Jenny Campbell, a banker turned entrepreneur and one of the new Dragons from the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, took time out from her busy schedule for a quick chat with Seedrs and GBI Magazine.
In an effort to settle a debate amongst ourselves, we asked Jenny which she felt was more important, the product or the person. She said, “That one’s an easy one for me. For me, it’s about the person.”
We were also interested in how Jenny’s proven business acumen will help her on Dragons’ Den. “Well, I’m a banker turned entrepreneur. I was a banker from the old school, where you’d do training as you climbed up the ranks, including technical qualifications in lending propositions and the security you need and risk appetite. So, I think in a technical way. I have all that in my kitbag. On the top of that, I did the management buyout at YourCash in 2010. I have built up entrepreneurial experience. I’ve done fundraising. I’ve done exits. I’m well connected in the adviser market in terms of corporate, financiers and lawyers and so on.”
So, what’s the single most important thing to do before you say “Yes” to an investment?
She feels that you should trust your intuition from the beginning. “Don’t prolong things and start doing lots of due diligence and ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’. If it doesn’t feel right at the beginning, then it’s unlikely to turn around. But, once you have decided to go with something, due diligence is important. You need to see what’s the actual proposal.”
SEIS and EIS – not the be and end all
Although many investors look for tax breaks, Jenny doesn’t feel they should make or break an investment, a sentiment we agree with. “These are a nice to have, but you shouldn’t let the tax tail wag the dog. So, don’t invest because it has that label. But is a nice safety net to have in case of losses – it offers re-assurance.”
Diversification’s a must
Jenny echoes our advice to diversify an early-stage investment portfolio. She advocates a matrix approach, “I’m just beginning to build my portfolio now. Ideally, you’d like a spread of sectors. You’d probably like to have different stages of growth, a complete mix, really. It’s like your whole financial planning; you should have some in equities, some in bonds, some in the bank and some under the mattress.”
Understanding risk and reward
A subject close to our heart at Seedrs, we just had to get her views on risk. “They should do their homework. Understand that this is high risk and be prepared to win some and lose some, because that’s the sort of investment it is at the end of the day.”
We like to have a balanced view at Seedrs, so although some would have shied away from the subject, we asked Jenny about her views on ventures that fail.
“We all like to say that you learn from your mistakes, but when it comes to money, naturally, you don’t want the mistakes to happen to you. But in theory, you really need to learn lessons and move on. You have to accept that if you’re doing multiple investments, and want the superior returns, then you will lose some. You always want to think about what didn’t I see, but then you can’t see everything. Things change in the market, or regulations – look at Brexit – no-one saw it coming. It all comes back to making sure that you diversify. If you’re going to go high risk, you’ve got to be prepared to win some and lose some.”