Isle of Man News - POSTED Wed 16-09-2015

Entrepreneur Event Creates Investment Opportunities for New Businesses, and the Island

by LC

Entrepreneur Event Creates Investment Opportunities for New Businesses, and the Island KPMG has once again taken on the role of lead sponsor of the SiliconIOM Entrepreneur Event series and, alongside fellow sponsors IQE and Continent 8 Technologies, hosted a third private supper at the Claremont Hotel on Thursday 10th September.

The evening offers businesses, largely from outside the Isle of Man, a chance to seek support from local investors, with the added bonus of attracting growing, entrepreneurial business to the Isle of Man. Some of the companies pitching on the night were already discussing the advantages that the Island offers to growing companies.

Minister Laurence Skelly opened the evening with words of support, stating the Isle of Man Government is “committed to making the Isle of Man the choice for innovation and entrepreneurship” and to creating “an environment where business and the individual can flourish.” The government’s future plans, particularly with regard to the Enterprise Development Fund, involve increasing their investment in flourishing businesses and attracting more entrepreneurs, and their companies, to the island.

Entrepreneurs were given a punishing six minutes to pitch their cases to a group of local business luminaries and high net worth residents, then a further minute to open to the floor for a Q&A. During dinner, entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to discuss their businesses in greater detail with guests in a more intimate and relaxed environment.

Charlotte Mason and Steve Hawkins, founders of SiliconIOM, continue to connect early stage and start-up businesses with Isle of Man mentors, NEDs, and investors across several different business sectors including tech, pharma, bio-med, and manufacturing. Roberta Castle, Account Director for Continent 8 Technologies said: “Events like the Entrepreneur Evening are a perfect opportunity not only for investment, but to show what the Isle of Man has to offer. Developing relationships with businesses that are on the cutting edge of their industries, and constantly pushing the boundaries of their field, is exactly what we need to ensure that the Isle of Man maintains it appeal. We are in a strong position, but ensuring continued success requires forward thinking, exactly what tonight is about!”

Five companies sought investment: Greenworld Innovations, Regenerative Medical Group, Pulsar Lighting, Switchee, and Nous Global Markets.

Nous was founded in 2012 by a team of finance and technology experts with the mantra of empowerment, diversity, and opportunity, and “Free the Markets” as their motto. In early 2014, Nous launched their first product, Spark Profit, a free mobile trading game which allows users to trade stocks and shares in a virtual environment for cash prizes, without the usual risks involved in trading. In just over a year the app has attracted over 260,000 total users, with 17,000 active weekly.

Co-founders Justin Short and Michael Horgan were present at the Claremont as Justin pitched for investment to introduce real money trading and move the ‘game’ towards a real investment tool. The strong user base, impressive market control, and the financial credentials of the Nous team impressed the investors.

Justin spoke passionately about his product and his belief that Spark Profit’s potential still hadn’t been realised: “At present we are gaining new users for $0.70. No other app of this kind can claim to have that big an appeal to the general population, and that’s because our app is fun. This isn’t just a financial trading platform, it’s a way for people to gain access to the stock market without the complicated barriers, without the confusing language… it’s visual, it’s intuitive, it’s our way of ‘freeing the market’ so everybody has the opportunity.”

The figures certainly backed up his pitch. 33% of users had no previous interest in trading before Spark Profit, and a massive 75% had no experience at all. After using the app, 95% of current users now say they want access to real trading, using Spark Profit as their platform. Mike added: “The 6min presentation time is tough. Justin did a great job, but summing up the 4 year journey we’ve already had and convincing a room full of business people of our future is no easy task. I just urge everyone who wants to learn more to take a look at our product. There’s a reason we’ve been successful so far, and once you see our website and experience it first-hand you’ll be convinced too!”

The announcement that the company was looking into relocation to the Island highlights both the success of the event, and the strong commercial environment that the Isle of Man offers to growing businesses. Nous has already registered as an Isle of Man company, and is planning on gaining its gambling licence before the end of the year.

Simon Nicholas, Director of KPMG said: “Nous highlights the reason we are involved in the Entrepreneur Event. As a company KPMG helps clients through all stages of their development, dealing with a huge variety of issues. High quality start-ups looking for help establishing themselves on the Island, or growing their business, are an important part of the Island’s future and we are happy that we can play a part by supporting SiliconIOM as lead sponsor. We are already looking forward to the next event!”

Charlotte closed by saying: “We are delighted to run another entrepreneur supper in the Isle of Man, and are truly appreciative of the support from Minister Skelly, KPMG, IQE and Continent 8 Technologies. New, innovative businesses are crucial to the Isle of Man’s future, and the government’s commitment is at the heart of what attracts them. This event was our most successful yet. The quality of the pitches and the enthusiasm of the investors we had present is a real advert for the Island. This is a place in which you are not only welcome, but where you can flourish. We look forward to returning on the 18th of November for the next event in the series and welcoming new faces.”

If you are interested in attending the next Entrepreneur Event, please contact Micky Swindale at: mswindale@kpmg.co.im

Photo - Michael Horgan and Justin Short at the event.

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