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Couple, Business



A constant stream of funding success stories in the media, and the rise of more down to earth and approachable crowdfunding platforms, suggests it has never been easier to raise investment for your business. However, a recent report from the HM Treasury revealed that only 1 in 10 businesses secure seed funding in the UK and, despite shaking up the market, crowdfunding is not much easier with around a 63 percent success rate[2]. It seems the deceptively easy tone of the equity raise space is leading many start-ups to rely on their entrepreneurial nous, rather than investment know-how, to unsuccessfully secure funding – at best devastating plans, and at worst jeopardising new businesses.

Enter Helena Murphy and Duncan Di Biase, an investment ‘power couple’ behind innovative investment consultancy Raising Partners. Helena and Duncan’s couplepreneur identity and their ‘investment den’ nestled in the Surrey hills taps-into a disrupted investment sector which feels much more accessible and human, but their £11 million in two years raise credentials reveals a razor-sharp understanding of the investment process and an ability to deliver results for start-ups. The business, which was founded in 2016, has so far worked on over 22 raises and provides a comprehensive service for entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses looking to generate private equity, and aims to make ‘fundraising easy.’ The pair are now managing global e-commerce brand Thread’s high profile Crowdcube raise.

Although Helena and Duncan’s set-up, working together as a couple and taking the time to walk their dog every morning, may seem a little cozy for the corporate world, they are fast emerging as power players in forging lucrative investment raises for business – backed by an unprecedented 100 percent success record. Previous clients include Loch Lomond Brewery who achieved a raise of £540,000 in August this year, Boulder Hut (£440,000 in May 2017) and Wild & Gorgeous (£700,000, May 2016).

Another was Poppy’s Picnic, a Wiltshire-based company seeking £350,000 to launch their raw pet food offering following an appearance on Dragon’s Den. As a result the start-up almost doubled their target, achieving £610,995.

Helena, who graduated with a masters in sustainable development from the University of St Andrews and started her first business aged 16, founded Raising Partners in 2016 after experiencing firsthand the difficulty and pain of raising investment for her own business. Despite her business’ initial success (she was profiled in press, including by the BBC,) when she began to struggle to manage liquidity it was confusion and conflicting advice around raising finance which finally caused her to shut up shop and prompted stress-related alopecia;

“There is so much conflicting advice out there on raising investment, and much is circulated by those who are not experts in the field, I would go as far to say that many do not know or understand either the sector or process and are circulating inaccurate advice.  

“Raising investment is unique and there isn’t a one size fits all rule book. Some businesses can raise in a month, others in a year and those that say it took just a month have often spent 6 months in preparation.

“It is much more complicated and time-consuming than it would seem and, if it doesn’t work, it can devastate businesses.”

 Duncan joined Helena in the business a year later, bringing with him a business development background, having worked in multi-national corporations such as Virgin Active and Gartner, and start-ups across a range of industries from health and fitness to logistics and AI.

Raising Partners’ success rate is unparalleled; currently, every one of the companies they have worked with – encompassing industries from tech, medtech, AI, e-commerce, FMCG, fashion and blockchain – secured investment. Their record to date (in just 2 years) stands at 22+ raises amounting to over £11,000,000.

A lot of Raising Partners’ success, however, comes from the fact that they are, aside from business partners, a couple sharing a vision – for their company and their life – and working together to combine their very different experiences; him coming from a corporate background, her with a career-long history in start-ups.

It’s a formula that works and one, for the most part, they both find fun. Their daily routine usually means walking the dog together before spending the day working side-by-side in their “investment den”. Their individual focus means they usually work with clients at different stages of a project but there is enough cross-over to allow them to pool their creative input.

And they agree that the biggest advantage is that they both understand exactly what is going on at any time. There is always someone with whom to share the workload and there is no-one to say, “oh, I’m really busy at the office” when the going gets tough.

And the secret to their success as couplepreneurs? Helena summarises it thus: “To remember to have conversations that aren’t just business. To draw the line at the end of the day and remember that we also have other parts to our relationship.”


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