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Marcin Zaba defines three things investors need to consider before investing

Data Protection Officer Eleanor Richards walks us through the new regulation

Charles Macfarlane on the company making safe autonomous vehicles a reality

SyndicateRoom The Pitt Building Trumpington Street Cambridge CB2 1RP Issue // 03 // May 2018

DESIGNER Sonia Caetano

EDITOR Ekaterina Bystrova

CONTRIBUTORS Tom Britton Warren Dudley Miruna Girtu Katy Levitt Charles Macfarlane


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Eleanor Richards James Sore Amanda Taylor Gonรงalo de Vasconcelos Robert Wagstaff Marcin Zaba

dear SyndicateRoom member, In 1947 ethologist Karl von Frisch was looking at bees. More precisely, he was studying the runs and turns of a bee’s dance, and what he discovered was something incredible: the dancing bee was communicating to its hive the exact location of a nearby food source. The direction of the dance showed where the food was in relation to the sun, and the length of time the bee spent doing a particular move scientists have affectionately termed the ‘waggle’ defined how far away the food was from the hive. The enthusiasm with which the bee danced reflected the quality of the food. Just think of what that tells us about bee culture. That bee could have made its life a lot easier by jealously guarding its find, nipping out every afternoon for the easy win of collecting some of that withheld pollen in the guise of hard work. But it didn’t. The bee did what it had to for the good of the hive: it danced. No wonder bees are internationally recognised as a symbol of collaboration. When you look at a startup, you want to see a team that’s made up entirely of bees – bees that strive towards the same goal with a determination that transcends mere contractual obligation. You want bees that

will venture forth and discover their own unique meadows brimming with delectable pollen and return to share that knowledge with the rest of the team. You want bees that are passionate about their hive. The metaphor begins to struggle beneath the weight of common sense at this point, but fortunately Marcin puts across the idea better in his article on team dynamics (page 6), in which he also divulges three points of practical due diligence to help you determine whether or not the startup team you’re looking at is made up of bees. Of course, no hive would be complete without a queen bee to lead the team to sweet prosperity. SyndicateRoom is fortunate enough to have two. The parallel interviews with Gonçalo and Tom (page 16) illustrate how businesses can benefit from having different personalities at the helm. But are two heads really better than one? (Turn to page 14 to find out.) Businesses, organisations and communities cannot survive in a vacuum, and neither can individual investors, if for a far more visceral reason. Where a beekeeper places multiple hives near one another, the bees pollinate and work together, grow off each other. Likewise, the best businesses look to collaborate with those outside the company as well as people within.


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contents // PAGE 6

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Marcin Zaba defines three things investors need to consider about the team before investing

SyndicateRoom Data Protection Officer Eleanor Richards walks us through the new regulation

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Angels tend to agree co-founders outperform those going solo. But does opinion reflect reality?

Five simple steps you can take right now to help secure your information online

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How similar are SyndicateRoom’s cofounders? Join Gonçalo and Tom for this blind interview

Master Investor’s Amanda Taylor discusses how blockchain is redefining collaboration

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Miruna Girtu introduces the latest business to come through our bespoke capital-raising service

The results of our annual survey are in, and they point to a growing knowledge gap among UK investors

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Charles Macfarlane presents the company making safe autonomous vehicles a reality

Let’s put our hands together for the latest companies to join SyndicateRoom’s portfolio

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SR PORTFOLIO: THE BROMLEY BOYS The film you helped fund is about to have its world premiere! We speak with Screenwriter Warren Dudley


Startups and scale-ups live and die by the quality of the people behind the business. However, it’s not just the skills, experiences and determination of individuals that are indicators of success – it’s how they are organised and work together as a team. Based on observations of our 130+ portfolio companies and other businesses (as well as countless lectures by the incredible Mark de Rond), I’ve come to think that three ingredients are required to sustain and nurture a high-performance team.


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When doing due diligence, I’d encourage investors to consider the following points before investing.

Marcin Zaba

Head of Marketing

WORKING TEAM VS WORKING GROUP Before we get to our three points of actionable due diligence, let’s define the subtle but important distinction between a working team and a working group. A working group is two or more individuals whose work depends on one another’s accomplishments, but who don’t necessarily work together. Efforts are coordinated and controlled by a manager. An example would be the sales department of a business There’ll typically be a hierarchical structure with a head of sales who manages sales executives. They’ll all be working towards the same monthly sales target, but it’s down to the individual sales person to reach her goals, and the work of one person might not overlap with the work of another. In fact, overlapping work might be detrimental to the goal – it’d be confusing if two sales executives were selling to the same customer in parallel. A working team, on the other hand, is two or more individuals working interdependently to achieve a specified common goal. There will be a manager, but her role is to enable and facilitate the

work of her colleagues and not necessarily to control activities. Most startups operate as a team, whereby people with different yet complementary skill sets combine their efforts to solve a specific problem. Investors would do well not only to examine the CVs of the team, but also to ask questions about how its members work together. Here are the top three ingredients that foster an effective team.


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ACTIONABLE DUE DILIGENCE Ask the CEO what their short-term goals are and then corroborate whether another team member has the same reply. Ask them about user cases for their product or service and pay attention to the accuracy of the language: does more than one person on the team really understand the nub of the problem they’re working on?

1. CONCEPTUAL CLARITY It sounds simple, but ensuring every team member is working to the same welldefined objective is critical. This is important for all teams and businesses of all sizes, but in a startup it can prove a matter of life or death. If team members misunderstand what they’ve been working on, time – and therefore money – is spent and pop!, the once-promising startup runs out of cash and becomes just another statistic of love’s labour’s lost. A familiar example to anyone involved in startups would be developing a product for the first time. The engineers aren’t likely to be successful if they just improvise. They need to know very specifically what their potential customers want and it’s the product manager’s or CEO’s role to communicate this accurately (in agile development, this process is called ‘story writing’, whereby a very specific user case is described). This is also why all those seemingly pernickety KPIs, OKRs and other goal-setting frameworks are so important – they force people to think about what they are working to achieve through their day-to-day actions and stay on track.

2. RESPONSIBILITY WITH OPEN DISCUSSION ACTIONABLE DUE DILIGENCE Give the CEO some feedback on an aspect of the business (it could be product, marketing, finance, HR) and listen to how they deal with constructive criticism. If they are willing to have an open conversation about the point you’ve raised, then they’re also more likely to lend their teammates an open ear and thereby run an effective team.

Project management 101 dictates that for a task to be completed, someone must be responsible for completing it. The same applies in working teams, though in this case the conversation around how the project gets done should include the input of everyone with a valid opinion. The person responsible for a task must be open to receiving feedback, ideas and criticism from their teammates. It’s through open discussion and debate that great ideas are developed. The best teams will be very good at developing effective ideas this way. From an outside perspective, this can often appear messy and dysfunctional, with long discussions and personality clashes about how to best arrive at a goal. While this is the inevitable path to allow for anything creative to happen, it’s the leader’s role to facilitate the discussion to a point where the best way forward is determined.

It’s imperative that people feel that they can call out bad ideas or suggest improvements.



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The most important aspect of a highperformance team (and one that we focus on a lot at SyndicateRoom) is psychological safety. Simply put, people need to feel comfortable that they can take reasonable risks without facing negative consequences. It has important repercussions for how members of a team collaborate and how decisions are made. Have you been in a situation where a group of people has done something that no one really wanted to do, but no one called out it was a bad idea? In an effective and psychologically safe team, it’s imperative that people feel that they can call out bad ideas or suggest improvements. Critiquing other people’s work is obviously easier than being criticised, so teammates also need to be

comfortable receiving negative or critical feedback without taking it personally. However, we are all human and even psychologically safe teams can develop frustrated members. This can arise from completely innocent beginnings. Perhaps one team member is better than another at arguing their point of view, leading to a perceived favouring of their opinions. Effective team leaders will create opportunities for team members to systematically let off steam and tell their colleagues where they may have overstepped the mark or where something someone said may have encroached on the personal. It’s important to do this bit by bit as you go along, otherwise grudges build up, trust among colleagues begins to slide and ultimately efficacy fails.

ACTIONABLE DUE DILIGENCE If you can, speak to a team member and ask a few questions about how ideas are discussed. How are they scrutinised? Are expert opinions taken into consideration? Better yet, take the bull by the horns: ask them outright what would happen to an employee if they openly criticised something the CEO proposed.







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SR Live is a weekly live-streamed event where you can meet the businesses currently raising funds on SyndicateRoom and have your questions answered. After a short presentation to give you a flavour of their company, each entrepreneur is grilled on air by one of our very own investment analysts.


due diligence ONE HEAD OR TWO? When it comes to assessing a founding team, the majority of angels tend to agree that two heads are better than one, and so the solopreneur gets overlooked from the get go. Co-founders are seen as better able to lead a business to prosperity by pooling together all their strengths and in so doing diluting away any weaknesses. Co-founders are the answer to successful startups.


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Only, that isn’t quite what the data suggests. Information collated from thousands of startups on CrunchBase tells a different story: more than half of the businesses that exited had a single founder. More precisely, if you go by the average, the ideal number of founders to have is 1.72, which doesn’t really clear up anything. It’s true that it’s rare to find all the characteristics and experience needed to build a successful business in a single person – it’s one of the reasons investors and accelerators might look askance at entrepreneurs pitching solo. But that doesn’t mean having two or more people behind the wheel is guaranteed to work in the company’s favour.

TWEEDLEDEE AND TWEEDLEDUM The ideal founding team marries together complementary skills and experience of all the founders, with each person contributing an invaluable and unique way of assessing a problem. This relies on founders being different enough to see things from separate standpoints, yet similar enough that they can understand where the other is coming from without resorting to violence. That’s no easy feat. And it doesn’t end with skills. Co-founders need to be able to work together, and this is possible only through an acknowledged division of labour and responsibility. Having two people fighting to control the same parts of the business is a waste of time and resources, and should raise several red flags for anyone thinking about investing. Entrepreneurs are leaders by nature, but there is a fundamental difference between leading and dictating. If you’re speaking with a founder who refuses to have open discussions or delegate, it doesn’t bode well for the health of the team – whether she has a co-founder or not.

Entrepreneurs are leaders by nature.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE With co-founders in particular, personality clashes come into play. Are these people able to talk their way through disagreements, understand each other’s concerns and demonstrate respect? While this also applies to the relationship between solo founders and the wider team, any conflict would be mitigated by the recognition of the company hierarchy: ultimately, what the founder says goes. Not so for co-founders. This makes it all the more vital that even when arriving at differing opinions, founders are able to present maintain a united front – it undermines the entire business if founders bicker and jibe at one another rather than holding adult discussions.

A MATTER OF METTLE As with most things involving people, there is sadly no go-to answer for what works: it’s entirely, humanly subjective. But while it’s

impossible to state that one option is more likely to succeed than the other, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. As is so often the case, it comes down to research. And there’s no shortcut to good due diligence. (Although this in-depth guide to due diligence by industry commentator Rob Murray Brown can help you make some broad strokes.) However many founders there are, meet them; listen to how they speak about their business and about the people they work with. Look into their past performance, which while not a predictor of future performance, will help indicate the sort of leader you’re dealing with. Have they done something out of the ordinary? How do they react when their way of thinking is challenged? Have they led ventures in the past, even if these ultimately failed? What did they learn from the experience? And don’t dismiss the solo founder. Starting and growing a business is a highstress occupation; however many of them there are, make sure your founders are up to the challenge.


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Gonรงalo de Vasconcelos What drives you to do better each day? The fact that I absolutely love what I do and I do what I love.

What is your favourite part of the working week? The time spent brainstorming and discussing opportunities with people across the team.

What personal challenge have you had to overcome as SR has grown?


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Growing with it and doing my very best not to stay behind. My own personal learning curve has been just as steep as the growth of the company.

How would you describe your co-founder in one word? Awesome.

How does your co-founder temper your personality? Tom gets the honour of putting up with my occasional tantrums, which nobody else does. The only reason why nobody else gets the same honour is due to Tom’s ability to handle me and bring me back down to earth. So whatever he does, it seems to work pretty well.

What do you think has been most instrumental to SR’s development?


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Every single person, for very different reasons. Even people that didn’t fit in with SyndicateRoom and left have contributed hugely to its development, since Tom and I learned from the experience.

How do you measure success (personally or for members of the SyndicateRoom team)? By level of happiness, both for me personally and for everybody at SyndicateRoom. Society spends a very large percentage of waking hours working. My contribution is to try to make us all at SR enjoy the time we spend in the office and

share in the passion to make it a success. This includes working with great people, respecting, challenging, and being open and transparent with each other. Working hard shouldn’t be a chore – it should be enjoyable and ultimately hugely fulfilling at a personal level for all involved. Eventually, another measure of success will be the value of the options the team gets.

How do you view your employees? Definitively not as employees. As the most important people to make SyndicateRoom a great company and a great company to work for. Their collective impact is far greater than my individual impact will ever be.

When hiring, what is the most important characteristic in a candidate? Honest, ambitious and fun. Can I state three characteristics?

What three qualities does SyndicateRoom represent to you?

Would you rather fight one horse-sized spider, or 100 spider-sized horses?

Honesty, ambition and fun.

One horse-sized spider for sure – it would be a far more exciting challenge.

What do you want to ultimately achieve with SyndicateRoom? Happiness for me and for everybody that helped SR grow.

What is the most important thing when it comes to company culture? That it is genuine. It cannot be a PR or HR stunt, because it will fall apart. If it is genuine, it will run in the company’s veins and be present wherever the company goes.

What do you see yourself doing after SyndicateRoom? Starting another business. It’s just too much fun to ever stop!

Tom Britton What drives you to do better each day? Two things. First, I grew up with parents who went to the Olympics and siblings who were of a similar age to me, so everything became a competition. I hated losing – at anything. I once spent a Saturday morning folding and unfolding clothes so that the next time we’d race to see who could tidy their rooms faster, I’d win.


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Second, and more importantly, my wife and child, and the desire to secure our futures. The more I learn, the more efficient I become, and the better I can lead the SyndicateRoom team, which will ultimately determine our level of success and the size of any potential exit.

What is your favourite part of the working week? Getting into the office, feeding off the vibe of the team and knowing that we’re all working hard to make this thing amazing.

What personal challenge have you had to overcome as SR has grown? Learning when it’s the right time to let go of responsibility for parts of the business. When you start out as just two people, you wear a lot of hats. As you grow, you need to realise when it’s time to give the hat to someone else that’s more capable of wearing it the right way.

How would you describe your co-founder in one word? Driven.

How does your co-founder temper your personality? We’re like Starsky and Hutch: we’re from very different backgrounds and have very different approaches to most things, but we trust each other and respect each other’s decisions, so it works well.

What do you think has been most instrumental to SR’s development?


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Hiring the right people and being incredibly transparent about what we do, how we do it, and admitting quickly when we get things wrong.

How do you measure success (personally or for members of the SyndicateRoom team)? Personal success is enabling others to achieve their own ambitions and targets. For others, we have a lot of internal KPIs and OKRs, but at the end of the day you have to look at what’s not measured, things like ‘supporting the rest of the team’, ‘contribution to innovation’ and so much more you can’t put a figure to.

How do you view your employees? Extended family. I spend as many waking hours with them as with my family, so that’s ultimately what they become.

When hiring, what is the most important characteristic in a candidate? Self-awareness coupled with a desire to improve. People need to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and be willing to work on both. People who are self-aware are also generally better team players.

What three qualities does SyndicateRoom represent to you? Access, transparency, equality.

What do you want to ultimately achieve with SyndicateRoom? As a company, it’s kind of cheesy, but I want to be able to look back and know that we’ve brought funding to companies that are having a real positive impact on society.

What is the most important thing when it comes to company culture?

or do something amazing with the whole of the spider. People would be impressed!

Creating an environment where disagreement is never personal and everyone has a sense that discussions are always between equals.

Now imagine taking a spider-sized horse to the pub to show off your incredible victory. You’d just get laughed at…

What do you see yourself doing after SyndicateRoom? I’ve got a few ideas for problems I’d like to try solving and I’d love to teach/mentor through a business school or acceleratorlike programme, though I think I need a few more years in the wild before being experienced enough to be useful.

Would you rather fight one horse-sized spider, or 100 spider-sized horses? One horse-sized spider. First, 100 spider-sized horses would be scrambling around biting you endlessly and you’d hardly be able to see or track them. Second, imagine defeating said horse-sized spider. You’d have stories to tell forever and I’m sure a museum would mount the head


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feature PREPARING FOR THE GDPR Noise around the tricksy subject of the General Data Protection Regulation has now reached a nearly impenetrable buzz. Jargon and legalese pepper the pages of news sites across the internet, with every outlet eager to demonstrate how up to speed it is by saying the same thing over and over again. But what does the GDPR mean in practical terms and what can you do to help keep your data safe? Diving into the world of data protection, one of my biggest surprises was how far-reaching and integral it is to any business. Up until several months ago, I worked in marketing, where I was chiefly responsible for organising events and maintaining a dialogue with the companies in SyndicateRoom’s portfolio. When the role of Data Protection Officer came up, I jumped at the chance to get involved. I needn’t have been so emphatic – you’ll be entirely unsurprised to discover that reading through reams upon reams of compliance guidelines for days on end isn’t everybody’s idea of a good time.

Eleanor Richards Data Protection Officer

Many people simply can’t see the wood for the wordy and pedantic trees, so to speak. I’ll admit, they do have a point – the regulation spans 11 chapters, including 99 articles, and uses flummoxing definitions, like this gem: ‘... processing relates solely to the members or to former members of the body or to persons who have regular contact with it in connection with its purposes and that the personal data are not disclosed outside that body without the consent of the data subjects.’ But simply memorising the rules isn’t really what it means to be compliant with the new regulation. Once you grasp the sober ins and outs of the GDPR, the creative possibilities in puzzling out how to perfectly embed these into your own company culture are endless. Not only is this ongoing and subjective challenge intellectually interesting, it’s truly rewarding to shape the manner in which a business can relate to its clients in a way that is safe, respectful and transparent. It’s marketing done right.



As many GDPR compliance roadmaps assert, annual staff training on the topic of data protection is a key priority along the journey to compliance. However, for this training to be effective it needs to be more than just a yearly tick-box exercise; it must be tailored to and understood by everyone.

The two main pillars of the GDPR are the increased rights of individuals, and the obligations of organisations and those that process personal data to secure and respect these rights. When we interact with services, sign up to agreements and make enquiries, we invest a level of trust into the organisations collecting and using our data. Rather than seeing the introduction of the GDPR as an onerous obligation to prepare for, we should recognise its potential to foster enduring relationships between organisations and the public through the building of trust.


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This is already underway at SyndicateRoom. Over the past two months, we’ve been implementing a programme with teams within the company, taking them through how the GDPR will affect their activities day to day, and helping them understand why certain procedures need to be carried out. Namely this means helping the team embed data protection into everyday processes and new projects by completing impact assessments, and together with training, provide simple reminders for staff to check when using personal data – ‘Are we being transparent?’ ‘What is the reason for processing?’ etc. This level of diligence is what the GDPR is talking about when it says ‘data protection by design and by default’. And that’s the key: GDPR isn’t about rote learning, it’s about understanding the practical and moral implications of data protection, respecting the privacy of clients and knowing what does or does not comply.

As a ‘data subject’ (that’s you, me and any living person), we share our personal data across a wide variety of sectors and services. So, if you are an investor seeking early-stage investment opportunities and making financial transactions online, ensuring you have adequate cyber security measures on your personal devices is essential. Appropriate antivirus and firewall protections are a good start, and it goes both ways – you would expect organisations to handle your data securely and uphold robust security measures. Under the GDPR, the accountability of loss or accidental disclosure lies more heavily on ‘controllers’ (those who collect your data and determine how it is used) and ‘processors’ (those that

Simply memorising the rules isn’t really what it means to be compliant.

GDPR isn’t about rote learning, it’s about understanding the practical and moral implications of data protection.

process data on behalf of the controller).


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As an investor, the GDPR will enable you to scrutinise and determine how your data is being used and shared with increased rights. Many organisations are appointing dedicated data protection officers, such as yours truly, to oversee compliance and answer questions on how your data is processed, who it’s shared with and for how long it is stored. This is all geared around helping you have a greater say about how your data is used, how you are contacted and for what purpose. Businesses will have to be a lot more transparent with you, and follow rules around the fair and lawful processing of data.

DATA BREACHES AND CYBER ATTACKS IT security is a fundamental consideration of data protection, and arguably operates the controls for demonstrating compliance with the GDPR. Businesses will need to put processes in place for handling data breaches, and implement measures to mitigate the risk of phishing scams, virus attacks and hacking scandals the likes of

which seem to be dominating headlines with increasing frequency. The daily sentinel email from IT Governance provides key insights into data breaches and cyber attacks as the news breaks. One recent example includes MyFitnessPal, in which ‘the personal details of approximately 150 million users of Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app were compromised after criminal hackers acquired usernames, email addresses and hashed passwords’. This is considered to be one of the biggest hacks to date, with users since urged to change passwords and be vigilant for unfamiliar account activity and communications. Another example is Age UK’s breach affecting up to 5,000 past and present employees at the end of 2017. It was discovered that ‘an employee’s account was sending an email with sensitive data to a non-secure external email account’ and transferring confidential information outside the charity. Further investigations revealed that two staff email accounts had been compromised. Interestingly, this highlights the risks posed to employee data and the simple fact that data protection is also a key HR priority.

In fact, data protection spans across a business-wide compliance framework, including access security, paper and electronic handling and storing of data, HR and corporate governance, including risk management and information security. The more I work through key aspects of the compliance project, and the documentation that supports it, the more I discover how all-encompassing data protection becomes to business best practice. With many IT teams, improving system defences and responses to threats will be realised as an ongoing and constantly evolving process – one that always bears in mind the core data protection principles when reviewing how data is handled, transferred, stored and deleted.

This month’s ICO conference provided fascinating insights into how other data protection practitioners have been tackling the challenges of bringing data protection into people’s working lives as a prominent and crucial consideration. The key takeaway for me came from Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denhams’ latest ICO newsletter following the conference, explaining that there is no deadline for the GDPR: ‘25 May is not the end. It is the beginning.’ The GDPR has considerable implications for us all, and I for one am eager to discover how its compliance shapes and develops over the next quarter as it takes us into May and beyond. I hope you are too.

top tips



TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION Also known as 2FA, this is a two-step verification process that provides an extra level of security when accessing your accounts. A common example is adding a phone number to your email account, allowing you to link it with your mobile phone, receiving a unique code via SMS which must be entered the next time you log in. You’ll be asked for this code each time you, or someone pretending to be you, attempts to log in from a different device.


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2FA can be set up on email, cloud services and and a growing number of online services. At a minimum, switch it on for your email; if your email doesn’t offer it as an option, consider changing providers.


ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE This is an essential piece of kit for your devices to keep them protected and there are many options on the market. It should

be used in conjunction with other protective software suitable for your device. With so many options available, online articles and reviews can be particularly useful when pinpointing what software is right for you – try TechRadar’s Best Antivirus Software 2018 comparison as a starting point. And, the great thing about having so many to choose from is the prices on anti-virus software have tumbled, with the top-of-theline costing less than £50 per year. That’s not much to pay for peace of mind.


CREATE SECURE PASSWORDS It sounds obvious, but creating strong passwords can be overlooked as a tedious and onerous step in IT security. It should be a key consideration – especially when you think about the many logins we have across different sites. Take a look at this blog for a simple breakdown of best-practice steps to take when approaching passwords. And don’t fall trap to reusing a single complex password everywhere. As soon as one site is hacked, the hackers will try the email/ password combinations on as many related sites as they can.



Phishing emails are used to trick victims into clicking malicious links, downloading attachments and malware or transferring confidential information.

From 25th May 2018, individuals will have increased rights to challenge how their data is being used, including the right to object and the right to erasure. Organisations will have to provide more options for you to manage your marketing preferences and ensure they have the right consents to send you communications.


Attackers will often pretend to write to you from a familiar colleague, company or brand to catch your attention. Check names and email addresses carefully before clicking through any email; if in any doubt, use a different means of communication to check whether the person in the ‘from’ field actually sent the email. Note, there have been some recent advancements in systems that make the spoofing of email addresses difficult. If you’re looking to add a layer of protection to your business email address, speak to your IT manager about DMARC, DKIM and SPF protection through services such as https://; read IT Governance’s blog for more details.


One of the main messages from data protection practitioners is to seize this opportunity to encourage trust between businesses and their customers, with increased transparency to consumers hopefully resulting in improved consumer loyalty and relationships. Don’t be surprised about all of the requests to keep in touch, the requests to accept new privacy policies and the constant reminder of tracking that sites implement.


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this year, you’ll be well aware the words on everyone’s lips are bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with people strongly divided on whether cryptocurrencies are the future, have no real value or are funding the activity of the criminal underbelly and dark web. Whatever your opinion, having bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at the centre of public attention has raised awareness of the platform bitcoin is built on – blockchain.



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Blockchain is a decentralised electronic encrypted ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrencies are recorded chronologically and publicly. This decentralised set up and timestamped record keeping means that blockchain’s use is not limited to cryptocurrency but also has wider uses in sharing data, records and contracts in a way that is secure and transparent. If you want a simple but more detailed explanation, check out this video by Simply Explained or IBM’s Think Academy example of tracking diamonds.

BLOCKCHAIN AND SMART CONTRACTS As an illustration of how blockchain can facilitate collaboration, let’s use the example of a contract where we need input from multiple colleagues. Typically we email the contract to our colleague and ask them to make any revisions. The problem with this scenario is that there is a delay whilst the other person works on the document, during which time no one else can make or see the edits being made. Or even worse, changes are made simultaneously and lost as a consequence because we lose track of the latest version. An alternative to this would be using Google Docs, where multiple collaborators can have simultaneous access to a single version of a contract and work on it in real time. This reduces the risk of losing track of versions and allows for true collaboration. On a very basic level, this is similar to how smart contracts work. A smart contract is one which outlines the terms of a relationship or transaction but rather than being enforceable by law, in the case of standard contracts, a smart contract is enforced by cryptographic code. This concept is by no means a new one – it

Amanda Taylor Master Investor

was first described in 1990s by computer scientist and cryptographer Nick Szabo as a kind of ‘digital vending machine’. When you choose an item and pay your money to the vending machine, you are entering into a contract with the machine to interpret your request and provide you with your chosen product to complete the transaction.


Whilst bitcoin’s platform was the first to support basic smart contracts, it is limited to transactions with currency.

For example, if EHRs were available on the blockchain, recruiting for clinical trials could be automated. A patient’s record could be updated with their diagnosis, which would trigger a response that they are eligible for specific clinical trials – something that could be particularly useful in rare disease research. If this research and clinical trial data was then made available on the blockchain and open to other pharma and biotech companies, any failed drugs could be analysed faster to see if they could be repurposed for other indications. This open access approach could help accelerate drug development, identify alternative uses and lower costs, making healthcare accessible for more people.


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Ethereum is a platform built specifically for creating smart contracts and has its own language that allows developers to write their own programs and smart contracts. With this functionality, a contract is created and broadcast to a network of computers known as nodes – these could be parties within the same company or a network of pre-approved parties from different companies, or even a completely public setup. The nodes then verify the contract according to an automated process based on set criteria (a type of if-when algorithm), and once those criteria are met the contract is verified and the transaction is packaged with other transactions to create a new block of data to add to the ledger. The new block is then added to the blockchain in a way that is permanent and immutable. The opportunity to use blockchain for smart contracts and collaborative working is already being realised across a number of industries and could revolutionise the way we share and integrate data. Healthcare is an area that could benefit hugely from the use of smart contracts. For instance, the electronic health records (EHR) already used by many of us could be stored securely on the blockchain and linked to our health insurance, so that in the case you are diagnosed with an illness, this block would trigger a response that automates the claim for payment.

This sort of collaboration could also facilitate sharing of best practice, forging a stronger link between academia, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare systems with the aim of advancing medicine.

One thing that makes me feel we could be close to achieving this kind of collaboration is the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger, which aims to foster a global cross-industry collaboration on blockchain technologies. If Hyperledger succeeds, it could become the holy grail of innovation by promoting sharing and repurposing of data via the blockchain in order to fast-track innovation. Perhaps this is all blue-sky thinking, but if blockchain makes such collaboration possible, we may have a very exciting future ahead.

The opportunity to use blockchain for smart contracts and collaborative working is already being realised.


AI will soon be everywhere and transform many markets, from smart homes to medicine and finance. Codeplay Software’s mission is to enable AI to be integrated into any product. Their immediate focus is on the automotive space, ultimately reducing accidents on the road and making safe autonomous vehicles a reality. The biggest opportunities (and challenges) of today simply cannot be tackled by single entities. There’s no doubt that when it comes to innovation, the right partnerships can give startups a strong competitive advantage. One such partnership can be between startups and investors.


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Finding the right investors is pivotal. There are many conversations about productmarket fit and founder-market fit, but I think the power of the founder-investor fit shouldn’t be overlooked. Codeplay has just been joined on its journey by Foresight Group, who are bringing both investment (£2.1m) and specialist expertise to the table through Williams Advanced Engineering. I’m honoured to have initially brought them together through SyndicateRoom’s SR Connect service and very much look forward to following the results of this partnership together with the effect it will have on AI advancements globally.


Strategic Partnerships Manager

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Charles Macfarlane VP Marketing, Codeplay Software

Codeplay Software You’re on a mission to enable AI to be integrated into any product. How are you looking to achieve that? The easiest way is through the use of open standards. By bringing relevant industry leaders together (processor developers, semiconductor manufacturers and software developers), the whole industry can agree the interface layers – known as APIs (Application Program Interfaces) – which means everyone is developing in a way that is common and compatible. We’ve now been working with and learning from global industry leaders and technology experts for more than 15 years. Over the course of that time, through constantly developing and finding out what works, we have earned a leading reputation for enabling even the toughest and most capable processors through openstandards-based solutions. By using widely agreed and understood open standards, and revolutionising the PC, mobile and gaming markets, these implementations can now be used to bring structure and efficiency to AI industries.

Codeplay first launched in 2002, operating out of a small second-floor office in Edinburgh


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There will always be first-movers that bring proprietary solutions to market, that create their own infrastructure and make it difficult to transition to other platforms. Generally, these solutions are non-optimal, lack choice, lack flexibility, are costly and leave little space for differentiation. While they’re great for bringing innovative products to market, there are so many AI innovations and innovators wanting to do this across different hardware platforms. That’s what we at Codeplay are trying to facilitate.

What sectors do you believe to be most ripe for disruption, as facilitated by highly intelligent systems? Today, AI is everywhere, though some applications are more visible to consumers than others. Almost every sector is starting to embrace the very kind of smart systems that Codeplay can enable:

Smart home: from cameras identifying object/people, to thermostats and security devices

Audio solutions: intelligent speakers in the home and phone

Industry: intelligent manufacturing and handling systems

Medical: analysis and diagnosis used to propose bespoke treatments

Cloud servers: massive quantities of data being processed with the deepest algorithms

Finance: interpreting, predicting and reacting to market trends

The automotive sector in particular is now ripe for disruption using AI. Vision processing and machine-learning systems in cars allow drivers to delegate certain decision-making to the vehicle. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are already in place in most high-tier cars, providing features such as adaptive cruise

control, self-parking, lane departure control and collision avoidance. These and many more advanced functions will continue to trickle into mid- and low-tier cars, providing enhanced safety to drivers and road users. All car manufacturers and component manufacturers are scrambling to produce solutions embracing AI research and vision processing to benefit the high-value and high-reward ADAS industry. We have developed a range of products called ComputeSuite™ with the aim to bring AI everywhere. These products have been developed for use in a range of products, and in the future will be safety critical tested and certified for automotive use.

Codeplay’s technology is highly relevant to the automotive sector and you recently secured a partnership with Renesas. How important are partnerships to facilitating further innovation in AI? Safe AI in the automotive sector will be one of the great uses of the technology. ADAS is already widely deployed in many cars, but the level of functionality is still limited, costs are high and much innovation is yet to be included. As development costs increase, car manufacturers are finding their costs split in two directions, with around half going to developing hardware and half software.

But the software costs are escalating, and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are seeking a route to control these costs while integrating leading ADAS features. Additionally, in order for these systems to continue to be safe, they are evolving to adopt some of the same features seen in smartphones, such as over-the-air software updates. This in turn requires long-term feature improvements and after-sales support, perhaps ten to 20 years. Renesas, a Japanese semiconductor manufacturer and major supplier of automotive processors, is enabling next generation of ADAS and autonomous car solutions. They quickly aligned with Codeplay’s vision for building a software infrastructure based on open standards to simplify and accelerate AI deployment, and are endorsing our strategy and vision. This is a major engagement for Codeplay. It also sends a major statement within the automotive industry that enabling AI and vision processing using open-standardsbased software is the right way to go. Our tools enable companies developing applications to focus on their ADAS innovation, writing software using a familiar environment. Codeplay’s open-standard stack allows these applications to run on a range of Renesas’ R-Car processors. In the spirit of open standards, our collaboration with Renesas is not exclusive and we will be extending the solution with other processor suppliers, in automotive and all other AI markets.


All driving tasks are performed by the driver


Automation levels


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The vehicle is controlled by the driver, but some driving assist features may be included


The vehicle has combined automated functions, like acceleration and steering, but requires the driver to remain engaged and monitor the environment at all times


CONDITIONAL AUTOMATION The driver is a necessity, but isn’t required to monitor the environment


The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under certain conditions


The vehicle is itself capable of performing all driving functions under any conditions

Our solution will provide support for applications with processors that haven’t even been developed yet.

Given a future scenario where the transition to fully autonomous vehicles is complete, what are some of the changes you anticipate in the automotive value chain? There are six levels of autonomy, commonly referred to as SAE – Society of Automotive Engineers – levels [see boxout]. As of today, only one or two high-end car models claim to be at Level 3 Conditional Automation (fusing high-quality maps, radar and sensors). Most cars now sold have a minimum of Level 1, with most mid-tier and high-end containing Level 2 solutions. Therefore, the route to Level 5 Full Automation will take a long time, with some people saying first introductions will happen around 2025 to 2030; others believe it will never happen. There are so many intermediate steps before we get there, with combinations of different implementations building up over time, and each step progressively releasing control from the driver and adding extra safety and automation. Level 4 is forecast to be introduced in production cars

sometime after 2020 and can allow the car to be autonomous with certain limitations, for example, only on approved/verified roads, accepted town centres, acceptable weather conditions, and for platooning lorries, where the leading lorry has a driver and the followers are driverless. This type of autonomous vehicle already takes us far beyond today’s position and may be sufficient to change the car safety and even car ownership business model (the future of car ownership is another subject). We are already seeing an array of sensors in prototype cars – radar, LiDAR, vision and ultrasonic. These core sensors can be supplemented with other sources of data, like GPS, wheel speeds, steering wheel position. Also, cameras monitoring the driver to ensure awareness of a perceived risk, such as the car approaching an obstacle while the driver is sleeping or distracted. All the sources of data need fusing and interpreting to take the most appropriate manoeuvre. Our solution is structured for all of these applications, from the reduced feature

peripheral imaging devices detecting specific features, the array of intermediate implementations, through to a high-end sensor-fusion with advanced intelligence. By enabling the developers of advanced innovation, our solution will provide support for applications with processors that haven’t even been developed yet. The use of open standards provides the glue between applications and processors.

Can you give us an example of a milestone you look forward to reaching? One open standard Codeplay is supporting, which is highly relevant to enabling AI everywhere, is SYCL™ from the Khronos Group, an industry consortium focused on the creation of open-standard, royalty-free application programming interfaces (APIs).


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A SYCL-enabled processor system provides application developers with a familiar API and enables many familiar AI and machinelearning solutions. SYCL has been gathering momentum over the last few years with Codeplay leading this push. Codeplay offers a free implementation called ComputeCpp Community Edition, which has thousands of downloads and has received excellent feedback, and we’re also driving an ecosystem bringing developers, news, releases and updates into one place via In the last few months many companies are understanding the importance of this and SYCL is therefore getting much more interest and attention. The moment for industry adoption of SYCL as the platform getting AI everywhere is here; 2018 will certainly be an interesting year for both Codeplay and SYCL.

Having a global mindset is essential for scaling up. What are some of the key lessons you learned from having clients across borders? Codeplay has already worked with the biggest and greatest companies located all around the world. However, achieving a reputation is not dependant on the company or location, but achieved by demonstrating and delivering excellence.

One of the bigger challenges of working with larger companies is aligning Codeplay’s technology within the corporation’s multiple organisations. While one group would like to enable Codeplay’s solution, other groups either believe they can do it quicker or cheaper, or do not buy into the strategy. These challenges are often difficult to resolve in the short term, and can take many months of follow-up to convince and align minds.

All companies have great engineers that come forward very quickly to help understand the benefits achieved with Codeplay. Understanding the hierarchy and connections at each company helps target the right people with relevant information. Face-to-face is great – it totally breaks down barriers and avoids misinterpretation. Whiteboard brainstorming and sketching out thoughts always helps to communicate any concerns. Every company wants your tech delivered tomorrow, but it can take well over six months to get a project kicked off. Engineering-level discussions are great and progressive, but you also need to engage sourcing departments to get all the supplier details sorted out e.g. master services agreements, supplier acceptance and commercial terms.

Joining forces with the right strategic investors has the potential to supercharge companies. When you were raising funds, how important was the strategic value that investors can bring? There are a lot of VCs out there with a variety of characteristics and preferences. It is a complex environment with so many subtle variables and sensitivities. So, finding the right investor and the right fund is tough, and feels like a needle-in-a-haystack mission. Ultimately, the right investor will get it, understand your technology, and you will tick all the right boxes.

Codeplay has traded since 2002 and now has around 70 employees – so not your typical startup nor your typical Series A fundraiser.


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The right investor needed to understand why Codeplay was on the cusp of making substantial gains with AI, both into consumer and automotive. The right investor needed vision – to understand or be open to advanced technology and how this could impact consumers; they needed to be connected – to be linked with relevant technology industries, demonstrating the right experience and track record; and they needed to be able to offer their support and be capable of staying with Codeplay for substantial growth, with the ability to invest further if required.

What excites you most about the future of AI and how is it going to affect everyday life? AI is all around us, yet still at the start of its growth curve, having only recently passed the hype stage. It has only just touched us so far, yet consumers are already

experiencing it positively. There is so much excitement across many markets that believe AI has the potential to do so much more, and companies are making it part of their strategy or roadmap. Smart homes, mobile phones, manufacturing and medicine are starting to benefit from AI. This will evolve significantly in the coming years, with the computing power moving from cloud servers to embedded devices. For Codeplay, automotive is the biggest challenge and the biggest reward. Saving lives and reducing accidents on the roads is achievable with AI.

Codeplay’s team now comprises more than 70 people

For Codeplay, automotive is the biggest challenge and the biggest reward.


THE BROMLEY BOYS In a time when Hollywood is preoccupied with flashy portrayals of dystopian futures and a seemingly endless regurgitation of old franchises, The Bromley Boys provides a refreshing return to the joy and heartbreak of ordinary life.


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About 18 months ago, a small UK-based film production company called Itchy Fish Film closed its SyndicateRoom funding round, which helped it secure nearly £500,000 to produce its latest labour of love: The Bromley Boys, ‘a heartwarming film about the worst football team in Britain’. The film is a funny yet touching comingof-age football memoir played out to the sights and sounds of late-60s/early-70s Britain. Adapted from the acclaimed autobiographical novel (full title, The Bromley Boys: The True Story of Supporting the Worst Football Team in Britain) by Dave Roberts, it recounts the author’s highs and lows supporting his beloved Bromley FC through their worst-ever season. At least, that’s what it is on paper. On screen, it’s a far simpler yet far more honest celebration of identity as informed by the things we choose to love – something that, in the UK at least, more often than not

centres around ‘the beautiful game’. It’s a love story between a boy and the one thing he’s thrown his entire affection into – which in this case happens to be the absolute worst football team in Britain. Brenock O’Connor (Oli in Game of Thrones) is inevitably lovable as the scampish protagonist David Roberts, precocious and consistently wading out beyond his depths, while Alan Davies and Martine McCutcheon join the cast as David’s parents. The Bromley Boys is a lighthearted, funny and genuinely heartwarming film. Filmed in 1970s style, complete with contemporary music, questionable fashion choices and some truly beautifully composed shots, The Bromley Boys is simply a pleasure from beginning to end. Sure, by blockbuster standards, the stakes in the story are set pretty low – there’s no life-or-death standoff, no ‘chosen one’ upon whom falls the fate of an entire galaxy. Instead, what we’re given is a far more intimate crisis of a small community in Kent. It’s quite possibly the least pretentious film you’ll see all year.


Warren is a screenwriter and occasional director from Brighton on the South Coast of England. He has written several feature film scripts to date as well as working on TV projects, both commissioned and self created. While he has penned several horror/thriller screenplays, his passion evidently lies in comedy. ‘Warren managed to perfectly capture the voice of The Bromley Boys book when he was adapting it. He then came up with an original and brilliantly constructed storyline that I wish I’d thought of,’ says Dave Roberts, author of the book upon which the film is based. ‘One of the funniest screenwriters around.’ We spoke with Warren about his experience of bringing The Bromley Boys to the screen.

What was your approach adapting the novel to the screen? What were the challenges? The main challenge in turning Dave’s brilliant work into a movie was that the book takes the form of a diary. It features game-by-game commentary of Bromley’s worst-ever season – 1969/70. Although there are lovely emotional ups and downs in the text, it needed some traditional movie elements to take it to the big screen. So I came along and added a love element and a more traditional story arc… oh, and a big ending too. By the end of the long process, the film ends up taking on a life of its own, but I feel it really embodies the spirit of Dave’s writing. I hope it does, anyway. In fact, large chunks of Alan Davies’ narration were taken directly from the book. Thanks Dave!


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SR: What’s The Bromley Boys about? Warren: The Bromley Boys is the story of a young lad in 1960s Britain and his attempts to fit in. Initially with the fans of his local, and beloved, football club Bromley FC and then with his first love… the Chairman’s daughter, Ruby. As the story progresses, Dave gets himself involved in a secret that may end it all. The fate of the club, and his new found love, now rests firmly on Dave Roberts’ shoulders.

The World Premiere of THE BROMLEY BOYS will be held at Wembley Stadium on the 24th of May, after which the film will play in selected cinemas and then be released on all main formats in the lead up to the World Cup.

From left to right: Steve Kelly, Director; Warren Dudley, Screenwriter; and TJ Herbert, Producer


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All images (C) Itchy Fish Film Ltd


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When you were writing, did you know who was going to be cast? If so, did you write the characters to fit the actors? We approached Alan Davies and Martine McCutcheon [pictured on the previous page] early on and that was very handy – particularly in writing Alan’s narration. He has a very distinctive lilt to his voice and writing with that in mind was lovely. He’s also a football man like me, so I knew he’d understand the subtleties and nonsense of the diehard supporter. Martine is just lovely. She is so warm on screen and off. It was a genuine pleasure writing for her too.


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As for the rest of the characters, I saw them really come to life after I’d finished writing and casting was being done. That’s one of the most interesting elements of my job. I’d been imagining these people in my head for years and it often ends up that they are nothing like you originally pictured. All in all, I genuinely could not be prouder of The Bromley Boys. It’s been a long and tough process to get to where we are now… I just hope people enjoy my love letter to football.

You can find Warren online at

I just hope people enjoy my love letter to football.

The Big Investor Survey 2018


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New research shows risk appetite on the rise as half of Britons fail to meet their financial goals. In February 2018, we partnered with research firm FTI consulting to survey 1,000 UK investors on their investing habits and outlooks, expanding on research conducted around this time last year for our report, Tax-Efficient Investing in a Digital World. What we uncovered was a mixed portrait of Britain’s retail investors, who are at once disillusioned with their financial prospects, embracing of riskier investments (so long as these point to higher returns) and hungry for better access to opportunities. Here are some of our key findings. •

A worrying 48% of British investors are failing to achieve their financial goals – 2% more than in 2016. Millennials (53%) and women (50%) in particular say they are ‘off track’

68% say they will definitely take, or consider taking on, riskier investments to achieve their financial goals

Early-stage equities (startup investing) and cryptocurrencies are top asset classes on the higher-risk category, with 10% of UK investors investing in each

A staggering 67% of investors expect returns from early-stage equities to increase over the next 12 months, with Millennials (71%) and female investors (also 71%) most bullish about this asset class

On average, investors would move 12% of their investable portfolio to early-stage equities if they had more complete information and better access to investment opportunities, with 65% considering a diversified portfolio of startups helpful in reaching their financial goals



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One worrying statistic revealed that half of UK investors (48%) are failing to achieve their financial goals. The fact that this number has increased since 2016 (46%) suggests that the low-yield economic environment is having serious effects on the nation’s ability to reach its financial goals. Millennial investors seem worst affected, with 53% falling short of their goals. Investors hold mostly mainstream equities (77%), bonds (33%) and residential property (30%), but clearly these most popular asset classes are no longer meeting investors’ expectations.

The figures around the proportion of investors – Millennials in particular – who are not reaching their financials goals are concerning, especially when you look at the knock-on effects this has on the nation’s financial health. The fear is that as the number of investors hitting their overall financial targets declines, more investors may become risk averse. However, evidence suggests that having a diverse range of early-stage equities can prove a key addition to any portfolio. This diversification could make all the difference in helping investors hit their financial goals.

Katy Levitt




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Interestingly, and in spite of popular belief, Brexit appears to have left investors unfazed with 59% claiming the vote it won’t change how they will be investing over the next 12 months. In 2016 this finding was 54%, suggesting investors are getting accustomed to the new ‘normal’ that Brexit uncertainty brings. Almost a quarter (22%) of investors say they are now more likely to invest. Broken down, that’s nearly half (49%) of Millennials, onequarter (25%) of Generation X and one in ten Baby Boomers (10%).

There were many predictions of the impact a Brexit would generate, but most of the impact so far seems to be uncertainty driven. As people become more certain of the presence of uncertainty, they begin to relax and return to more normal investing behaviours.

James Sore




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ON THE RISE Against the backdrop of dwindling returns, 35% of investors have noticed their appetite for risk increase over the last 12 months. Further, seven in ten (68%) investors say they would take on riskier investments if it gave them a stab at meatier returns. This number increases to nine in ten (88%) among struggling Millennial investors. Cryptocurrencies (10%) and startups (10%) are the most popular higher-risk asset classes.

It’s great to see that despite the hype around bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, earlystage investing is still popular with investors. It’s easy to see why. Firstly, in the UK at least it’s a regulated industry; secondly, it has a track record of delivering long-term returns.

Marcin Zaba




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Early-stage equities (startups) remain popular for those seeking high-risk highreturn investments, with 10% having invested in the asset class. Three-quarters of investors recognise a diversified portfolio of early-stage equities to be an attractive investment proposition. However, rising barriers to investment are stopping investors accessing this asset class. 56% of investors claim that a lack of information about investing (up 8% since 2016) is stopping them, while 37% say that a lack of awareness of opportunities is a major barrier (up 4% since 2016). On average, investors would be willing to reallocate 12% of their investable assets into early-stage equities – providing they had ample information on and access to deals.

One-quarter of investors claim that their early-stage investments have outperformed their expectations, with two-thirds (67%) expecting returns to rise in the next 12 months. Millennial investors are more bullish with their outlook, with 71% expecting higher returns versus 56% of Baby Boomers. Women in general are also more optimistic than men in the performance of their startup investments (71% vs 64%). The prospect of high returns (94%) and long-term returns (93%) are the main drivers to invest in early-stage investing, perhaps unsurprisingly given recent research suggesting that capital growth in startups tends to increase at 30% per year.

Clearly there is much to be done on the awareness front. While there are muchneeded restrictions around who is able to view opportunities in this riskier asset class, more should be done to ensure IFAs and wealth managers do not feel so restricted in discussing it with their clients.

Tom Britton




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PRODUCTS Despite great expectations for early-stage equities, levels of awareness of the tax-relief schemes designed to encourage risktaking investors (VCT and EIS) are falling. Awareness of VCTs has dropped 69% from 77% in 2016, while awareness of EIS has fallen from 59% to 55%. Make sure you’re in the know with our simple EIS cheat sheet.

I challenge Chancellor Philip Hammond to do more to promote VCT and EIS investments. Not only are they instrumental to helping a generation of investors reach their goals, they’re also the lifeblood of Britain’s entrepreneurial businesses, which drive the economy’s job creation and productivity.

Gonçalo de Vasconcelos




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Metrion aims to deliver high-quality ion channel drug discovery and safety profiling services to the life-sciences industry. Metrion provides expert advice and interpretation in support of client research programmes, as well as state-of-the-art cardiac safety profiling, neuroscience activity models and human translational assays. Based at Granta Park, Cambridge, Metrion is a pharmaceutical contract research organisation specialising in the sophisticated field of ‘ion channel’ biology. The company’s expertise lies in its deep knowledge of ion channel screening technologies, including manual and automated assays for determining the potency and selectivity of drug compounds against a wide range of human ion channels important in medicine. The significance of research into ion channels is that these proteins are

important therapeutic targets in a number of fatal and debilitating diseases including cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, local anaesthesia, pain, stroke, epilepsy, depression, bipolar disorder, lung disease, autoimmune disorders and diabetes. Furthermore, ion channels have proven clinical utility for the development of anaesthetics and analgesics, and have important applications in testing potential toxicities of new drugs. By providing high-quality ion channel data, an in-depth understanding of the target class, and targeted screening assays, Metrion facilitates more cost-effective, predictive and faster drug development for its clients.


TOTAL RAISED: £1,875,348 188% funded

Cambridge Nutraceuticals develops and markets health supplements under its brand FutureYou. The company successfully overfunded its most recent round, having previously raised just over £1m on SyndicateRoom in 2016. The business has successfully grown through sales of its launch product Ateronon and is now extending its range of clinically proven food supplements under a new brand: FutureYou. It has a programme of observational and clinical studies at leading research centres around the UK, including the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield. The company generates revenue principally through sales made directly to UK customers, though it also has several overseas distributors, with Australia being a particularly significant market.

Since its previous raise on SyndicateRoom two years ago, Cambridge Nutraceuticals has grown direct-to-consumer revenue by more than ten times. Capital raised in this latest round is intended to fuel further growth. The majority of funds raised would be spent on marketing, including scaling up of existing channels and the development of new digital channels. The company – which already boasts 50,000 users – hopes to increase resources of the new product development team and support senior hires.


TOTAL RAISED: £586,941 117% funded


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10to8 is an all-in-one appointment scheduling software that’s already being used by over 2,000 companies in more than 30 countries and has facilitated over 1.6m appointments. 10to8 believes it has cracked the problems of appointment coordination by creating a ‘communicating calendar engine’ that lets all parties know what’s happening using each person’s preferred communication channels. By actively seeking confirmation, focusing on error avoidance and aiming for absolute reliability, 10to8 has the potential to save people and institutions a great deal of time and money. 10to8 believes it has a fundamentally different approach to diary management and provides an integrated method of communicating. Communications are how all bookings are organised in the real world and vast amounts of time are spent on this core activity.

10to8 brings the booking conversation from many channels and focuses them into one place; from here, the solution automates the coordination process to potentially deliver massive savings.

FREEDOM ONE LIFE TOTAL RAISED: £282,015 113% funded

A business developing a new generation of wheelchairs to empower those with physical disabilities to lead more independent, adventurous lives. Speak to anyone who uses a powerchair and, whether they’re using it for work or travelling the world, they’ll undoubtedly have a horror story about breaking down and becoming stranded. Existing power wheelchairs are not built to be used all day, everyday. People end up stuck at home if their chair breaks down – waiting several weeks to get it repaired. Ultimately, their life is limited by the limitations of their wheelchair. As a result, many people aren’t able to rely on their chairs for going out alone at night or in bad weather, or venturing far from home; some never even go on holiday. If you use a conventional powerchair daily, it is almost always in your mind. Will it fit on

the bus? It’s raining, will it breakdown? Do I have enough charge to get home? At the airport, will they break it? Freedom One Life want to completely redefine this experience, they want their wheelchair to almost be ‘forgotten about’ and for people to focus on their day/life and trust that their chair will just work as it should. Its vision is to deliver radical change to the market, offering a revolutionary power wheelchair to improve independence and stretch the boundaries powerchair users face.

Issue // 03 // May 2018

Risk warning: Investing in early-stage businesses involves risks, including illiquidity, lack of dividends, loss of investment and dilution, and it should be done only as part of a diversified portfolio. SyndicateRoom is targeted exclusively at sophisticated investors who understand these risks and make their own investment decisions.


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Tax relief depends on an individual’s circumstances and may change in the future. In addition, the availability of tax relief depends on the company invested in maintaining its qualifying status. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. You should not rely on any past performance as a guarantee of future investment performance. To read the full risk warning, go to This publication has been approved as a financial promotion by Syndicate Room Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 613021). Investments can be made only on the basis of information provided in each respective investment opportunity. Syndicate Room Ltd is registered in England and Wales. Number 07697935. Registered office: The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP.

The Syndicate #3: Collaboration  

In Issue 3 of The Syndicate, we explore the value of collaboration among startups. How can you tell whether a company’s team works well toge...

The Syndicate #3: Collaboration  

In Issue 3 of The Syndicate, we explore the value of collaboration among startups. How can you tell whether a company’s team works well toge...