The future of UK angel investing

Thirty-five angels shaping the ecosystem

Pietro Invernizzi
13 min readJul 29, 2020

Great angel investors are the lifeblood of any entrepreneurial community. Through personal connections, reputation or hustle, they get to meet startup founders at the earliest stages of their journey, investing money, time and knowledge into their success.

San Francisco shines because of the quality of its investors, who can all be found sharing thoughts on Twitter, giving talks around the world or being listed on hundreds of “best of” lists.

The UK ecosystem has also become really deep in recent years, but you might just not know who the players are: when you think of amazing angels, it is often the same few names that come up: Shakil Khan, martha lane fox, Taavet Hinrikus, Charlie Songhurst, Sherry Coutu, Alex Chesterman, etc. While these are great, I thought I’d go on a hunt to find other equally incredible investors for you, who were happy to share a bit about themselves and what they look for in founders (the #hashtags below) with the world. Let’s go!

Note: My purpose here is to present 35 people who could back you and who I think are great. I’m not trying to build a comprehensive list — while searching, I was happy to notice there are many more people and syndicates doing fantastic work out there. I also didn’t include details about $ amounts these angels normally invest, as I don’t think you should optimise for ticket size: it is often the angels who write the smallest cheques who end up dedicating a lot of time to you and adding the most value per dollar invested.

1. Andy Ayim| Product Coach & Angel Investor
#Consumer #D2C #FamilyOwned #Culture

  • Andy Ayim is a product coach helping companies to set up their product management practices from scratch. He also runs The Angel Investing School, that trains professionals on how to get started with investing into startups. Andy’s investment approach differs from the average angel in that he invests in long-term horizons into family-owned businesses where he can support their management team over a long period of time, usually optimising for dividend income over exits, as he supports them in building legacy businesses they control. Most recently, he invested in a Retention Marketing agency called Translate Culture.
  • “If you could summarise all the lessons of the Angel Investing School in one sentence, what sentence would that be?”
    My good friend Matt Pennycard said it best: Write the cheque, write it off and go to work.”

2. Gloria Monfrini| Angel Investor
#FounderFocused #Marketplaces #Innovative

  • Gloria was one of the first 500 employees at Uber, where she spent 5+ years focussing on growth, product launch and strategic projects, helping transform the UK business into one of Uber’s first large-scale success stories outside of the US. Gloria is passionate about supporting early-stage entrepreneurs, which she now does through Redbus. She tries to add as much value as possible (beyond capital) to the businesses she invests in. She relies on her first-hand experience with Uber, operational expertise, financial acumen and extensive network to help the founders and teams she invests in navigate the challenges of growing their business. Recent angel investments include FlowerBx, Collective Benefits, Fenton and Doddl.
  • “What would you tell someone starting to angel invest today, based on your experience?”
    Work on honing your intuition. At the stage of a company’s life cycle at which angels invest, there is often very little concrete data on the company’s traction and ability to succeed. You are believing in a founder — his/her business acumen, ability to execute, drive and integrity. I see it as an investment in that person.”

3. Chris Mairs| Angel Investor
#DeepTech #SurpriseAndDelight #HoneyBadger #Humility

  • After studying Computer Science at Cambridge, Chris co-founded Metaswitch Networks in 1981, eventually Acquired by Microsoft in 2020. He is a prolific early-stage investor and a Venture Partner at Entrepreneur First. Chris’ current and previous board appointments include Magic Pony Technology (chair), Raspberry Pi, Phoelex (chair), CloudNC, Kheiron Medical (chair) and Fabric Nano. Other notable investments include Tractable, Zynstra (acquired for £100M in 2019), Flyt (acquired by Just Eat) and He is a fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering and was awarded a CBE in 2014.
  • “What are you most focused on when making an investment decision and how do you assess a company’s product?”
    By far the most important thing I look for is personal exceptionalism in the founders. Having said that, for many products the user experience and workflow integration is also a critical consideration. Being completely blind myself, assessing this in a predominantly visual world is prima facie challenging. But of course, this forces the founder to explain the user experience verbally. And if they cannot do that elegantly and compellingly then either the experience is muddled or the founder is muddled, both of which are a red flag.”

4. Sarah Turner| Founder, Angel Academe
#FemaleFounders #ScalableTech #Visionary #Integrity

  • Sarah is an NED, angel investor and the Co-Founder and CEO of Angel Academe, the fast-growing and award-winning angel network. Since 2014, Angel Academe has been investing in female-founded tech startups and introducing more women to angel investing.
  • “What would you tell someone starting to angel invest today, based on your experience at the Angel Academe?
    “Find your tribe and set aside some money for investing. A good investor network will bring you pre-qualified deal flow as well as like-minded people with complementary skills and experience to discuss and evaluate deals. You’ll need to invest in several businesses and be prepared to follow-on in order to maximise your chances of financial return.”

5. Andy Davis| Founding Partner at 10x10 Fund
#BlackFounders #BlackInvestors #DiverseFounders #Pre-seed

  • Andy Davis is the founder of 10x10, a group of black founders and investors in the UK. He’s recently launched 10x10 Fund — a pre-seed fund investing in exceptional black founders in the UK. Andy is also an angel at Atomico.
  • “What did setting up 10x10 teach you?
    “That the most important ingredient of community, people, and trust is care. The last question I ask whenever I interview people is ‘what do you care about deeply?’. The ability to care deeply will enable you to unlock levels of trust, commitment, and reward from the work that’s required to win. The last thing that I’ll add is that the only thing that matters is the work; just do the work.”

6. Rosemary Forsyth| Founder, The Forsyth Group & Angel Investor
#ImpactInvesting #CircularEconomy #DisruptiveTechnologies

  • Rosemary is the Managing Director of The Forsyth Group, which she founded in 1981. The Forsyth Group is a leading retained executive search firm, specialising in helping to build senior management teams and boards for many of Europe’s and the US’ most transformational businesses, from high-growth startups to listed companies. Rosemary has also been an investor in a number of The Forsyth Group’s client companies, either through angel investing — which she started in the 1990s — or as a Limited Partner in various funds including Seedcamp (I, II, III) and Force Over Mass. Investments include Net-a-Porter, TransferWise, Flux and Trackd.
  • “What’s the one biggest thing you’ve learned about recruiting during your time building The Forsyth Group?
    “One of the best things you can do in a recruitment process is having extreme clarity around such process: how many steps is it going to take, what do these steps look like and when can you expect to have a final answer? Sounds simple, but doing this well can be difficult in our busy & unpredictable business lives. Yet, it can have incredible impact. No matter the position you’re hiring for, you will leave a bad impression by not getting back to people quickly (or at all): the word will get out there, whether you like it or not. You protect your reputation not only by looking after people inside your company, but also those who come to you from the outside.”

7. Michael Pennington | Founder & Angel Investor
#Pre-seed #London #SectorAgnostic #Fintech #Hustle

  • Michael co-founded Gumtree in 2000, which was acquired by eBay, and Slando, acquired by Naspers. Michael is one of the most active angel investors in London-based technology companies. His preference is for investing as early as possible in talented founders. Recent investments include Juro, Koru Kids, Breedr, HeyDoc, SecondNature, Hedoine and Hometree.
  • “What do you give a lot of importance to when assessing a founding team?”
    If you’re not a solo founder (e.g. Koru Kids), I always think that balance of skills in a team is very important. I don’t like it when a consumer business has 3 engineers as founders or a deep tech one has 3 business people. I generally prefer it when there’s technical skills in a founding team because 40% of the stuff you’ll be doing (in the startup world) is tech stuff, so it makes sense if at least one founder can cover that area — preferably a CTO-type person.”

8. Deepali Nangia| Startup Advisor & Angel Investor
#MVP (mission, vision, passion) #Resilience #Coachability #Leadership

  • Deepali breathes, lives and dreams her vision of being able to provide more women with access to early-stage capital. She is sector agnostic but has a keen interest in femtech, digital health and sustainability. She would also like to demystify and democratise angel investing, which is why she and three others set up Alma Angels — to empower and enable women (and men) to invest in other female founders. Deepali is also an angel at Atomico.
  • “What would you tell someone starting to angel invest today, based on your experience?”
    There is no better intellectual activity than angel investing → Do it with others who are experienced so you can learn from them → Invest in people since businesses often pivot and you want to invest in founders who are proactive and resilient through this pivot → Find your value-add so you can actively engage and support founders: it is about more than the cheque → Get to know your founders as people, talk to them about things beyond the business: treat it like a marriage 💍 → SEIS/EIS should be secondary to the investment decision. Not primary.”

9. Ian Hogarth| Founder & Angel Investor
#MachineLearning #Avantgarde #Founders

  • Ian has a background in machine learning and, during his Masters in 2005, he worked on an early computer vision project to classify breast cancer biopsy images. After university, he co-founded Songkick — the concert service which scaled to 12M unique monthly visitors and $100M in sales. In 2015, Songkick sued TicketMaster for antitrust violations and settled out of court in January 2018 for $130M. Ian is an angel investor in startups including Cleo, Cuvva, Hopin, and Tide. He is also the chairman of Phasecraft, a quantum software startup.
  • “You told me you like huge markets relatively unaffected by the internet — how do you go about uncovering these?”
    “I am almost always led by the founders. When I think about a few recent angel investments — Disperse (computer vision for construction sites), Hopin (online conferences), PostEra (medicinal chemistry as a service) — in each case I came to see the opportunity through the intensity of the founder’s point of view. Great founders remind me of artists — naturally drawn to the avant-garde of their field.”

10. Chenelle Ansah| Cornerstone Partners
#BlackFounders #DiverseFounders #FemaleFounders

  • Chenelle is the head of Cornerstone Partners, an angel syndicate whose mission is to discover and invest in amazing founders from black and diverse backgrounds here in the UK. This group is often overlooked and underfunded in the investment landscape and so Cornerstone Partners is dedicated to bridging the gap. Chenelle is passionate about disrupting finance and, as a result, has led the build and launch of two fintech banks here in the UK.
  • “What important truth did you uncover during your time at Cornerstone Partners?
    Black founders are over mentored and underfunded. Up until a week ago, with the launch of the 10x10 fund, we were the only black angel group here in the U.K. and this put incredible pressure on us because we would see so many amazing founders but couldn’t invest in them all. We need more funds in the U.K. dedicated to investing in this group and we need more funds to keep doing the good work that we are doing.”

11. Akhil Paul | Startup Advisor & Angel Investor
#Responsive #LaserFocus #B2B #SaaS

  • Akhil has 15 years of strategic, operational, and financial experience. He spent 2 years working with Goldman Sachs asset management before joining the family business, Caparo Group. He is an active angel investor / advisor to 50+ companies (such as Airlift, Cresta, Fast and Fidel) alongside top tier VCs. He likes to provide real-time pro-active support to founders through a strategic global network of potential customers, investors and advisors.
  • “What would you tell someone starting to angel invest today, based on your experience?”
    “If you meet a world class founder w/ a great product, market focus, talented team & top tier co-investors, don’t focus too stringently on ownership % & valuation. In my opinion, a 40% probability of a 2–5x return is better than a 5% probability 10–20x. Moreover, illiquidity in venture is being addressed & secondary sales are more common. Being able to sieve out & engage w/ top founders by providing clear value add helps differentiate yourself & cement allocation in competitive rounds.”

12. Michelle You| Founder & Angel Investor
#BeastMode #Climate #CustomerObsessed

  • Michelle founded Songkick and ran product there for 9 years. They grew to 12M unique monthly visitors and $100M in GTV before she left. She now wakes up every day terrified of climate change and is figuring out how to apply her skills and experience to the fight. As a Venture Partner at LocalGlobe, she looks at climate and environmental-related investments, while also keeping an eye on her first love — consumer products that solve a problem. She’s interested in the voluntary offsets market so, if you’re also nerding out on it, holla! She made angel investments in Wren, SINAI, The Future Forest Company, Avant Arte, and Grip Fertility. Michelle believes that we need more humanities majors as founders; people who care about and seriously study what it means to be human.
  • “Having scaled Songkick and raised $ from the likes of YC, Index and Sequoia, what are the biggest things you’ve learned on fundraising & building great products?”
    On fundraising: Telling a coherent and inspiring story is so important. What’s your big dream for how the world should be different? That’s why most of us are in this business. On product: Customer discovery, crisply defining the problem, and rapid experimentation are key. Also, a market with severely consolidated incumbents will crush the best product and your dreams.”

13. Melody Lang| Founder, Bloom Learning & Angel Investor
#EdTech #Learning #FutureOfWork #FemaleFounders

  • Mathematician by background, her passion for Education led her to start working in EdTech before setting up MPA Education, an investment company dedicated to the Future of Learning & Work. Capital from a dozen of angel investors, including Melody, was deployed in ten startups. Back to operations, she is now co-founding Bloom Learning to help people become better learners.
  • “What’s your biggest belief about the future of Education?”
    “I believe that people are going to increasingly take ownership of their lifelong learning journey. Starting with parents having a say in their children’s education, to young people and professionals taking the driving seat when it comes to learning, reskilling & upskilling.”

14. Harry McLaverty | Founder, SimplifyVC & Angel Investor
#RadicalSimplicity #Pragmatic #Patient #LiveTheProblem

  • Harry is the founder of SimplifyVC, currently in stealth mode. He broke into Venture Capital at the age of 18 at Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures. Since then, he spent most of his time preparing next-gen angel funds in Europe and the US before they go out to raise institutional capital. He also set up WarwickTech, a student-led angel fund, and is an angel at Atomico.
  • “What is your least popular but deeply held opinion on tech?”
    Our children and grandchildren will hail Mark Zuckerberg as the hero of our generation. But, like our parents’ generation’s views on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, our views may be more mixed. Libra, and future Facebook crypto entities (Coinbase? 👀), will take entities like the Fed, UN, and ICC out of their current paralysis into a future underpinned by the crypto trias politica.”

15. Gemma Bloemen| COO, Elder & Angel Investor
#DiverseTeams #Sustainability #SilverEconomy #Resilience

16. Dwayne Gefferie | Data Scientist, Founder & Angel Investor
#Fintech #Payments #AI #Diversity

17. Will Armitage | Angel Investor
#SectorAndContinentAgnostic #TalismanicFounder #EmpatheticWithClients’NeedsFounder

18. Roberta Lucca| Founder, Bossa Studios & Angel Investor
#Femtech #Gaming #GenZ #DiverseFounders #Inspirational

19. John Mushriqui | Entrepreneur, Angel Investor & Community Builder
#Team #Teachable #Hustler #Cleantech

20. Jannat Shah Rajan | VC turned operator at eXate & Angel Investor
#ChangeTheStatusQuo #UndeservedlyUnderfunded #DiverseFounders

21. Luca Ascani | Angel Investor
#Fintech #YoungEntrepreneurs #InternationalMindset #ProfitableSoon

22. Marcus Exall | Startup Advisor & Angel Investor
#Humility #Focus #Tenacity #Belief

23. Julie Fedele | VP, Liberty Global & Angel Investor
#FemaleFounders #FemTech #Diversity #PurposeLed #StoriesOverStats

24. Nick Telson | Angel Investor
#Drive #ScalableNiche #PathToProfit #IndustryObsession

25. Vivi Cahyadi | Founder, AltoVita & Angel Investor
#Deeptech #SEISwithTraction #Proptech #Relentless

26. Aron Gelbard | Founder, Bloom & Wild & Angel Investor
#D2C #Sustainable #Innovative #Kindness

27. Addie Pinkster| Founder, Adelpha & High Growth Angel Investor
#RelevantCommercialAndGrowthExperience #ProductExcellenceAndFit #AbilityToExecute #RiskAdjustedROI

28. James Mishreki | Founder, Skin + Me & Angel Investor
#D2C #Subscription #TAMin10years #Determination

29. Bérénice Magistretti | Writer, Startup Advisor & Angel Investor
#FemTech #TechThatMatters #FemaleFounders #Inclusion

30. Annalisa Mensah | Trainee Solicitor, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
#Fintech #Femtech #AfricanStartups #GenZ

31. Paul Forster | Angel Investor
#Ambitious #Focused #Simple #Scalable

32. Sarah Drinkwater | Director, Omidyar Network & Angel Investor
#FutureOfWork #FutureOfLiving #StrongerCommunities #InclusiveFutures

33. Gabbi Cahane | Angel Investor
#Edge #Instincts #Smarts #Perspective

34. Abi Mohamed | Founder, Community Growth Ventures
#BigData #ConsumerGoods #UnderrepresentedFounders #Fintech

35. Maia Moratti Marcou | Entrepreneur & Angel Investor
#Faith #Focus #Foodtech #Biotech

These people are out there looking for the next best founding team to partner with. Find innovative ways to make yourself seen :). In case you need inspiration, this post may help you.

Thank you Andy Ayim, Fred Destin, Harry Stebbings & Clara Power for your help.

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