Investor Stories

Founder, Speaker and Investor: Becky Lodge from Little Kanga is a Woman of Many Talents

Becky Lodge, a 30-year veteran in STEAM markets, founded 'StartUp Disruptors' for affordable, inclusive entrepreneurship education, changing the game.

Becky Lodge is a woman who made the bold move from corporate life to entrepreneurship, and we're not alone in appreciating her decision.

Brimming with passion, which is evident if you follow her on LinkedIn, her enthusiasm for all things startup and entrepreneurship is infectious. With first-hand experience in overcoming the challenges of bootstrapping a startup, ups and downs and everything in between, she has emerged as a seasoned entrepreneur. Becky has a clear understanding of what she seeks as an angel investor, which she has kindly shared below.

We're honoured that Becky is the first to take part in our Investor Stories series.

Can you share your personal journey and experience as an angel investor? What led you to start investing in startups?

As a start-up owner and founder in 2015, I found that it was difficult to navigate the process as a woman and as a neurodivergent founder as well. When I approached the support services that were signposted, I was often turned away and in the worst cases 'fobbed off' with excuses as to why what I was doing would not fit the 'tick box' that they had.

What criteria do you consider when deciding to invest in a company? Are there specific qualities or characteristics you look for in founders or startups?

I look at the founder and the team and the scope and size of their vision and dream. They have to be able to (for me) want to have an impact on the world in some way (to change things for good) rather than just make money. I am interested in the people that others won't be interested in and explore the 'less obvious'.

I am turned off by large egos and extraversion if the data and the figures cannot back up the claims. I need to like the founder and the team and also want to be told a story as to how they will start and scale up. Pitch decks for the most part leave me cold. I am looking for the special sauce that makes someone and their business stand out.

How do you typically approach due diligence when evaluating potential investments? Are there key factors you focus on?

Founder history and social proof of achievements and past career is key, also the numbers have to stack up. If other investors are on board I will ask for their names to decide if I wish to be involved with that company. People make claims that they have 'interest' or 'other investors'. Be prepared to provide proof of traction, data that shows that you can support your claims and also the financials for the business.

I am more interested in seeing customers paying for something (no matter how small the returns!). If you have paying customers and tangible figures then I want to see this. Be prepared to share information, if you want someone to invest, they need to know what they are getting into!

You have to be prepared to win or learn. When it's your own money you are more careful to back the things that 'feel right'. We all make mistakes!

Can you describe a successful investment you've made and the reasons behind its success?

So I didn't get angel funding for my own business as the networks were mostly male and we know that women don't get angel investment as frequently as men, so I seed-funded my own business and then acquired customers on my own and also sponsors. As a woman, I wondered why it was so tough when men seemed to come up with ideas and just get them funded.

The reason that we have been successful is that we were forced to acquire revenue as we had no choice, it was that or no funding. With my subsequent investments, I look for people who are willing to sell and are naturally people focused and pay attention to detail on the little things. The details are important.

On the flip side, can you share an example of an investment that didn't go as expected? What did you learn from that experience?

Yes, sometimes if you aren't sure then you should say no. Listening to your gut is key. What is right for you may not be right for another investor. Knowing the market of operation that the start-up is in really helps. I learned very early on that if others are excited by something it often doesn't matter, it depends on your and their risk profile around investing and money.

You have to be prepared to win or learn. When it's your own money you are more careful to back the things that 'feel right'. We all make mistakes!

Beyond financial support, how do you typically offer support and guidance to the founders you invest in?

Financial support (to me!) is the smallest part of what you can offer. The emotional and psychological journey of starting and scaling can be harrowing! So you need the right teams to make this happen. This is what I offer that maybe others do not. I have helped over 5000 people to start businesses since 2016 through our founder to founder-led community at StartUp Disruptors.

I am always honest with people. Many want to start up but don't have the resilience or the capacity to move at pace. It is important to know who you are. I have written a book about my early stage journey to help others evaluate themselves, it is on Amazon and Kindle and called 'Don't Build Rollerskates for Birds' and I recommend that as a must-read before starting up.

How do you handle saying "no" to founders seeking investment? What advice do you have for founders who receive a rejection?

It's a no for today but not a no for tomorrow! Also, you win or you learn. Move on fast to the next thing. It's only painful if you ruminate and don't learn from it.

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What role do you see yourself playing in helping startups navigate challenges and make strategic decisions?

I help people avoid common pitfalls and also have a massive address book that's really valuable for whatever challenge a start-up will face. I am an international sales and marketing director by trade, I have done this for 31 years and know a little bit about people and their motivations. I help build effective and inclusive cultures and teams.

What advice do you have for founders when it comes to preparing for and approaching potential investors like yourself?

Please just be yourself. Investors shouldn't be arrogant and unapproachable and if they are then please avoid them. If they make you feel uncomfortable from the 'get go' then walk away, it isn't right that you should be beholden to anyone. Angel investment is rare. I often say to people to explore crowdfunding, family, friends and novel ways of acquiring customers whatever the sector.

For example, if you need £100k then that's only 10 people at £10k that you have to get interested to help OR 100 people at £1000 per person, think your way through the problem to the solution and test like nobody is watching! Can you give away smaller parts of equity to raise the same money, can you work with people you like for smaller amounts?

Women have to be much more resourceful when raising, these are all possibilities for funding. Nobody is going to 'bowl up' to give you their cash if you don't have the vision, the scale and the work ethic to get there.

What I would also say is there is no such thing as a new idea! If you have a new way of delivering an existing service and you can get into a very good niche then do that.

Can you share any insights into the timeline and process founders should expect when seeking angel investment?

How long is a piece of string? Tough one to answer. It could be 1-3 years or 5-10 years. Most successes in business are around year 10. An angel is more interested when there is proof that the market has traction and also there is money coming in. Be clear on what angel invests in at what stage.

Many come unstuck, and a lot don't like the very early stage as it is riskier. 80% of start-ups fail by year 5 and 97% fail by year 10, so angels will actively assess the risk profile and look at SEIS/EIS to decide where and how they should fund.

Are there any specific trends or technologies in the startup world that you find particularly exciting or promising?

I am a sucker for technology but it is risky! I think that anything around mental health and inclusion is going to be 'hot' in the future, there is a lot of space in B2B for improvement around existing processes to be delivered in new and exciting ways.

What I would also say is there is no such thing as a new idea! If you have a new way of delivering an existing service and you can get into a very good niche then do that. Niche is important and something that I look for in a start-up.

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of being an angel investor, and what keeps you engaged in this field?

Helping people live their dreams. That's it.

To find out more about Becky, visit her LinkedIn page. Learn more about Little Kanga here. You can purchase a copy of Don't Build Rollerskates For Birds at Amazon.

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