Amount invested: £40,000
Founded in 2010, ThinCats.com was the world’s first peer to peer lending platform enabling private investors to make secured loans to businesses. When Minerva were first approached for investment the company was a proposed start up. The company were looking for £120,000 in return for 25% of the equity.
The investment from Minerva totalled £40,000 from 4 Minerva members and the balance was provided by members of the ABA Claret Club. Without this support from Minerva the business would probably not have been established.
The business angel investors were absolutely critical to the success of the business and were our only ‘customers’ for the first 6 months. Between them they funded the first £1m of loans on the ThinCats platform and allowed us to prove that this innovative business could work.
When the company faced a crisis related to software two Minerva members with IT backgrounds provided a great deal of help and mentoring as we worked to overcome the problem. This was invaluable and helped us avoid almost certain failure of the business. They also helped handle a breakdown in the working relationship with one of the founding directors.
Advice for entrepreneurs looking for support from Minerva:
Try to get as many members as possible in your investing syndicate to take advantage of their wide experience and contacts.
Always allow far more time than you ever thought possible for the process of fund raising. It took us over 9 months for the first round and more than a year for the second round (when the angels achieved an exit).
“Minerva is an exclusive club of successful business people who help each other select suitable investments and mentor them afterwards. Businesses seeking funding will probably find at least one member who understands their business in detail, understands the technology and has been through the same challenging process of growing a business. You cannot put a value on having a group of people with that level of expertise and experience who really want to help you succeed and who are available on the end of a telephone without charge. Their experience is worth more than the money they will invest.
They can be your eyes and ears in the market place, feeding information on what your competitors are up to and introducing you to customers and suppliers you would never get chance to meet. Most of all they have been through what you are going through and they know what it’s like to lose an important contract, face a cash flow crisis or get a chance of a deal that is much bigger than you can handle by yourself. Because their interests are aligned with yours they will help you when your bank might react by calling in their loan rather than extending further funding or your professional advisors are demanding payment in advance because they think you might fail.
Three years after finding our investors an exit they are still sending me relevant information about competitors and providing business opportunities!”