Our investment experts can help you put yourself in the best position to raise the investment you need to get your company off the ground 

How investment into spinouts and startups works 

The most common way to raise large amounts of money for your business is through external investors. These are people or organisations who pay money into your company in exchange for equity – a share of the ownership of the company. 

Individuals who invest their own money in early-stage businesses are known as angel investors; firms that invest in high risk, but potentially high growth companies are known as venture capital (VC)

Rather than securing all of your future funding needs in one go, raising investment is usually carried out in rounds. This is because you need different levels of investment at different phases of business development – your investment needs will depend on your business’s costs and rate of growth. And from the investors’ point of view, businesses at different phases carry different levels of risk – an early-stage startup has a greater risk of failure than a successful established business looking to expand.  

Both the level of risk and a company’s maturity will impact the percentage of your company that an investor’s money will get them. Therefore, as a founder, it makes sense to only seek sufficient investment to move the company to the next value inflection point, an objective milestone where the risk is lower, maturity is greater and you can get a better deal for your company.  

Investment rounds are by convention staged into a:  

  • ‘Pre-seed’ round. This is money you raise at a very early stage, before you have proven the market for your product and the technology is in the early phases of development 
  •  ‘Seed’ round: This is money you raise in the early stage of company growth, to continue to develop your technology into a working prototype and prove commercial application and build out a team who can lead the company into the next funding round. 
  • Series A, B and C: Once you have demonstrated the viability of your business, you may go through further investment rounds which help you expand your business.  

The amount of money raised at each round typically increases in line with the company’s growing operating costs. The rounds up to series A are considered early-stage funding, and from series B onwards are considered later stage 

But don’t worry too much about the jargon – we know that fundraising can be confusing to people new to it, which is why Enterprise’s Investment Services team are on hand to help you navigate the process and put your spinout in the strongest position to attract the investment your spinout needs to make an impact in the world.  

How we support you in finding investors 

Investment is a fundamental part of how your company grows and thrives, so you need to start thinking about your investment strategy during the process of setting up your spinout.  

Finding investors can seem intimidating when you are new to it. Your investors are, in effect, your first customers, and the investment world has its own language, processes and expectations that can be opaque to outsiders.  

Our team of experienced professionals will help you become investor-ready, so you can present your company in the best way to secure investment – in the language of investors. We help you develop your investment strategy, and can put you in touch with founders who have been through the same process to provide guidance and mentorship.  

We work closely with the investment community to help them find investment opportunities at Imperial, so we’re well positioned to connect you with relevant investors, and support you through your initial funding rounds.  

The College also manages an internal VC fund to invest in startups linked to the College, the Imperial College Enterprise Funds (ICEF).