$1bn project

TV comedian to help Watt back next unicorn


James Watt: wants to support the next billion-dollar business

BrewDog co-founderJames Watt has recruited a TV comedian and an entrepreneur to the advisory panel that will help him sift through more than 400 applications to find the next unicorn.

Comedy performer and close friend, Dom Joly and the founder of Contrarian Thinking, Codie Sanchez, will join Mr Watt in the search for the next billion-dollar business that will receive his £5 million investment. 

The beer company co-founded by Mr Watt and business partner Martin Dickie reached the landmark valuation in 2017 and he wants to put money behind the next one.

The BrewDog boss has partnered with the world’s largest equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to receive pitches from a range of European entrepreneurs. 

He says the Next Unicorn project is already the most successful campaign of its type in Crowdcube history and he has extended the deadline for applications to 19 April.

Crowdcube CEO Matt Cooper, and Evelyn McDonald, CEO of Scottish Edge – who helped BrewDog get started 16 years ago – will do an initial scan before the shortlisted businesses are invited to pitch live to Mr Watt and his two advisers at his home in London on 15 and 16 May.

The BrewDog chief was inspired to create The Next Unicorn after two rejections from television programme Dragons’ Den – once when he was starting out, and more recently when he was approached and shortlisted to become a dragon himself.

Mr Watt will invest £1m in three firms, with a further £4m to be unlocked as the winning companies reach certain milestones. The public will then be invited to invest in the unicorns-to-be, doing so on exactly the same terms as Watt.

Commenting on progress so far, Mr Watt said: “I have been incredibly impressed by some of the entries received already and it’s encouraged me to extend the application window to discover what other amazing enterprises are out there.”

Turning his attention to his new members of his expert panel, Watt added: “I’m also so excited to be announcing new members of the advisory panel. Codie Sanchez has achieved so much – from building billion-dollar companies to running firms with an annual turnover of $50million, she really is perfectly placed to support me in identifying the Next Unicorn.

“As for Dom Joly, he’s a trusted friend and will provide a totally different outlook to the judging process. Business pitches can sometimes get a bit heavy – I am sure Dom can provide some great insights, as well as helping ensure everyone has a smile on their face.”

Three final companies will be invited to Las Vegas, where they will receive their funding at BrewDog’s rooftop bar. Following the Vegas announcement, the three winning businesses will be live on Crowdcube.com for the public to invest in the deal.

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