Tag Archives: Company Partners

Case study – finding a business partner

Case study Funding Secure


With Peer-2-Peer lending growing in popularity, Norman Akram realised that there was an opportunity for a company whose business model protects lenders against bad debt (most Peer-2-Peer loans are unsecured).

A well tried model already existed in the form of pawnbroking and Norman set about developing a website platform for lenders and borrowers to interact with one another, allowing loans to be secured by suitably valued goods.

Although Norman had the concept, he required partners with complimentary skills such as finance, management and marketing.

Having tried other places he turned to Company Partners and joined as a member to look for either a business partner or an Investor for his start-up.

That’s where Richard Luxmore came in. Richard had joined Company Partners as an Investor and had a background in accountancy and management, but was looking for a new and interesting challenge.

After finding each other on the site, they progressed through emails and then Norman and Richard agreed to meet up and look at how they could work together.

How did that meeting go? Well the proof is in the launch now of one of the most innovative and fast growing businesses I’ve seen for awhile; Fundingsecure.com .

There are some lessons to be had from this success.

  • Do your research upfront. Norman had already gathered accurate statistics and information on competition and the market. When he met Richard, he could present the facts, not just a hopeful idea.
  • Have a vision of what you want to create. Then when inevitably you have to be flexible in altering aspects of the business you can refer back to that vision to ensure you make the right changes.
  • Start with a partnership heads of agreement or get something down in writing of how you will work with your business partner, but be prepared to be flexible in changing it as you discover what works.
  • Build a team of good people around you, be flexible (that word again) with your infrastructure in order to maximise each person’s contribution and to accommodate those good people.
  • Don’t have high fixed costs, such as premises or cars and do as much as you can yourself. Preparing some external work like web site design before the programmers start and preparing legal documents that the lawyers could then review all help precious start-up funds go further.
  • For those thinking of a web based business, be aware that offshore web development may seem cheaper, but in a start-up you need to be able to sit down and talk with your developers, Fundingsecure changed from an offshore developer to a local one to ensure communications worked.

If you want to find a business partner like Norman and Richard, have a look at what Company Partners does for its members.


Division to provide business help is launched

Management Consultancy


Company Partners has been a blessing for those businesses who are looking for business partners, mentors and investors, but what if you need to reorganise your business to make it more profitable, or to grow?


I’ve been helping companies that have approached us for a while now, but eventually there is only so much of my time available. Rather than continue to turn down requests, we’ve started a new division dedicated just to helping companies with their consulting needs.


Called, “Company Partners Consulting” – yes maybe a bit of an obvious name – I’ve gathered together the consultants that I most respected and that follow my own ethos of practical advice geared to getting results.


Since it is aimed at this stage at the UK, I’m using our www.companypartners.co.uk address – have a look, I’d be interested in your feedback.



How much does it cost to find an Investor?

Cost of finding investmentThe first question is should it cost anything? After all it is the Investors who have money, so why should they charge in order to pitch to them?

Well, actually almost all Investors don’t charge a penny for entrepreneurs to present an investment case to them.

Investors are not looking to make money from people presenting their opportunities; they want to make money from partaking in the business itself.


You may well ask in that case, where do the costs come in?

In theory, if you could identify and contact yourself prospective Investors, there would be no costs (other than legal or due-diligence fees by your own solicitor/accountant).

But not everyone knows such a person, so what if you don’t have access to an Investor? Whilst venture capital companies and funds can easily be found, they generally don’t invest in smaller businesses, or normal start-ups (exceptionally high-tech or bio-tech businesses occasionally get funded that way).

The normal young business has to rely on private individuals – Business Angels, for investment and these people do not want to appear in a public directory or people would be camping on their doorstep to talk to them, never mind the security issues.

They tend to work through intermediaries, who will protect their privacy and supply them with interesting potential investments. This is where the costs come in. The intermediaries will charge for the work of connecting people with opportunities to people who want to make an investment.

Who pays these charges? Surely the best placed person to pay them is the investor, not the entrepreneur. Whilst there are some Investors who are willing to pay for opportunities to be presented to them, most are not. They after all have the pick of plenty of investments, they don’t need to pay. Whereas the entrepreneur is competing against all the other places that an investor could place his funds, it comes back to supply and demand.

Right, so the person looking for the funds pays for an intermediary to help him find an Investor, how does that payment work?

There are 3 ways in which such intermediaries, sometimes called business angel networks, get paid. Firstly there is almost always an upfront fee, with no guarantee that you will definitely get an investment. This initial fee helps to pay for the preliminary work done and gives an indication that the person looking for funding has thought it out and is serious in what they are doing.

Why no guarantee? Just think of the range of proposals that will be coming through, some will be very good, but others will not be so good. Also, it depends on investors liking the business’s management and many other factors not controllable by the intermediary – it is not possible to guarantee that every proposal will get funded.

The amount of this upfront fee will vary a great deal. Some will charge many thousands; one of the most well known ones has an average upfront fee of around £5k. For that they will ring round their list of Investors and see if anyone is interested.

Where the interaction is by allowing entrepreneurs to come along to a “speed pitching” event the upfront fee is £800 (plus another £400 for every additional pitching event).

Depending on the company, you may get additional help in refining your proposal or pitch included in that fee.

So not cheap so far – but there’s more…

The second way they charge is to levy a “success fee” on top of the initial payment. This is around 4 – 5 % of any money raised. Many entrepreneurs might say they don’t mind paying a success fee, but don’t like the idea of an upfront fee, but generally that’s not going to happen, partly for the reasons mentioned above and partly because everyone would try for funding if it cost nothing initially. There would be a lot of low quality proposals and the intermediaries wouldn’t be able to handle the quantity for the price.

If that wasn’t enough, the third hit comes when some intermediaries also want 1 – 2% of the final company in shares. You can see that it can all add up to a daunting amount.

That is why when I set up Company Partners I looked for a more efficient (hence lower cost) way to connect those with opportunities and those looking for interesting investments.

After trying different models we arrived at the concept of a member’s site where a small monthly membership fee of about £30 was used and the site’s database was programmed to do most of the work, making it very efficient. I also did away with every other charge.

Now that’s good news not just for the entrepreneur, but also for the Investor, because when a young business pays thousands to be connected to that Investor, it doesn’t just come from the personal account of the person running the young company. It comes right out of the business that the Investor is putting his money into. In fact most of the intermediaries tell the fund seekers to add on top of the funds required, the fee that they will charge.


How long does it take to find a Business Angel?

Time to find a Business Angel?Angel Investors are not listed in the Yellow Pages and finding one can be a time consuming and expensive business, especially if using some of the pricey business angel intermediaries that are out there.

Actually the topic of where to find investors for a business opportunity deserves more attention and I’ll cover that in a later posting. You won’t see this covered in any of the other Business Angel networks blogs since they don’t invite comparisons, but Company Partners is probably the most cost effective and we aim to be open.

But back to timing. You’ve got a great opportunity, written your business plan and are just starting to look for an investor. How long do you think finding one will take? A couple weeks? A couple months?

The shortest time that I’ve seen that one of our members take was 2 days. The longest time 18 months. That’s in finding an Investor that was new to them (not family or friends).

There are so many variables at play; market area, quality of opportunity, how determined you are in searching, etc., that giving an average time can be misleading. However it is safe to say that it can take months rather than weeks and involve a lot of your own time.

There is a random variable also, Business Angels have a pattern of behaviour that means at any one time not all are available. They tend to dip in and out of the market, because once they have identified a couple possible opportunities they are out of action while investigating them. Coming back into the market if those opportunities hadn’t panned out, or just for more investment.

Finding an investor is though only one of the time elements, since you will also want to take some time to get to know each other and do due-diligence. The advantage of a Business Angel over for instance venture capital, is that they will make quick decisions, but both you and the Business Angel should do all you can to ensure that you will work well together before proceeding.

Finally there will be legal and accounting work to be completed in terms of possible partnership agreements (I suggest you do write down the roles and expectations you have of each other), share allocation and sorting out when funds may be input into the company.

As you can see this is not an overnight activity. Think of it in terms of buying or selling a house, the searching and surveyor (due-diligence) work necessary, together with the contracts, probably means they take a similar time and just like finding a Business Angel will be affected by the market and quality of what is being offered.


Company Partners blog goes live

I have succumbed to the inevitable and started a blog for Company Partners. The key and dare I say the challenge is to have informative and interesting content and not just my personal ramblings, although there will be a fair quantity of those, no doubt thrown in to the mix.

The blog will however keep to what we know:

  • Elements of starting a business
  • Growing existing businesses
  • Anything about Business Partners, Mentors and Business Angels
  • Raising business angel investment
  • Finding rewarding business investment opportunities

While I may be commenting on what is being said or done elsewhere, I really don’t want to just duplicate content or opinion that is already out there, that’s of no value to anyone.

If you are one of the early readers of this blog, you have a chance to shape it by letting me know if there are particular areas that you would like us to cover, just hit the “comment” button.