Simon Dolan, the Twitter investor

Simon Dolan has £5 million to invest, and he’s asking for pitches through Twitter.

Simon Dolan has £5 million to invest, and he’s asking for pitches through Twitter.

He’s received 75 and counting, and says the discipline of putting a pitch into 140 characters helps focus the minds of entrepreneurs and companies looking for cash.

‘All really good ideas can be summed up in that length, and it means I can look at a lot of ideas in a short period,’ says Dolan, an established private investor in concerns such as employment services business Contractor Umbrella and Porsche Carrera racing team Jota Sport.

Initially sceptical about social media, Dolan says he’s replied to everybody who’s contacted him, and asked 15 to 20 people for more information on their proposals. He’s now arranging meetings with six or seven would-be investees, ranging from those who have little more than an idea to profitable businesses with turnover in the millions.

‘My preference is to invest in established businesses; if it’s an idea it needs to be well thought out,’ states Dolan, whose day job is as managing partner of Hertfordshire-based SJD Accountancy. As for sector, ‘I’ll look at pretty much anything, but I’m not too excited about companies with a heavy stock or capital requirement. A manufacturing company would have to be pretty special [to get investment], because of the dynamics of the industry.’

On the other hand, Dolan says ‘there’s an awful lot of potential still in online businesses’ – an appropriate comment for someone who’s come to appreciate the power and immediacy of social media.

Also see: Perfect the art of the pitch - six pitching tips from Matthew Stafford, project leader specialising in technology start-ups and equity investment at Pembridge Partners.