Investor Insights by Greg Rice

Investor Insights by Greg Rice


What are the main concerns of somebody starting
to invest for the first time? How would you address that giving you have very long experience
doing this? I think it really depends on the investor.
A lot of investors won’t invest outside of what they consider their field of expertise,
which is extremely limiting because you’re going to be looking into a very small subset
of what’s going out there and I actually think that’s too limiting for an investor. You have
to open up your horizons a little if you’re going to do successful investments. It probably
makes your life a little bit more interesting too, let’s face it. You don’t do this to
get rich. I mean you do this because it’s interesting and because you want to give back
a bit. If you make money, great. People ask: would you rather make an impact or would you
rather make more money? I think it goes hand in hand. If you can make an impact, if you
can change things a bit, you’ll probably make some money too. Success goes hand in hand
with it. Is there anything else you look for in terms
of success, for you as an investor? For me, yeah, it should be fun as opposed
to a grind. When you’re more involved with a
startup you want that relationship to be good. You want the ride to be really interesting
and fun as opposed to “oh God where’s the next pound coming from?” and “how do we
make this work?.” You want it to be fun, it should be one of the reasons why you’re
investing. As an early stager… You’re not only an early
stage investor in startup companies, but you’re also a lead investor when there are follow-up investments
and recently you’ve put together, you have started an ActivateI investor group. What is the relationship with the other investors in the company? Especially when you’re in a way involved with others and you’re trying
to discuss with others the opportunities. I mean, without revealing any secrets, what
do you investors talk about when you’re meeting, discussing and deciding about an investment? To be quite honest, it comes down to what we
talked about earlier. People that make investments very rarely want to do it blindly. If they
want to do blind investments, they buy into investment trusts or ETFs, they do standard, call the broker or buy online and that’s what they do. Being involved in startups, most investors really
want to be involved, it’s a double edged sword. Most investors have some experience
and some of that experience can be very, very useful. Some investors like to I’d say coach
from the sidelines, “I don’t like that colour or I don’t like that logo,” which is not
helpful. It’s a double edged sword here and the closer the investor is to the domain,
the better advice and the more they should be involved. The further away they are from
the domain they should probably let the people that are working on the investment actually do it. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do with Activate right now. We’re trying to say
“invest a little out of your domain, and let us work with them and let us find the
answers.” You may actually be able to give some expertise, but let us work with it. So Greg, how do you consider the UK in the
context of what’s happening internationally from an investor standpoint? Interesting question because from my accent
you can somewhat tell that I’m probably from the other side. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley
for a long time, a very different environment. You’ve got a great idea and a great team and
basically the suitcase comes out and they say “we start tomorrow.” It’s a really
different environment. If I look at the UK specifically, I aim for early stage startups.
I mean there’s not a better country to probably do it in. The tax regime for SEIS right now,
you can find high tax rate payers that are interested in your investment. It completely
de-risks the investment for them, it really is a fantastic deal. It actually creates a
really fertile environment to actually create a startup. It’s fantastic.

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