Angel Investing School FAQs

What is Angel Investing?

An angel investor is an individual that finances (invests) in privately owned small businesses. They leverage their experience, expertise and network to add value and support the company through growth. They receive equity in exchange for this with the hope to share in the returns if the company experiences a liquidation event such as an IPO or acquisition.

Who is this course designed for?

The curriculum is designed for individuals who have not invested in private companies (startups) or have invested in just a handful (incl. equity crowdfunding) and want to learn how to become a more effective angel investor through learning from other more experienced angel investors.

It is ok for you to have no prior knowledge of finance and investing as we cover the basics, share content in advance of the course and hold your hand through the experience answering your questions along the way.

Whilst many founders could be interested to gain insight and empathy into angel investing, it is only suitable for founders interested in getting started with angel investing. We will not be eroding the quality of the learning experience with cross-selling e.g. from accountants and lawyers attending the class with the goal of selling services to participants.

Professionals from all backgrounds are welcome, from teachers and nurses to plumbers and creatives. We want to widen participation in this opaque asset class to professionals from all backgrounds.

What topics will the course cover?

The course will cover 8 key topics:

  • Overview of angel investing
  • Developing a thesis
  • Sourcing & assessing deals
  • Transaction economics
  • Legal process (incl. term sheets and understanding tax relief)
  • Adding value beyond capital (post-deal support)
  • Structuring a deal
  • Building a brand

What happens after the course?

You will have lifetime access to the resources and links shared along with the relationships you build. There will be a private community (AIS Alumni) that shares useful information such as demo days, deals within the network, relevant events and more.

How much does the course cost?

One-time fee of £495 (incl. VAT)

How long will this course take to complete?

The course duration is 8 weeks long, every Wednesday from 6.30pm – 8.00pm, ran virtually, so you can join from the comfort of your home.

Do I need to be in London to take this course?

No, we run courses every April and September remotely. So you can join us from the comfort of your home or office.

For those who can’t commit to attending each and every Wednesday, we have created an On-Demand course that you can take at your own pace.

Can my company get in-house training?

We offer a 4 week of tailored corporate training experience. Please email team@angelinvestingschool.com to learn more.

We also offer for corporates to sponsor the April and September cohorts to widen accessibility for diverse professionals.

How do I get a return on my investment?

It is important to understand that investing in privately held companies is an extremely risky asset class. Riskier than investing in buy-to-let properties, mutual funds, index funds and other asset classes. The truth is, most new businesses fail and therefore there is a high probability you may not make a return on your investment.

Andy Ayim MBE treated his initial investments as skin in the game to gain practical learning experience rather than risk money he couldn’t afford to lose (which is not advisable). He is comfortable at a minimum learning about new technology, business building and new markets through his investments. Focusing on nurturing long term relationships regardless of the outcome.

What are the course founders & facilitator investment backgrounds?

The course was curated by Andy Ayim, MBE who has invested in over a dozen startups and has worked for over a decade in the London startup ecosystem, firstly as a founder, before developing his craft as a product manager and more recently as an investor.

The facilitators are a diverse range of angel investors who each have experience investing in privately held companies. Most of what they will teach will be through personal stories and lessons learned with tools and templates shared throughout the experience.

Why did you create the course?

I personally wanted to learn how to get started with angel investing and learn from the experience and lessons learned by others. I want to democratise access to knowledge so that people from all backgrounds can learn whether or not angel investing is right for them.

Are there any regulatory requirements for being an angel investor?

The guidance from a regulatory perspective, under the FCA rules Financial Promotion Order and Markets Act states that you can be an angel investor and make investments in a small business through your own decision if you can self-certify as either High Net Worth or Sophisticated investor.

Simply put, you need to understand the high risk associated with investing in small businesses and therefore be able to invest an affordable sum of money.  Don’t invest what you can’t afford to lose. Once you invest your money could be tied up for a number of years and still result in a loss. Ensure that this money is not part of your lifestyle costs or money tied up with your monthly costs, it should be a sum of money you can afford to invest.

I know it sounds pessimistic, but it is important to level set before even taking the course. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme or promise of any riches. There is a possibility that you could make a return on your money and potentially access some tax reliefs, which will be covered in the course.

Is there a minimum amount of money one should have when starting out in angel investing?

Personal finance is what it says, ‘personal.’ So given how risky this asset class is, you don’t want to expose more than 5% of your annual income to angel investing. For an illustrative example, If I earn £100,000 per year. I wouldn’t risk more than £5,000 on angel investing per year. On the course, we teach how you can invest as little as £1,000 alongside other angel investors.

Disclaimer: this is not to be deemed as financial advice, please seek advice independently from a registered financial advisor.

Why do you aim for 50% of the course to be women, men of colour, LGBT and/or non-binary?

We believe the ‘opportunity cheque’ or the first money invested into a small business can be pivotal to the outcome of whether that business can grow to succeed or fail. Therefore with less than 1p in every pound going to all-female teams and the lack of funding going to diverse-led startups we believe if we can train up more diverse angel investors, more diverse startups will gain investment as a result.

What can you do to help businesses stay resilient throughout Coronavirus?

What can you do to help businesses stay resilient throughout Coronavirus?

Last month, I visited my hairdresser in Peckham Rye, where I spend over an hour getting my hair twisted into locks. With the current advice to minimise contact in public spaces, it is unlikely I can get my hair done for at least the next 4-6 weeks.

The strain on me personally is minor, but for my hairdresser, this impacts her livelihood, her children and her income. I have shared ideas for additional revenue streams such as paid video check-ins to advise customers like me on how to care for their hair at home for £10 a session. I also shared advice on managing debt and government support available.

What are the other pain points that new businesses are facing? What could private markets, big tech, VC and angel investors do to help weather the storm during these unprecedented times for startups?


How have startups been affected?

  • Sales forecasts have been revised due to the travel restrictions and cancellation of events, which were previously factored into the business development pipelines.
  • Supply chains have been impacted globally along with fulfilment, as people are being encouraged to work from home, reducing productivity and increasingly leaving demand outstripping an ability to supply.
  • Hiring has been put on freeze as budgets are revised.
  • Only a few months into the year and margins are already being squeezed, causing an increased focus on cash flow and lowering burn rate.
  • It is a challenging time to raise funding given investors are rethinking their strategy and how things are impacting them as shown below.
  • For some services such as massage therapists where it is almost impossible to continue, they are seeking support from HMRC, accountants, negotiating holiday periods with their banks and looking out for government subsidies.


What can professionals (consultants, lawyers, PR etc) do to help them?

  • Support startups in crafting and sending proactive comms to reassure partners, customers, investors and key stakeholders. Make them aware that business is still running but here are the changes. Bigger corporates have started doing this already in the last 7 days.
  • Support startups in operational excellence and performance improvement. Assess where costs can be cut whilst retaining existing customers. If possible, explore new delivery channels and revenue streams.
  • Support startups in crafting updated polivies for employees i.e. Remote working policy as well as negotiate terms on supplier contracts.


How have the Private Markets been affected?

  • Lenders are worried that many companies will struggle to make their debt obligations and therefore lead to bad debt.
  • Most lenders are restricting loans to new customers as they asses their current book of loans.

What government support is there for startups?

  • The British Business Bank has a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that startups may be eligible for.
  • The Government announced a £500m hardship fund but has not provided details on how this will work yet.
  • Awaiting more details from the budget on the £3,000 cash grant will be available to 700,000 of our smallest businesses.


How have big companies been affected?

  • Enterprise companies are reviewing procurement pipelines and focusing on their biggest suppliers first, so sadly any new startups contracts may be delayed, reduced or cancelled.

What could big companies do to help startups?

  • It would be great if Big Tech companies (Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google) could come together during this time and provide a network of support given their reach, brand trust and domain expertise. It would be great if they provided one to many support as a “Helpline” to provide tactical advice, discounts, small business bursaries and introductions where possible.


How have VC Investors been affected?

  • Some limited partners (investors who invest in VC funds) with portfolios exposed to the stock market have decided to raise capital calls to withdrawal their funds from VC funds.
  • Therefore, some VCs have pulled their term sheets from startups as a result.
  • Others are rethinking their investment strategy and adapting due diligence to consider how their portfolio will weather the storm.

How can Angel Investors help startups?

  • They can reach out to their portfolio and see where they can add value based on the above. Startups are their customers, so delivering value to them creates value for the investor.
  • Angel investors may have to be flexible and consider providing working capital loans, convertible notes and other flexible forms of finance to startups to plug the widening funding gap.
  • Finally, investors should update their investment strategy and think about what due diligence should look like given the above i.e. greater focus on the startup’s ability to remain resilient during these uncertain times.

How are you adjusting your strategy currently? What small things have you found helpful for startups you support? Let me know in the comments below.

The Angel Investing School Manifesto

The Angel Investing School Manifesto

Yesterday, a friend of mine shared with me the great news that he was planning on starting a family and asked: “what is the one skill that you would love to teach your daughter as she grows up?” Almost immediately I answered, “the ability to make smart decisions on a consistent basis when I am not in the room.”

One trait that I believe has shaped me profoundly in the decisions I make in my career, with my family and in life, is the ability to make decisions guided by a set of principles. I call these my guiding principles; essentially they are a shortlist of mental models that tie into my beliefs. You could say that they are helpful one-liners that help me make better decisions.

In starting The Angel Investing School, I had the opportunity to catch up with a range of people who I knew were successful angel investors (people who invest into new businesses) and it was apparent that there were common themes, within the lessons learned from each of their experiences; that became the guiding principles that helped them avoid making mistakes.

I recognise that investing in new businesses (startups) has become democratised, with platforms such as Crowdcube and Seedrs that allow individuals to invest as little as £20 into startups. However, the problem exists when the access to invest is so easy that many who take the leap have not had the education to understand what they are investing in. People are taking a gamble as they don’t understand the risk associated with their investment and what returns could look like in the eventuality that the company is acquired (bought by a bigger company) or has an IPO (Initial public offering is when a company gets listed on a stock exchange like FTSE 350 in the UK).

I also recognise that there is a new breed of potential investors, who are digitally savvy, some are young and rich such as content creators (think vloggers and musicians). Others include professionals who have worked several years in their career, building domain expertise and a broad network but have no clue where to get started with investing in startups. Whilst the remainder are entrepreneurs who have successfully grown their companies and are at a stage where they want to invest back into new emerging startups, leveraging their experience and expertise to support others like they were supported too.

The guiding principles below are my own personal principles and I don’t share them as an oath or a contract but as insight into what helps me make better decisions when investing in startups.

  1. Angel investing shouldn’t be the first investment you make
  2. Play the long game and embrace the downside
  3. Take your time, and do your due diligence
  4. Get to grips with tax reliefs
  5. This is a team sport
  6. Don’t transact, nurture winning relationships
  7. Invest in what you understand
  8. Add value beyond the capital


1. Angel investing shouldn’t be the first investment you make

Most high net worth individuals and sophisticated investors allocate less than 5% of their wealth to angel investing as it is such a risky asset class. Typically, wealth has been built up from a range of other asset classes from investing in land & property to public stocks & shares. They are investing what they can afford to lose with angel investing similar to the money they could afford to lose at the casino. As tempting as it may be, learn the rules of engagement, play the long game and be disciplined and patient. Avoid making a bad investment you cannot afford, which puts you off investing ever again.

2. Play the long game and embrace the downside

Don’t invest too much too soon given that over 90% of your investments will probably fail. A common situation is where you have saved up £50K (which is a significant amount of money) and you blow it all within two months out of excitement and the thrill of investing. You soon realised you placed a lot of bad bets, and you have no money to double down and follow on with into the good performers. The wise investor sets boundaries such as investing up to 1/3 and saving 2/3rds for follow on investments into companies that go on to perform well. Go in with your heart AND your head and invest in a few companies a year for a long duration of time like you would if you were a value investor in Index Funds. Embrace the downside and remember it is a continuous learning journey.

3. Take your time, and do your due diligence

Some new angels feel uneasy and guilty taking founders time and rush to make hasty decisions to invest. Remember, it is a significant amount of money, spend time getting to know the founding team, the product, the customers and the market. Bounce the opportunity off a trusted set of advisors to make an informed decision. They might raise the red flags you failed to see.

4. Get to grips with tax reliefs

This is UK specific, but SEIS/ EIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme/ Enterprise Investment Scheme) enables investors to reduce risk and do more with the money you have. Both schemes are designed to encourage investment into early-stage growth-focused companies, providing tax relief (some money back!).

5. This is a team sport

Startups often raise anything from £50K to £300K in their first funding round. Therefore angel investors often invest alongside other angels to close the round. Joining networks and spending time with founders to foster relationships gives you access to deal flow and enables you to share deals with others and get advice from them too. It can be a lonely journey so value the communities you could join. Get help from others who have already been on the path you are about to go on. All of these lessons are from angel investors I have learned from.

6. Don’t transact, nurture winning relationships

Don’t be blinded by a big market or exciting idea, the highest risk is the founding team’s ability to execute on their idea. Remember, you are in it for the long haul and the only thing that is guaranteed when you invest in that you buy the right to participate in an exponential learning journey. There will be some highs but probably a lot more lows, and those are the times you need to support the founders most. Create memos or keep a journal so that you can track why you invested, how you were feeling and lessons learned along the journey.

7. Invest in what you understand

Stick to your core competence and invest only in what you understand. For this reason, I don’t invest in crypto and certain aspects of deep tech. A lesson learned from value investors Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet who were comfortable in missing out of big tech companies like Google and Facebook as they focused on what they knew well and ignored opportunities outside of that. If you worked in marketing for 20 years in an FMCG company then a good place to start could be by focusing on marketing tech and/or FMCG startups.

8. Add value beyond the capital

A brand is built through founders sharing with others how helpful you have been, especially during the difficult times. Four things really stand out to me here:

  • Empathy to understand what the founding team feels and listen sometimes without a solution, just listen and be present.
  • An ability to fill knowledge gaps.
  • Introductions to customers, partners and fellow investors (if needed).
  • Deliver quality contributions consistently.

The Angel Investing School is about what you could do with the money you can afford to lose. Adhering to the principles above should help teach you how not to lose it. My hope is that once participants complete the course, they leave equipped to make smarter investment decisions on a consistent basis.

Are there any principles I missed out on that you have? If so, please share below. If you are interested in The Angel Investing School, follow us on InstagramTwitter and check us out here.

Can I start angel investing with just £5K?

Can I start angel investing with just £5K?

The origins of angel investing is broadly believed to have been an investment by Arthur Rock in 1957 into the Fairchild Semiconductor in Silicon Valley, California . At the time, Arthur was based in New York before moving out to Silicon Valley and eventually went on to form the venture capital firm Davis & Rock. He invested in a range of tech companies we regard as household names such as Intel and Apple. You can learn more about this history and the early days of venture capital from documentaries such as Something Ventured.

Personally, I grew up fascinated by technology, business and investing. Across my interests, passions and career, I have had the opportunity to explore each of them. In 2019, I wanted to learn more about how to become an effective angel investor and learn from the lessons of more experienced angels. I soon realised that a number of people in my network were keen to learn this too. The challenge was that venture capital is an opaque industry and there was no clear on-ramp into angel investing.

The Angel Investing School was born out of this frustration. The purpose is to enable curious investors from anywhere to learn how to get started with investing into startups. I believe entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, so why can’t the capital too!

Common misconceptions people had included:

  • I need at least £20K saved before I can invest
  • I need accreditation before I can invest
  • I will make great returns in a year or two of investing my money
  • I’ve invested £50 in Monzo through crowdfunding, I am an angel investor and can put on Linkedin that I am an investor in Monzo now

Ok, so that last one was cheeky, but a lot of people invest through crowdfunding unaware of what happens to their money and don’t gain skin in the game to learn what it is like investing as an individual. The FCA states that anyone can start investing as long as you can self-certify as either High Net Worth or Sophisticated investors. This basically means you need to understand the risks associated with investing your money and in the event that a company fails you receive no return. There is no limit on how much or how little you invest.

So can you invest with as little as £5K into a new business venture? Absolutely, but the decisive factor that enables you to do so is whether you can access to quality deal flow early and whether you can invest in a sustainable way rather than a ‘one-off.’

Truth is, most new businesses fail and therefore, there is a high probability that you may lose your money as a result. However, the only thing guaranteed is a fast learning experience from having skin in the game. Treat your first investments as the cost associated for learning how to become an effective angel investors. Similar to investments we make into our education from an MBA to an online course, angel investing is an investment into your personal development. Your initial investments represents an opportunity to learn more about developing your investment thesis, learning about how you can add value beyond the capital and what you will and won’t invest in going forward.

To learn more about the next available course, click here.

Source: WSJ analysis of investor documents

As illustrated above, both Mike Walsh and Owen Michels both invested $5K into Uber in the early years as angel investors. I can hear the naysayers say, “but that is the United States, you can’t do that in the UK.” Wrong again my friend, you sure can. In an interview with Sifted, Check Warner, Partner at Ada Ventures explains how Ada Ventures scout network can either get paid in cash or choose to reinvest their finders fee into startups they introduce to the VC.

The Angel Investing School exists to make investing into startups more accessible to all. We will be running an inaugural in-person school for 6 weeks in London, taking place across 6 evenings from 1st April to the 6th of May. The topics we will cover include:

  • The history of angel investing and the London ecosystem
  • Sourcing & assessing deals
  • Transaction economics
  • Deal Structuring (incl. term sheets and valuations)
  • Adding value beyond capital
  • Developing a thesis

Once the course ends, all graduates will gain access to ongoing deal flow, events and support in building a track record in the startup ecosystem. Interested? To find out more and sign up, click here.

Why Am I Building a Micro School?

Why Am I Building a Micro School?

A decade ago, I left university and realised I wanted to work within the startup ecosystem. In the last 10 years I have been fortunate to experience working in over 10 different cities across a range of experiences from co-founding a startup to working as a product manager within a range of companies. More recently, I sat on the other side of the table as an investor at Backstage Capital, investing in underrepresented founders across the globe.

When I left university, I was already in the mindset that life was a continuous learning journey which didn’t just start and stop in school. However, I didn’t realise that my knowledge, relationships and capabilities would compound through the various work I have done.

Nowadays, I freelance with startups, scale-ups and corporates on product discovery, planning and execution. Alongside that, I create content for founders to provide the advice and steer I wish I had at the start of my journey to reduce or eliminate a lot of the risks associated with the all consuming journey of starting a company.

Last year, I reached a point of tension given the limited capacity I had between my freelancing clients and preserving family time with my daughter and partner (which I am never willing to compromise). I didn’t (and still don’t) have the bandwidth to catch up with everyone, that “wants a coffee catchup.” I had 30-50 founders contacting me for help every month. Anything from, “how do I validate the problem I wish to solve in a cost-effective way” to “could you review my pitch deck and my product?”

I can empathise, as I have been in their position before, I speak to founders everyday and I actually care and do want to help. But, I recognise the need to find a more scalable and accessible way to serve founders even if I can’t be in the room.

I tested out a podcast and Instagram IGTV series last year where I was sharing advice on specific topics with founders, from finding your first set of customers to understanding if venture capital is right for you. The feedback has been overwhelming and an indication that more of the same is helpful and needed. As a result, this inspired me to create AHVC.School. A new micro school for explorers who want trusted advice on the first steps of discovering whether they should pursue an idea.

AHVC School is the go-to destination for the discovery process and making smarter decisions.

The focus is on discovering:

  • Why you want to pursue an idea
  • How to validate yourself, your idea and your customer
  • Why you are well placed to do this now
  • How to make smarter decisions on a consistent basis

This is not a course that will get you from idea to startup in 6 weeks. Most explorers will validate that their idea is not feasible or even that they are not well suited to pursue entrepreneurship right now. We focus exclusively on the first step in your pursuit as we feel there is not enough honest and transparent content or support on this stumbling block so many people fall on.

My promise is regardless if you validate the need to start a company or not, you will learn at a real fast pace!

To make it more accessible and affordable, I have decided to create courses, which comprise of 4-6 short classes on a range of topics such as how to create a roadmap or how to interview users. The first two courses will be:

  • Getting started with discovery (online)
  • Angel Investing School (in-person pop-up in London)

Most of the courses, content and community will be online, with some in-person pop-up schools. All of the courses will be based off demand and feedback from users who sign up.

If this community sounds like something you would benefit from and you have topics you would love to learn about, then you can join the waitlist here and share what you would like to learn here.