New UK early stage VC firstminute Capital launched in June last year to the tune of $60m, with European VC Atomico as its first cornerstone investor. They were joined by 30 unicorns founders from Europe and the US. Last September they brought in the huge China-based company, Tencent reaching a fund size of $85m.
Today firstminute capital, the London-based pan-European seed fund announced a final close of $100m, and detailed its first batch of early-stage investments made since September.
Two institutional investors have now joined. Henkel, the €60bn publicly-listed FMCG giant, is making its first investment into a European seed fund, and Lombard Odier, one of Europe’s largest private banks, also joins.
The fund has three partners: Brent Hoberman CBE, Spencer Crawley and Henry Lane-Fox. Hoberman is chairman and co-founder of Founders Factory, a corporate-backed incubator/accelerator based in London, and also of Founders Forum, a series of invitation-only, but influential annual global events for leading entrepreneurs. He co-founded lastminute.com in April 1998, and sold to Sabre for $1.1bn in 2005. Crawley is co-founder and General Partner was previously Business Development at AppDirect (a San Francisco-based cloud commerce platform provider, backed by Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital, latest valuation $1bn+), Investment Associate at DMC Partners (Goldman Sachs spin-out Special Opportunities fund), and Analyst in the Moscow office of Goldman Sachs. Lane-Fox is a partner at Founders Forum, Co-founder and CEO of Founders Factory, Co-founder of SmartUp.io, and previously part of the founding team of lastminute.com.
Crawley said: “We’re excited to reach a significant milestone for firstminute, that helps us continue to support the most ambitious entrepreneurs globally. The latest investors to get behind the fund further increase our ability to have real impact, and we are buoyed by the rapid progress our portfolio founders are making. With our young and hard-working investment team, and our invaluable venture partners, we are hopeful that we can make our brand promise – of aspiring to be Europe’s most helpful seed fund – a reality. We were aiming to raise $60m for our first fund, and so to have closed our first fund at $100m is a strong signal for European technology.”
The link to Founders Forum is not insignificant. Hoberman curates an eclectic mix of founders investors and new entrepreneurs which has allowed him to tap a wide range of enthusiastic investors to his fund. These include the co-founders of lastminute.com, Adyen, Supercell, Skyscanner, Trulia, Skype, Autonomy, Betfair, King.com, BlaBlaCar, Qunar, Carphone Warehouse, Datamonitor, PartyGaming, Tradex Technologies, Net-a-Porter, Capital One Bank, Fox Kids Europe, Webhelp, Airtel, PartyGaming and others, alongside other successes such as Marketshare, Ticketbis, Nordeus and LoveFilm. Tommy Stadlen, author, former Obama campaign speechwriter and co-founder of Swing, which exited to Microsoft, is both an investor in firstminute and a venture partner.
firstminute says it has a European focus – with the flexibility to follow local lead funding events in the US and Israel – and says it typically plans to invest $1m into seed-stage businesses.
There will be a sector agnostic remit for the fund, but wil take a particular interest in Robotics, vertical AI, Healthtech, Blockchain, SaaS, Cyber, Gaming and D2C.
The fund also released more details of its portfolio companies to date including:
• Cambridge self-driving start-up Wayve • Fuel delivery business Zebra • Wireless charging platform Chargifi • ICO exchange Templum (which has raised an additional $10m).
Firstminute says three of its portfolio have raised subsequent rounds within 6 months of its investment.
The geographic spread of their 17 investments to-date has been UK, Germany, Portugal and Israel, as well as four investments in the US.
Family offices also feature heavily in the fund.
These include the JCDecaux family (€6bn market cap business), Baron Davies of Abersoch (former Labour minister and Standard Chartered CEO & Chairman), Sir Paul Ruddock (former CEO of Lansdowne Partners and Chairman of Oxford University’s Endowment) and Alex de Carvalho (founder of Public.io and Heineken non-executive director).
Firstminute is also now introducing its full-time operating team consisting of six investors: Lina Wenner (Cambridge, BCG), Camilla Mazzolini (OLX, Berenberg), Elliot O’Connor (founder of Code at Uni), Sam Endacott (Goldman Sachs), Anais Benazet (Founders Forum) and Clara Lindh (former freelance journalist).
Finally, three venture partners complete the set-up. Steve Crossan, formerly of DeepMind and Google and co-founder and former CTO of Brandwatch.com, currently also an XIR at Atomico; Arek Wylegalski, formerly of Index Ventures in London, and currently exploring opportunities in the blockchain space; and Tommy Stadlen.