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Raising £95k without a pitch deck

The story of true angels.

I want to tell the story of how we raised the right investment for Sanctus, from the right people, on the right terms.

12 months ago we were only profitable for one-man, soon we were to be two.

We needed cash, but we didn’t want to dilute the purity of Sanctus.

The haunting image of our last company we raised money for.

I was vehemently anti-investment. I saw investors as potentially dangerous and harmful to the business, I was terrified that the wrong investment would cause huge misalignment and rupture something very special that we had.

We didn’t want to be reporting sales figures to a board or dealing with shareholders who just didn’t get it. We just wanted to carry on with our mission.

We had a few paying customers, an active community, a desire to do more and a willingness to grow. We just needed a little cash to help us along.

I wanted to find a way for us to raise money, but not compromise on our vision and values.

Raising the wrong money from the wrong investors with warped expectations on our growth could jeopardise what we had. Sanctus was so embryonic that I didn’t want to rush things, to scale quickly and break — I wanted us to be slow, careful and cautious.

I wanted our community to trust us and the unsustainable growth that most investors want, didn’t feel right.

I wanted us to raise some money, but have the option to never sell, to grow at our own pace and stick around for the next 50 years.

As far as I knew, there were no investors in London that would invest on those terms.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Completely out of the blue, an angel investor I knew e-mailed me off the back of a newsletter. He’d said he’d read it out to his daughter over dinner and they loved it, he wanted to catch up.

I rocked up to lunch at Wagamamas and we caught up. I huffed, sighed and lamented at how I had some customers, how I saw a big opportunity, but how I didn’t believe we could raise the right investment.

“I want to grow slowly, profitably, raise no more money after this and right now I have no intention to ever sell.”

“I’m not saying we don’t have ambitions to be a big business, we do, but we won’t be raising more money in 12 months time.”

“We want to grow the brand slowly, like a Virgin or a Nike, that’s our aspiration”

“We believe we can be one of the brands that defines the mental health market, but it could take us 50 years to get there.”

It was literally the anti-pitch for most investors.

I had no pitch deck, no business plan, no terms or valuation.

I knew very clearly what I wanted and very clearly what I didn’t want.

As we shook hands after lunch, he said “I’ll put some money in if you need it”

I was a bit shocked; “Oh right, cool.”

In that innocuous meeting I had my first £25k cheque from an angel investor. No pitch deck, no pitch, no long debates about valuation or terms.

In the coming weeks I met about 10 more angels and I told the same story.

Almost every angel I spoke to wanted to be in. Nobody asked about valuation and nobody scrutinised terms. The only thing that was mentioned was SEIS.

On the day I asked angels to transfer funds we got messages like;

“Thank you for letting me be a part of this.”

“Great to be involved.”

“Excited to be a part of the mission”

In our last business, raising money had been brutal. It’d been a fist fight between founders and investor, a battle for terms and for control.

Yet, there we were with £95k committed from 9 amazing angels who all believed in me and George and wanted to be a part of our mission.

Before anything, they personally cared about mental health. The business and their investment came after that.

I’ve read and I used to write posts about how to raise money, how to game the system, how to hustle investors, how to pitch and how to close.

It does not have to be that way.

We know what we want. We were honest about it and we were lucky enough to find angels who believe we could make our vision a reality.

They’re part of this with us.

They’re true angels.