Meet the Investor: Conor Sharpe

Last year, we introduced a new content series spotlighting our inspiring and diverse network of investors. All leading the way in their respective fields. 

Fast forward to 2023, a very different climate compared to last year, with its own set of challenges. Founders are navigating through a highly competitive landscape, with investors applying more stringent criteria for precious funding.

Against this backdrop we are pleased to announce the launch of Series 2, as we aim to address these challenges and continue our mission of connecting ambitious entrepreneurs with investors.

In our first interview, experienced angel investor, Conor Sharpe, Co-Founder at CircleRock Capital delves into his motivations in becoming an investor.

He offers invaluable advice for startups seeking success in a different climate, highlights strategies to save precious time in fundraising and shares his unwavering confidence in the UK retaining its place as a startup powerhouse. It’s time to meet the investor…  

Why did you become an angel investor?

My motivation to become an angel investor was two-fold: to meet incredible people with huge entrepreneurial ambition and learn from them, and to capitalise on the potential for high returns.

What are the key benefits of being an angel investor?

The key benefits are the continuous learning opportunities, the opportunity of a large financial outcome, very attractive tax reliefs, and enabling investment portfolio diversification!

What do you think are the benefits to startups of angel investment, versus other forms of funding?

There are many benefits including access to patient and flexible capital, and the ability to leverage an angel’s valuable network.

What red flags do you look out for when researching startups?

Red flags I look out for include high employee turnover, founders who don’t have a good grasp on their metrics, and a lack of market validation.

We are in a very different investment climate. How should startups approach fundraising in 2023 that is different from previous years?

Raising capital is harder than ever, so make sure to consider every last funding option to secure funds for your business. Knowing the key metrics of your business is also vital – consider using a solution like Scaleup Finance’s CFO-as-a-Service to stay on top of them!

What is the most common mistake startups make in their fundraising journey?

It’s amazing how few founders have a well-organised data room! Many startups waste time on their initial fundraise talking to VCs – they would be far better off targeting value-add angels.

What are the common traits of the successful startups you have supported?

I have now professionalised my angel investing by forming a leading syndicate called CircleRock Capital – we believe all the startups we have backed have the ability to be the leading company in the world at what they do. A common trait we see is that the very best founders have an understated confidence in the inevitability of their success.

What do you think the Government could do to help support the startup ecosystem?

I think the Government do an incredible job in assisting startups – they have shown a willingness to listen and make changes to policy and increase tax relief limits where necessary. A continued focus on underrepresented founders would be welcome.

Are you positive or negative about the UK retaining its place as a key startup hub?

Extremely positive! The unique melting pot of diverse cultures that is found in the UK will ensure this. 

Join the world’s largest angel investment network, where global angel investors meet the great businesses of tomorrow.

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