Today sees the launch of an exciting new website, nacueventures.com, the first UK website to specifically connect university enterprise with investors. It comes as university graduates face the toughest jobs market imaginable.
A network of investors registered on the site are then permitted to review pitches and inform their investment decisions. Initial contact is managed via the site, before both parties meet in person to explore opportunities further or to close a deal.
Created by the National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) and cmypitch.com, nacueventures.com enables university-based entrepreneurs to upload a video pitch for funding supported by summary business plan details.
NACUE is the creation of Victoria Lennox, former President of Oxford Entrepreneurs, Oxford University's enterprise society and the largest of its kind in Europe. Recognising the fast-growing interest in entrepreneurship, Lennox has pulled together the country's entrepreneur-focused societies, representing 25,000 students.
She feels the lack of a 'milkround' among major recruiters this year has only fuelled interest in self-employment upon leaving university, with forming a start-up while studying an evermore attractive proposition. It was reported in recent weeks that major graduate recruiters had reduced their planned intake by 28% with 5,500 vacancies cancelled or unfilled, according to High Fliers Research. Plus, the investor community has a long-held interest in backing the most innovative university ventures.
Victoria Lennox says: "one of the key barriers that young entrepreneurs face when starting-up is information on, and access to, capital and investment. Nacueventures.com is well-placed to fill this gap by helping young entrepreneurs across the UK to better understand funding options and to connect with interested investors."
Emmett Kilduff, cmypitch.com's CEO says: "The best brain power in Britain is at the universities. The jobs market is effectively closed therefore students are being forced to explore the entrepreneurial route. And investors are out there, but have no formal way of sourcing good opportunities from universities. This is what drove me to launch nacueventures.com with Victoria. I want to help good university entrepreneurs find funding to fuel their business dreams."
Students using the site, which is free to upload pitches onto and only charges a one-off £99 to contact investors that express an interest, also boasts an unrivalled library of "investor readiness" tools, featuring video tips from top entrepreneurs, such as Dragons' Den's James Caan and former Dragon and SchoolforStartups.co.uk founder Doug Richard, both of whom are highly active angel investors.
There are other online resources such as guides, advice and offline support from incubation units and Enterprise societies. In addition, cmypitch hosts live pitching events entitled cmypitch Live, which are attended by business angels, family offices, seed funds and VCs. Investor-ready users of nacueventures.com will be able to pitch at the events.
School for Startups' Doug Richard, who is an advisor to NACUE, believes the site will meet a real need. "Student entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy. NACUE brings a focus nationwide to that community and nacueventures.com is a great way for angel investors and the wider world to get a direct view of student opportunities. School for Startups is highly supportive of this initiative."
For investors, nacueventures.com has the potential to open up the UK's best university investment opportunities and makes identifying the most attractive deals more efficient. Investors can save valuable time, allowing them to not only assess the business opportunity but also the people behind the proposition. Pitches can be filtered by university, stage, size, sector and whether the business has intellectual property - all key considerations for investors. Investors can also receive email alerts when a new pitch is added that matches their preferred criteria.