How to enter the Start-Up Series

The competition is open from 1st – 14th of every month for online applications and we’ve made it deliberately easy to enter.

All applicants

We initially ask for just a few details, and a two-minute video and/or a two-page document telling us about your business. We purposely don’t ask for too much information to begin with – we want to see how quickly and easily you can get us excited about investing in you and your start-up.

Selected qualifiers

If we like what we see, you’ll progress to the next round where, as a Qualifier, you’ll be asked to complete a more detailed online application. That’s when we’ll really dig into the detail and ask questions on your team, financials history/projections, market & more. Our judges will regroup and review all Qualifiers before deciding who we like the sound of. The competition then moves off-line, and we’ll arrange interviews with those who have made the shortlist. We give each qualifier feedback after this stage.

The few finalists

The final stage of the competition gets more intense. We’ll invite the founding teams of the finalists to meet with us for half a day for a ‘deep dive’. This is where we’ll get to know one another, understand more about your market and proposition, stress-test your business plans, identify where Worth Capital can help and discuss the terms of the investment.

If we conclude we’d be able to help and would like to invest we make a commercial recommendation to the Fund Manager. They will review our recommendation & carry out further due diligence. Once this has all been passed, the investment can be made.

Eligibility and terms

The Start-Up Series is for early stage & growth businesses, even including pre or early-stage revenue, that expect to grow fast and create high returns for all shareholders.

The investment into the winners comes from an EIS & SEIS Fund, therefore the businesses who are considering entering need to satisfy the following criteria set by HMRC:

· You must be a UK resident and run a UK-based business

· You must be over 18 years old at the time of entry

· Certain financial services and property businesses are unlikely to qualify.

The investment is made from The Start-Up Series Fund which is FCA-regulated. Typically, the Fund will invest £150,000 of funding allowed for SEIS qualifying businesses, and then make follow-on investments from the fund as the business grows. For more mature EIS qualifying businesses, the Fund may invest up to £250,000. This could be as the sole investor leading an investment round, or alongside other institutional investors.

Winners of the competition will be giving away equity in their business in exchange for investment from the Fund, so it’s important that you and any other shareholders in the business are comfortable with this. In addition to the Fund equity, Worth Capital will take up to a 7% share option in your business. All terms of the investment deal will depend on the maturity of your business and will be negotiated with you individually if you reach the later stages of the competition.

You do not have to pay to enter the competition. Investment fees will apply if you were to gain funding. These fees can be paid for from the investment.

Full terms and conditions can be found on the monthly competition entry page when the competition opens each month.

What are you waiting for? Enter today!

Remember – even if there’s not a competition currently running, you can register your interest now to be notified as soon as the next submission window is live.

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How soon after entering do winners receive the investment?

We make investments from the Start-Up Series Fund into the winners in tranches which usually consists of 3-4 businesses at any one time. This allows investors to receive a diversified mini-portfolio of investments. We aim to close a tranche at least 3 or 4 times a year, however this depends on the cash coming into the Fund from investors.

Are your terms negotiable?

Yes & no. Terms such business valuations and the Worth Capital option depend on the maturity of the business and the level of funding required, all of which will be discussed with applicants during the later stages of the competition. However terms such as the investment fees are set at an industry standard and are unlikely to be negotiated.

Why does Worth Capital take up to a 7% option in the winners?

This is the incentive for Worth Capital to be involved, and it is structured to keep Worth Capital’s interests aligned with their investors and the businesses that are funded. Everyone benefits from using Worth Capital’s experience to grow the businesses towards a valuable exit. Note, this option is negotiated, it will be higher for the earliest stage businesses and can be lower for more valuable maturing businesses.

I just want the cash investment, do I still have to pay for mentoring?

Yes. We make a promise to our investors to keep close to all investee companies for the first couple of years of their growth. We keep an eye on how the investment is being spent and roll-up our sleeves when help is needed. Therefore, the terms of the investment mean that someone from the Worth Capital team takes a Board seat in each investee company. The terms of this directorship may be negotiated with much later-stage, EIS businesses (for example if there is already an experienced non-executive director involved). The value of having Worth Capital involved, should be clear by the end of the competition process, if it’s not then they wouldn’t look to invest.

How do I know if I am SEIS or EIS eligible?

Even if you have not yet been granted SEIS or EIS Advanced Assurance from HMRC you can still apply to the competition, but it’s up to you to ensure you meet the criteria before you enter. We are unable to give advice on this for each applicant, therefore we recommend that you check the likelihood of getting Advanced Assurance with either your accountant, a handling agent or HMRC themselves.

Will I receive feedback on my application?

Due to the volume of applications we receive each month, we are unable to provide feedback to each applicant at the entry stage. However, if you’re selected as a Qualifier and go on to submit a Qualifier application, which sees you put in more effort, you’ll be provided with feedback as to how we viewed your business idea and its attractiveness to investors.