HBAN Ulster passes 100 members and calls for more businesspeople to become angel investors

Jonny Clarke, founder of Locate a Locum with HBAN 'business angel' Colm McNicholl, who invested in the start-up in 2019.

HBAN Ulster, the northern branch of the all-island organisation responsible for the promotion of business angel investment, has urged more businesspeople to join its ranks.

The call comes as HBAN revealed its members invested £8.5m into 38 early-stage companies in Northern Ireland in less than three years.

HBAN was set up in 2007 as a joint initiative between Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest Northern Ireland.

The Ulster branch, created in 2018, is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, who have revealed the network now has over 100 members who have done deals with an average investment round value of £800,000.

It represents an overall investment of £8.5m from business angels within investment deals totalling £45m.

Jim Curran, HBAN Ulster's regional manager and director of Clarendon, said while reaching the milestone of 100 members has been positive, the important factor has been the high percentage of active members doing deals and investing in some of the north's fastest growing firms.

“We've seen founders of a number of indigenous businesses successfully exiting in recent years and I hope we will see many of them decide to pass on their skills and expertise as angel investors,” he said.

HBAN angel investors typically invest between £20,000 to £100,000 per deal, with 70 per cent investing £50,000 or less per deal.

Business angel Johnny Convery, who has completed a number of deals since joining HBAN Ulster 18 months ago, said: “The local ecosystem is getting ever stronger for start-ups and I wanted to make investments, but I didn't have the opportunities through my own network alone.

“I wanted to find a certain quality and type of investment. I was looking for growth companies, who had gone beyond seed stage, had a bit of scale and customer traction and wanted to go to the next level. Through HBAN I was able to achieve that very quickly.”

Fellow angel investor Rory Smith, who joined HBAN at a similar time, added: “I didn't go into HBAN to network and meet other investors, it was to find companies I could invest in and help. But meeting like-minded investors has been a huge bonus.

“They are people who have been through similar experiences to me and who I can talk openly to about business opportunities and how they manage their finances,” he said.

“To join HBAN you need some capital and ideally some spare time, so it seems to suit people who have sold a business or built one to the point where they are able to take a back seat but want to put something back in to help other companies achieve what they achieved.

“All of the investors want to get a return, but with many I've met, there's definitely an element of using their expertise and capital to help other people too.”

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