Ian Ritchie, Iomart plc (2 March 2016)

After successfully starting and selling the world’s first hypertext company in the 1980s, Ian Ritchie has spent the majority of his career investing in technology start-ups that he believes could be disruptive in the industry. Listening to Ian Ritchie present,  two things became very clear: his knowledge and passion for the industry.

With a degree and employment experience in the computing industry, Ian started OWL Ltd. in 1984 to build document management systems for workstations. By 1986 they had launched their product ‘Guide’ on Apple Mac. In 1987 ‘Guide’ was also launched for Microsoft Windows and they then went on to create systems for technology giants such as HP, IBM, Ford and Bell Atlantic over the following two years. In 1989, just five years after starting OWL Ltd., the opportunity arose to sell the company to Panasonic, leaving Ian with the funds he has since used to invest in over 50 technology start-ups.

Ian explained that his passion for the high technology world stems from the opportunities in newly emerging and turbulent markets. There is the potential to create enormous value and it is one of the few industries that allows you to trade globally as soon as you start up. He also explained some of the key lessons he has learnt during his career, including not selling too soon or too cheap, and that raising capital is crucial to your success.

As an experienced “angel” investor, Ian went on to explain the differences between angels and venture capitalists, and gave some insights into how to raise funding in the technology industry. He spoke about what he looks for before investing his money: the people. Ian stressed the importance of a good team, suggesting that a fantastic idea will not get anywhere without the right people behind it.

Based on a report by Beth Smith