Lynn Nathan is Director of Distribution at Collidr.com and a member and investment committee participant at Kelvin Capital. In her role as an Angel Investor, she regularly attends our business pitch events.
Lynn told us in our interview what really matters in a pitch and provides insights into the businesses she invests in.
How would you describe your job?
Lynn: Which job do you mean? [laughs] My day-to-day job is in an exciting Fintech business. My investing activity is not a job.
How would you call your investment activities?
Lynn: It’s an interest and something I want to do. I really like the start-up culture and I like to support businesses with an interesting idea or angle. I seek businesses that capture my attention, excites me, and is also backed by a good solid business plan.
Ideally, I will seek a business that I can also help, be it money, introductions, or my own time if I have the required skill that can be utilised.
For how long have you been investing in businesses?
Lynn: Since 2014. It’s been quite a few years.
Is there an industry you primarily focus on?
Lynn: There is no specific industry, and a lot depends on timing. I don’t have a red list or something I would always reject. For me, it’s more about the idea. If I like it, like the team, see drive and ambition, I will look at the idea. There must be a team, not just one person and a dog. A team is important. I should add however that I make few brand new investments now, to do so there must be a real compelling plan/team and idea.
Why is that?
Lynn: It’s always about people because they are the ones who turn the idea into reality. You can have the best idea and never execute it because you don’t have the right people to make it happen. There are many little things to take care of in a business. The big idea alone doesn’t get you funding. It is important to put all the graft and grind in and have a clear plan.
Do you have an example of a business you invest in?
Lynn: Apart from Othership? [laughs]
I have the biggest hope for a business called ProFactor Pharma. They will produce drugs to treat hemophilia which is a massive problem in some parts of the world. They are now getting to the point to manufacture the drug. I feel that this is a business that will do so much good in the world and will make a huge difference to many many lives.
How many business pitches have you heard over the past year?
Lynn: Good question. 20+ easily, probably more because I now attended all the Othership pitch events. I’m a member of a syndicate so I get pitches there as well.
Is there one pitch you’ve heard that stuck to your mind?
Lynn: It was the one for a new app called Snappy Shopper. It was set up just before COVID-19 in Dundee. They started off organising deliveries locally from smaller shops, those which didn’t have deliveries in place. It has really exploded onto the scene. It was good in times of COVID-19 for people that
couldn’t get deliveries from the big supermarkets because there was too much demand and long wait times. Their pitch outlined quite clearly the opportunity and they also had their app built already. It was very easy to navigate. For somebody like me who is not a Facebook-generation-person, that makes a big difference. They also have a really impressive team and they had the people in place already. They had a clear idea and were able to communicate that idea effectively.
Do you prefer a pitch with a prototype of the product or service?
Lynn: It’s usually better for me. Show what you have rather than people imagining what it is going to be, especially if the product/solution involves technology, then it’s better to have something built. Even if it is a simple MVP, it is worth it. As a potential investor it helps a lot and allows you to see : “Ah, this is how it works/ it’s going to be used.”
Were there any negative experiences in the pitches over the years?
Lynn: There’s been loads. I wouldn’t want to pick on anyone in particular. Sometimes people are too nervous. Other times they think they have a great pitch, but they don’t. Or, they don’t have the facts clear/ spelling mistakes etc. Another negative experience is when you see the same things over and over again. There have been lots of dating apps recently. I don’t think anyone on the panel wanted to see another dating app! Also if people haven’t practiced the pitch timing – and that tends to be clear, or sometimes you – as a potential investor – are just not interested in the idea. It happens.
Which information do you need from a pitch to consider investing?
Lynn: I think every investor would answer differently. For an awful lot of investors, it is the financial side. They want to see projections and the likelihood that these projections will be met. This always should be backed by a clear and concise plan.
For me, it’s initially more about the idea. If I like the idea, do I think it’s a good team? Is there a space in the market? Is the financial plan sound and realistic etc.
After you invested, how often do you check in with the founders?
Lynn: The majority of investments I make, I make as part of a syndicate. I’m a member of Kelvin Capital. However, when I invested in Othership, I met Ben through a friend. I really liked what he was doing. I liked him and Arnaud and after some research, I invested. The majority of my investments have come through the syndicate.
If you’re a member of the syndicate, there is a portal, and it is updated on a monthly basis. I get an update anyways and I have the portal to check anytime.
There are regular meetings to learn how investments are progressing and of course, I can always ask questions. COVID-19 has changed things, but there were regular showcases from my syndicate every month or so, where 4 or 5 businesses came along. We have now Zooms on a monthly basis for existing investments and new opportunities. However, I can ask questions and get additional information at any time.
What would make you take action and get involved in the business?
Lynn: If the investor is a member of a syndicate, everything is managed as a group. They may ask if anyone got experience with this or that if they need help. There’s a step between me and the business. The group reaches out if they need someone for help. In a “direct” investment again you would expect the founders to reach out if they need help to the most relevant investors in their business or to ask if any of their investors can help or know someone who can. I would probably only get involved if I had relevant and useful input to the specific business.
What do you expect from founders once they got investment?
Lynn: I think I expect them to be dedicated to fulfilling and hopefully exceeding the plan. For Othership, my expectation was that Ben and Arnaud would be focused on growing the business and that’s what they have done. They looked for other ways during COVID-19 to keep revenue going and to keep in touch with their customer base and even provide opportunities to help those who had a business idea and were looking for an opportunity to pitch to investors. Othership is a good example of how they pivoted during COVID, they branched out to run online events and really set up a new communication strategy, all focussed on supporting their clients and to provide income, and to raise awareness of their business.
Generally, I look for people that stick to the plan but can adjust if things don’t work. Enthusiasm and dedication are important, as is clear communication so that they keep everyone up to date with the business and its challenges as well as its successes.
Any tips for young businesses?
Lynn: Make sure you have got the pitch nailed down. Practice it, know your business goals and why you started the business. In addition, be clear on goals and financials – show people what is possible if they come onboard. Finally, be prepared for questions and challenges. It’s not good to see someone flounder because they don’t know answers to fundamental questions.
We thank Lynn for her time and for sharing these insights.
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