Serial pre-seed investor and entrepreneur, Raj Dhonota sees Croydon as a diamond in the rough. He announced plans to partner with Sussex Innovation Croydon to highlight the lesser known influx of tech businesses into Croydon, which he refers to as the ‘Silicon Valley of South London’.
The collaboration between Dhonota and Sussex Innovation Croydon is to drive growth for both pre-seed start-ups and SMEs in the area. The launch will see the addition of a ‘start-up studio’ to the working space, which will give pre-seed businesses an environment to brainstorm, network and collaborate. Dhonota will be offering investment, mentoring, experience and knowledge to these early-stage start-ups.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be part of the growing tech and business scene in Croydon. I firmly believe that with Igniva’s involvement and my years of experience as a pre-seed investor in the space, together we can be the best stepping stone for hundreds of aspiring young businesses, leading the future for UK entrepreneurs. With its passion for facilitating startups and entrepreneurs, Sussex Innovation Croydon seemed like a natural setting for us to achieve this goal,” says Dhonota.
Sussex Innovation is a business incubation network for entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups and corporate innovators. Since being founded in 1996, it has helped more than 600 businesses of all sizes, providing them with business advice to achieve growth and the resources to manage momentum. As of 2017, Sussex Innovation hosts more than 150 member companies across the South East England.
According to Sussex Innovation executive director, Mike Herd, finance is one of the biggest pain points for the incubation network’s many members. “It’s not just about getting funding any way that you can; it’s about bringing in the right kind of investment at the right stage in a company’s growth,” he explains. “We’ve got a great track record of matching businesses with suitable investors who can help them to achieve their full growth potential, but we also have a duty to help our members understand this bigger picture and get themselves ‘investor ready’. We’re confident that Raj will be a huge asset to our community, not just as a successful serial entrepreneur and seed investor, but also for the experience and knowledge he brings from the other side of the table.”
Dhonota launched a £1 million start-up fund in 2014, and since then has gone on to invest in over 60 start-ups, trebling the fund in the process. His main focus is investing at the pre-seed stage, when businesses need financing and guidance the most. The Kent native first came to the public eye in 2005 during the first series of The Apprentice.
Since his time on the reality programme he has invested approximately £3 million in businesses across sectors, including technology, e-commerce, property, marketing, recruitment as well as FCMG.