Stephen Web page, founder and CEO of SFC Capital, labored as an accountant after leaving college at 18, however discovered it “extraordinarily boring”. However the world of entrepreneurship was opened up for him on the age of twenty-two when he went to work for a street haulage entrepreneur.
“He took me into London in the future, and went to Saville Row and obtained himself a swimsuit made,” says Web page. He was “sitting within the nook like a wallflower” and obtained known as over to get his personal swimsuit made. Whereas the enterprise didn’t work out ultimately for the street haulage entrepreneur, Web page had the entrepreneurship bug and left to work for one more founder.
It was now 1979 and the software program world was simply starting to kick off. This was earlier than IBM had come out, and there was no accounting software program for the microcomputer. In order that they imported one from Silicon Valley and tried to write down accounting software program. “Absolute garbage is what we did, but it surely obtained us into that business,” says Web page.
Ten years in the past, Web page was constructing programs for startups however “in a short time we realised that what they needed was cash, not our companies. And so we arrange one thing known as Startup Funding Membership, which is now SFC Capital.”
What began as an angel community with just a few buddies was formalised right into a fund following the introduction of the Seed Enterprise Funding Scheme (SEIS), a UK tax break that gives tax reliefs to particular person buyers.
Most of the time, SFC Capital are the primary buyers and targeted on the very early stage, but it surely’s had some big successes – most notably Onfido. They’re additionally prolific, aiming for 75 to 100 offers a 12 months. Which means they should see and discuss to 1,000 firms.
So what do they search for? “It’s just about all the time the identical,” says Web page. “Half of our standards are concerning the folks. When these firms are so younger and so new, it’s all concerning the folks. We have now a grid for marking the businesses – 50 per cent of the factors are primarily based on the founders and the workforce.” This contains psychometric testing to search for a stability of expertise throughout the management workforce.
“We actually like startups from the areas,” says Web page. “They’re completely different. You have a tendency to search out London-based startups comply with the identical type of patterns. However if you happen to exit to the areas there are several types of companies. They are often engineering, manufacturing, product-centric – one thing that has to do with that area.” To this finish, SFC Capital has partnered with the British Enterprise Financial institution to ship funding across the nation.
Earlier than Covid hit, they have been bodily assembly firms and that meant folks must journey from Manchester or Scotland. Web page says that always he would ask who else they have been assembly, and the journey would usually be simply to satisfy SFC. “That’s fairly a tough state of affairs as a result of we felt fairly responsible. We’ve introduced all of them the best way down for a one-hour assembly – that’s a bit unfair. Now with the digital world, we are able to see one after the opposite from wherever.”
Web page is seeing lots of funds focusing extra on later phases. He thinks the reason being “as a result of early-stage is extraordinarily exhausting work. What we do may be very exhausting work. We’ve obtained a complete workforce devoted to discovering firms which can be model new, searching for SEIS, searching for that first spherical. And that’s an enormous problem to search out these.”