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Raise Chief Executive chats with Michelle Lestas #inbiztogether

Jenny Ervine, Raise Cheif Exeutive what on the radio this week chatting with Michelle Lestas all things Startups, invements, Northern Ireland and Funding. The feature was part of Inbiz at Belfast 89 fm the feature was about business in Northern Ireland and for business in and around the city of Belfast.

Watch the video and read Jenny’s interview below.

 

Michelle
You’re very welcome to today’s feature one of the biggest challenges for any startup business anywhere is raising capital to do what needs to be done in the early years.

Michelle
So I’m joined today by Jenny Ervine and Jenny is the CEO of Raise Ventures based in the Cathedral Quarter and they specialize in supporting startup companies to attract potential investors. So Jenny you’re very welcome to the feature today.

Jenny
Hi Michelle thanks very much for having me.

Michelle

So Jenny this is a there is real problem that a lot of traditional finance houses are not really that interested in small startup businesses until they’re over that sort of risky hurdle. So how do you guys help?

Jenny
Our accelerator program comes into that earliest stage where we’ve got founders that come up with a tech solution to a problem that they’ve identified in industry normally in the legacy industry such as finance, cyber security, insurance or recruitment and they go through that journey which takes a period of time of building a technical product it’s not like a pen or a book where you can source the raw materials quickly make the thing and sell the it quickly it’s a technical product takes time to build it takes time to develop and it takes time to actually then take it out to market to customers.

We come in and advise in terms of both the business education and accross multiple industry with bespoke mentors. As a CEO they might have only been an expert in a specfic industry in a particular sector.

We look at product development, sales, marketing, finance, go to market strageies. But we also bring in the added element of the investment.

Michelle
When a company comes to you what will you have expected them to have already done?

Jenny
They will have the idea they’ve put some framework around it they’ve maybe talked to some customers and they maybe will have reached out to a technical developer to start building the product and that’s really the sweet spot where they’re they’ve started to build something but they’re not quite sure then how to complete that how to make it a marketable product and a sellable product.

Michelle
You then take them through a series of workshops that improves their knowledge as well as thinking about how they might actually get investment in this is that right yeah?

Jenny
We run an 8-week sprint that covers those key elements of the business but we add to that and nobody else is doing this in Northern Ireland the investment piece whereby we teach them about cap tables term sheets we let them see what an investment journey looks like and what to expect.

Michelle
Investors I assume use that language so when they’re talking to your potential customers and and clients they’re actually using that language they really need to understand it

Jenny
Yes, very much you’re trying to balance the playing field across the table where the founders are not only pitching their business but they know what to negotiate on it’s a sales process they’re selling part of their company in return for an equity and investment into their company and if the other side of the table’s talking of terms that they don’t understand how can they put their best foot forward so we skill them up.

Michelle
Are our companies here in Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole. Are they attractive to investors and are the investors normally from Northern Ireland?

Jenny
We do have plenty of founders in the tech sector wanting to pay it forward with startups and and some well establsihed companies that have been around the block for quite some time. There’s been a wave of new companies coming to the forefront and for the investor side of things there’s not maybe as many of those unfortunately.

Some of the other cities globally would have successful exits and that creates investors to come in and support we call pay it forward.

Michelle
That’s a really interesting terminology you use. What do you actually mean by that when somebody pays it forward.

Jenny
I think it’s probably it comes from America it probably comes from Silicon Valley. It’s very much that you’ve been successful. People have helped you along your way as a founder to exit a company and make money and therefore it’s built into their DNA that they go back out and help the next generation come through. Whether that be advice, knowledge, expertise or connections.

Michelle
Generally do you have a good success rate in terms of your brokering and matching process and do businesses now for example that are on your books, have they got a reasonable chance of getting that investment going forward?

Jenny
Every startup has their own individual journey but we have a good success rate in terms of companies that come onto the program and remain active we now have over 20 active companies that have gone through our program and then from that we have a seven that have raised early stage seed investment and that’s what we call ‘Friends Families and and close networks. It could be anything from £10,000 up to you know £250,000 pounds depending on what they need.

Michelle
That’s not to underestimate the hard work it actually is to raise finance from family and friends because sometimes that can actually be a harder place to start it’s not to say if somebody has a few pounds in their pocket that we wouldn’t say yes!

Michelle
If people want to find out a bit more about what you do and and the programs that you’re running Jenny where should they go is there a website they can go to?

Jenny
Yes, check out raise ventures.com , you’ll find out more about our accelerator program and it’s open at the moment for autumn applications.

Michelle
That’s it for this week all about raising money for startup companies until next week take care

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