What is Before the Angel?
Before the Angel is a website made by Joseph Michael for founders of early stage startups.
It's a collection of resources for startups in Sweden aimed at preparing for a first round of angel or seed investment.
The site consists of 3 parts:
- Information about available grants and loans.
- A guide to raising a angel/seed round.
- A guide to finding angel investors.
This project is made for early stage startups in Stockholm and Sweden. Is it relevant and valuable? Send your feedback and ideas on what would help you as a founder.
This page highlights non-equity based, funding opportunities for early stage startups.
- Startup Grant 2019
- Almi Micro Loan
- Innovation Checks
- Innovation Scholarship
- EU Commission
- Other Scholarships
Up to 50,000 kr
Validator is a financial program that supports and validates early-stage ideas.
The program is administered but the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship and gives you the chance to covering the costs of validating your innovation, so it's perfect for very early stage ideas and startups.
Eligibility: The Validator is designed to be as inclusive as possible, and welcomes all university alumni who are over 18 years old and have a Swedish personnummer.
Startup Grant - Spring 2018
Vinnova is the innovation agency in Sweden and offers a wide range of funding opportunities in the form of grants.
The most relevant funding opportunity for early stage startups is the open call "Innovativa Startups".
This funding opportunity features:
- Specifically for early stage startups.
- No matching fund required (in phase 1).
- Up to 300,000 sek in phase 1.
- Up to 1 million sek in phase 2.
The application dates are between 15 January - 6 March.
Almi, a government owned agency, is one of the most active investors in Sweden.
Almi offers funding in the form of business loans and investments through Almi Invest. Most regional offices also offers consulting and coaching.
For very early stage startups, Almi's "Micro Loan" might be the best option in the beginning. The Micro Loan is a loan backed by the European Investment Fund, which opens up for favourable terms and conditions:
- Specifically designed for early stage companies.
- Loan up to 200,000 sek.
- Loan up to 100% of your capital need.
- Only 10% security needed.
- Applications are accepted based on business idea.
After you submit your application Almi will contact you for next steps.
Innovation checks are for companies that would like to validate their idea for a product or service.
It's ideal for early stage companies and they are meant to fund an external party such as a research institute of consultants that can help with the actual validation.
The checks are made possible by Vinnova but are issued by three specific partners. The reason partners are used is because the checks are granted by coaches, so the application process is basically done through a coaching session.
The three partners/intermediaries are:
There is also more information on the Vinnova website.
Business Development Checks
The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) offers business development checks to companies who seek to bring in external competencies and support in order to develop their business.
To be eligible for business development checks your company needs to:
- have an ambition to grow
- have 2-49 employees
- have a turnover of between 300,000-1,000,000 Euro
- be in good financial standing.
The checks can be used towards:
- Services (such as consulting services).
- Temporary, project based employments.
The City of Stockholm hands out an Innovation Scholarship every year to 6 companies. The scholarship is 105,000 sek for each company and the whole process is managed by Invest Stockholm.
The application process is straightforward:
- Select your category (Tech, Cleantech, Life science, everyday products, tourism, creative industries).
- Fill in the online form.
- If selected, pitch to an independent jury.
- Attend the award ceremony in City Hall.
The application process runs through the fall and usually opens up sometime in October. The ceremony is held during Nobel week mid december.
Up to 20M kr
DBT Capital offers potential loans to high growth startups of up to 20 million sek. The loan is offered to companies with some sort of proven track record that needs capital for growth. Being founded by entrepreneurs who themselves built companies to the point of a successful exit, DBT Capital positions themselves as the credit provider for startups and scaleups in Sweden.
There is a wide range of funding opportunities on a European level for earl stage companies. Most of the funding is made available through Horizon 2020.
"Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020)"
Some funding opportunities have very specific and narrow purposes, other are more broad and general.
Startup Club Europe has collected most of the funding opportunities specifically for startups.
The SME Instrument offers up to 500,000 sek (€50,000) to early stage innovation based companies.
There are several consultants who can help find and apply for the right funding.
50,000 - 500,000 kr
There are many different scholarships that support entrepreneurship. Some are very restrictive and have specific qualifications, other are more open and broad.
Familjen Knut & Ragnvi Jacobssons Stiftelse offer scholarship to entrepreneurs ranging from 50,000 - 500,000 sek. Application dates are between 1 April - 30 June.
Agne Johanssons Minnesfond supports to entrepreneurship by contributing to Stockholm's Innovation Scholarship (see above) and the foundation SKAPA. The SKAPA scholarship is awarded to innovators and SKAPA Framtidens Innovatör is awarded to young inventors.
Other scholarships are listed on this page.
The Angel Round
How do you raise an angel round?
The best way to raise capital is to not need the money.
Ideally you want to raise a round to bring in the right expertise, expand your network and accelerate your growth.
That's why it can be so helpful to go for loans and grants in the beginning to help fund early developments of the product and maybe even start generating some revenue.
But of course, that's not the reality for many startups. Often times a significant amount of funding is needed to build a product and deploy on a global market.
What you want to do is validate your solution to a problem as much as possible. This means talking to potential customers, gathering feedback and ideally getting some kind of signal or commitment that they are willing to pay for what it is you have to offer.
Do not pitch!
If you do the validation, the actual process of raising an angel round is pretty straight forward. You reach out to angel investors (see next section) and have a conversation about what you've done up until that point, what the next steps are, and your vision. My advice is to not pitch, you want to have a conversation on the same level. You are both essentially evaluation if you'd like to go on this journey together. An angel investor often becomes a part of the team and works with you to move the company forward. You should both be interviewing each other.
When you've reached some sort of agreement you can use resources like Startup Docs to seal the deal.
I'll add more resources to this section but this is basically what I tell founders in our first meetings.
How do you find investors?
This is the easy part.
(Of course, you want to aim at building such an amazing product that investors contact you! But we'll focus on that for another time.)
There are great resources to help you find angel investors:
If you'd like to bounce ideas, you can always meet with people who offer free and independent advice. I'm one of those people :) You can find my contact details here.
Photo credits: The Royal Palace - Jeppe Wikström. Bellmansgatan- Staffan Eliasson. Slussen - Henrik Trygg.