The UK is, was, and likely always will be a financial hub in the region, and the amount of money ready to be invested, and investors looking for the next big thing, is at or near the top of the heap. London is considered the global centre of private equity and venture capital, so you know you’ll be able to find a VC ready to take a calculated risk on you (if you’ve got a decent product or idea, of course). But there are other options, too.
The United Kingdom’s place in the world (stretching back to the glory days of the British Empire) means there is no shortage of venture capital firms and financial powerhouses on the island. You’ll be spoiled for choice, and there are far more than could ever be listed here. Check out the British Venture Capital Association to see a strong sample of the available options. A quick Google search of “London (or any other British city) venture capital firms” will present you with dozens of them. As with VC firms anywhere in the world, they are in the business to make money, so don’t expect to waltz out with millions of dollars without being thoroughly prepared and ready to pitch. In fact, because of its reputation as the venture capital centre of the world, it is actually harder to get in the door and secure funding. You might also look to Europe, as many VC firms there readily and frequently invest in UK startups because of the proximity and record of success.
Other Useful Links
Enterprise Ventures (funding between £30,000-2,000,000 in UK startups)
EC1 Capital (primarily web and mobile technology)
Connect Ventures (mainly mobile and internet startups)
Just like other countries, British angel investors tend to invest in their local region, so limit your search to your immediate area, at least initially. There’s no rule about looking further afield, but the probability of success is greater with someone nearby. The UK has a number of highly organized and successful networks that should be your starting point, including the Angel Investment Network, which claims to be the largest in the world. Most of the angel networks host semi-annual or monthly events ranging from pitch/demo days, to seminars, and business training for both entrepreneurs and investors alike. Check out their events calendar, and be sure to attend a few events before pitching. Make yourself a visible entity and known within the community to increase your chances.
Other Useful Links
Angels Den (monthly pitching events)
Venture Giant (connects entrepreneurs to angel investors and VC)
Accelerators and Incubators
Any accelerator or incubator is going to provide you with a lot in a very short period of time. In addition to some seed money (usually anywhere from $5000-25,000, although it could be more), you receive a crash course in business, meet with local professionals and mentors, have access to physical office space and resources, and participate in one or more pitch days at the end of the program. Really, these are probably your best method to procure not only the startup capital you need, but the wherewithal to go with it. It’s one-stop shopping for the ambitious entrepreneur. Competition is incredibly fierce for spots in the well-known ones, but don’t let that stop you from applying. If you believe in your product or idea, have a great application, and a little bit of luck, you could be on the fast track to success. There is no shortage of them in the UK (and nearby in continental Europe, too). In terms of return-on-investment (in this case, the amount of time and effort you need to invest up front), there is nothing better than this route. Female Propeller for High Fliers (located in Dublin) is unique in that it focuses only on female-led initiatives.
A selection of accelerators throughout the UK includes:
Accelerator Academy (focussed on digital entrepreneurs)
Oxygen Accelerator (based out of Birmingham)
Dotforge Accelerator (based out of Sheffield)
Ignite 100 (based out of Newcastle Upon Tyne)
Searchcamp (based out of Middlesbrough)
Propeller Venture Accelerator (based out of Dublin)
For a full list of accelerators/incubators available in London, check out these databases:
Startup Factories (accelerator listing)
Seed-DB (accelerator database)
The United Kingdom has a well deserved reputation for supporting, encouraging, and financing startups in a wide range of industries. Your chances of successfully finding the capital you need are perhaps better here than anywhere else in the world. The venture capital firms don’t play games or take chances (not that they do anywhere), but the sheer number of them is staggering. Likewise for angel investors and accelerators. If you know what you’re doing and have at least a decent idea, you will hopefully find funding.