A recent review in the New York Times drew attention to how eminent neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga has shifted his ideas on the brain, from ‘left/right thinking’ to ‘multiple minds’, from ‘national planning’ to ‘local gossip’.
For those interested in growing prosperity, such a shift in thinking has relevance and meaning, however esoteric the source.
We have just come to the end of our second year of operating Wild Blue Cohort, a business angel investment network in central London, England and the value of the local to us is clear – and by the way, it’s nothing to do with the whispers, butterfly touches or backward bigotry of the hill village!
Since Spring 2014, we have grown a new network of over forty private individuals who are interested in investing in entrepreneurs and enterprise linked to the local economy.
The barriers to entry and success of enterprise in London are high. Many people believe that the vitality of their neighbourhood is inextricably linked to the quality and incidence of local entrepreneurship. In their ranks are individuals with immense experience of creating and managing successful enterprise, and some have an appetite for private investment. Centred on West London in particular, Wild Blue meets the needs of one with the skill and intent of the other.
Since we started Wild Blue, over 600 companies have approached the investor network for finance – and roughly one third have been enterprises with a local link. Members have made eleven investments to date, valued at just under £700,000. Two of those investments have followed on from investments by well-known venture capital firms, who have followed on from our members’ initial interest. Wild Blue has invested between £10,000 – £225,000 in companies ~ two deals syndicates of eight and six individuals.
The quality, resonance and traction of what Wild Blue is doing is reinforced by co-investment by external organisations. To start up, we benefitted greatly from £150,000 in grant finance from the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Westway Trust. We have since ‘circled’ a further, far larger sum to support the delivery of a new co-working space in Holland Park, which will be managed and delivered in partnership with The Collective property company.
Historically, the entrepreneurial economy of West London has centred almost exclusively upon food, fashion, personal services, the media and high-end creative industries. Investments to date by members of Wild Blue have expanded that portfolio: into on-demand services for senior care and legal advice to SMEs, mobile consumer and B2B software applications, food subscription services and a website offering food recipes.
Of course, global and national economic phenomena provide a key framework for all of this: be it the decreasing number of companies joining the public markets, low interest rates, tax incentives for investment in enterprise or innovation strategy.
But also there is a psychological dimension to it all. The swelling ranks of the anti-establishment, rise of online social media and popularity of multi-platform lifestyle brands speak to an increasing need for people to find common cause and belong.
Yes, our Wild Blue network is growing because of the outstanding quality of entrepreneurs out there that we find, or find us. But also we emphasise the involvement of members in due diligence and screening of businesses, their further mentoring and the local link and logic of companies. This offers members the prospect of an exciting, profitable personal investment that also supports the world in which they live and work.
David Barrie is founder and CEO of Wild Blue Cohort. His ‘fellow traveller’ is Investment Director Deepali Nangia. If you would like to become a more of Wild Blue or raise finance from the network, write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.