Minerva Angels Exit thincats.com with 12x Return

The Minerva Business Angel network, established in 1994, is one of the oldest networks in the country. It has expanded across the Midlands over the last five years, forming small investor groups who meet monthly to consider investment into early stage companies.

It is now nationally known as a unique service offered through the University of Warwick Science Park’s business support activities.

Meeting at the International Digital Laboratory in the Warwick Manufacturing Group complex on the University of Warwick campus, 98 delegates – made up of investors, companies which have received funding, and other professionals – heard how the group had seen its first ‘exit’ that had led to a significant return for three of its angels.

Their investment back in 2010 into the Business Loan Network Ltd better known through its the peer-to-peer landing platform www.thincats.com – is showing a 12 times return after a majority holding was acquired by ESF Capital.

They also heard how the Minerva investors have invested more than £1 million again in 2015 in early stage businesses taking the total invested over six years to £6.5 million.

Tim Powell, who heads up Minerva, said: “It’s been a great year for Minerva rounded off by the wonderful news that a major stake in ThinCats has been acquired, leading to strong returns for those investors who believed in the management team and the future of crowd funding .

“ThinCats were proposing to bring innovation in a sector when accessing finance through traditional sources was at an all-time low, but their investment reflected the huge impact Business Angels have in helping high-risk ventures successfully bring new ideas and products to market.

“Our investors carefully consider potential and viability and aren’t expecting quick returns from what are often high-tech, forward thinking businesses and who require not just money but the expertise and experience that angels also bring with their investment.

“Many actually get involved with the companies – as we heard at the event – particularly in the early days when experience and know-how can often steer a company through stormy waters to hopefully and eventually an exit opportunity.

“Angel investment rarely stops after the first round and companies at the event illustrated how the Minerva investors have continued to support them as they develop and with the help of the Minerva team have also attracted funding from elsewhere. For example, the £1.067million our angels have put into businesses this year has helped leverage in an additional £2.955million of funds.”

The event heard from 16 of the 49 companies that Minerva has invested in over the years – from a social media management business through to a firm that has developed a rapid digital eye check that almost “in the blink of an eye” helps identify related medical conditions early.

“We are looking forward to 2016 and always welcome enquiries from companies seeking investment although clearly only a few are successful,” added Tim. “But moreover we also want to hear from potential new investors too because, as in the case of ThinCats the rewards can be high.”