Interested in new investment opportunities? Forget the trendy NFTs and consider angel investing
By Chantelle Arneaud, Envestors
Capital at Risk. Please see full risk warning
You may well have read about Non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These are cryptographic assets, whose ownership is recorded on blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other. A person can’t exchange one NFT for another as they would with dollars or other assets. Each NFT is unique and acts as a collector’s item that can’t be duplicated, making them rare by design. We’ve seen many attention grabbing headlines about NFTs with the purchase of a digital perfume, a digital house which sold for half a million dollars and the world’s first tweet which went for $2,900,000.
NFTs are different from fungible tokens like cryptocurrencies, which are identical to each other and, therefore, can be used as a medium for commercial transactions.
Clearly, there are a lot of new trendy things you could invest your money in. But how long will this craze last, and will there be buyers on the other side? Who’s to say. What I can say is that if you’re looking to invest your money into something exciting (and slightly more predictable) you should consider angel investing.
Angel investors can be thought of as the superheroes of the start-up world. Not only do they provide the life-blood for early stage businesses in the form of much-needed capital, they provide invaluable advice, contacts and support.
If you haven’t yet been involved in angel investing let’s review some reason why it might be of interest.
Enjoy the journey
When you invest in property or publicly traded stocks it’s only your cold hard cash that makes an impact, and so the only time you’ll feel pride is when you get a return. With start-ups, it’s a different story. Cash is important, but it is not the only thing these businesses need. They need advice, support and your black book. When you invest in a start-up you join them on a journey, one in which you can directly impact their growth trajectory – whether that’s by making a vital introduction to a marquee customer, helping them get their pricing model right or ensuring they avoid getting themselves into legal hot water.
You may also be the difference between a business growing into a future giant or not existing at all. By providing support early on, you have the ability to help shape which companies get off the ground. So, if there is a cause you feel passionate about, like sustainable fashion or social care for the aging population, you can support seed businesses in those areas which can help affect a broader social impact.
Government tax schemes
The UK government runs two lucrative and important tax schemes that a shocking number of people have never heard of – the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Both of these schemes are designed to encourage investment into early-stage businesses. So far, the scheme has helped raise £22bn for over thirty-thousand companies.
It’s that successful because the tax incentives are that good.
The EIS scheme, which is for slightly more established, companies offers:
Its earlier stage counterpart, the SEIS scheme offers:
All of this is designed to encourage investing into early-stage businesses, while off-setting the risk, because investing in early stage businesses is risky.
You could become much wealthier overnight
Yes, one day you might wake up and read the news, and drop your phone in excitement when you learn one of your businesses has just been sold for big money. (Conversely, I do need to mention that one day you might wake up and read the news and drop your phone in utter disappointment when you learn one of your businesses has collapsed.)
Angel investing, while it carries risk, can be very lucrative. Data collected in the US in a 2017 Willamette University study on angel investment returns calculated an average return for angel investors of 2.5X. With an average investment period of 4.5 years, this indicates a gross internal rate of return of 22%.
Compare this to other investment vehicles:
A more recent study published in January 2021 by FounderCatalyst showed that angel investments yielded an average 2.77 X return. With the additional benefit the EIS scheme that grows to an average 3.19 X return.
It is worth pointing out here that averages are averages. Any experienced angel will tell you that many companies take much longer than 4.5 years to mature and exit. Some companies fail quickly while others fail slowly, never growing and never exiting— locking up your assets indefinitely.
Expand your network and make new friends
While investing in ISAs or stocks will leave you solitary, leafing through the financial section with ink-stained fingers or spending quality time with your investment app, angel investing is social. You will meet new people, clever people like you.
A huge part of angel investing is networking. As you start to investigate opportunities you will meet passionate founders and like-minded investors with whom you can discuss said passionate founders. You’ll be invited to pitching events where entrepreneurs will present their investment opportunity to you while you sip wine and contemplate the potential returns.
You can also join an investment club (which I recommend for all new investors). You can opt for a sector specific club that aligns to your interest and expertise or for a sector- agnostic one. There are plenty to choose from and research agency Beauhurst has helpfully listed out the most active ones here (including Envestors Private Investment Club – which is at the top of the list!)
Angel investing will involve you on a journey with exciting new businesses and you’ll develop a range of interesting stories to share about your experience. And regardless of whether an angel investment make you money, or not, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you have supported both individual entrepreneurs and their businesses and you could even be shaping the business landscape of the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chantelle Arneaud is from Envestors. Envestors’ digital investment platform brings together entrepreneurs and investors across geographies, communities and sectors – creating the single marketplace for early-stage investment in the UK.
Envestors partners with accelerators, incubators and angel networks to provide a white-label platform empowering them to promote deals, engage investors and connect to other networks.
Founded in 2004, Envestors has helped more than 200 high growth businesses raise more than £100m through its own private investment club.
Envestors is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.