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Removing the innovation roadblock: The Gauntlet teaches UK start-ups how investors think

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Today (Monday 23 May) sees the launch of The Gauntlet, a groundbreaking service, which provides entrepreneurs with the inside track on how investors think and what it takes to get them to invest.

Developed by Library House (headed by BBC2's Dragons' Den judge, Doug Richard), in partnership with LSE, The Gauntlet is a web-based service which, for the first time ever, enables entrepreneurs to test their business proposition before exposing it to the make-or-break judgment of real investors.

As highlighted by TV shows such as BBC 2's Dragons' Den, start-ups are frequently ill-prepared or even completely unaware of investor's requirements. Ironically it is only after they are rejected by investors, that entrepreneurs raise their game and wise up to the standard required for funding. By this stage it is often too late.

Doug Richard, chairman of Library House explains: 'Entrepreneurs are at a huge disadvantage. They don't understand investor's needs, and they have no means of learning or preparing except by being rejected by investors and losing the opportunity for investment. The Gauntlet changes that.

'We are certain it will become a 'must-have' experience because it forces entrepreneurs to answer the critical investment questions, measures the quality of their response and gives them the tools and guidance to improve.'

He continues: 'Validating The Gauntlet's importance, we are also delighted to announce the support of the East of England Development Agency, which is today launching the UK's largest business competition - 'runningthegauntlet' offering up to four businesses in the East of England the chance to secure a share of £1m in investment funding. The competition gives businesses in the region the opportunity to run The Gauntlet free of charge and, if short listed, pitch their idea to a panel of seasoned investors and entrepreneurs. The competition will culminate in one or more businesses securing a substantial investment from CREATE, a leading investor in SMEs in the East of England.'

So how does The Gauntlet work? The team spent one year and over 10,000 hours examining some of the world's most successful venture capital firms and talking to top entrepreneurs. The result is a unique web-based assessment programme, modelled on the actual criteria used by investors. This combines top tips from world-class entrepreneurs, a detailed analysis of successful enterprises and an extensive collection of expert advice and other resources. The Gauntlet is also being supported by the BBC, which includes original footage from BBC2's Dragons' Den showing entrepreneurs failing to address important areas.

Having run the Gauntlet, the entrepreneur receives a personal, confidential Report Card, which gauges their investment readiness and gives detailed feedback on all the answers they have given. The entrepreneur now understands what it will take to meet the challenge of raising money.

Neil Gregory, director of business and enterprise at LSE said: 'Innovators are visionary and investors are realists. Universities have a crucial role in bringing the two together, which is why LSE is behind this venture. What makes The Gauntlet powerful is that it lets every innovation business in the country help themselves at a critical juncture in their development, based on tried and trusted research.'


Press cuttings

East Anglian Daily Times
Would-be entrepreneurs need to act fast (18 August 06)
Entrepreneurs in the East of England need to move fast if they want the chance to win a share of £1 million of investment funding in the Running the Gauntlet 2006 competition. The Gauntlet is a web based virtual investor developed by Library House and the London School of Economics. 

Evening Star
Challenge is on (11 June 06)
Suffolk entrepreneurs are today being invited to enter a regional competition which could help them do just that by landing them a share of £1million in investment cash. Running the Gauntlet involves entrants completing a "virtual pitch" of their idea through The Gauntlet, a web-based tool developed by Library House and the London School of Economics to help businesses test their readiness to lure investors.

What every start-up boss needs to know (27 Jan 06)
LSE and research firm Library House, have developed The Gauntlet, a web-based service that, for the first time ever, enables entrepreneurs to test their business proposition before exposing it to the scrutiny of real investors. 

The Business
Chasing investment cash (14 Sep 05)
Reference to the Gauntlet.

Freelance UK
Dragon goes online to connect UK entrepreneurs (21 June 05)
Comments from Neil Gregory, LSE, on the Guantlet, a new website that tests small businesses for their investment readiness.

Independent on Sunday
Throwing down the gauntlet (19 June 05)
Entrepreneurs from across the East of England have an exclusive opportunity to secure significant funding in "Running the Gauntlet", a competition which offers up to four companies a share of a £1 million funding provided by CREATE, a leading investor in East of England businesses and based around the Gauntlet, a website The Gauntlet, developed by Library House and LSE. 

From dragons' den to the gauntlet: a new business test (30 May 05)
Reference to the Gauntlet, an interactive web-based service that flags up typical mistakes made by budding entrepreneurs.

The Gauntlet gives entrepreneurs a private grilling (27 May 05)
The Gauntlet provides entrepreneurs with the inside track on how investors think and what it takes to get them to invest. This new venture by LSE hopes to spare young innovators and academic entrepreneurs humiliation when pitching ideas to venture capitalist. The website, The Gauntlet, assesses in confidence a business idea against 16 criteria that the research team found to be crucial to success. Neil Gregory, director of business and enterprise at LSE, said the project was a long way from breaking even, but the long-term goal would be to make money. 

Dragons' Den goes online (26 May 05)
The Gauntlet, developed in partnership with LSE, Doug Richard's company Library House, the service allows people to submit their business ideas via the internet for analysis before they approach investors for funding.

Anglia Advertiser
Chance to run the gauntlet (26 May 05)

Financial Times
Entrepreneurs: Start-ups to get internet evaluation (24 May 05)
British entrepreneurs who missed out on the chance to get their fledgling businesses assessed on BBC2's Dragon's Den will from today be able to get a similar evaluation over the internet. The London School of Economics, the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge and Library House, the research company, have developed a service called The Gauntlet to help entrepreneurs test their start-up business propositions before presenting them to investors. Neil Gregory, director of business and enterprise at LSE, has dubbed the website "the DNA of start-ups". 

Daily Telegraph
Budding businesses can pick up Gauntlet
(23 May 05)
The East of England Development Agency is to pay for budding entrepreneurs on their patch to pitch their business plans to venture capitalists in a 'Dragon's Den-format' competition. The regional development agency hopes that up to £1m of private equity money will be secured by firms entering the competition. Interested entrepreneurs have to go online and be assessed by a new Department of Trade and Industry-endorsed investment readiness service, called The Gauntlet.

BBC Breakfast/BBC News 24 (23 May 05)
Doug Richard talking about the LSE/Library House web service The Gauntlet.

23 May 2005