St Albans company ranked among UK's best new businesses in start-up awards
PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010
matt fowler photography
A St Albans business duo who run an online service connecting entrepreneurs with successful business professionals, have outperformed thousands of entrepreneurs to reach the national shortlist of the 2009 HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards. The national contest,
A St Albans business duo who run an online service connecting entrepreneurs with successful business professionals, have outperformed thousands of entrepreneurs to reach the national shortlist of the 2009 HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards.
The national contest, now in its ninth year, recognises, supports and celebrates the initiative and dedication shown by new businesses in the UK.
Bill Morrow and Lois Cook, who started Angels Den, are now hoping to scoop the top title and a cheque for £25,000, courtesy of HSBC.
The couple, both from St Albans, were inspired to start their own company after experiencing great difficulty in accessing funding to start a business, and wasted £12K on traditional investment groups.
Convinced that this process could be done more efficiently and effectively, Bill and Lois launched the Angels Den website in May 2007 - an online service dedicated to helping entrepreneurs find that much elusive and sought after business investor, in an affordable and simple way.
The focus for Angels Den is two-fold - small businesses and start-ups, seeking financial investment, and high net-worth individuals with a minimum of £250,000 to invest.
The entrepreneurs register their business ideas direct onto the website, which is accessed on a daily basis by the largest database of Business Angels in Europe - currently in the region of 2,700, and all in complete confidence.
To complement the online part of the process, Angels Den runs hugely successful monthly speed-funding events - similar to speed-dating. These sessions are always a complete sell-out and an entrepreneur could expect to meet up to 20 Angels in just one night. After receiving expert training from the Angels Den specialists on how to conduct the perfect pitch, the entrepreneurs are given three minutes with each individual Investor, just enough time to convince them that their Business Idea is too good to miss out on!
To encourage people from all walks of life to take the plunge and start their own enterprise, Angels Den works closely with Business Link and other networks, and also runs regular open days for its members which are completely free of charge and offer much needed advice and guidance. With over 10,000 entrepreneurs now registered with them, the Angels Den team works hard behind the scenes to make their first experience into the big world of Angel Investment a little less daunting.
Angels Den is one of only 25 companies to secure a place on the national shortlist. Their entry will now be considered by the national judging panel who will select the top 10 start-up companies to come to London and convince them why they should be named the 'Start-Up Star 2009'.
There will also be £10,000 cheques for the best new business trading internationally, the best new green business putting the environment at the top of its agenda and the best new business set up by a graduate.
Head of business banking for HSBC, Huw Morgan, said: "HSBC Start-Up Stars is about demonstrating by practical example that with the right help and support, there are still opportunities out there for people with the dedication and will to succeed.
"We hope the success of Angels Den in this year's awards will help it go from strength to strength, as well as prove to other budding entrepreneurs that business dreams really can be turned into reality."
Start-Up Stars supporter, Google, will be offering £11,000 worth of free advertising plus mentoring at Google's UK headquarters, to be split between the four winners.
Specialist Business Partner, Start Your Business, will also be offering a year's free subscription to each of the category winners.
The overall winner will be revealed at a black-tie gala dinner at London's InterContinental Hotel on November 23.