The Nest 2017

by Nicola Gartenberg











The day kicked off with Brendan Barns, Founder of London Business Forum, promoting a happy business. We were deafened by the horn he used as a prop, slightly confused when he told us to hug a stranger in the room, we booed when he told us to stop hugging a stranger in the room and, finally, we cheered as Brendan walked (or waltzed) off the stage to The Beatles, “All you need is love”.

Taking us into the coffee break, we were graced with two investor panels – the first discussing Angels and crowdfunding and the last providing advice about making investors chase you rather than vice versa. It was particularly interesting to hear the views of seasoned investors, who originally doubted crowdfunding when it first gained traction in the early 2000’s. They concluded that they had been overly cautious and they now see crowdfunding as a permanent fixture in the investment landscape, with VC’s and angels investing alongside crowdfunding. The latter panel, included Tim Jackson, General Partner at Lean Investments, who shared a particularly thought-provoking acronym – HALEP – Hungry, Attracting, Lean, Enterprising, Professional. He looks for startups who approach him to fulfil this HALEP criteria, with his preference moving away from classic pitch meetings and instead focusing on trying to understand the founders and their motivations.
No-one has a better understanding of the Angel investing landscape than Jenny Tooth (CEO of UK Business Angels Association), who shared her expert overview on navigating the Angel financing landscape and key trends in the industry. Interestingly, Angels are getting younger, with 14.7% aged 25-34 and 28% aged 35-44, but female representation is still low with only 14% of female Angels – a statistic she is targeting to increase to 30% by the end of 2017.

After a delicious lunch, kindly provided by The Andaz Hotel London – the goat’s cheese focaccia was a personal favourite, we heard from our very own Founder and CEO, Rasha Khawaja, who explained exactly what we do at Toucan and how we have identified that creative startups are hugely underserved by support services, compared to technology startups. This Toucan presentation provided us with the opportunity to share some of the creative companies that we are currently supporting.

Grill My Cheese certainly made everyone hungry again with their presentation. The video showing them create their much-loved ‘Baby Got Mac’ (grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork, homemade bbq sauce, and mac ‘n’ cheese’)
had members of the audience positively salivating. Grill My Cheese is currently raising a round of funding to open the first two of a chain of casual dining restaurants in London.

Pashion, a disruptive communication and logistics platform, gave the audience an insight into how the fashion industry currently handles sample management, the answer is… haphazardly. Flavia, co-founder of Pashion, shared a personal anecdote about an internship at the beginning of her career, which saw her running frantically to the Park de Tuileries to bring a limited-edition pair of shoes for Renee Zellweger for a shoot for the front cover of US Vogue. Up to €2.5M is lost on a yearly basis, due to the disorganisation and human error in this area of the fashion industry. This figure really brought to light the desperate need for a platform like Pashion. Pashion is currently fundraising £250K, £150K of which is SEIS eligible.

Following on from presentations by Toucan portfolio companies, it was time for the announcement of the runner-up and winner of Spotted In – Toucan’s joint initiative with The Culture Capital Exchange (TCCE). Spotted In was launched in 2016 to discover new creative businesses, with a view to providing the winner with support from both Toucan and TCCE. Awards were presented to Makers Café as the ‘One to Watch’ and Styled By Africa as the winner.

Rounding off the day, Rasha and Fiona Dent (MD at Time Inc. UK) announced the re-launch of The Ignite Awards 2017, a national competition looking for upcoming businesses in the food and beverage, retail, and lifestyle sectors. After the success of the Awards last year, Toucan and Time Inc. UK are offering their support again to this year’s winner. For more information about applying to The Ignite Awards, please get in touch.

We thoroughly enjoyed the day, jam-packed with a great variety of speakers and panellists. If you would like to see a snapshot of the day’s events, you can check out some of the photos at Toucan Events.
We are currently catching up with everyone from the event but if you were unable to make it and have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

All that’s left to say is we hope to see you all at The Nest 2018.