JAMES King, co-founder and managing director of venture capital firm Find Invest Grow (FIG) is preparing for the grand opening of FIG Village, an 18,000 sq ft disused Royal Mail sorting warehouse in Shepherd’s Bush which has been turned into office space.
After months of work building a dozen or so new offices, meeting rooms, a basketball court, a large open plan presentation area and a gym, FIG Village is almost ready. The deputy mayor of London for business and enterprise, Kit Malthouse, will cut the ribbon cut on Thursday, May 2.
Having had issues with previous landlords, Mr King and his partners decided to create offices which they themselves wanted to work in. This had to be fun and relaxing but at a reasonable price. It also had to be in a good location.
“Have you ever been to Silicon Roundabout? It’s a pain,” said Mr King. “It’s not near anything apart from banks, and why do start-up businesses need to have easy access to banks? They need to be near investors. And where do investors live? In west London.
“We found this place and it was perfect – it’s easy to get to, the transport links are excellent, you can drive or get public transport and it’s near Westfield. It’s affordable, it’s fun and it’s flexible. It’s absolutely ideal.”
Having invested about £240,000 into the building, it is now home to start-up businesses as well as multi-million-pound global companies.
As co-founder of FIG, Mr King and his partners – James Herbert, Mark Hanington and Marco Geninazza – work with young entrepreneurs, supporting them through the development of their business plans and introducing them to investors.
All of them have experienced success and failure in their careers, and FIG was conceived round a pub table after a particularly humbling experience.
Mr King said: “We were discussing one of my early businesses, which hadn’t worked out due to relationships with certain investors, and it was a tough lesson. We were talking about how we wished we had had someone there to advise us and put us in the direction of like-minded investors.
“One pint turned into many and then we thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a service like this’. We were all quite excited by this idea and spent the following three or four months figuring out if there was a niche market for this and we discovered there was.
“We had some initial investment and did a lot of research and it became apparent that what we were doing was very exciting. It was at this stage that Mark Hanington, who at the time was working for Henderson Global Investors, quit his job and came on full-time. He joined and turned what was a fun and exciting concept into a business.”
One of the first things the FIG team did was create an online tool which potential start-ups had to fill in before getting the chance to meet the panel of investors.
The extensive form takes in the region of six to eight hours to complete and Mr King believes it is absolutely vital because it soon establishes whether young entrepreneurs have done their homework.
Once completed, a team of analysts considers the business plan before submitting it to the four founders for further input.
If they like the idea they will bring in the budding entrepreneur to offer advice, capital or introduce him or her to other investors.
Mr King said: “It’s not hard to fill out a form, but this one takes six to eight hours. It’s designed to be a pain as the more time they spend filling it in the more time they spend thinking about their business and if they’ve taken all the necessary steps.
“It’s all about the quality of the idea. It can be anything but if we get excited about it, we’ll invite them in. The one thing we look for most is people who will listen to us.”
Since launching FIG the team has invested in 15 companies, including fitness equipment specialist Mujo, freshly made ready meal company Meals from Scratch and microneedle business Innoture.
Two of the 15 businesses have folded.
For more information visit www.findinvestgrow.com .