18 Key Findings at the European Business Angels Investment Forum

The first European Business Angels Investment Forum was held at the Shangri-La Bosphorus and¬†Hayrettin Iskelesi sk hotels in Istanbul,Turkey. It was organized by EBAN, Business Angels Association –¬†Turkey (TBAA), Borsa Istanbul, and Forbes I Para Conferences. With the theme ‚ÄėAccess to Finance from Start-up to Scale-up to Exits‚Äô the forum was attended by 284¬†Angels from 36 countries; university officials and professors, bankers, company officers and¬†crowdfunding platform owners. It is important that we recognize the importance of angel investments in supporting startups. The¬†European Governments know the importance of angel investment in funding startup and early stage¬†businesses in Europe, so they provide tax incentives to individuals that back small businesses as well.¬†EBAN President Candace Johnson remarked ‚ÄúIn Istanbul our TBAA colleagues bridged the gap between¬†Stock Market Exchanges and Business Angels with a most thoughtful, insightful Investors Forum in one¬†of the most beautiful cities in the world. Majestically presented to all present with midnight tours and¬†local culture, Istanbul was also the perfect place for our new MBAN Colleagues to come together and¬†have a special Middle East Forum where four world-class entrepreneurs were showcased to investors¬†from around Europe, the Middle East and the world.‚ÄĚ TBAA President Baybars Altuntas said ‚ÄúThe forum attendees learned the intricacies of the Turkish¬†ecosystem. Turkey recently passed the Angel Investment Law in one year, legislated the highest tax¬†incentive in the world in nine months, and involved its exchange as an exit strategy for early stage¬†investments‚ÄĚ. He further adds ‚ÄúThe Forum also brought together the key stakeholders of the equity market, analyzed¬†the challenges and advantages in angels‚Äô investing, and found out what more could be done in¬†connecting the early stage market ecosystem. We also deliberated if there is still a need to change¬†regulatory and fiscal rulings. We also defined how angel investors should approach the public markets.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúIt has been the greatest privilege for EBAN to work with the newly established MBAN and ABAN¬†entities this last six months and we are so looking forward to a glorious 2015 where cross-border¬†engagement will give way to cross-continent engagement and wonderful global EMEA Success Stories‚ÄĚ Candace Johnson added. All 18 key findings in the forum will be officially declared at the Special European Business Angels Forum¬†session to be held at the World Entrepreneurship Forum on November 2015 in China. THE KEY FINDINGS ARE: 1. A reliable local ecosystem is essential for cross-border angel investments. Stock markets can create a¬†platform where angels and startups can meet and negotiate. 2. Open a Private Market for startups and entrepreneurs. In this market, all must register as stock¬†exchanges, be accredited angel investors and have access financing in a secure environment. 3. Mentorship programs, independent audit firms and other service providers must be present in this¬†reliable local ecosystem. 4. Develop co-investment funds. Banks, as public entities, should invest together with angels in¬†startup investments. A certain percent of the profits, say 1 percent, should go to the co-investment fund. 5. Private investors should be allowed to make co-investments with public funds. 6. With European Union funds, policy makers should undergo training on how to‚Äôs and the¬†advantages/disadvantages of co-investment funds. Policymakers must be trained to show the best¬†practices, pro – cons and how to‚Äôs of co-investment funds. EU should finance these training best¬†practices and how to‚Äôs. 7. While pitching to angels, startups should demonstrate their products. Crowdfunders should be¬†considered as mini-business angels, and thus be accepted as a seed funding structure around the¬†globe. 8. Stock exchanges and crowdfunders complement each other, rather than compete. 9. At the start of any entrepreneurial journey, the first to support the startups are¬†crowdfunders and the last help will be from stock exchanges. Thus, there is a need to create an¬†information drive among the key stakeholders and guide the entrepreneurs on where to go for¬†financing. 10. Aside from money, the startups need know-how, mentoring and networking. The¬†public can provide financing, but the rest comes from business angels. Cooperation between the¬†two should be fostered and public money should be converted to smart money. 11. An accreditation scheme should be established to qualify angel investors, and thus¬†be recognized by public authorities. 12. Legislation that will set the same minimum amount for qualified angels to invest in startups. 13. Turkey has a very dynamic and fresh angel investment ecosystem. Within the next few years,¬†the ecosystem will be able to provide successful exits for startups. 14. The Business Angel Networks in Turkey should be able to connect with the global angel investment¬†market to facilitate exit strategies. There is a need to follow global events and create links with key¬†players. 15. Business Angels of Turkey see foreign angels as their ‚Äėmentors.‚Äô Thus, there is a need for policy¬†makers to provide more incentives to foreign investors that work with Turkish angels. 16. Acceleration centers should be established, and be accepted as institutional¬†angel investors. 17. These acceleration centers will check professionally all startup applications for¬†financing, if they are already investment ready. If and when angels receive requests for funds, they¬†will first forward these to acceleration centers for verification. 18. When the acceleration centers are established, then startups should not go to an angel investor¬†directly, but to the said center first. Startups should have to understand that acceleration centers are¬†highways to access smart money.

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