Ben Way

Ben explains why he's seeking out investors rather than investing his own money.

on Nov 26, 2012

It seems crazy that raising larger amounts of money is easier than smaller amounts, however this is the paradox of raising money. The reason for this is simple -- above a certain investment level (normally around $1m) the money switches from seed investment, which is normally a wealthy individual who wants to take a punt to venture fund money. When it switches to venture money, then the people running the fund get a percentage of the fund to manage it, so as a fund what takes less work? Doing 10 deals at $10m or a 100 deals at $1m, you invest $100m either way, but by investing more you work 10 times less and expend much less resource and ultimately make more money.

That’s the case with raising money for our solar company. Currently we are raising a billion-dollar fund for our solar company in the USA, and we have raised hundreds of millions already for our UK solar company. So why bother raising $500K when I have already raised hundreds of millions for my other companies, why don’t I just invest myself?

Well firstly and most importantly, it comes down to a metric I hate: “How much are you worth?” It is the first thing that the media asks, and then if you don’t answer the question, they try and work it out based upon the value of your companies. The last time the media tried to pin me to a figure they worked it out at $10m, but what people don’t understand is that is not how much cash you have in the bank; net worth is theoretically what you could sell your companies or assets for, in fact hardly any millionaire would have more than $1m in cash in the bank as it is a very inefficient way to hold wealth.