Sounds good, but what does this actually mean?
Well two things. Firstly Angel PLUS is the evolutionary step in how angel networks operate. And secondly the PLUS network means we operate as a lot of angels PLUS a network of other relevant investors.
Halo is a modern Angel PLUS network that sparks successful connections between investors and entrepreneurs within an environment that is both fun and fair. We recognise that investment is essential to the success of our economy and that entrepreneurs are the drivers of prosperity, growth and opportunity.Our agile platform evolves with our participant’s needs, combining industry expertise, secure technology and effective networking to maximise the creation of valuable relationships between smart money and smart people.
To explain a little more, Angel PLUS moves the traditional concept of an angel network right into the rapid response, on-line world of 21 st Century investing. The Halo Brief is an e-mail enabled, secure, 90 second elevator pitch delivered to the Halo investor network quickly and efficiently. No more waiting for a closed meeting of investors to take place – company pitches are delivered with minimum delay right to where they count. Halo physical meetings, in Northern Ireland and London, are not replaced by the Halo Brief of course. There is still huge merit in bringing together interested investors.
The PLUS network simply means we are an organised group of angels PLUS a network of partner organisations. And extend well outside just being in Northern Ireland. This makes us much stronger than a conventional business angel network as we can provide so many more opportunities for companies to get the right funding.
Our growing network of funding partners includes private angel groups, angel clubs, early stage venture capital companies, family investment offices, specialised crowdfunding platforms and many more. In fact when we say that ‘Halo knows where the money is’ – we really mean it.
Traditional business angel networks simply match up their angels with suitable companies. Halo goes so much further and wider, but is set up in such a way that no matter which sources of money end up being used, they count towards our targets.
So our primary purpose is to get the right type of smart funding into interesting companies. To do this we select and prepare the companies very carefully, but we also know our investors (angels and funding partners) very well too. We do all of this at no cost to either.
Currently we largely work with NI-based companies, but even this is changing.
Halo is run on behalf of Invest NI and InterTradeIreland by Catalyst Inc. Since 2009, over £11m of private money has been invested in companies with the figure rising to £24m if leveraged investment is included.
There are over 150 angels and partner investors within the Halo angel PLUS network. Under the overall umbrella of Halo, a number of angel groups/syndicates have been developed which greatly improve the investment process.
Halo is run by Alan Watts, Halo Director and Paul Clancy, Halo Manager assisted by other staff.
All three are totally wrong!
Halo is all about getting early stage companies equity funded. This isn’t about banks or lending, it is about introducing interesting companies with great potential to smart people and groups who may invest in returns for shares.
On first look this does sound a bit like Dragon’s Den, but it’s much better than that and much more friendly. A wide spread of angels, groups and funds get to see the carefully selected and prepared companies via the e-mailed Halo Brief (video elevator pitch) and sometimes also at pitching meetings (in NI and London). Follow up meetings are arranged between interested angels and groups and the companies. One in five companies pitching at Halo get their funding.
Halo works with companies involved in a wide variety of activities. Our few exceptions include property, land and basic shops. High tech pitches have won funding of course, but Halo investors have supported films (one won an Oscar!), sport, car seats and even bathroom manufacture.
While the majority of companies pitching are startups or early stage, Halo also works with more established companies. The common denominator is growth potential, not age. One company who successfully raised money at Halo was over 140 years in business.
Paul has been with Halo since November 2010. His responsibility is to deal with the companies that are seeking investment and to organise the pitching events, which have included Ravenhill and Stormont. Paul graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in Geography and a masters in Environmental Management.
Since graduating with a First as an engineer from Queen’s University Belfast, Alan has co-founded successful tech companies and invested as a business angel. He was General Manager of Mindready NI before joining Catalyst Inc as Halo Director in 2009, in which time Halo has grown to over 150 angels and investors. Alan has twice been elected as Vice President and Trustee of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He is married with two daughters. In his spare time Alan is an experienced windsurfer who is systematically trying to break every bone in his body.