Funding and investing in early stage technology companies always carries a high degree of risk. Indeed, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has made the world of funding and investment more precarious, with efforts such as fundraising, scaling and project management presenting more challenges than ever before. For an informed understanding on the subject, we sat down with Barry Brennan, Founder and Managing Director of CapF9 to talk about the benefits of investing in business, strengthening your team and finding the right investor for you. Check it out!
As we open up our remote discussion, the driver behind CapF9 sheds some light on his own personal and professional background before embarking on the path of entrepreneurship. He enjoyed a varied career working in various roles across London and Dublin, ranging from roles in the legal profession right through to corporate finance. He placed great focus in the financial innovation space before moving into investment management. This is the sector that Barry currently finds himself in, working in various non-executive director roles for a number of financial and tech companies.
Funding and Investing in Early Stage Technology Companies
In his current role and Founder and Managing Director of CapFP, Barry works with early stage technology companies to provide advice around strategy, growth and funding. The company also lends its expertise to larger companies and organisations, looking at new technology projects and their implementation in more complex products, as well as specialist investment management mandates. Barry’s work often spills outside of CapF9, working in a mentorship for Enterprise Ireland as well as multiple business incubators across the island.
Barry’s expertise has allowed him to become an Expert Evaluator for the European Commission on EIC grants, helping companies focus on innovation across the European region. Indeed, assisting younger companies, particularly within the technology space, is a passion of Barry’s that he has carried with him into business life. “In part, I think it’s about preparing yourself for future life. But it’s also a chance to work with amazing people in nimble organisations building amazing new products,” he explains.
Securing funding for a business isn’t easy, admits Barry: “It’s a difficult environment. We are a small Ireland with two ecosystems, competing against bigger countries with huge ecosystems. Ireland is doing some great things – even in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. So, you can make it work – but you have to be careful”. For the CapF9 Managing Director, succeeding with investment should begin with the business owner asking themselves two pertinent questions: what type of business do you want to build, and what sort of lifestyle would you like to eventually live?
What’s Your Definition of ‘Success’?
It is the job of Barry to look at patterns of business and patterns of success, layering those patterns over the businesses he meets. “It’s a case of working with investors and the company itself to raise future finance. It’s about asking yourself on a basic level what success means, and whether you still want to have five members of staff working for you in ten years time,” he suggests. “That’s not to say that a small business can’t be successful – of course it can. However, with such a business it would be very difficult to secure the likes of venture capital, for example.”
Securing investment can be largely dependent upon the strength of your team. “If you don’t have the right team leading the initiative, things go wrong. You need a team that is the best possible team and that is able to adapt to change. I look at things through a few lenses: soft skills, which doesn’t sound important, but it is. Then you have hard skills, and finally you have a combination of those factors and skills together.”
But what does Barry mean by soft skills? He argues that these skills can be things as simple as integrity and honesty. “As an investor, you need to be able to trust in people in the most basic levels. Basic professionalism is also important – I love the phrase ‘be yourself’, but if the authentic version of yourself isn’t professional, that can really turn off an investor. This can also be really simple, like replying to emails or delivering what you promised to deliver. You also have characteristics like the ability to sell – even a little bit of shamelessness can help,” he laughs. “Having a bit of neck is important – as well as resilience, drive and ambition. If you can demonstrate this to an investor, it can be really powerful.”
What comes next for Cap59 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Barry hints that he may take some of his own advice, taking a step back to think about his work and business. “I’m happy with the company;s current direction – and the need is more pressing than ever to be in the tech and finance space.
“I’m having too much fun, and if I get more opportunities to work with more amazing people, I’ll be blessed.”
**Those wishing to learn more about securing business investment and early stage growth can visit CapF9’s official website to view the company’s full range of services. Those wishing to reach out to Barry Brennan directly are invited to connect with him directly via LinkedIn.**
Ciaran Connolly’s interview with Barry Brennan joins ProfileTree’s award-winning Business Leader series, recently recognised with the Best Content Marketing Award for a Video Series at the inaugural Irish Content Marketing Awards. To pitch your brand to the series or to discover how our video marketing & production services can transform your online business, get in touch with our team today.