Archives for category: Scicasts

Since 1st.September this year we have introduced over 150 tech startups to various forms of early stage investor. This has given us a very strong viewpoint on the current startup funding scene. There is a clear need to develop new sources of funding to fill a growing  gap between £150K and £1M.

The good news is that the UK Government has stimulated investment at the lower end of the market. A combination of the SEIS tax break, a boom in accelerators and the take-up of crowdfunding has made it easier to find funding below £150K.  There is also plenty of choice for high quality startups, looking for over £1M and with plenty of traction. Funding at this level comes from the major tech VCs that are mostly either remaining static or moving up in their funding rounds. This is despite the fact that many suggest that they are investing early-stage. There are exceptions to this but they are few and far between.

These two factors have resulted in a gap between £150K and £1M. The UK Government has recognised the issue by backing the new London Co-Investment Fund which will contribute funds to investments by 6 partner companies. This initiative will not be enough on it’s own, so there is a need to bring new money into the market. Normally a startup seeking investment in the gap range will have no alternative but to syndicate angels. This involves pooling funds from a range of sources;

  • Known tech investors – These are the ideal investors for tech startups. However, there simply are not enough to go around. Many already have a large portfolio and have moved into harvesting mode. They are unable to make new investments until some of their existing portfolio provides an exit.
  • Traditional investors with little knowledge of tech – These investors may have been attracted by the SEIS/EIS tax breaks but don’t really know where to start with sophisticated (and risky tech investments).
  • Overseas investors – These may be impressed by London’s booming tech scene and want a slice of the action. There is a lot of Russian, Chinese and Indian capital available. This could be invested in tech if the eco-system were to be more supportive.
  • First time smart investors – Typically entrepreneurs who have made their money in tech are a huge asset to any funding round. They can bring their experience and act as the lead investors that the rest of the syndicate will trust. They can also add value to the startup beyond simply providing money.

We are addressing the funding gap by building the most comprehensive database of all these angel types and linking them to the best startup talent in Europe. As well as strengthening our on-line capability through the Dreamstake platform we are launching an exclusive investment club in January. We will develop these initiatives to provide a structure that will make it easier and less risky for new money to engage in the tech startup scene. We will reinforce this by strengthening our rating algorithm and curating deal-flow.

If you are thinking about investing in early stage tech during 2015 we would like to hear from you. We are also operating a bounty scheme so please introduce your friends.

Blog by Paul Dowling – Co-Founder of Dreamstake  the world’s first tech startup platform to match founders with the most appropriate investors using a unique startup rating system. This allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor startup progress and inject capital and support when most needed. Startup founders can create profiles on the platform and get direct introductions to investors. We are constantly looking for great early stage tech startups. Investors please contact [email protected]



There is little doubt that there is a greater availability of seed capital than ever before.  Although it is tempting to access low level funding through crowd-funding and accelerator programs, does it really make sense? If you are building a high potential tech startup it is important to aim for the best funding solution possible because it will have a real impact on future success. VC’s and other smart investors have responded to greater competition for quality deal-flow and will now get involved at an earlier stage than previously so as not to miss out. Don’t assume that crowd-funding and accelerators are the only options.

Here are a few ideas to think about;

- Rather than take a half baked idea onto a crowd-funding platform in the hope of attracting naive investors, obsess on nailing the proposition and make it attractive to smart investors. No-one knows the impact that equity-based crowd-funding will have on later funding rounds but my guess is that the best startups won’t take this route.

- Think carefully before going onto an accelerator program. Can it really accelerate your launch or does it just add 14 weeks? Many accelerators take too much equity in return for a very small amount of funding. Be aware that you may come out of the accelerator with less equity and no follow-on funding.

- Be cautious of paying up front for contacts. Pay-to-pitch is a rip-off and the big tech conferences are simply expensive pay-to-pitch events.

- Don’t assume that corporate money is always a good thing. The large firms sitting behind various programs are not looking to help you disrupt their business models. Although it can be good to get early revenues from corporate clients, be sure that they don’t come with too many strings attached.

There are no shortcuts. Availability of quality funding relates directly to the quality of the team, viability of the proposition and  eability to execute. Spend time getting these things right and bring on-board some smart advisers. Target lead investors who will add-value to your startup from the start.

Blog by Paul Dowling – Co-Founder of Dreamstake  an online tech startup platform that matches founders with the most appropriate investors. The unique startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor startup progress and inject capital and support when it will make the most impact.

Who are you and what does your startup do?

I’m a biomedical scientist, turned technology entrepreneur, with a passion for building computer programs since the age of 14. I created Scicasts with the aim to provide a web-based and more efficient alternative to scientific journals who still use an outdated approach in delivering critical information to scientific communities. Scicasts is employing a ‘Bloomberg-type’ model in reporting ground-breaking market trends that lead to new scientific innovations around the world, using a distinctive editorial approach — combined with propriety algorithms and data sets.

What is your vision and what problem do you solve?

My vision is to change, and potentially eliminate, the methods currently used in searching and publishing scientific developments through conventional journals and databases (particularly the closed, subscription-based services), which is proven to be tedious, very expensive and unpopular. Scicasts aims to save its audience time and money with an open and rapid access to critical information that is relevant to the needs of individual research projects.

What was the biggest challenge for you so far?

The biggest challenge is changing a culture that has been in existence for centuries, with many leading figures not appearing to be willing to change much. Nonetheless, the power and, indeed, the economic sense of the Internet is taking precedence, especially with the new upcoming generation of tech-savvy scientists. We are part of the digital science movement that is growing rapidly all over the world.

What has gone well?

We launched our core platform in January 2013 and are attracting new multi-national business customers and world-leading scientists, as well as investors. We are just at the beginning of a really interesting and exciting journey.

Give your best startup tip?

Your business is your creation, so it’s part of your vision and your core beliefs that you should follow. Otherwise, you’ll end up running someone else’s business!

About Scicasts

Scicasts is a ‘Bloomberg-type’ service for science, which connects science professionals and decision makers to a dynamic network of critical information, new ideas and thought leaders. The company ‘draws’ market models that visually demonstrate trends that lead to major scientific innovations. This is achieved by employing a distinctive editorial approach, combined with propriety algorithms, which provide scientists and businesses with the following capabilities:

• more powerful and efficient approach in defining and analyzing research strategies and trends across several or individual sectors, with geotagging options.

• define new ideas and potential R&D outcomes with unique views and insights into their projects’ relevant sector performances, combined with project/paper collaboration tools.

Scicasts was born from a basic idea by Tim El-Sheikh (Founder & CEO) in his student flat while completing his first degree in Biomedical Sciences. He launched Scicasts in 2009 as beta site, which then grew into a company as of March 2012, with an investment fund from an Oxford-based business angel.

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