Archives for category: angel academe

Here’s a x-posting from our sister site Angel Academe


It barely seems believable but this week we launched the fourth year of Entrepreneur Academe – the mentoring programme we run for female founders of tech or tech-enabled start ups. This year we’ve shaken things up a little and instead of following a cohort over several months instead we’ll be inviting different companies to join us each month, in order to see as wide a range of businesses as possible. But each month will consider the same issues, focussing on investment readiness.

A fine  – and diverse – array of businesses were in attendance at this inaugural session:

  • Channeliser is an online network enabling companies to search, connect and engage with prospective IT partners anywhere in the world.
  • Doobiz is a mobile app for contact sharing (using a contact-over-audio technology) and realtime business networking.
  • PsychApps is an app which helps to diagnose, track and journal mental illness, as well as discretely connecting users to local professional therapists.
  • SoSensational is a fashion and beauty e-commerce site curated and tailored to the needs of women over 50.
  • Talking Circles is an enterprise platform for promoting connectivity and continuous learning between coworkers in medium to large organizations.
  • Trik is a drone data management software for vertical structure inspection, assisting drone pilots in data collection, visualisation and analysis.
  • Wattl is a video social network providing users with a grid of heatmapped content which is popular and trending.
  • Worktu connects schools with local teachers online at via their a job-posting website, connecting with local teaching talent at a more affordable price than traditional recruitment agencies.

Sarah kicked off the afternoon with an introduction to the Angel Academe suite of offerings, before asking the entrepreneurs to introduce themselves and pitch their businesses – which everyone did with great verve and passion.


The first half of the afternoon’s mentoring proper was a panel Q&A and general group discussion. We were honuored to have a great group of panellists kick off:

  • Francesca Tondi (Angel Investor)
  • Jessica Dick (Synergy Growth)
  • Natasha Jacobs (Craigie Capital)
  • Audrey Mandela (Tech Entrepreneur & Angel Investor)
  • Karen Thomas-Bland (Angel Investor)

We then explored lots of the issues raised in small groups under the headings: The right kind of funding for you – and the right kind of funder; Organising your campaign: prep, networking, pitching, tax & legals; and Valuation – what are you prepared to give up? We covered far too ground to go into too much detail here, but here are some of the headlines from each group:


The right kind of funder

  • Go for smart money – investors who can contribute much more than simple cash.
  • Investors love to see entrepreneurs who have put their own money into a business – the ultimate skin in the game.
  • That said – don’t wait too long to start fundraising – investors also want to see ambition.
  • Try to find investors who will most likely follow on.
  • Use the “network effect” of your investors.
  • Remember that fundraising is almost always a long process – longer than you anticipate. (A rule of thumb here is 3-6 months.) So don’t wait until you’re out of runway until you raise! And expect to be juggling fundraising and building the business a lot of the time.


  • Every round you do you need to re-justify your valuation (can you really scale it? does this valuation make it worth it to investors?)
  • You run the risk of a down round in future rounds if you aren’t able to deliver on what you said you could do.Gauge your expectations to your investors and judge what is really needed for your business.
  • Consider the exit options: not everyone has to IPO, in fact very few do – a trade sale is what happens to most companies. Also, what are your own goals?
  • You can also set a valuation as a range and work it through with your investor.

Organising your campaign

  • Terms sheets – ideally you should have the same term sheets for all investors in a round, although if there are different types of investors, eg angels and VC or an investor/director, this may not be possible.
  • Be prepared with your own term sheet to present to investors although some, particularly VCs will bring their own.
  • EMI option pools will dilute investors,  make sure your investors are aware of this.
  • Have a full pitch deck which can be adapted to different situations, eg lengthened or shortened, less text for face to face presentations, more text for a deck that is emailed.
  • Open your pitch with a “spear to the head” blow.  Make yourself stand out!
  • A good pitch creates an emotional connection to the listener, tells the story of the problem and your solution and why you and your team can address this issue.
  • Always mention competition; everyone has some! Where do you position yourself against your competitors?
  • Keep your pitch as simple and as easy to quickly understand as possible.
  • Make sure your pitch matches your social media profile, eg Linkedin!

Lots to mull over there; if you’ve got anything to add we’d love to hear from you. And in the meantime, if you’d like to enter your company in the next session, you can do so here. Finally, many thanks to Bob Mollen of Fried Frank for hosting the afternoon. More next month!

Here’s a cross-posting from our sister Angel Academe blog.

On December 28th we held the second of our AA North sessions, exploring ways in which we might expand into the North West and bring together a group of local women investors (well, mostly women). The event was generously hosted by The Landing in their beautiful 7th floor room overlooking Media City UK at Salford Quays and chaired by our good friend Gaynor Dykes. Attendees came from finance, law, the startup sector and healthcare — an eclectic group whose engagement across the afternoon highlighted the real opportunities here.

Gaynor (l) and Sarah (pic: Maya Dibley)

Sarah kicked of the afternoon with a brief introduction to Angel Academe’s work, outlining everything we do before going on to spell out the opportunity for potential investors.

Simon (pic: Maya Dibley)

Self-confessed serial investor Simon Thorpe was up next. An accountant by training, Simon has been angel investing for 8 years, and is principally interested in the tech space. He’s also invested in an unusually high percentage of women-founed companies. He pointed out that the previous week both the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor had been talking about the importance of the digital technology sector in the UK — at last! Simon talked through some of the lamentable diversity figures in the sector that regular readers will be all too familiar with, including that just 15% of European startups have a female founder and less than 3% of VC-backed companies have a woman CEO.

Simon talked about what he looks for in potential investments: defensible IP, a great idea, a great team, a sound business model and robust financials. But in the end he’s mostly looking for a visionary founder with total belief and commitment.

Then we had chance to look at the situation from the point of view of a female founder. A trained phamacist and oncologist, Clare Nolan has founded her own company, Tomorrow’s Medicines & with the aim of giving serioiusly ill patients faster access to clinical trials. Clare was entirely new to the world investment when starting up and has had something of a baptism of fire. Ultimately angel investment has played a significant role in growing the company, alongside a smattering of grants and a fund investment. Clare was keen to point out that of course such an investment route comes with caveats and dangers. Some investors are relatively hands off, but others can be demanding and struggle not to interfere; the key as an entrepreneur is to know when to push back. She also pointed out that being a female entrpreneur in technology could still be a lonely place to be.

We finished the afternoon with a lively and open discussion about next steps and opportunities. Many thanks again to Maya Dibley at the Landing, and to Simon, Gaynor and Clare for speaking. We look forward to being back in the New Year.

From the Angel Academe blog:

Angel Academe advisor and highly experienced angel investor Meganne Houghton-Berry gave the keynote at our Entrepreneur Academe 2016 graduation ceremony last week. Here’s the outline of her talk.

More here.

Cross-posted from the Angel Academe blog:


Mentors and entrepreneurs at the EA16 launch

Last week we launched this year’s Entrepreneur Academe to a full house at the City of London’s City Centre suite. This is the third instalment of EA, and once again we’re delighted to have the City of London as our partners. We’re mentoring 10 women-led tech startups this year and the calibre is clearly very high. Wednesday was the opportunity for the businesses to introduce themselves to our network of mentors, investors and partners and lay out what they’re looking to get out of the next 9 months with EA.

David Pack, Partnerships Manager at the City of London kicked off the afternoon with a brief talk outlining why they support the programme and how important this kind of collaboration is to them.


Sarah outlines EA success to date

He was followed by our own Sarah Turner, who talked about what had been achieved by the programme to this point, in terms of growth and funds raised. Headlines for last year’s cohort include an average 100% in turnover with 6 companies achieving  a 200% increase, and £1.5m so far raised in investment.


Raremark’s Julie Walters tells the entrepreneurs what to expect from the programme

Raremark, a community platform for sufferers of rare disease and their families is one of those companies that raised, and took the opportunity on Wednesday to announce a successfully closed round of £680k. The company’s CEO and founder Julie Walters talked about her experience of the 2015 programme and told this year’s cohort how to get the most of the sessions and mentors.

Anjali Ramanchandran, a great friend to Angel Academe has been one of our EA mentors since the get-go. She talked about how to ‘hook up’ with the mentors either in person or through LinkedIn, and what kinds of mentoring relationship they could look for, from a simple chat over a coffee through to a more sustained relationship – and all points in between.

We then got down to the meat and potatoes of the afternoon, with each company giving us a 5 minute presentation, outlining the company’s history to this point, their ambitions over the coming year and their specific asks.

Chime Advisors, co-founded by Angela Bradbury, is “reinventing the expert network” and provides answers to research questions on niche topics for consulting and PE firms through phone calls and surveys with experts via sophisticated tech.

Coo, co-founded by Shilpa Bhandarkar, is a new kind of parenting platform whose first product is a group communication & calendar app that helps build parent communities.

Grub Club, founded by Olivia Sibony, is a discovery platform for unique dining experiences. Chefs set up restaurants in underused spaces & sell tickets to their dinners via the website.


Headliner’s Maria Hayden

Headliner, co-founded bye Maria Hayden, connects live musicians, bands and DJs directly with event planners to book for corporate events and private parties.

MeeTwo, co-founded by Kerstyn Comley, is a webapp offering moderated peer support and expert advice to help teenagers deal with everyday anxieties.


Metafused founder Madhuban Kumar

Metafused, founded by Madhuban Kumar, uses artificial intelligence with real time data to enhance marketing decision-making and driving automated proactive intelligence.

Pilio, founded by Catherine Bottrill, provides energy analytics to businesses and households seeking to make energy and cost savings.

Pivigo, co-founded by Kim Nilsson is building the trusted marketplace for data science projects, disrupting the data consultancy market, and democratising data science.


Mush founders Katie Massie-Taylor and Sarah Hesz

Mush, founded by Katie Massie-Taylor and Sarah Hesz, is a web-based platform that connects mums with other mums in their locality, and was described on Wednesday, only half tongue-in-cheek, as “Tinder-meets-NCT”.

We’re hugely excited about working with this year’s cohort, and look forward to to first of this year’s expert sessions – SCALE (getting the basics right to grow).

Join us as a mentor?

Our mentors include experienced entrepreneurs, angel and institutional investors and business leaders from the Angel Academe community and partner organisations. As well as extensive experience of starting, running and growing businesses, they bring specific expertise in finance and fund-raising; sales, marketing and PR; technology; law, accountancy and people management.

We provide them with an opportunity to get to know some exciting women-led businesses over a period of time. If you would like to join our amazing pool of mentors, we would love to hear from you. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Want to stay in touch?

Sign up for our Entrepreneur Academe Newsletter.


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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 17.52.01.png

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 😉


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’s 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.

Thank you all for coming along on Tuesday night and making the event such a success.

Particular thanks to our speakers: Bob Schukai from Thomson Reuters, Hannah O’Shaunessey and Kerri Mckechnie from Angel Academe, Sarah Tierney from We Are Colony and Louise Wilson from Abundance. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from all of them in future.

Kerri talked about Entrepreneur Academe, the 12-month mentoring programme for ambitious women entrepreneurs that we’re running in partnership with the City of London. The programme kicked off last month and you can read about it and our winning entrepreneurs here.

We have an amazing ling-up of mentors and experts but are always looking to add more. If you’d like to get involved, please tell us a little about yourself here.

Finally, if you’d like to find out more about angel investing opportunities, please drop us a line and if you’d like to be considered for a pitching slot at one of our events, please send an investor summary or pitch deck for us to review.


Zoe Cunningham writes in Computer Weekly:

So my dream of becoming the next Deborah Meaden remained just that – a dream – until a chance meeting with Sarah Turner. Sarah set up Angel Academe in 2012 to be an angel investing group, with a difference. It’s not easy to tie down the statistics on angel investing as a lot of it happens informally but the best statistics that we have (from the UK Business Angels Association) show that just 5% of angel investors are female.


Zoe Cunningham writes over on the Angel Academe blog:

I’ve written before on the lack of women in technology roles. There are many many articles that talk about the small number of women in top positions in large corporates. The modestly targeted 30% club is still a long way from its goal to get just 30% of board positions filled with females.

Yet compared with the number of women acting as angel investors, these areas are awash with women. It’s not easy to tie down the statistics on angel investing as a lot of it happens informally – a chap knows a chap and lends him a couple of hundred thousand. However what statistics exist show a dearth of women. The UK Business Angels Association do an annual survey of their members and have found that a mere 5% of angel investors are female.

More at Angel Academe