Client spotlight: Bolt Angels
In the latest Delio client spotlight, we speak to David Bell, Managing Director of Bolt Angels. He explains how they have moved into venture capital and are using Delio’s private markets technology and expertise to launch their funds.
Can you tell us about Bolt; what’s the story of how you’ve got to where you are today?
Bolt Angels is part of a wider group including Bolt Digital, Bolt Talent and Bolt Brands. Essentially it’s a product of all the other elements of the business.
We reversed into the investment industry, by seeing the demand for funding from high-quality brands at the early stages of their growth first-hand. Based on our experience across the other parts of the group businesses, we’ve found that we can see relatively quickly what’s going to work, so it seemed like a great opportunity for us to enter the world of venture capital.
Initially, we made a couple of investments personally and then decided to build on this at a more functional scale by creating a funnel of opportunities and starting to market ourselves as an angel investment company. That’s when we came across Delio, who helped us get our first fund off the ground.
Despite being mostly direct to consumer focussed, our first major investment came through a great Brand that was also launching an unbelievable health tech proposition (JAAQ). It was an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to work on and continues to be so.
What have been the main opportunities and challenges you’ve faced in moving into the space?
We have natural deal flow from the other parts of the company, so that element of the opportunity was naturally in place and we built on that. We’ve also constructed a decent network within the VC space in the UK, and are expanding it in the US at the moment.
So far, we’ve secured capital from all of our “warm leads” – our network and people we know who trust us. That’s how we built our first fund, but I can already see another, bigger, fundraising round coming in the near future. To make that a reality, we’re going to have to go beyond our organic network.
So the main challenge for us going forward is to scale and expand our network; as a relative newcomer in the VC space, we’re looking closely at how we get our message out there and how we portray ourselves in the market. It’s been helpful to attend the networking events that Delio hosts as these have enabled us to meet new people in the industry, and I see ourselves having to do a lot more of that in the future.
Bolt uses Delio’s regulatory support and deal structuring solutions, as well as our core technology. What role does the regulatory and structuring support play in helping Bolt to achieve its goals?
Firstly, the external credibility it’s given us in the marketplace is a great benefit. When we’re speaking to people, we’re able to say we have a regulated arm provided by Delio. Then highlighting the calibre of the other companies that Delio supports backs this up even more. That credibility is something we’ve leant on as we’ve started to fundraise.
Secondly, we didn’t have that much experience in this industry internally. Having a team like Delio’s on hand to ask questions, validate ideas and be pointed in the right direction is incredibly useful. We wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing otherwise.
How about Delio’s technology?
We’re a technology-first company. So I don’t think we would’ve done it any other way – either through building it ourselves or working with a company like Delio.
As technology is core to Delio’s offering, it made them a great fit for us. It’s a very easy platform to integrate people onto, we know we don’t have to meet in person, there’s no paperwork – these are all big ticks in boxes for us in terms of ease of use.
Using Delio’s technology and expertise has meant we could go from an initial idea just six months ago to having raised £1.45 million and completed the process in a fully regulated way.
Why did you decide not to engineer a platform yourselves?
Time was a big factor; we run multiple businesses and setting it up would’ve required us to learn exceptionally quickly and hire more people.
We also decided that we didn’t want to spend our time on running the regulated side of the business and the tech that goes alongside it. We want to focus on where the deals are, who the great founders are, and how we support them in growing their businesses. Which is why we turned to Delio as a solution that takes care of all of that for us.
How have Delio’s services made a difference to your operation?
There’s a level of scrutiny and compliance that Delio has added to our operations. Having the compliance baked into our processes, making sure that we’re always taking the same steps, and that all the boxes are ticked has been instrumental for us to operate compliantly and efficiently.
The team has been amazing throughout the whole process, any questions we’ve had they’ve been able to help. Also, they’re really nice people which is even better as it makes it enjoyable to work with them.
Looking to the future, where can you see Bolt in the next few years?
We would like to choose five to ten businesses that we enjoy working with and feel will make a difference to the world, with a focus on health and wellness. I see us funding a number of D2C value add or technology startups over the next four to five years – carving out a niche for ourselves as experts in that space.
What advice would you give to someone else who might be looking to move into the VC space?
There’s an old saying “your network is your net worth”; in this space it’s really true, especially at the start. Without that at the beginning, it’s not impossible to achieve your goals but it is going to take longer.
I’d also say, get your team on board early and set up properly. We brought in Delio to be that team for us. Having them there to give you the right advice all the way through is invaluable. There were a number of steps where we could’ve had issues that would have taken us a long time to unpick, but we didn’t because we had that support readily available.