Originally published in The Sunday Times, here.
Every week The Sunday Times talks to a business angel, one of the early-stage investors who collectively inject £1.5bn a year into British start-up companies.
Matthew Stafford and Kash Aslam co-founded Dot Matrix Group (DMG), an angel investor syndicate, two years ago. It has backed Century, an artificial intelligence business, and Coconut, a bank account for freelancers and the self-employed. Their typical initial investment is £50,000.
Stafford, 42, founded 9others, an entrepreneur network, in 2011. Aslam, 39, has worked in mergers and acquisitions for Citigroup, Blackstone and Anglo American.
Patience is our virtue
We give people the time to execute their ideas. Sometimes we take two years to invest while we watch a business grow and learn.
We know some smart people who want to get involved, contribute and learn from these companies. It makes us more meaningful to a start-up. We are a more powerful proposition with a team of investors behind us.
Don’t spray and pray
We see accelerator programmes tied to big companies where the start-up has got the money and there’s no link back, no expertise offered. It doesn’t work. Many corporates invest in start-ups only because they want to be seen to be doing it.
In the early stages, it’s not about hitting the targets you set yourself. If that was the case, you would just set lower targets. It’s more about character, determination and learning to adapt.
Two or more co-founders are able to navigate problems much better. Sole founders find that harder.
Wish we saw more…
Start-ups that focus on executing rather than raising cash all the time. It is so important to spend money wisely.
Wish we saw fewer…
Founders who think they know everything already. Sometimes you see a real sense of entitlement. Raising money from other funds doesn’t necessarily mean you’re successful and does not mean we will want to invest.