Piers Linney, the latest addition to the line-up of BBC2's angel investor show Dragons' Den, believes that UK business investors need to take a leaf out of Silicon Valley's book if the UK's tech startup scene is to succeed.
Linney, who is also the co-chief executive of cloud computing firm Outsourcery, told V3 that while Tech City is a positive brand for UK tech, the attitude of investors still needs to change. "Your average angel investor isn't going to drop £5m, more like £10,000 to £20,000 so it makes raising money difficult," he said. "When you get out of angel and you need to find that development and growth capital, you really are struggling."
Linney noted that while the UK investor market excels at private equity, this is not so relevant to funding tech startups.
"On the west coast [of America] you have this massive market of funds. It's a culture thing: they take more risks and when you take more risks they generate the returns. What we need in the UK, is someone needs to light a fire under that debt growth market. I'm not talking about startup loans, I'm talking about equity investment," he said.
Aside from running Outsourcery, Linney has been heavily involved in business investment prior to his Dragons' Den role. He does not believe there is any more entrepreneurial tech talent in the US than there is in the UK. He said: "Maybe there's a supply of talent, but is there a supply of the correct funding or infrastructure to bring them to life?"
Linney also warned that while Tech City is a good concept, the brand needs constant monitoring to check it is delivering on its promises. "You need to ensure it's actually adding value rather than just being a paradigm and looking good on paper."
Dragons' Den is currently a third of the way through its six-episode run, with Linney having already invested £30,000 in a cellulite-reducing cream.
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