A Dragons' Den-style collective of venture capitalists has finally made its first investments more than a year after launching its search for the next big things in food and drink.

Spayne Lindsay Investor Club made up of investors who stump up their own cash and who are potentially on hand to offer guidance said it had now found three businesses.

One of the club's first deals is an undisclosed share of a £1.75m investment in vending machine business Green Drinks Company, which supplies machines filled with space-saving pouches of healthy drinks. Green Drinks already has a tie-up with Bottlegreen Drinks and the business was the brainchild of founder Adam Green, who had his "eureka moment" after seeing street vendors in India selling water in plastic bags.

"We will benefit from the breadth of experience across the club's members, and their contacts. That is the real value for us," said Ian Bidmead, formerly of Mars' vending division and now MD of Green Drinks.

Also securing investment totalling "hundreds of thousands of pounds" is Juice Doctor, headed by former Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave, which is on a mission to "get the whole nation switched on to good hydration". A similar amount is going to upmarket handmade chocolates business Sir Hans Sloane.

John Lindsay, founding partner at Spayne Lindsay & Co, the financial services business that launched the fund in January 2009, admitted suitable targets had been hard to find in the downturn. He also conceded that plans to raise a £10m investment fund had fallen short of their target.