The European Business Angels Network (EBAN) annual congress was held this year in Helsinki, Finland, hosting 530 investors, entrepreneurs, VCs, corporates and innovators from 35 countries. Its purpose is to recognise companies that have achieved a positive exit for investors and whose growth has been greatly impacted by their early-stage investment.

Among its winners this year was Phorest, a Dublin-based salon software company, which was named the most successful business financed by early-stage investors.

Its booking service is now used in more than 5,600 businesses in six countries. It has also become the market leader for salon software in the UK and Ireland, while its market share in the US, Germany and Australia is rapidly growing.

Since being founded in 2003, the company has expanded from its Dublin headquarters to two other offices in Cologne and Philadelphia, employing 200 people in total. Alongside an equity investment from Enterprise Ireland, Phorest raised €700,000 from 12 Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) investors in two funding rounds in 2011 and 2013.

HBAN is all-island organisation responsible for the promotion of business angel investment. It is a joint initiative between Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest NI.

In June of last year, Phorest completed its third round of investment, receiving €20m from US investment firm Susquehanna Growth Equity. As a result, eight of the original HBAN investors were bought out, each receiving an average return amounting to 10 times their initial investment.
The award is the sixth won by HBAN companies at the EBAN congress in seven years, including leading Irish electronics company Decawave, which received the same award as Phorest in 2014.

“We are delighted to win this award as it reflects how far we have come and the vital role business angel investment has played in our success,” said Phorest CEO and co-founder Ronan Perceval. “Our initial funding allowed us to develop the technology that is now the fabric of our business today.”

Colm Gorey

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