Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.
Risk Summary

Estimated reading time: 2 min

Due to the potential for losses, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considers this investment to be high risk.

What are the key risks?

  • You could lose all the money you invest
  • Most investments are shares in start-up businesses or bonds issued by them. Investors in these shares or bonds often lose 100% of the money they invested, as most start-up businesses fail.
  • Checks on the businesses you are investing in, such as how well they are expected to perform, may not have been carried out by the platform you are investing through. You should do your own research before investing.

You won't get your money back quickly

  • Even if the business you invest in is successful, it will likely take several years to get your money back.
  • The most likely way to get your money back is if the business is bought by another business or lists its shares on an exchange such as the London Stock Exchange. These events are not common.
  • Start-up businesses very rarely pay you back through dividends. You should not expect to get your money back this way.
  • Some platforms may give you the opportunity to sell your investment early through a 'secondary market' or 'bulletin board', but there is no guarantee you will find a buyer at the price you are willing to sell.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

  • Putting all your money into a single business or type of investment for example, is risky. Spreading your money across different investments makes you less dependent on any one to do well. A good rule of thumb is not to invest more than 10% of your money in high-risk investments. Learn more here.

The value of your investment can be reduced

  • If your investment is shares, the percentage of the business that you own will decrease if the business issues more shares. This could mean that the value of your investment reduces, depending on how much the business grows. Most start-up businesses issue multiple rounds of shares.
  • These new shares could have additional rights that your shares don't have, such as the right to receive a fixed dividend, which could further reduce your chances of getting a return on your investment.

You are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong

  • Protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), in relation to claims against failed regulated firms, does not cover poor investment performance. Try the FSCS investment protection checker.
  • Protection from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) does not cover poor investment performance. If you have a complaint against an FCA-regulated platform, FOS may be able to consider it. Learn more about FOS protection here.

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect yourself, visit the FCA's website here.

For further information about investment-based crowdfunding, visit the crowdfunding section of the FCA's website here.

Industry Insights

Stephen Fry, celebrity investor and entrepreneur

Writer, actor and overall good doer Stephen Fry was born in Hampstead, London in 1957. From an early age he had a passion for innovation, something that's likely to have been initiated by his father Alan Fry, a physicist and inventor.

Having been fortunate financially - something that's provided him with some flexibility with regard to investments - this started in 1981. A prolific writer, he began producing novels in this year, resulting in Footlights revues for Mayweek, Edinburgh Festival and a three month tour of Australia.

Three years later, Stephen was asked to completely rewrite the musical ‘Me and My Girl’, something that helped him become a millionaire by the time he was 30 years old.

Prosperity and wealth - driving investments

With prosperity and wealth Fry has always been at the forefront of cutting edge product launches and describes himself as being "deeply dippy for all things digital".

Claiming to have owned the second Apple Macintosh sold in the UK (after friend Douglas Adams) and having once said "digital devices rock my world", he's also supposedly never encountered a smartphone he has not bought.


Expanding this interest in digital to his investment portfolio, back in 2011 Fry invested in Summly, an iPhone app that condensed news articles, which was designed and developed by 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio.

This prototype attracted an investment of around $300,000 from Horizons Ventures, the private technology investment company of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing – also a backer of Facebook, Siri and Spotify.

Interestingly, the investment arrived on Nick’s 16th birthday, making him one of the youngest people ever to attract venture capital funding.

With other backers including celebrity actor Ashton Kutcher and multimedia artist Yoko Ono, Summly subsequently sold to Yahoo in March 2013 for a reported $30 million.

A passion for digital, but not your typical entrepreneur

Stephen Fry has never pretended to be a businessman. Spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations make him "want to scream".

Ranked #44 in the 2008 Telegraph's list "the 100 most powerful people in British culture" Stephen Fry has always been keen to invest and support the development of British technology businesses, making investment into Tickkle in the same month Summly sold - and in 2016 he quietly co-founded a startup that bills itself as a "Pinterest for education".

The company called Pindex is a self-funded online platform that creates and curates educational videos and infographics for teachers and students.

Their first video was a Stephen Fry-narrated explainer about the Large Hadron Collider, dark matter and extra dimensions. Other videos have focused on science and technology, including ones on the Hyperloop, colonising Mars, and robots and drones.

As with any investor, it's always important to highlight risks taken, and Stephen's tech investments have had varying degrees of success.

One of his first ventures, Pushnote - a site that let users comment on any web page - folded in 2012 within 18 months of launching.

That didn’t deter Stephen, however, as he has since invested in early-stage tech platforms seeing them reach a sale value of over $30 million. This inlcudes YPlan, the events discovery and booking platform he was associated with that sold to TimeOut for £1.6 million.

Tax efficient investing in the UK

As we mentioned in our 'The Fame and Fortunes of The Celebrity Investor' post, many celebrities find themselves automatically being a role model, but also receive criticism for some of the actions they make.

When it comes to investments, for the most part I would personally sing their praises. I believe many of us could happily take a leaf out of the likes of Stephen Fry's book, turning to venture capitalism to secure finances for the future.

What's more, UK celebrities like everyone else in the country can potentially see huge benefits from the generous tax reliefs of schemes such as SEIS and EIS.

And these tax reliefs really are fantastic for both investors and entrepreneurs alike.

For investors, you could benefit from income tax relief of up to 50% with SEIS investments - and in the 25 years EIS has been available, almost £16 billion has been raised through EIS-qualifying investments, enabling a high level of growth and success for the best British SMEs.

Ambitious entrepreneurs - celebrities and non-celebrities alike - are pioneering UK British business initiatives, driving businesses by investing not only finance but also time and advice (something that's arguably invaluable) to help build those high growth businesses.

This post is part of our UK celebrity investors series. You can find our introductory post to the series here.


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Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) is backed by funds managed by Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s leading private equity and alternative asset managers.