Funding plan

Watt launches platform to create three unicorns

James Watt with ‘unicorn’ at Ellon brewery

BrewDog co-founder James Watt has confirmed his new start-up funding platform which aims to create three unicorns – businesses worth $1 billion.

Mr Watt has launched “The Next Unicorn” which he describes as being “like no other” business support programme.

The controversial brewer and pubs owner said he will be investing £5m of his own money in the project and is inviting other investors to join him.

His initiative was spurred by being rejected by television’s Dragons’ Den at the interview stage in 2008 and later missing out on becoming a Dragon himself.

“Spurred on by this double rejection I decided to try and create something better,” he said today. “Better for entrepreneurs, better for businesses, better for our economy, and, ultimately, better for you.

“The Next Unicorn is a business funding platform like no other. I’ll be backing three businesses in their quest to become billion-pound companies and unlike Dragons’ Den you are invited to participate in the deals.

“This is power to the people meets 21st century investing.

Start-ups or small businesses from across Europe are being invited to apply by submitting a 10-slide pitch deck. Mr Watt says his project covers seed funding to series A funding to everything in between. Applications can be made through Crowdcube.

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“If you are keen on investing in the winning three businesses, I am going to bring you guys along with me every step of the way,” he says.

“You will see the shortlisted pitches, footage of the pitching process as well as my thought process and rationale behind each investment I am making with my own money.

“As soon as I confirm my investment, the three winning businesses will go live on Crowdcube giving you the chance to invest alongside me in exactly the same deals.

The three final companies will then be invited to Las Vegas, where they will receive their funding at BrewDog’s stunning rooftop bar on Friday 26 May. Following the Vegas announcement, the three winning businesses will be live on for the public to invest in the deal.

On top of a cash injection, the competition winners will also each enjoy an unusual day with Mr Watt to test their personal relationship and adaptability in unexpected circumstances. The scenarios include fishing on Watt’s grandfather’s boat, planting trees in the BrewDog Lost Forest and working a day pulling pints at the beer firm’s Camden bar.

Mr Watt, who says his own company is valued at more than $1bn, adds: “I believe start-ups are the backbone of our economy, I believe that now, more than ever, we need more job creation and more innovation, I believe that entrepreneurs, builders and disrupters need more access to growth capital, and I believe that the businesses that succeed long term need to showcase business as a force for good in our world and need to be built, first and foremost, on community.

“The Next Unicorn was born from these beliefs as I look to take everything I have learned from building a remarkable business and help others do exactly the same.”

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