HBAN Ulster passes 100 members and calls for more people to become angel investors

  • Photo: Jim Curran, HBAN Ulster Regional Manager & Director of Clarendon and John Phelan, All-Island Director of HBAN.

    Business angel group HBAN Ulster announced today (27 July) that its members have invested £8.5m into 38 early-stage companies in Northern Ireland in less than three years, and the group has urged more business people to join its ranks.

    HBAN Ulster was created in 2018 as part of the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN).

    It is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, who revealed that the network now has over 100 members who have done deals with an average investment round value of £800,000.

    Business angel investors are individuals who provide smaller amounts of finance at an earlier stage than many venture capital funds are prepared to invest. They are increasingly investing alongside both seed venture capital funds and public co-investment funding on the island.

    HBAN angel investors typically invest between £20,000 - £100,000 per deal with 70% investing £50,000 or less per deal.

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    John Phelan, All-Island Director of HBAN said: “The role of angel investors, the smart money – from seasoned businesspeople who have had successful careers and relish the opportunity to invest in and offer guidance to younger companies – is often overlooked.

    "But the part they play in bringing through exciting companies is substantial and there is a real need for more of our successfully exited entrepreneurs to consider becoming business angels as the economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic.”

    Jonny Clarke, CEO and founder of Locate a Locum is pictured with Colm McNicholl, HBAN Business Angel, who invested in Locate a Locum in 2019. 

    Business angel Johnny Convery, who has completed a number of deals since joining HBAN Ulster 18 months ago, added: “The local ecosystem is getting ever stronger for startups and I wanted to make investments, but I didn’t have the opportunities through my own network alone.

    "I wanted to find a certain quality and type of investment. I was looking for growth companies, who had gone beyond seed stage, had a bit of scale and customer traction and wanted to go to the next level. Through HBAN I was able to achieve that very quickly.

    “I’d recommend HBAN to someone with experience of growing a company, someone who has learned lessons and exited with capital," he continued.

    "HBAN has people who have come out of different experiences in different sectors, who know their way around business. It’s an opportunity for people who care about this place to use their skills on new companies with a lot of energy and potential.”

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    Fellow angel investor Rory Smith, who joined HBAN at a similar time commented that he “didn’t go into HBAN to network and meet other investors, it was to find companies I could invest in and help.

    "But meeting like-minded investors has been a huge bonus," he said. "They are people who have been through similar experiences to me and who I can talk openly to about business opportunities and how they manage their finances.

    “To join HBAN you need some capital and ideally some spare time, so it seems to suit people who have sold a business or built one to the point where they are able to take a back seat but want to put something back in to help other companies achieve what they achieved. All of the investors want to get a return, but with many I’ve met, there’s definitely an element of using their expertise and capital to help other people too."

    Across the island of Ireland, HBAN facilitates more than 60 investments every year. Its investors consider a wide range of sectors, with deals particularly prevalent in ICT (38%), life sciences and MedTech (28%), engineering & manufacturing (14%) and food, beverage & agriculture (12%).

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