A group of Revolut’s earliest employees has launched a new investment company focused on tech start-ups – including those founded by fellow alumni of the $5.5bn digital bank.
Expansion Capital, which was incorporated in March 2020, is a seed-stage investor that has already backed around fifteen early-stage start-ups.
The business was set up by former Revolut employees Rishi Stocker, who was for four years the start-up’s head of partnerships and who led its expansion in Japan; Dan Westgarth, formerly general manager of Revolut in North America; Will Mahon-Heap, who was recently made head of global authorisations at the digital bank, and Neil Shah, its global head of expansion and authorisations.
A fifth, unnamed Revolut stalwart is also involved in the new venture. Both Stocker and Westgarth left Revolut in the past few months.
Europe’s digital banks have proven fertile breeding grounds for future entrepreneurs, much in the way that PayPal was a decade or so earlier. It is noteworthy, therefore, that app banks’ alumni networks are now also producing the means to seed companies.
Operating as an angel syndicate to begin with but with hopes of morphing into a fully-fledged venture capital firm, Expansion Capital is currently investing between £50,000 and £100,000 in a range of early-stage tech start-ups.
The founders are investing their own cash alongside that of a wider group of angel investors, who contribute on a deal-by-deal basis.
Its investments include Y Combinator-backed Homestead, which allows people to rent out unused spaces like garages and basements, and Ashby, which helps high growth companies manage job applicants.
“It’s not just fintech, it’s really kind of a range of industries – but it’s industries we have had direct experience of,” explained Westgarth, who joined San Francisco-based payroll platform Deel as its chief operating officer in April this year.
Westgarth said he and his co-founders are looking for start-ups that offer “solutions and products that help enable high growth companies”.
Of the fifteen start-ups Expansion Capital has backed so far, three were founded by Revolut alumni.
“We definitely back ex-Revolut people. Quite a few ex-Revolut employees have gone on to set up their own businesses… We’ll be the first port of call for those people,” said Westgarth.
One example is Belvo, an open banking aggregator focused on Latin America that was co-founded in June 2019 by Pablo Viguera, formerly general manager of Revolut in Spain.
Stocker, who left Revolut in September, told Sifted that Expansion Capital is seeing investment opportunities get sent its way by far larger venture capital outfits – their hope being that portfolio companies will benefit from bringing in angel investors with experience of Revolut-like environments.
“When [established venture capitalists] go in early, they tend to make 10% of the round available to angel clubs like these that have been set up by operators, because they see huge value in getting operators on the cap table,” said Stocker.
In the future, Westgarth and Stocker hope that Expansion Capital will look more like an established venture capital company itself. The pair said they are currently looking into future licensing arrangements that will allow the business to grow.