We met with CEO Don Dhaliwal to discuss Conigital, one of the first businesses on the Angels@Essex investment platform. Conigital were able to secure £1m on Seedrs in a single day using the pitch deck that Angels@Essex helped them bring together. They are on the way to securing £2m in funding, £500k of which has come from the University of Essex platform.

What does Conigital do?

We are a driverless vehicle and ride hailing company. Our name, Conigital, represents connected digital. Our vision has always been to digitally connect autonomous vehicles, to empower mobility for all, and ensure accessibility. A key part of our work is addressing accessibility for the visually impaired, less abled and disabled.

We retrofit cars and buses and then provide a software platform for transport and mobility operators to run on-demand services. We also provide an app for passengers to book those journeys. It’s like Uber, or a bus company, but driverless.

How did you hear about Angels@Essex? 

I read about it in one of John Stenhouse’s LinkedIn posts. That was 4 or 5 months ago now. I was fascinated and reached out to John, who invited me to send our pitch deck over. Things moved very quickly from there. We were on the platform within a week or two.

How did the Angels@Essex team help Conigital?

The team helped us become investment ready. We spoke with your entrepreneurs in residence, Nitin and Will – both excellent guys. They reviewed our business idea, ran through the financial model, and addressed how we needed to present our business in a deck. They put forward some really good ideas, which we incorporated and used in a revised pitch deck to raise £1m on Seedrs in one day. We’re now on the path to raising £2m in funding. Out of that, £500k was raised on the University of Essex investment platform, which has been huge for our business.

We were also put forward into pitch competitions, and we won one of those, which we are really pleased about! We were provided with introductions to investors as well as going onto your crowdfunding platform. And then there’s the wider network, which includes the Angel Co-fund, who we were keen to work with in order to close our round with the Future Fund.

Have you attended any of our Space to Grow webinars?

Yes – and they have been excellent. The resident entrepreneurial team go through key areas like how you pitch, what you need to do to improve your deck, and what investors are looking for. They also refer to partners such as BDO who talk through your entire journey as a start-up, addressing all the ups and downs we will experience Space to Grow prepares you so that when dealing with investors as a start-up, you get a fair deal. It’s also a bit of a reality check to understand where you are as a business and whether you are ready or right for VC conversations.

What do you see as the benefits of using the University of Essex?

One of the biggest benefits is the fact that you’ve got an excellent team that bring knowledge and expertise to the table. There’s a large network behind you, so introductions can be made for those crucial investor talks. Then there are all the services that a growing or scaling business requires, such as financial services. Ultimately, the biggest draw to Essex is that you do not charge for your services. This is a free service available to anyone who is at the start – or even midway through – their entrepreneurial journey. And that has been phenomenal for us.

"Ultimately, the biggest draw to Essex is that you do not charge for your services. This is a free service available to anyone who is at the start - or even midway through - their entrepreneurial journey. And that's been phenomenal for us."

Do you think you’ll be using the business services from the University of Essex in the future?

Absolutely. Not only have we formed a great relationship with John and the team – we’ve also secured funding from the University, which is fantastic, and not something I was expecting.

Would you recommend our business services to others?

100%! I would highly recommend anyone who’s starting their entrepreneurial journey to reach out to you and see how you can support them, as you’ve supported Conigital.

What are your future plans?

There’s a saying – as one door closes, another opens. I think funding is very similar to that. As soon as you close one round, you start preparing for the next. We want to close this round and deliver our driverless vehicle trials enabling us to create a repeatable blueprint we will use that to raise our next round through series-A investment. This will allow us to scale the business and start expanding our operations in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US.