Sunday, 6 November 2016

HBAN super-angel to invest €4M in Irish tech start-ups

HBAN (Halo Business Angel Network), the all-island organisation responsible for the promotion of business angel investment, today announces that Italian super-angel, Gianni Matera will invest €4 million in Irish start-ups by 2020 via his investment company, Growing Capital.

This includes €830,000 that he has already invested in four high-potential Irish start-ups – Brim Brothers, Glofox, Motordata and Caragon – as well as a further €70,000 that he has injected into two nascent start-ups – My Service History,Reflex Gaming – in just over a year. Matera expects to invest in three more start-ups by year-end 2016.

Matera - who moved to Ireland in 2013 and exited an Italian company he founded with a €44 million stock market flotation - expects to grow his seed investment value by 300% in five years. Key to this will be careful investment in Irish technology companies looking to break into the US market, where exits are more likely.

One company that has benefited from Matera’s prowess as a business angel investor is Glofox. The company was introduced to Matera at a HBAN Investor Forum. It sells software to gyms and fitness studios, offering exercise classes to help them fast-track booking management and payment processing, as well as streamlining mobile booking for end-customers. Matera invested €250,000 one year ago, alongside Enterprise Ireland’s €250,000. Glofox is currently raising its next round of seed-funding, with €1.75 million targeted by year-end.

Conor O’Loughlin, founder and CEO of Glofox, said: “Gianni really understood the business opportunity from the start. He delivered a valuable helicopter view of the business, together with very strong digital marketing and technical expertise. He is a key financial partner who has brought much-needed funds as well as assistance that helps us identify our next investors.

“In particular, he revolutionised our sales engine, using his considerable digital marketing expertise and connections to build a scalable, automated and predictable sales and marketing funnel. Our customer base is growing 15% each month based on this and we already have 420 gyms and studios as customers in 18 countries, with 65% of all new business coming from the US.”

Words of wisdom from a super-angel

Why Ireland?

“Ireland is a business-friendly and vibrant environment. The rate of investment in start-ups in Ireland is a much higher percentage of GNP than in the rest of Europe. Ireland’s investment ratios are similar to the US.

“Ireland is also a great place to be a seed investor. In Ireland, we typically invest in businesses that are already trading, maybe even profitable. Seed investing in the US, by contrast, typically involves similar investments in untested ideas for a smaller shareholding.”

“The support of Enterprise Ireland, with its matching funding policy for high potential start-ups gives entrepreneurs the resources needed to refine their business models and grow. It also provides professional expertise, knowledge and support in the important due diligence process.”

Preference for US oriented companies

“I am seeking investments in companies that can scale and in which revenues will grow faster than costs. I am particularly interested in US-oriented companies where the founders are open to moving to the US. Exits typically achieve higher valuations when the founders are based Stateside. Given the culture, language and location advantages, Irish companies do well in America.”

Being an angel investor

“Being a business angel investor means that my day is full of new experiences and variety and I really enjoy giving back. My role gives me the sense of adrenaline - but without the intense time pressures - involved in starting and growing a new venture.”

Finding the next investment opportunity

“I met 11 Irish start-ups looking to raise seed finance in the last four days. These have been referred to me by a combination of Dublin BIC, Enterprise Ireland, accelerators and venture capital firms. I also met five prospects at the HBAN Investor Forum. HBAN does a great job in shortlisting the most investable companies so that I can focus on picking the best ones. The quality of start-ups HBAN brings is very strong and this saves me a lot of time in filtering out unsuitable companies.”

Gianni Matera will be at The Dean Hotel, Dublin, on Thursday 10th November as part of HBAN’s Business Angel Roadshow.

John Phelan, national director of HBAN said: “There, he will speak as part of a panel, educating prospective angels on how they can get involved, as well as the opportunities and pitfalls associated with angel investment. The HBAN Business Angel Roadshow will seek to raise funds of €6M from 27 new angels in the space of just 48 hours, starting Wednesday 9th November in Waterford. It will also visit Dublin, Cork and Galway.”

For more information and to register for your nearest Roadshow, visit http://www.hban.org/News.9.html