because we all know someone who suffers from a rare disease, be it cystic fibrosis or acute myeloid leukaemia. Lack of reliable information about treatment and trials for those…

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Angel Academe

We’re delighted to announce the third edition of Entrepreneur Academe, our successful mentoring programme for female founders, is open for applications.

Applications are invited from women founders from London-based technology startups. The competition is open until February 28th and the winners will be announced in mid-March.

The programme is sponsored by the City of London as part of their ongoing commitment to support enterprise and small businesses in the City and its neighbouring boroughs and powered by the Angel Academe community of business leaders and investors. Through monthly meetings covering the different aspects of growing a tech business, the programme offers participants a combination of peer-mentoring and accountability, frequent opportunities to present as well as access to business leaders (male and female!) with a wide range of skills and expertise.

Our mentors include experienced entrepreneurs, angel investors and business leaders from the Angel Academe community and partner organisations. As well as extensive experience…

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Angel Academe

imgresAngel Academe is really excited to be working with Fabric founder, CEO and cyber-security expert Kerri-Lynn Hauck to help her grow her business and take advantage of the huge market opportunity ahead.

Fabric’s mission is to make secure communication easy and reliable for all of us. While organisations spend millions of pounds securing their corporate IT networks, their employees risk losing the valuable corporate data those networks carry through their mobile phones. Fabric’s leading edge encryption protocols deliver a communication platform with an exceptional combination of security, call quality and ease of use.

The Angel Academe syndicate was led by Olga Shafranik and John McNicholas. John says, “Given the recent security breaches at TalkTalk, Sony and JD Weatherspoon (to name but a few), addressing cyber risks is now essential for every business as well as consumers. Although it’s a competitive market, Fabric have an energetic and experienced team with a quality…

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For so many reasons, 2015 was a watershed year for Turner Hopkins. It’s¬†certainly been an enormously busy one, and one inevitable consequence of that has been that we’ve not been posting here as regularly as we’d previously done. A couple of years back we might have panicked a little about that; after all, a strong social media presence and an active blog are surely part of the toolkit for self-respecting digital media specialists, right? Too true, but we’ve come to cut ourselves a little slack on the issue, and accepted that living through interesting times often means you don’t have much time – or energy – to write about them. We’ve also been spending more time communicating through our newsletters – which if nothing else puts us on-trend! Anyway, enough post-rationalising, and on with the review.

It’ll be more than apparent to regular visitors here that Angel Academe, in all its guises, has been the dominant force in our lives for the last year. Here’s the 2015 round-up Sarah included in her most recent AA newsletter:


Wow, what a year! We’ve made 7 investments with several other deals in the pipeline. The amount raised so far this year¬†is nearly double our 2014 total and from double the number of investors.¬†Many of the women and men¬†investing were making their first angel investment, so congratulations to them as well as everyone else taking part.¬†

We received and reviewed well over 500 applications to pitch to us this year from a very wide range of¬†women-led technology businesses: from big data to healthtech, fintech and ecommerce. Of these, 15 passed our 3-stage¬†screening process and then pitched at one of our “Studio” events attended by more than¬†80 angelinvestors¬†over the course of the year.

We also ran 2 Investor Academe sessions, our half day investing workshops, with 25 of our angels as well as bite-sized Tax and Legal Academes prior to the last 2 Studio events.

Our second¬†Entrepreneur Academe cohort has just graduated, taking the number of women founders we’ve mentored to over 50. We ran 12 mentoring sessions this year and, now that the¬†City of London has confirmed sponsorship for next year,¬†we’re in¬†planning mode for 2016.¬†

In the summer we were honoured to received the UKBAA’s Angel Syndicate of the Year¬†and last month¬†we picked up Funder of the Year in the TechCities Awards.

But it’s not all been about Angel Academe, as we continued our broader-based strategic work for a range of both new and returning clients. Here are some highlights.

The BBC Academy invited Simon to curate two¬†whole days of workshops for the organisation’s leadership, looking at various aspects of the digital landscape. We took on a pretty wide perspective, looking at issues as diverse as managing teams through disruption, “intrapreneurship”, new ways of conceiving and delivering concepts and the role of data in content personalisation and recommendation. We were particularly pleased to able to draw on our wider network to bring new faces into to the BBC, including Friday’s Anno Mitchell, Ramona Liberoff¬†and¬†Abundance Generation’s Louise Wilson. Our thanks to everyone who gave up their timely freely to make these days so successful.

As part of the sessions, Simon delivered a two-hour masterclass looking at his pet topic of the last few years (one which he’s since reprised for the BBC College of Journalism): how to become more personally and professionally effective in the face of potentially constant digital distraction. The sessions mixed theory with practical application and were of course highly interactive, and it’s fascinating to see the degree to which many highly experienced, capable and often brilliant people are really struggling to avoid distraction in their work.

We continued our ongoing relationships with several governmental groups, including UKTI, Innovate UK and the KTN, with work ranging from inward investment to funding competition design and general research. And of course, we continued to work with various other areas of the BBC, including the Market Engagement Team, for whom we delivered a set of detailed case studies.

We were also delighted to hook up with a couple of old friends and former colleagues.

Simon and Marc Jaffrey, OBE, worked together a decade and a half back at the BBC. A genuine polymath, Marc is currently consulting on a fascinating project running in our home town of Brighton and Hove. Our Future City is looking¬†at the impact of education and the arts on young people in the city and kicked off the year with a series of workshops mapping out the terrain. Marc asked Simon to come along and provide a “provocation”; the result was a 20-minute tirade outlining his¬†worries about young people and technology. You can read Simon’s presentation in full here¬†– if nothing else it really¬†was a provocation.¬†In any case, we’re delighted to say that we’re continuing to work on the programme in 2106.

It was also good to be working once again with the pioneering British internet outfit state51, on whose behalf Simon attended¬†Forum Europe‘s Future of Digital Content and Services conference in Brussels.

We’ve read¬†a lot between us over the year, but a handful of books stand out with regard to digital technology:

We continue to get most of our news from two principal sources (ones with mercifully international perspectives): The Economist and The BBC World Service. But of course the podcast continues its inexorable rise and rise and several have been mainstays for us over the last year, including:

And finally, cultural highlights of the year have included Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne,¬†Brecht and Weill‚Äôs Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the ROH, Purcell’s¬†Indian Queen at the ENO, and three standout¬†visual art shows: Magnificent Obsessions a the Barbican, The World Goes Pop at the Tate and Joseph Cornell – Wanderlust at the V&A. And we’ve been delighted to witness¬†the thriving of Jazz in the Round, the monthly show put on at the Cockpit in Marylebone by our good friends at Jazz on 3.

So that’s been our 2015. We wish everyone a thriving, prosperous 2016¬†and look forward to seeing many of you throughout the year.

Sarah and Simon



IMG_0014Sarah was delighted to win her second award of the year, this time at the Tech Cities Awards. Angel Academe won the TechNation200 Tech Funder Award beating stiff competition from Hermann Hauser of Amadeus Capital and Alasdair Greig of Northstar Ventures. We had a great afternoon at the ceremony which was organised by Tech City Insider and held at the Trampery in  Shoreditch. It was great to see so many excellent businesses from every corner of the UK and catch up with some old friends.