Investment scheme passes £1m milestone

A UNIQUE programme designed to prepare entrepreneurs for raising cash from investors has seen small firms attract £1 million since it launched last year.

The scheme, dubbed “Road to Investment”, was conceived by business adviser John Hughes of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and Howard Flint, investment manager with business angel network Linc.

It provides seven workshops over the course of one month.

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Funded by the chamber and Edinburgh City Council through Business Gateway, the programme is free to entrepreneurs, except for a £150 registration fee paid to Linc to broker meetings with angel investors.

Its most successful fundraising to date saw Edinburgh-based Safetray raise £200,000 from an investor syndicate in December.

The funding, provided by early-stage investment group Equity Gap and individuals, will allow Safetray’s founder, Alison Grieve, to strengthen its patent protection and expand its markets in the Middle East and the United States.

Grieve also used the cash to shift mass production of its lead product from China to the McLaren Plastics factory in Loanhead and take on four permanent staff.

Grieve, who invented the Safetray – a serving tray designed to prevent waiters and waitresses from dropping drinks – expects to have income of £1m this year and £10m in three years’ time.

As a result of the programme, Grieve has also recruited investment veteran Peter Shakeshaft as chairman and Mike Lees, the former chief executive of Tennent Caledonian Breweries, as a non-executive director to its board.

Grieve said: “The investment workshops were really useful.”

Hughes added: “We are teaching people how to negotiate with angels. It is quite a rich programme.”

Subsequent to the programme, Safetray became one of Scottish Enterprise’s 2,000-odd “account managed” firms, which are an elite group of Scottish companies with high growth potential.

The third “Road to Investment” programme will kick off on 17 May and culminate in its “day with the angels” on 13 June.