Barclays has launched a free online service that helps UK businesses connect to a network of investors.
Called Demo Directory, the service is open to all firms, regardless of who they bank with, offering them the chance to post video pitches and answers to elevator pitch-style questions, showcasing their businesses.
Attested investors can sign up and review the directory, filtering businesses by things such as region or size, and then connect directly with founders.
The site comes after two years of Demo Directory running in a newsletter format. Barclays says that analysis of data from this has found that the platform could be helping minority and previously underserved groups access investment.
More than half of applicants identified as being from ethnic minority backgrounds, 39% female founders and 48% were based outside of the Golden Triangle of Cambridge, Oxford and London.
Meanwhile, Barclays research reveals that two-fifths of founders surveyed would use investment to expand their product and services ranges, 33% to hire more staff, and nearly the same amount would expand or upgrade their premises.
Benjamin Storey, head of Demo Directory, Barclays, says: “Whether businesses are seeking investment to grow or to weather the increased cost of doing business, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to connect with those who can provide the capital they’re looking for.
“We’ve already seen there’s real appetite for the service. In the 24 months where we made business and investor connections through our newsletter version of the Demo Directory, 49% of founders have raised money within the six months of being on the Demo Directory."