The Change Up: Startup Includer’s Lewis Sopp talks about the need for digital transformation in the investment ecosystem

Lewis Sopp

The last six months has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and just as it looked like we were coming out the other end, restrictions are being put back in place as the number of cases are rising once again. While a frustrating time for everyone, the pandemic has forced businesses to re-evaluate everything they do and in many instances pivot to new ways of working. We recently spoke to Lewis Sopp, Network Development Manager at Startup Includer, to find out how their platform is supporting the ecosystem during this time.

Startup Includer is a platform that aims to help angels and investor groups streamline their processes. It was founded by the two most active Angel Investors in Estonia who were the core team of Estonia’s first unicorn. Lewis explains:

“They (the founders) have an impressive understanding of the different aspects that make up managing a successful Angel Groups and have developed a platform that illustrates that perfectly. More so, they have a clear view on where the future of Angel Investing lies and have financed a product roadmap that supports that. They identified a gap in the market and worked closely with the likes of EBAN, ESTBAN, and some really well recognised business angel networks across Europe, to provide a feature rich and very intuitive platform.”

The company’s primary objective is to allow angel groups, venture capitalist firms, accelerators and incubators to streamline their (processes) by managing a lot of their services within the Startup Includer platform stretching across deal flow, member management, communication, events, portfolio, reporting & much more. Elaborating further Lewis adds:

“The real differentiator, is that we’ve developed a feature that allows groups using Startup Includer to share deals with one another, and streamline co-investment. There’s a cluster of groups in Europe and also closer to home who are using this at the minute and the response has been phenomenal. (They) essentially can collaborate seamlessly by sharing deals through the platform which is super transparent and ultimately allow them to close syndication rounds quicker by opening their deals up to our ecosystem essentially and allowing different groups around the world to get involved, and share deals and collaborate.”

Startup Includer says that groups who use their platform have seen a significant uplift in member engagement from 0-30% to 70-90%. Discussing the reason behind that, Lewis shares:

“What we found was, with UK groups especially, is that systems and softwares that they tried previously are quite clunky and not very intuitive, and generally just a poor user experience. The tangible effect of that is that member engagements decreases substantially. Through Startup Includer there are different communication touch points within the tool. Through the platform members can communicate with one another. There’s member management so you can actually see when the members were last on the platform and re-engage them by resending your invitation or contacting them through a different way. The call to action of the members’ journey is to come back and actually collaborate with one another through the platform.”

“When the pandemic first hit there was realisation of how untraditional and rigid some processes and systems are.”

Over the past six months, the pandemic has forced investors to change the way they work and look at the processes and systems they use. During this time Startup Includer noticed a surge in interest, which they believe stems from the need for digital transformation.

“When the pandemic first hit there was realisation of how untraditional and rigid some processes and systems are. What we’ve seen is that people are looking to use our platform to streamline those different processes. There is a whole host of different areas, which you can manage through the platform, which is stored in the cloud and is very secure. The benefit is they don’t have to go to different platforms and it eliminates the need for physical paper work. The benefit of having everything under the one roof is that it enables remote working.”

Another issue that the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of face-to-face meetings, especially during the pitch stage when an investor is considering whether or not to back a business. Startup Includer has been enabling its users to quickly adapt to virtual events to keep the investment and the opportunities flowing. Lewis says:

“The platform supports the full virtual event experience. There’s definitely been an increase in the number of events that have been created on the platform and that further supports the need for digital transformation. Obviously, everyone loves a physical event. I think you do tend to get more personal relationships out of those but if this happens again, and there’s a need for a virtual event, having the framework there which you can rely on, is paramount.”

As much of the UK is seeing more restrictions imposed again as COVID-19 cases rise, Startup Includer is looking to the next six to twelve months to ensure that their platform continues to support its users. For Lewis, his focus is going to be on spreading the word about the platform and showcasing its benefits, especially during these challenging times as they reconsider how they handle their day-to-day business.

“My objective is to spread the word and to support groups in that transition, or at least that re-evaluation stage, and moving forward and planning for the year ahead. What are they currently doing in terms of deal flow and managing their members, or areas that are not quite performing as they’d like to, and what we can do within the platform to really support that work with them. The more groups we get using the platform, the better it is for everyone. Over the next six months I’ll be engaging with UK groups and showing them how our platform can support their ambitions.”

For more information on Startup Includer, please visit https://startupincluder.com/.


By UKBAA30 Sep 2020