Coffee with an Angel Investor

Meet Richard Klin, a successful former banker who changed paths to pursue his passions, becoming an Angel Investor in the process.

I met with Richard one evening in December at co-owned success, Urban Baristas Wapping. What began as a cafe has transformed into a central part of the Wapping community with the brand now expanding to six other premises around London.

Alone, Urban Baristas would be an impressive enough venture, but Richard is also the Co-Founder and Director of property group Habitus, Anatomy Stuff, Pixel Mine Ltd, and DLAP, as well as having a personal portfolio of investments. He is certainly a busy man.

Voted Entrepreneur of the Year back in 2000 Richard’s journey has certainly lived up to that title. With such a diverse portfolio spanning theatre, hospitality, technology, virtual reality, property, and health, NACUE couldn’t think of a better person to approach for some pitching advice.

So how did it all start?

‘I had a job when I was quite young; I worked in banking, then technology and then I launched a property fund. I grew a couple businesses around that property fund and sold them in 2014, which gave me the capital and opportunity to take life more creatively.

I thought to myself, I’ve worked in banking, I’ve worked in property and they’re definitely great areas and industries, but there was this pure desire for more. I think if we’re going to live longer than our parents’ generation you should want to do several different things with your life, not stay in one lane.

I read a lot, but I sometimes think actually you’ve just got to do it. Sometimes it’s like that with investing. When I started a coffee shop I didn’t know all the shit I’d be hit with, so all these things, from ecommerce to property, you see the grit. There’s a dirty, very real side to you that is the real business and the real person.

My businesses just stemmed from things I was interested in: theatre, coffee, technology, and property. No one is just interested in one thing; no human being is like that! People are varied and we need to liberate ourselves from this idea that we should just do one thing. Making connections between different industries may take a lot of will power and effort, but to find the links can help everyone involved.’

What do you look for in a pitch?

‘You know for me, ultimately, you need to create a compelling reason for someone to part with their money.’

Richard summarised his pitching advice in three short points:

  1. Make the value you are creating short. Be able to summarise what you’re about. Not an elevator pitch, even quicker, a rocket pitch; I want to know what you’re about straight away.

2. Why are you different?

3. FOMO — Investors act when there is a fear of missing out, as if you’re doing an investor a favour. ‘We are doing this, we’ve raised this amount, this is your opportunity and if you come in by this point the price is X, if you come in after this point the price is Y’.

What do you look for in an investment?

‘When looking to invest, I really focus on the individual. Every business fails; the trick is how you keep going, because success results after tremendous amounts of failure.

You need an entrepreneur to be hit with a problem and then keep diversifying, keep changing, keep turning, keep iterating, until they find the right thing. You need the kind of person, who won’t be hit by setbacks.’

What mistakes have you made?

‘I’ve made every mistake! Regrets are how we grow, but my biggest failure was my lack of courage. When I was younger, I thought I had to have the job — I went into property because it was safe, when actually I think I was more interested in technology. Times when I’ve had the most courage are when I’ve made the most money.’

We would like to thank Richard for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. NACUE are committed to empowering young entrepreneurs, we hope that receiving this pitching advice from an angel investor will help level-up your pitches in preparation for the Tata Varsity Pitch Competition, as powered by NACUE.

Written by Abigail Howard for NACUE

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