London’s Top VCs: Charlotte Street Capital are VC’s dark horses, 3 founders running a lean, mean start-up funding machine

 

charlotte street capitalA little later than we anticipated (sorry folks), the final part in our “London’s top VC’s” series. A few weeks ago we decided to research 5 different sized VC’s, with different areas of expertise, contrasting investment targets and sizes, and different kinds of internal cultures and investment strategies.

The results have been well received by the VCs themselves, founders, angels and many more casual readers from a range of different industries and backgrounds. feel free to leave your comments below!

Our final instalment looks at Charlotte street capital, a small, hardworking and highly effective team of tech, IT and finance experts that work closely with founders and are steadily building up a portfolio with a lot of potential to deliver stellar returns if the tech industry in the UK continues on its upward trajectory.

About

Charlotte Street Capital are a VC team made up of just 3 Angel investors, but this does not noticeably appear to hold them back.

Their website reveals that since the company began in 2010 the firm has made at least 4 investments in every year since, into incubator and accelerator programs such as Entrepreneur First and Seedcamp, Mexican Restaurant chain Chilango, founded by 2 ex Skype employees, creative marketplace CultureLabel.com, and cloud hosting provider Cluster HQ.

All 3 partners specialise in co-founding new businesses and investing in start-ups that can demonstrate market validation, as well as acquiring later stage businesses and carrying out advisory work.

Charlotte Street’s mantra is “people matter more than money”. The firm believe that there is funding available for early stage businesses, but that many funds are too large for the interests of investors to be aligned with the start-up. “Success is clustering around talent and hard work”, says their website, which also emphasises the importance of investing early to take advantage of the momentous impact that developing technology is having on the world around us, and the growing digital economy.

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The Team

Bo Pedersen’s career began at Visio, then Microsoft and later Webgain in account management roles, before he joined DataDirect, where he rose to the position of Director of Marketing Planning and Programs. Since becoming a partner at Charlotte Street Pedersen has made numerous investments, become a mentor at Seedcamp, Chief Revenue Officer at Mojn Ltd and a board member at Likely ltd.

Anton Wellenreiter was an ex JP Morgan Chase banker and Director at Barclays Private Equity before he founded Redpoint Capital in Dec 2011 shortly after founding Charlotte Street Capital in June 2011. A graduate of Cambridge University, Wellenreiter has more than 20 years experience as an investor, having backed financial news site TheStreet.com, Gaucho Grill, Dial-a-phone, luggage retailer Antler and Go-Fly amongst many others. His expertise lies in originating and structuring private equity and growth capital investments, and helping businesses to grow in value. He specialises in the consumer products, retail and travel sectors.

Thomas Jones spent the best part of 17 years building the company he founded, Smarts, a market surveillance platform for brokers and stock exchanges, into a 150 strong enterprise which was sold to NASDAQ in 2010. Since then he has made more than 15 investments either through Charlotte Street or independently as an angel. He specialises in software, FinTech and mobile companies. Investments include Tedbets, Cluster HQ and social analytics platform GoSquared.

The culture

It would be simplistic to say that Charlotte Street Capital are experts at creating a culture of success; if it were as simple as that everybody would be doing it. The team believe that “there is little value in an idea alone”, but that with the right blend of talent and passion, companies can raise money quickly and scale fast. The firm offers to help its clients in 3 ways: by offering investment, or advice where the team have the appropriate skillset, and also through the acquisition of small businesses as part of a wider investment syndicate. They promise to listen, understand, and try to help where they can.  That might sound trite coming from a more traditional VC, but where Charlotte Street is concerned, its a genuine promise that will deliver results.
Charlotte Street’s blog provides more insight into the rationale behind some of the investments the firm has made; the “always on” consumer leaving digital fingerprints wherever they go, news that the average Briton spends more time using digital devices than they do sleeping, and profiles of recent investments such as property rental site SpotaHome and Kidslox, a parental control app that allows users to lock other iOS devices.

The Investments

Charlotte Street Capital have consistently made investments, beginning with Seedcamp, now one of Europe’s oldest and best regarded accelerators, GoSquared, Ondevice Research and Avigilon in 2010, and then into amongst others, Last Second Tickets in 2011, sold to AIM listed Monetise in 2014 for an undisclosed fee which returned a healthy multiple to investors, Cluster HQ in 2012, a Bristol based business who raised in total a £600k round before Charlotte Street topped up its holding in in 2014, Entrepreneur First in 2013, the graduate start-up incubator which is attracting to talent to rival that of top professional services companies and consultancies, and 2014 saw the firm make 6 investments, Snaptrip, Kidslox, Visscore, Transact, Mojn and Create Intelligence.

kidslox

Kidslox, a Charlotte Street Capital investment, was founded by partner Thomas Jones

The firm have stuck rigidly to their investment principles as well as working closely alongside many of their portfolio companies; for example, Bo Pedersen spent a large part of 2014 acting as a sales agent for Mojn, a Danish business providing targeted email solutions for advertisers and publishers.

If anything Charlotte Street Capital is becoming larger and more expansive, and, depending on how much more work the founders can take on before the strain of handling too many investments with such a small team begins to show, there are plenty more investable opportunities out there that would be a good fit for their investing profile. The founders have chosen not to operate a fund but to rely on a network of friends and contacts to source investment opportunities, acting more like co-founders than fund managers.

The future

It will be interesting to see if Charlotte Street Capital formalise their investment approach by launching a fund, or whether they stick to the format of being entrepreneurs who are prepared to invest. A lot of the bets that they have placed show a great deal of faith in technology, the importance of user experience, and their own ability to spot talent, join the team or board, and deliver tangible results or improvements that can improve a company’s chances of success.

The team certainly have the track record and presumably the funds to continue to operate in this way; its possible one of their portfolio might scale far more quickly than the others, demand more attention, start to dominate its marketplace and achieve a stupendous valuation or exit to a major player; after all, something similar happened to Jones’ start-up Smarts, which was purchased by Nasdaq.

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Spotahome is one of Charlotte Street Capital’s most recent investments

The difficulties and risks associated with both venture capital and early stage tech start-ups means that inevitably there will be many companies and investments that fail. The hope is that some investments will be successful and, if a “unicorn” company is created then the rewards for the early backers are almost unparallelled, certainly financially, by almost any other industry. Charlotte street are an observant bunch who seem to have their fingers on the pulse, plus a wealth of experience in sales, marketing, product development and tech that means they and the teams they invest into could really make something special happen.

The Twitter Verdict!

Focused, active, open minded & competitive, Charlotte Street Capital invest in possibility & have the desire & means to turn it into reality

London’s Top VCs: MMC Ventures are one of London’s most active, strategic VC funds with enviable experience and great contacts

 

mmc venturesHaggerston Times has been blogging all week about some of London’s top VC firms, to try to help founders understand who they should be sending their business plans to, and paint a picture of where VC’s fit into the start-up eco-system. All the research conducted has been done purely by us based on what was available online and our opinions are entirely subjective.

Founders should bear in mind, that just as they must impress VC’s with their dedication, passion, and thirst for success, VC’s must wow their institutional and private investors by picking, funding, and developing early stage start-ups into comanies that dominate in their chosen industry sector, to the extent that they become acquisition targets for some of the world’s biggest companies.

Looking at how different VC’s go about their business may help founders understand who they should be partnering with, and what they should be prioritising as they look to scale without sacrificing the core proposition that that inspired them to start a business in the first instance! Today we look at MMC Ventures, who are the only VC we have looked at to date not to have their own Wikipedia page.

About

MMC Ventures was founded in 2000 by Bruce MacFarlane and Alan Morgan, with the objective of “backing early stage, high growth companies”. Whilst the total funds under management are dwarfed by the likes of Balderton or Index Ventures, MMC are one of the most active investors in the UK in terms of deals done, with a knack for attracting co-investors.

London’s Top VCs: Notion Capital believe the disruption of the software industry by SaaS is the key to establishing itself as a major league VC

 

notionThis week Haggerston Times is looking at some of London’s top Venture Capital Firms, to help readers (and us!) gain a better understanding of what Venture Capital is all about and whether you and your company should be approaching them with your business plan (clue: you should, but find out which one first and try not to waste anyone’s time!).

So far we’ve looked at Google Ventures and Balderton Capital, 2 pretty serious players, even if Google Ventures in Europe are fairly embryonic (although we have discovered that the European arm of GV were credited as lead investors in a recent $60m funding round for music rights tech company Kobalt, although the US team supplied the quotes!).

Today we look at Notion, who exploded onto the scene when 2 brothers pulled off a “sale of the century” deal; and they are very much in the business of looking forward, not back. High growth, high octane software as a service specialists. We’re also very grateful for the (extremely prompt) feedback from Wayne Gibbins at Notion, which served to reinforce our view that Notion are right on top of their game.

About:

Notion Capital was founded in 2008 when brothers Ben and Jos White sold their business MessageLabs to Symantec for £397m, and decided to allocate £20m to developing a VC fund. The brothers had also founded RBR Networks and internet services provider Star Internet. Stephen Chandler and Ian Milbourn, senior executives at MessageLabs, and Chris Tottman, who worked for both companies, also followed the brothers to Notion as partners.

The fund was intended to bridge the funding gap for tech ventures in the UK, and introduce a more US centric approach to venture capital investment. The first fund has invested nearly $50m, and the second, launched in 2012, has raised around $125m, and received support from the European Union’s Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the European Investment Fund, the first time the two bodies had backed the same project.

London’s Top VCs: Balderton Capital, a big, blue chip VC where all partners are equal and market disruption is the goal

 

Balderton_Logo_Rev_CMYKHere at Haggesrton Times this week we are looking at 5 of Europe’s best and brightest venture capital firms. We wanted to examine the psychology of VC investing by looking at the key players, what, and just as importantly who they invest in, how much they are spending and how founders can help themselves get in front of them by learning more about them.

We’re not only looking at the giants and the hopelessly exclusive, just as VC’s aren’t always looking for the best qualified or most polished. The start-up eco system in London and the UK, just as in any other business network, is built on relationships between people. It’s worth bearing this in mind as we look at Balderton; a brains trust with a long term approach whose interest in a company is very close to a guarantee that that company will be successful.

Balderton bow to no-one, being one of Europe’s largest VC funds, and like to be the first institutional investor in. Balderton are about hard work, charisma and ingenuity, with just a dash of rocket science.

About

Balderton Capital, founded in 2000 was originally formed as the European Investment arm of Benchmark Capital, based in Silicon Valley, and one of the world’s largest venture firms. Although the two maintain close ties, Balderton officially became a separate entity in 2007.

Balderton is one of Europe’s largest VC’s, managing around $2.3bn US dollars, the bulk of which is drawn from “university endowments, charitable foundations and pension funds”. Balderton V, the most recent fund, raised £250m, four years after Balderton IV completed a raising of £285m. The most recent funds have been raised with the goal of backing technology companies in the UK and Europe, however Balderton has been known to make investments elsewhere, such as Asia and in the US.

London’s Top VCs: Google Ventures in the UK has £100m to spend and a great team but strangely, online visibility is not its strong point

 

google venturesThis week in the Haggerston Times we’ll be looking at 5 of London’s prominent Venture Capital Tech investment firms. The goal is to research the firms to try to find out more about what each stands for, who its key staff are, what kind of company culture they espouse, and what the future holds for them and, by extension, the companies they invest in.

Hopefully this will provide a little insight for founders searching for funding, business people operating in London and perhaps for the VC’s themselves to see how others perceive them and whether their marketing is co-ordinated and realistic. Fundraising is a serious endeavour, but it’s also a gamethat’s fun to play, and different people interpret the rules differently. Here are our interpretations, far from definitive, very subjective, intended to provoke debate and hopeful that something good might come of it. We’re starting with Google Ventures, the European version, which was launched in June last year with a £100m “prize pot”.

About

This is the Venture Capital Investment Arm of Google, providing seed, venture and growth stage funding to Tech start-ups. It was founded in the US in 2009 with a £100m capital commitment, which increased to $300m annually from 2012, and now has $1.5bn under management.

HoxTech Angels leveraging Dreamstake pipeline to provide some of London and Europe’s hottest Angel investment opportunities

By Thursday, April 30, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0
 

HoxTechThe third Monday of every month is HoxTech Angel’s night at the Hoxton Hotel. What does this mean? It means that 6 start-ups in the process of graduating from the Dreamstake Academy are invited to pitch to an exclusive assembly of London based investment angels.

It’s reward for the hard work the founders have put into turning their start-ups into investable propositions; a chance to mingle with High Net Worth individuals who have the financial means to turn an entrepreneur’s dreams into reality. And of course for the HNWs, it’s an opportunity to get in on the action ahead of anybody else, before the pre-money valuation escalates and inflates the price of an equity stake.

Investing, like growing a fledgling business, is a science; Hoxtech Angels, run and presented by Paul Dowling and Marina Atarova, who divide their time between running workshops for the Dreamstake Academy, helping new or struggling founders understand the basics of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, and helping their “graduate” start-ups secure the investment they need, help the two sides of the funding divide find common ground in a convivial and relaxed atmosphere, but one that often results in long term relationships between founder and financial backer.

This Monday’s start-ups were the most diverse, technical and eclectic bunch yet, being drawn from different industries: retail, the media, FinTech and AI, amongst others. Each of the 5 minute presentations was well delivered and as always the networking over drinks seemed to throw up a lot of opportunities for collaboration. Here is a brief overview of 5 of the 6 start-ups who pitched (the sixth is still in beta and therefore details are being witheld for the time being). If you are interested in finding out more about a particular startup please contact Paul or Marina, or, if you prefer, register to attend the next HoxTech Angels event.

Motivii founder Eamon Tuhami on quitting the day job, founding an ambitious new start-up, and why happiness is a journey that can be mapped

 

motivii3Eamon Tuhami has half a mind to take his dissertation back to his professors at Derby University and ask to have it re-marked. “They didn’t believe me back in 1999 that digital would be the worlds biggest marketing channel!” he says; perhaps not many lecturers would have done, but most of what Eamon believed would change in online at the time has indeed come to pass.  Given this charismatic founder’s penchant for making things happen, this is unlikely to have been a coincidence!

Eamon’s dissertation was on internet marketing and his career to date has maintained a similar upward trajectory to his subject matter, whilst encompassing some of the same ups, downs, and periods of change. It’s been an adventure.

After uni Eamon joined an emerging internet start-up in Cardiff called Acequote, working in the sales team and quickly being promoted to marketing manager. A year later, and as the internet bubble was bursting and the company was suffering financial losses Eamon opted for redundancy and went travelling with his then girlfriend, now his wife.

He left Acequote with his reputation enhanced, being labelled a “born marketing whizz” by colleague Drew Benvie, who is now the founder of Battenhall PR. In fact, if the sheer volume of positive feedback and solicitations to work again someday in the recommendations section of his LinkedIn page are anything to go by, Eamon can be considered one of the hottest properties currently plying his trade in the “Silicon Roundabout”.

Dance, Fashion, Film…All in one MOVEment!

 

sadlers wells6fashion correspondent Abi Buller writes: What happens when you merge the mediums of dance, fashion, and film, and put them together in a Sadler’s Wells production?

‘MOVEment’ is a dance, fashion and film hybrid performance project presented by AnOther Magazine and created in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells to display the unification of multiple creative forces. Featuring fashion designers Gareth Pugh, Prada, Calvin Klein, Iris Van Herpen, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander Mcqueen and Stephen Jones Millinery, in conjunction with respected dancers and directors.

sadlers wells3

Devised by Jefferson Hack, co-founder and editorial director of Dazed group, and featuring choreography by Wayne Mcgregor, the production was unlikely to disappoint. With each designer resulting in a unique artistic vision to represent their brand and chosen narrative, seven films were presented to eager audiences on 17th-18th April at Sadler’s Wells theatre. Through diverse and experimental collaboration, the film projects convey engagement with bodily motion, creating atmospheric and captivating sequences. Each asked to create bespoke costumes for specific to the project, the designer’s had to consider their choreographer and dancer collaborators to enhance their narrative vision.

Food StartUp School at WeWork: Raising the bar!

 

foodsus1It’s not that often that you can take somebody at their word in business but when Victoria Albrecht arrived in London from St Andrews University a year ago on a mission to shake up the food and drink start-up scene and we had all known then what we know now, people would have been queuing around the corner for a slice of the action, maybe even a piece of the equity “pie”?

Already the first Food StartUp School London held in Hoxton Square was a success, largely due to the excellent speakers, her non-stop networking, the sponsorship deals she arranged and a unique presentation style that won plenty of admirers, oh and of course the masses of free food and drink on offer at the stalls prepared and presented by London’s founders, from brownies to cayenne drinks and delicate canapes. Life is never dull around Tech City!

Technology reviewed, refined, and restored at ‘This Happened’ MeetUp:

 

this happened 7fashion correspondent Abi Buller writes: The power and influence of technology within our everyday lives is certainly not news to most of us. But has anyone really considered how we can begin to rehumanize our digital lives?

The speakers at Saturday’s “This Happened London”, a quarterly event held at the V&A, considered this notion. While not disputing the importance and usefulness of technology, the speakers were creatives simply considering the journey from hands on human makers to a species where everything is accessible and instantly available to us.

Dreamstake FinHack Funding Forum & Startup Showcase: startups are leading London’s FinTech charge!

 

image1FinTech has been variously described as the saviour of London’s startup scene, the industry that will finally put paid to the hegemony of the traditional high street and investment banking industries, and a bubble that is in serious danger of falling under the wheels of its own overhyped bandwagon.

The facts are that after London was hit hardest by the global banking crisis, losing its place as the world’s leading financial hub to New York City for the first time last year, the capital has increasingly turned towards FinTech to showcase the fact that it is still fighting hard to maintain an edge over its rivals as the most innovative, efficient and lucrative destination for financial services.

The rise of MallTech means you had better take your smartphone shopping with you!

 

CONCEPT_IMAGE_WW_SHOW_SS14“Brands can’t lord it over customers now. Before, it was about waving the flag of the brand. Now consumers are turning themselves into brands through social media. Gap doesn’t make you cool; you make Gap cool by choosing to wear it.”

Antonio Bertone, former marketing chief at Puma, speaking to Wired magazine, sums it up nicely. Over the past decade there has been a substantial and not so subtle power switch from brand to consumer, and it’s largely thanks to social media and the ease with which we can now compare and contrast brands online.

Why I’m sticking with tibdit!

 

tibdittibdit is one of the most interesting and challenging start-ups I have had dealings with over the past year. A couple of weeks back I spent the day with 3 of their team, Justin, Iain and Rosemin, helping to man their stall at Wordcamp, a festival and celebration of all things WordPress related.

In between pitching tibdit to an assortment of brainy, techie types queuing for lunch (all of whom were intrigued by the concept), I found myself chatting to Caroline Sullivan, the Guardian’s renowned music journalist, and attending Render Positive Jon Buchan’s awesome speech on the power of marketing and the written word. If it had been a virtual presentation, I would have tibbed it.

EVOLUTION OF E-COMMERCE: FASHTECH TALKS TO ASOS!

 

fashtechWith speakers from ASOS and Cortexica, FashTech’s latest event, held at ASOS HQ, attracted an audience eager to learn about the latest innovation in retail experience. Branding themselves as ‘’the leading fashion image recognition company’’, Cortexica have teamed up with online high street giant ASOS to introduce the most up to date e-commerce experience.

#FintechStorm discusses online payments, asks if banks are losing ground in the battle for financial services

 

fintech storm logoHaggerston Times thinks of Arifa Khan as the voice of Fintech in London, and the Fintech Storm, which she organises, as the best place in London to find unbiased, open and high level discussion of what FinTech means and how it is currently trending.

Arifa has an open and daring personality which always makes her opening remarks enjoyable and worth listening to; even when she is introducing a panel of big-hitters such as of Praful Morar of Safecharge, a global provider of payments services, risk management and IT solutions, Stuart Butler of Skrill, a payments processor most active in Africa and South America, and Celine Lazorthes, Founder and CEO of Leetchigroup and MangoPay, online money collection and crowdsourcing platforms respectively, Arifa invariably finds ways of challenging preconceived ideas about FinTech, and unveils new topics for discussion during the lively panel debates.

Tea with the HT: Not your average boot-strappers! Louis Saha and Patrice Arnera, co-founders of elite sports networking platform Axis Stars

 
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Louis Saha and Patrice Arnera, co-founders of Axis Stars, as sketched by Hackney artist Thomas Moore

Louis Saha, the ex-Manchester United and France footballer, one of the finest goal-scorers of his generation, is embarking on a new career; as an entrepreneur.

Together with business partner Patrice Arnera, Louis is launching an exclusive and secure networking platform for elite sportspeople, Axis Stars, which allows players to connect with one another through a secure, members only platform, receive offers from selected luxury brands, and discuss sponsorship deals and other commercial opportunities with trusted agents, ex-pros and sports governance bodies.

Redefining Beauty: McQueen Retrospective at the V&A

 
by Abi Buller

Alexander McQueen

Both nationally and internationally, the recent emergence of the V&A’s Alexander McQueen retrospective has been a much anticipated affair for Art and Fashion lovers. Following on from New York’s 2011 MOMA tribute to the British designer’s legacy, the V&A welcomes a vast collection of the designer’s work, which spans over two decades of his career.

Who wants to be a billionaire! Enterprise Connect at King’s College London presents Mara Group and Foundation founder Ashish J. Thakkar and Craig Donaldson, CEO Metro Bank; on scalability and work ethics!

 

billionaire earth

Enterprise Connect is an initiative run by Kings College London which helps aspiring start-up founders learn from one another, and hear from some of the finest, high-profile, entrepreneurial minds, those whose businesses have hit the big time. What are they like? They are gluttons for punishment, it turns out; perfectionists who just want more! Last week’s panel was a mix of those taking their first steps, and 2 founders who have, in no small way, made history, but whose journeys in many respects are only just beginning.

When it’s time to utter those 4 little words, think Render Positive!

 

render positiveThere comes a time in every business person’s life, no matter how good the product, no matter how strong the market, when they have to go to an advertising agency and say: “please: make them like me!”

This is the least enjoyable part of working with a marketing agency. And it’s not something you want to have to say more than once, so bearing that in mind it’s very important that you choose to work with the right one. And once that part is over, if you have chosen well, you can start to enjoy yourself.

So why choose Render Positive? Because Channel 4 did, and described them as “a truly professional and inspiring outfit to work with”? Because Symantec and Sofa Workshop think that “their ideas “have a fantastic success rate” and “they offer intelligent responses to our requests”? Because they persuaded one of the greatest living ad-men, Rory Sutherland, to spend an hour on their sofa and asked him brilliant questions? Nope. Here’s why:

How to run a fantastic Tech City start-up: the tenets of “Flubilosophy”

 

flubit4Define start-up? A 27 year old co-founder; a 25 year old COO; a pool table; a table tennis tournament; kayaking. International travel. Presentations at dawn? There is no template, but it’s tempting to think that Flubit, the demand driven marketplace which guarantees to create a better offer for any goods bought online via a network of more than 1,000 suppliers, is what a “trendy” Dave Cameron meant when he pitched us Tech City back in 2010; and Flubit stepped up and helped to make it happen, in the process raising over £9 million of seed & Series A and B funding. So what does success looks like? It looks like hard work and togetherness, but it’s kind of fun, too. In a nutshell, work hard, play hard, take equity; get involved! The HT took a closer look at what a start-up looks like from the inside; by observing some of the basic tenets of “Flubilosophy”.