A cup of tea with…Hugh Parnell

Hugh Parnell is director of business angel network Great Eastern Investment Forum. It has recently launched On the side of the angels, a campaign aimed at supporting existing angels and encouraging more people to become angels.

Why launch the campaign?
We think there are people out there who could be business angels but who are not actively engaged. We need to spread the message so people can find out more about the potential rewards – and risks – attached. I think the reality is that there are probably fewer business angels than some would like you to believe, but I think a lot more people would become investors if they knew more about it.

Are we seeing less business angel activity than in recent years?
One of the problems with the business angel market is that there are few statistics available. People need educating. The number of active business angels may not have changed but the amount of money that is available has, because other potential investment vehicles, such as the stock market, have fallen off. I don’t think it’s a case of fewer business angels being around – it’s more that those that exist have less discretionary cash left, making them more picky.

Aren’t business angels traditionally quite secretive?
There aren’t many opportunities for business angels to learn from each other – they are quite reclusive and don’t like being in the public eye. But we’re keen to ensure that more people understand how angel finance works. For example, angel investors often offer business experience as well as their own personal capital. It will appeal to numerous high net worth individuals who are simply unaware that they have what it takes.

What does the campaign involve?
We’re drafting a booklet, ‘How to be a business angel,’ which will be available soon. Every three months, we run presentation days where companies looking for investment pitch to business angels. We’ll be adding an additional session to these days, purely for investors, where business angels can get together and share notes.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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Angel investing