Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 22 February 2018

Podcast - Raising Capital in the UK

Recorded in partnership with Global Front Room, Show 60 of the csuite podcast discusses how to prepare for an investment pitch to successfully raise money in the UK.

Russell Goldsmith was joined by the Global Front Room’s CEO, Laura Mercurio and three successful entrepreneurs:

  • Ben Corrigan, Co-Founder and Marketing Director of Pouch, who have developed an extension for your browser to automatically source the best available voucher codes for you. Ben also took his business onto Dragons’ Den and was only the third person in 15 series of the show to attract investment offers from all five Dragons.
  • May Al-Karooni, CEO & Founder of Globechain, an online reuse platform that connects businesses, charities and people
  • Graham Booth, CEO & Co-founder of 2iC, whose technology business’ clients include the Ministry of Defence.



L-R - Graham Booth, May Al-Karooni, Russell Goldsmith, Laura Mercurio, Ben Corrigan


Starting Out

  • Team of three co-Founders


  • Family & Friends round raised £18,000
  • Built Minimal Viable Product
  • Got onto Mass Challenge Accelerator Programme and obtained $100,000 of free credit from Amazon.
  • Accelerator programme gave access to high net worth individual through a German software company and so had raised just under £100,000 for around 22% of the business, before even releasing to market.
  • Won Mass Challenge, out of 1,300 companies that had applied.
  • Invited on to BBC Dragons’ Den 
  • Week before going on show, spoke to their investor for further investment, as Ben said it looks good on the show to have initial investors follow on
  • Secured further £50,000 for around 6.5%
  • Gained offers from all five ‘Dragons’ on the show, where offer was £75,000 for 18%
  • Before show aired, they got a consortium of investors together, made estimations of how many people would download the product after seeing the show, and came up with a valuation of £3m pre-money.
  • Raised £180,000 for just 5%.

Ease of gaining investment in the UK

  • Ben believes that in the UK, investors want to take a huge amount of equity for a small amount of risk, but he thinks they are become less risk averse.


  • Get a Co-Founder – someone with a different skillset but also for support


Starting Out

  • Background is in investment Banking.
  • When the company she worked for was moving offices, everyone was asked to pick new desks, chairs, computers and carpet colour. When she questioned what was happening to the existing items she found that there were no plans to do anything with them, not even give them to charity.
  • Set up a prototype of Globechain, testing it for a year for free.


  • Tried Accelerator Programmes and, given the product is about sustainability and social impact, grant funding from Government, nobody would touch it. 
  • Found UK investors are quite risk averse and as she was creating a new business, where there was no existing market capitalisation, it was difficult for investors to compare it to anything.
  • Broke even in third year and now that they are making money in their fourth year, with 10,000 members and clients such as Nando’s, NHS and Radisson Hotels, they are going for their first fundraise.

Ease of gaining investment in the UK

  • Narrow your search down and look for the right kind of investor – in May’s case, she wanted philanthropic, B2B and/or marketplace type or investor.


  • Don’t rush! A business that is growing steady, where you can control it is going to last longer than those who go out seeking PR to generate demand before having the infrastructure to be able to deal with the volumes.
  • Thing from the beginning what you want to do with your company, i.e. exit, investors, co-founders etc
  • Go to unusual networking events and not just start-up events


Starting Out

  • Was running New Zealand Software Company from UK, which he built on behalf of someone else over a couple of years.
  • One of his former colleagues had been working in defence and convinced him to quit his job to start a new business, which they bootstrapped for a while, burning through their savings.


  • Got a break when they won a small contract from the Ministry of Defence and at the same time gained an Innovate UK Grant.
  • Led to some investors putting in money into the business, meaning that they had a few hundred thousand pounds to increase the team and deliver the first phase of the product.
  • Since had follow on funding from those same investors and some others have joined too.

Ease of gaining investment in the UK

  • Sales cycles in UK are longer than New Zealand, for example. You might have to talk to a lot more people in a UK organisation before you find who the decision makers are – it’s rarely one person.
  • More money in UK but route to it is longer, harder and more expensive.


  • Surround yourself with as many people whose ideas you can piggy back off!
  • Find the naysayers – those with opposite opinions. Don’t just surround yourselves with other start-ups who will be an echo-chamber
  • Ask as many people for advice – you’ll get loads for free!
  • If coming to the UK from another territory, i.e. Australia or New Zealand, find a Co-Founder, Partner or Joint Venture to give you in-market access and knowledge

All previous shows of the series are available on this website as well as SoundcloudiTunesTuneIn and Stitcher.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on iTunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

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