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New angel group

Trio set up fund to take equity stakes in startups

Angels’ delight: James Longcroft, John Ross, Sean Rollo

Three entrepreneurs have set up a fund to take equity stakes in startups struggling to get support during the downturn.

Edinburgh businessmen James Longcroft, John Ross and Sean Rollo are drawing on their own personal wealth to establish Invest Scotland.

The project was conceived during the early days of the pandemic when the trio realised there was little assistance available to help smaller companies cope with the fall-out of Covid-19.

Funding of up to a maximum of £30,000 is available. Firms must be registered as public limited companies based in Scotland.

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Mr Longcroft, founder of packaging technology company Choose, said; “Our criteria is not as extensive as banks and that was a key aspect of setting up the fund.

“When the pandemic struck we struggled to get banks to lend to us as businesses and it made me think what was out there for companies taking their first steps.

“Banks aren’t really looking at new businesses or small businesses in the same way as they were before the pandemic. The landscape has never been more challenging for startups or small businesses and we wanted to help.

“We’re not looking to become a huge equity house and drum up millions of pounds for existing businesses. We are here to help Scottish startups get off the ground.

“We would like some active trading already but it’s not a necessity. We’re happy to help with ideas.

“Once we have grown it to a point where it can run well by itself, we’ll look to the company to buy back the shares from us at a new valuation or sell them on to other investors who want to become involved.

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“We don’t want to stay involved for longer than is necessary as we want to take our profits to reinvest in more Scottish businesses starting out on their own journeys.”

Mr Ross, a multi-business owner and managing director of cleaning firm CleanTEC, said: “Our combined expertise has been gained from 30 years in business and we will use that to help companies through this uncertain period and help them emerge stronger than ever.”

Mr Rollo, managing director of building firm Rollo Developments, added: “We each have our own businesses and have had our fair share of failures and learned a lot of lessons along the way.

“We have been tripped up by a lot of the hurdles businesses are facing just now so are well placed to help them avoid such pitfalls.

“If small Scottish businesses do not have the huge client base that is needed to keep afloat, the concern is that hundreds of them may go bankrupt as they can’t get access to the funding and advice they need. That is where we can provide support.”

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