The MoneyLab Blog

Have you registered to attend the Women in Venture Capital panel discussion?

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 15-Oct-2019 13:07:51


The EIS Association's  "Ready, Steady, Grow" Belfast event is going to be taking place this Thursday, and will include the first "Women in Venture Capital" panel being held in Northern Ireland! The panellists will discuss SME investing in the context of EIS, what unique features female investors bring to the table, as well as gender diversity and inclusivity in the investment profession.  If you are asking yourself whether this topic should matter to you, then you really need to attend.

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Topics: EISA

Five things you need to know about setting up UK branches

Posted by Johnathan Graham on 07-Oct-2019 14:43:28


When applying for SEIS and/or EIS advance assurance, a company is required to have a Customer Reference Number (CRN number) and Unique Tax Reference (UTR number). A UK company will have both numbers issued automatically upon incorporation. A company incorporated outside of the UK (foreign company or overseas company) must open a UK branch to obtain both numbers. A branch is a permanent establishment in the UK; it is an extension of the parent company and is required when the company has a presence in the UK.

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Topics: EIS, SEIS

How to value companies for SEIS / EIS investment

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 01-Oct-2019 21:59:57


Steinway & Sons have been making the world's finest pianos for over 160 years, and their instruments have become global icons of high culture. The company was acquired in 2013 by a notable private equity firm for $438 million, and by 2018 there was a take-over price offer on the table for $1 billion! This valuation is high especially for a manufacturer with quirks, like requiring the instruments to return to the workshop in Queens, New York to get repaired. What did Mr. Steinweg think his business was worth when he first started trading? Did he expect his company to become a symbol of excellence in craftsmanship? I definitely think so.

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Topics: startup, valuation

We are hiring! Belfast-based associate wanted!

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 26-Sep-2019 12:53:01

Sapphire Capital Partners LLP is a Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) authorised, multi-award winning firm, a signatory of the Women in Finance charter, and an equal opportunity employer.  We aim to supply a highly professional, efficient and personal service to our clients (primarily Seed EIS and EIS companies and investment funds) and to nurture long-term mutually beneficial relationships with clients and associated advisers. 

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Topics: Sapphire Capital team

You are invited to the EIS Association's "Ready, Steady, Grow" Belfast 2019

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 22-Sep-2019 22:12:25

It is time for the annual EIS Association's  "Ready, Steady, Grow" Belfast, and we are delighted to be hosting once again.   This year's event brings even more value-added content and ground breaking thought leadership, with a "Dragon's Den" type pitching session, and the first ever "Women in Venture Capital" panel being held in Northern Ireland! 

Join us on the 17th of October at 2.30pm at the Metropolitan Arts Centre, in Belfast.  

Here are three reasons why you should attend:

  1. Hear an impressive line-up of speakers from Northern Ireland and beyond, talking about their experience and perspectives on the Enterprise Investment Schemes.
  2. Be there for the "Women in Venture Capital" panel discussion. The panellists will discuss SME investing, career journeys, as well as gender diversity and inclusivity in the investment profession.
  3. You seek to raise investment for your start-up and would like an opportunity to pitch to leading EIS fund managers such as Deepbridge Capital, Symvan Capital and Techstart Ventures.
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Topics: EISA

Raising money through EIS as a Knowledge Intensive Company

Posted by Johnathan Graham on 01-Aug-2019 13:37:36


Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) allow high-risk start-up companies raise much-needed capital to in order to grow. EIS offers tax reliefs to investors which reduces their risk.

The scheme has various conditions a company must meet to qualify. The conditions include time frames from the first commercial sale, max employee numbers, qualifying trades and maximum raise amounts. For more information on EIS and the qualifying conditions, view our eBook.

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Topics: EIS, SEIS

Sapphire Capital Partners shortlisted as finalists in the 2019 Growth Investor Awards

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 31-Jul-2019 10:47:21



The following is a press release from Growth Investor Awards:


"Sapphire Capital Partners LLP has been shortlisted as a finalist in the fifth annual Growth Investor Awards-In the running among six other companies for the coveted award for Best SEIS Investment Manager-All finalists will be celebrated at a black-tie event on November 6.

30 July 2019:

Sapphire Capital Partners has beaten off tough competition to become a finalist in the Best SEIS Investment Manager category of the fifth Growth Investor Awards.  For five years, these awards have shone a spotlight on the providers who have an impact beyond investment:creating jobs, boosting economic growth, and supporting innovation.  This crucial investment inspires optimism into companies up and down the UK. And it is fanning an entrepreneurial spark that has made the UK a leading producer of growth companies in recent years. Sponsored by Aston Lark, the Best SEIS Investment Manager award celebrates leading companies specialising in Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes. Sapphire Capital Partners will compete for the award alongside six other impressive finalists: Deepbridge Capital, Jenson Funding Partners, RLC Ventures, Startup Funding Club, Symvan Capital and Velocity Capital Partners. Commenting on becoming a finalist in this prestigious awards event, Boyd Carson of Sapphire stated- "We are delighted again to be nominated for this prestigious award and humbled to share the nomination along side six such impressive finalists."

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Topics: Sapphire Capital team

SEIS/EIS exit considerations

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 15-May-2019 09:58:23

In discussions with clients, I make it a point to stress the primary purpose of the Enterprise Investment Schemes which is to promote the growth and development of UK business and innovation.  SEIS/EIS finance is "patient capital" as investors do not seek to realise a return quickly.  When an investment is made, there is no expectation of imminent exit, and thus the primary reason for making the placement is not to strike a tremendous sales price; instead, it is to see whether the company can set up and start profitable trading. The SEIS/EIS rules as set out in the Income Tax Act specifically state that pre-arranged exits are not allowed.  It is no wonder that business angels are big adopters of the schemes, as they provide valuable mentorship in addition to financing to companies in their development phase.

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Topics: SEIS

Getting ready for the crowd!

Posted by Michael McDowell, Sapphire Capital on 03-May-2019 13:14:42


Equity crowdfunding is a relatively new way for businesses to raise investment and that is why we are just now getting a clear picture as to what types of companies this finance raising channel is most suited. 

Did you know that leading platforms such as Crowdcube and Seedrs accept only c.5% of the applicant companies on their platforms?  The low level of acceptance indicates that there are specific business characteristics required to avail of P2P investment.  For example, platforms typically expect applicant companies to be revenue generating and potential initial investors already identified.  So if you are an entrepreneur seeking money for your big idea, then chances are you won't be able to raise finance via platforms, unless you have a team with a track record of glittering exits, or Elon Musk endorsing you.

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Topics: Crowdfunding

5 requirements companies must meet for SEIS/EIS

Posted by Johnathan Graham on 28-Feb-2019 21:43:19

The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) are very effective ways for start-up companies to attract private investment through the offering of tax incentives to investors.

There are conditions a company must meet to qualify for the schemes, some of which are well known to both entrepreneurs and investors. For example, the age requirement condition requires a SEIS company to be trading for less than two years; for EIS, the company cannot be trading for longer than seven years.

However, from my experience working with many companies seeking SEIS/EIS, there are some fundamental conditions that are equally important but not as well known.  Here are the ones that I see many entrepreneurs unaware of, which has led to problems with availing of the schemes:

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Topics: EIS, SEIS

How SEIS/EIS companies should be preparing for Brexit

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 18-Jan-2019 17:06:49


With this week's news of the EU Withdrawal Agreement failing to secure support in Parliament, the UK faces more uncertainty. Uncertainty is no friend of economic growth. It is a fact that one of the foundations for economic growth is stability in the rule of law. Many investors, and particularly SEIS / EIS investors, view political/economic instability as a deterrent to making investments, because SEIS / EIS investing is inherently risky, even in the best of times. Moreover, reduced levels of investment ultimately negatively impact future economic growth.

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Topics: Brexit

Changes to the SEIS/EIS advance assurance process

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 14-Jan-2019 09:47:51


The advance assurance process for SEIS and EIS has changed! New online forms for SEIS, EIS and VCT are now available and are required to be used for any applications being submitted from the 1st of November 2018 onwards. Compliance statements SEIS1, EIS1 and SITR1, were also amended, although these forms were previously available online.

The new forms can easily be accessed on the website, although you must be careful you select the correct one as there are a number of different versions that may confuse.

In addition to this new online form, HMRC now specifically requests applicants provide the below-listed documents:

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Topics: EIS, SEIS

Outlook for 2019

Posted by Boyd Carson, Sapphire Capital on 07-Jan-2019 21:27:26

[This article was originally published in the IFA Magazine in December 2018 and has been republished with IFA magazines permission -]


At Sapphire, we do two things: We assist entrepreneurs in making SEIS/EIS advance assurance applications to HMRC, and we manage investment funds. The two areas fit hand in glove. The advance assurance work, which also includes assistance with investor readiness, provides us with a never-ending pipeline of potential companies for our investment funds, but it also provides us with a unique insight as to which sectors entrepreneurs think will be the opportunities of the future. We work directly with these entrepreneurs, and we are aware of definite trends. As a result, there are three areas of growth that I see for 2019.

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Topics: Technology

11 questions to ask before selecting an EIS custodian & administrator

Posted by Paul Richardson, The Share Centre Limited on 04-Dec-2018 09:41:51

The selection of an EIS Custodian for your fund(s) can be a very confusing and time consuming business and this difficulty has increased with the increased regulatory requirements of Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (PRIIPs) Regulation & The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MIFID II).  

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Topics: fund management

Sapphire Capital Partners LLP signed the Women in Finance Charter

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 19-Nov-2018 16:56:27

I am excited to announce that we have signed the Women in Finance Charter, which is a formal pledge of Sapphire Capital Partners LLP's support to improve gender diversity in the financial sector, and to enable business women's talent to be optimised for the greater good of businesses and the economy.

As stated on the UK government's website, "too few women in finance get to the top."  Although I am very happy to see such a public and impactful acknowledgement, I believe that even this factual assertion is an understatement.  Women face such significant barriers and challenges to career progression that even staying in employment within the finance sector proves difficult, and that is not even entertaining the idea or hope of rising to the top and maintaining their position there.

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Topics: Women in Finance

Autumn Statement 2018 - SEIS and EIS considerations

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 12-Nov-2018 09:37:17


This blog could be the last ever to be written about the 2018 Autumn Statement.  I apologise for the delay.  My excuse is that it wasn't very exciting from an Enterprise Investment Scheme ("EIS") perspective because there were no further changes to the rules, but rather a series of progress reports.  The boring nature of this Budget is an excellent thing as companies and advisers are still trying to grasp the recent changes effected in mid-March 2018. 

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Topics: Autumn Statement

Growth Investor Awards 2018 Press Release - Sapphire Capital Partners announced as "One To Watch" in the Best SEIS Investment Manager award

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 09-Nov-2018 10:38:04

Below is Intelligent Partnership's press release from this year's Growth Investor Awards which took place earlier this week:

Sapphire Capital Partners announced one to watch in Best SEIS Investment Manager award

  • Roger Blears, Senior Partner at RW Blears, announced Sapphire Capital Partners as the one to watch in the 2018 Best SEIS Investment Manager award sponsored by RW Blears Solicitors
  • Five impressive finalists went head-to-head competing for the prestigious title
  • Visit for details of winners and runners-up in all 15 categories
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Topics: Sapphire Capital team

We are hiring! Belfast based fund compliance associate wanted!

Posted by Vasiliki Carson, Sapphire Capital on 10-Oct-2018 09:24:39

Sapphire Capital Partners LLP is a Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) authorised, multi-award winning firm.  We aim to supply a highly professional, efficient and personal service to our clients (primarily Seed EIS and EIS companies and investment funds) and to nurture long-term mutually beneficial relationships with clients and associated advisers. 

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Topics: Sapphire Capital team

Registering a UK branch with the Companies House - 10 key areas

Posted by Johnathan Graham on 08-Oct-2018 13:56:30


For a foreign company to qualify for SEIS and/or EIS they must meet at least one of two additional requirements. They must either: 1) Have a' permanent UK establishment which means an element of work is carried out in a fixed place of business. 2) Have a UK representative that can enter into contracts on behalf of the company (for more information read my prior blog: “Can a foreign (non-UK) company obtain SEIS and EIS monies”).

As stated on the website "you must register (with the Companies House) if you set up a place of business in the UK or if you usually carry out business from somewhere in the UK". 

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Topics: EIS, SEIS, foreign company, OS IN01

Structuring your pitch deck - how to get it right?

Posted by Michael McDowell, Sapphire Capital on 10-Sep-2018 13:01:01

The first contact many investors will have with your business is an introductory email with a pitch deck. However, too often a pitch deck is just:

  • a high-level business description;
  • a long exploration of an industry sector;
  • unsubstantiated financials; and
  • a biography of the founder.
I often hear entrepreneurs say that the branding and production quality of the pitch deck doesn’t matter. I don’t agree with this. Pitch quality counts as it infers how well you can promote both the company and the product. It’s true however that some investors will look beyond branding and production quality, but in my experience it’s a risk not worth taking. 
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Topics: Crowdfunding