The UK has 16 + 5 unicorns. The leader in Europe. London has 50+top-tier-VCs investing at the seed stage. It’s the headquarter of well known performing funds, with the like of Index, Balderton, Atomico, and Accel. It’s also the country where started the beta version of the Websummit, the accelerator Seedcamp, Mike Butcher turf, and Benedict Evans's new home.
I believe London is the #1 European startup scene, so vibrant! And I am not stating that because I started my startup journey there ten years ago, launching CabMeHome (Uber like), but because I do believe the entrepreneurship energy out there is unique.
I have started this week to meet significant seed funds: Hoxton Ventures, Crane VC, and Episode1 (Thanks for Martin Mignot for the intro). My goal is to invest more time in London to expand my comfort zone, reconnect where it all started, increase my VC portfolio and build a bridge between the UK & France.
Hoxton Ventures is a two partners fund, with £140M under management. Hussein and Hoxton Ventures are welly known and respected in the UK. But they are not just a European fund; they are the gateway to the USA and US VCs. Their primary focus is on helping you get your next deal with a fund in the USA. They are ok if you do a series A with a top European VC firm, but they rather go for a US one, and they know them quite well. And it makes sense, because if you want to “create new industries” or “disrupt existing one” the USA market is the right place to achieve that.
What about Hussein? Who is this guy that I have been following on Twitter and enjoying each of his tweets (a must-follow account)? He’s the Managing director of Hoxton Ventures with is “mate” Rob Kniaz. Hussein is determined, and on a mission, you can see it in its eyes. Calm, he is a patient listener, he answered all my questions directly, and he was straight to the point. Really thoughtful and articulate, I could have spent hours talking with him, you feel that this guy knows things.
We had a chat about the last deal in London where were involved french VCs, like Impala or Skew (I forgot talking about Duffel); or deal in France where were involved UK VC, like Virgil. We also chatted about the Hoxton portfolio and its incredible total value of $7.5B, not bad, hey? 😉
Hoxton Ventures is looking for startups that disrupt the existing market and create new industries. They like technicals people or domain experts. They like people that want to solve what’s fundamentally broken in the world. They like to be the first investor, with a cheque between £250k up to £5M and hope for a 7 to 10-year exit window.
They have high performing startups in their portfolio, with the like of Deliveroo, Babylon Health, and Darktrace. Most of their startups have done a series A & B with top-tier-VCs, like Behavox and Yieldify, and one of them made a large $20M ICO: Mainframe.
Crane.VC is a pre-series A fund, with a team of four investment and three operating experts. They have a beautiful office in the heart of the creative Soho area. I had a warm welcome for the Crane team and Megan. As soon as you get there, you feel at home. I really loved interacting with Megan.
As Megan told me, Crane.VC is a £90M fund, focus on startup building software and data products. But to be precise, companies that develop products for large enterprises and with a large ACV (no SMEs plug&play product). They like startups that are on their way to find the PMF. They love infrastructure products, deeptech, and cybersecurity, hard-tech that are central to IT architectures. Megan is in charge of the French market, so it’s gonna be fun to introduce her to great french founders (and VCs) 🥳
They also believe that at some point, a startup has to conquer the US market, but before that, it’s best to find your PMF on the UK soil and start figuring out your go-to-market. Their thesis is that the UK market is a good testing ground, a kind of safety net before launching in the US. It is easy to address UK corporations, and they buy new solutions quickly. However, they have high expectations. It helps to nail the right product before attacking the US market. For a french startup that would be backed by Crane, it’s good to know that if you don’t have a sales expert in your team, you shouldn’t worry, they’ll back you up, they have the experience to fine-tune with you your PMF and find the right sales expert to develop the right go-to-market.
Episode1 is a £60M fund, which was founded by Simon Murdoch, with a team of six investment and two operating experts. Simon Murdoch was an early investor and executive member of well-known startups like Shazam, Zoopla, Lovefilm, or Shutl.
Adrian is a friendly guy; he welcomed me like an old friend. As soon the conversation started, he turned the table and was the one who asked the questions. He was highly curious and wanted to get to know me (we even spoke about my Bootcamp). He likes people; he loves listening to them and wishes to understand their story. He was more interested in helping me than me helping him. Such a cool attitude, I loved it 😃
Episode1 likes post-PMF startups, from zero revenues to £50k MRR. They like to buy 15–20% for a cheque of £750k to £1M. They are real pre-seed, as they can back founders with just a prototype. They help founders with the go-to-market, hiring, and introduction in the industry (and much more). They limit themselves at 5–6 directorships per partner, so they are active and available for the founders they back. They only invest in UK startups but start to look at new opportunities in Europe (getting ready for the next fund?). They are looking for a startup that could do at least a £500M exit. They help startups raising they’re series A with both UK and USA funds.
I am looking forward to my next trip to London, and meeting Eleonore Butler and George Henry (LocalGlobe), William McQuillan (Frontline Ventures) and Leila Rastegar Zegna (Kindred).
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