Launched in October 2016 by Startups.co.uk and investment promoters Worth Capital, The Start-Up Series is the UK’s largest seed funding competition, awarding one promising business every month with up to £150,000 in equity seed funding.
But, as previous winners attest to, The Start-Up Series is about more than just funding.
In fact, The Start-Up Series not only provides valuable early-stage equity investment but also offers business validation from experienced investment promoters, generates free PR exposure, and, even if you don’t win, there’s still so much to gain.
To give you a clear understanding of the benefits, we’ve rounded up six of the biggest reasons for you to enter your early-stage business for The Start-Up Series.
Get reading and then enter here today. The latest Series is open for entries until midnight Friday 14 September!
1. Gain business validation from experienced investment promoters and entrepreneurs
Worth Capital has a proven track record helping new entrepreneurs secure finance and expertise to help transform their ideas into successful, sustainable businesses.
The founding team have been involved in funding start-ups for over 12 years and are no strangers to entrepreneurship either.
After starting experiential agency iD in 1994 with just £2,000, Worth Capital co-founder Paul Soanes grew the company to billings of £100m-plus, with clients including Unilever and Britvic.
He went on to launch Brandspace, a promotional space media owner that operated from 1,000-plus venues including airports and railway stations. Brandspace was sold to Octopus Ventures in 2008.
Soanes’ co-founder Matthew Cushen was an investor in Brandspace, managing to multiply his initial stake eight-fold in just four years. A retailer by trade, he has worked with the John Lewis Partnership and served as an innovation consultant for the likes of IKEA, AB InBev & Waitrose.
Cushen also shares his thoughts on raising funding and other valuable advice for entrepreneurs growing their businesses in his monthly blogs on Startups.co.uk.
Do you have burning questions about the names behind The Start-Up Series? Read this Q&A with Worth Capital
And that’s not all. Worth Capital’s business operations director Hayley Etherington has worked with major global names such as Nespresso, L’Oréal and Philips during her eight years at a leading marketing agency, and also has a history of helping start-ups to get a foothold in crowded markets. Her wealth of experience brings a diverse set of skills which add great value to the various start-ups Worth Capital invest in.
2. Secure PR coverage with the UK’s leading independent online resource for small businesses
Alongside investment promoters Worth Capital, The Start-Up Series is brought to you be Startups.co.uk.
Established in 2000, Startups.co.uk is the UK’s longest-running independent online resource for anyone looking to starting and grow a business with 450,000 monthly unique users and over 80,000 social media followers.
Winning The Start-Up Series will expose your business to Startups’ huge audience, which could lead to new customers, increased revenue and new media opportunities…
Every winning business is celebrated in an interview feature on The Start-Up Series website, promoted across social media, and will also have the opportunity to appear in follow-up features as we track their progress.
3. Access seed funding without the fuss
A number of diverse, disruptive and exciting businesses have already been selected as winners of The Start-Up Series, using the prize money to fulfil long-held ambitions and meet their growth objectives.
Here are just a few of the things past winners had to say about their experience of securing seed funding from The Start-Up Series:
Jessica Hook, founder of Outfox: “Winning was great! It meant that I had the opportunity to set the wheels in motion to get my product launched, which I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do without the investment.”
“The process is a lot easier than securing angel investment”
Michael Chapman of Builders Bay: “It was harder to raise the initial angel investment than it was to enter The Start-Up Series. The competition was really user-friendly, and Worth Capital were supportive throughout – it was an actual pleasure.
“Compared to going out to find angel investors, who are very cautious generally and have you jump through a lot of hoops for not a lot of success, we found this process really great.”
Moto Tattoo founder Sam Mather-Neill: “We were looking down a long tunnel: all the banks and investors and business plans that I’ve had to put together over the years, I just thought that we were going to have a really long and drawn out process and lots of rejections. So, I was surprised that it was just: Wow. Bang. Easy.”
4. And go further than funding with The Start-Up Series
Matthew Sockalingum of Blow Dry Pass: “Winning money’s great, of course; but the team, the support and the knowledge that we get with it is – I know it sounds cheesy – but it is what we really won. The relationship we get from Matthew [Cushen] and Hayley [Etherington] that’s what I feel like we’ve won.”
Myza founders Helen and Olivia Collins: “We thought our business concept was a good idea and winning the competition really validated that for us. Now we’re able to progress the business much more rapidly.”
Chris Moon of Tribe: “For a lot of founders that I’ve spoken to who have had their business fail, one of the main reasons is because they’ve worked with the wrong people at the start, so working with the team at Worth Capital is really great, especially at seed stage.”
Santiago Navarro from Nightly Travel: “I thought it was great. I thought the stages were very helpful, I thought the application was all very clear, it was all very exciting to go from one stage to the other.
“It felt much more like a working relationship, or the beginning of a working relationship, which I quite liked.”
Les Dawson of UNiBLOCK: “I was very happy. It’s not just the money, it’s also the realisation that after working so very hard to bring this to fruition, somebody had seen the very true potential of your product.”
5. You don’t have to be a London-based business, work in a particular sector or have several years trading history
It often feels like you have to be based in London to benefit from all the big investment opportunities, competitions and resources for businesses in the UK.
Not so with The Start-Up Series.
Our competition has a history of identifying superb regional businesses from across the UK.
There was inaugural winner, Liverpool-based RentalStep – an online property rental platform – which was followed by winner Birmingham-based Not Dogs, a vegetarian fast food brand.
More recently, Wales-based custom motorcycle helmet producer Moto Tattoo scooped the prize, as well as Lincolnshire’s UNiBLOCK – a business disrupting the construction sector.
And, as those businesses show, The Start-Up Series isn’t looking for businesses in a particular sector.
Whether your focus is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), there really is no barriers to entry. As long as your company has a compelling proposition, high potential and qualifies for SEIS funding, you could be a winner.
What’s more, The Start-Up Series doesn’t expect you to have several years of trading history to prove your business’ potential. In fact, The Start-Up Series is only open to new businesses launched in the last two years, or for those who are yet to launch.
Read more: How to enter The Start-Up Series
6. The benefits of The Start-Up Series also extend to businesses that don’t win
It’s not only the winners who benefit from the UK’s largest seed funding competition.
Be it an entrant, qualifier, or finalist, many start-ups who have been through The Start-Up Series derive great value from just going through the process and receiving some incisive feedback about their business.
But, don’t just take our word for it. Here’s some of the feedback Worth Capital has received:
Andrew Weaver, Charley Tours, qualifier: “Disappointing news but a useful process nonetheless.
“You learn just as much from not getting a green light.”
Debo Omole, Twale Cuisine, entrant: “I am truly delighted that you took some time to provide feedback after reviewing my entry. Your email is a ‘shot’ of confidence for us though we were not shortlisted to progress to the next phase.”
Eric Mushel, Feast Happy, finalist: “Thanks so much for the time and attention you have given to Feast Happy over the past month. It was a great experience for us, and very helpful to analyse our business in such detail with some smart entrepreneurs.”
Renate Kalnina, Gratuu, qualifier: “I want to say thank you for your feedback- it’s useful and meaningful.
“This is the first time I have received such constructive feedback from a fund. Good luck in choosing the best investment opportunity. I am pretty confident we will speak again.”
Now that you know why you should enter, here’s how you can enter. September’s Start-Up Series is now open for business. Enter The Start-Up Series here by midnight Friday 14 September.
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