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European scout programmes: the complete list

How do Europe’s scout and angel programmes stack up against one another? We find out

By Amy Lewin and Anisah Osman Britton

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Daisy Onubogu, who looks after Backed VC's scout programme

In the past few years, scout and angel programmes have been all the rage among VCs in Europe. 

Prestigious VC firms like Accel, Sequoia and Atomico all have them — and more keep launching. Earlier this year, secretive VC firm Hedosophia kicked off a new scout programme and enlisted dozens of well-known startup founders and operators to help it source early-stage startups. EQT Ventures is also setting up a scout scheme, it has confirmed to Sifted, and is actively approaching founders and operators at the moment.

They’re billed as a way for later stage funds to get in with the most promising founders early on — and as a way to diversify their pipeline. For scouts without personal wealth to invest, they can be a way to build up an investment track record. They can also help put more underrepresented founders on VC firms’ radars. 

And yet, murmurs that these programmes don’t actually work that well — or at least, not that well for the scouts or founders — are getting louder. 

Critics say that they’re a cheap way for VCs to source deal flow and get “dibs” on the best companies, while posing a problem for founders who can run into signalling problems if those investors then don’t back them at a later round. On the other hand, Roxanne Varza, director of Station F and a Sequoia scout, told Sifted that she’d “never had a startup tell me it’s an issue”.

As competition at the seed stage hots up, some founders are starting to turn down scout cheques, preferring more experienced (and perhaps committed) seed-stage funds or angels who are investig their personal money. Some investors Sifted spoke to said they refused to coinvest with scouts, instead asking them to invest with their personal capital if their conviction is high enough. 

As for the scouts, what counts as fair compensation has always been up for debate: is this a great crash course into VC, or exploitation? 

Here, we list all the known scout programmes in Europe and share what deal the scouts get.

The Atomico Angel Programme 

Sarah Drinkwater, a non-executive board member at Mind Foundry
Sarah Drinkwater has been an Atomico scout

When Atomico, a London-based VC investing at Series A onwards, launched its first angel programme in 2018, it was something of a trendsetter. Now everyone’s at it — and Atomico’s scheme is on its third cohort.

What does it invest in? Atomico angels invest at seed or pre-seed — and often write a startup’s first cheque. Angels can invest in all sectors besides “unethical” areas like drugs, tobacco and firearms. 

How does it work? Each angel is given $100k to invest over a year. Scouts invest between $10k-50k per deal. 

How many scouts? Atomico selects a cohort of 12-18 “angels” annually.

Who are some of the scouts? Josefin Landgård, cofounder of digital healthcare startup Kry; Sarah Drinkwater, ex-head of Google Campus and a startup adviser; Andy Ayim, founder of Angel Investing School and head of product at fintech unicorn Zilch.

Compensation? Angels receive 25% carry in each deal they make. They also have a share in an “Angel Pool” where some carry from all investments is allocated, so if one company wins, all the angels win.  

Other benefits? Access to the fund’s team and their knowledge, a network of peers and shared learnings from the fund and angels.

Example investments? Andy Davis, founder of VC firm 10×10 and an angel in Atomico’s second cohort, invested in eight startups with an average ticket size of $10k. Of those investments, 50% were into female founders and five were black founders. Companies included The Stack, audio startup Audiomob and logistics platform Hutch. 

Accel’s Starter Programme 

Hanno Renner

Accel, the giant global VC firm, has been running its Starters programme in the US since 2017 and launched a European version last summer

What does it invest in? “Starters” can invest in any European startup as long as it isn’t working in an illegal or unethical sector. 

How does it work? Each starter is given $200k to invest. They can decide on the speed and frequency of investments. Average cheque sizes are $20k.

How many scouts? 21 successful senior operators and founders were selected for the first programme. Scouts are expected to give knowledge and expertise alongside money to the startups they invest in. 

Who are some of the scouts? Hanno Renner, cofounder of HR unicorn Personio; Georgie Smallwood, CPO at scooter operator Tier; Tristan Thomas, former VP of marketing at digital bank Monzo.

Compensation? Scouts receive carry in the investments they make as well as in the fund the scout money comes from. So if one scout does well, there’s upside for all. If Accel goes on to lead a round in a startup that a scout initially invested in, there’s an extra (undisclosed) benefit. 

Benefits? Training and resources on how to angel invest.

Example investments? Cardiac analysis startup Idoven, investment app heyfina, fertility startup Oviavo and broadband challenger startup Cuckoo. 

Ada Ventures Scout Programme

Ada Ventures, which backs underrepresented founders at pre-seed and seed in the UK, launched a scout programme in 2018.

How does it work? Anyone can apply to be a scout.

How many scouts? Around 100 scouts. 

Who are the scouts? Ada looks for leaders of diverse communities, founders and activists for their programme. Scouts include Daniel Evans from Birmingham Enterprise Community; Emilie Bellet, founder of investment platform Vestpod; and Mara Livermore, founder of agency House of Sweet Waters.

Compensation? If the fund invests in a startup recommended by a scout, they receive £5k or can invest that capital alongside the fund. They also receive 10% of carried interest on the company they sourced, as long as that investment returns over 5x and the fund is paying carry.

Other benefits? A network of other scouts, monthly masterclass sessions on topics from organisational design to coping with burnout. Access to pro-bono mental health support and coaching from Spill.

Example investments? Biodegradable sanitary pads Planera, childcare platform Bubble, and over-55 community Mirthy. 

Ada Ventures — Ada’s Angels

Arfah Farooq Muslamic Makers
Arfah Farooq

Ada Ventures also set up an angel programme in 2020 to give five people with experience in underrepresented communities money to make investments into startups — rather than just recommending companies to the fund, as scouts do.

How does it work? Angels apply through an open process. They are given £50k to invest over an 18-month period. The final investment decision lies with the fund and angel. 

How many angels? Five.

Who are the angels? Arfah Farooq, founder of community Muslamic Makers; Ash Phillips, founder of business building community Dffrnt; Nicole Crentsil, founder of Black women community Black Girl Fest. 

Compensation? Angels receive 100% carry on their investments once the fund has been paid back (which could be several years after the original investment).

Other benefits? Coaching, mentoring and a free place at Angel Investing School — an online course that teaches people how to start investing in startups. 

Example investments? Farooq has made four investments to date including workplace behaviour tracker InChorus, pricing plan tool Kana and online business school Framework. 

Backed VC  

Seed-stage London-based VC firm Backed has perhaps the best-known — or at least most fun-looking — scout programme in Europe.

How does it work? Scouts are approached to join by the firm. Usually, they are community leaders that have access to diverse dealflow. 

How many scouts? Around 40.

Who are some of the scouts? Anne-Laure Le Cunff, founder of mindful productivity school Ness Labs; Abi Mohammed, programme lead at Tech Nation; James Frewin, founder of US/UX design agency October. 

Compensation? The programme works on a commission model — when the fund invests in a scout’s recommendation, the scout is paid up to £25k. This number is constantly under review based on the market and has changed over time. 

Other benefits? A well looked after network thanks to head of network Daisy Onubogu. Backed has previously covered conference tickets and accommodation for scouts, provided executive coaching and invited scouts to offsites — this year’s being four days in Tuscany. Frewin, who has been a scout since 2019, said: “I wanted to learn more about VC and the investment process so getting access to investment committee meetings and deal reviews has been super helpful”.

Example investments? Afro haircare brand Afrocenchix, biotech for vegan fat Hoxton Farms and loyalty platform Fygo.

Hedosophia 

Glovo founder Oscar Pierre
Glovo cofounder Oscar Pierre

Secretive London-based growth-stage VC Hedosophia launched a scout programme earlier this year to invest in pre-seed and seed-stage fintechs. 

How does it work? Scouts tend to write £20k-30k cheques, although they have a lot of freedom in how much capital they can deploy and the manner in which they do so.

How many scouts? Around 20 well-known European founders and operators, many from the Hedosophia portfolio. 

Who are some of the scouts? Oscar Pierre, CEO of Barcelona-based delivery giant Glovo; Chad West, former communications chief at Revolut; Noor van Boven, former chief people officer at fintech N26.

Compensation? Scouts get 30-40% carry on deals they make, according to Sifted sources. There is also a shared pot for all scouts, which they each get 10% carry from. 

Example investments Equity liquidity startup Semper.

Flashpoint’s Scouts 

Flashpoint VC primarily invests in revenue-generating B2B SaaS products in CEE, the Baltics, Finland and Israel. It launched its scout programme in the summer of 2021.

How does it work? Initially, the firm had an open scout programme which anyone could apply to. However, after being disappointed that people dropped off after a while, Flashpoint decided to create a closed programme in which it pre-selects scouts and gives them a three-month trial. There are monthly meetups to discuss progress and deals. 

How many scouts? It aims to have one to two scouts per investment region. 

Who are the scouts? Tallinn-based Dmitri Sarle, a Startup Europe advisory board member and founder of community Weeklyaction.club; Warsaw-based Piotr Grabowski, founder of Foodtech.ac. 

Compensation? A finder’s fee is provided which is dependent on the size of the deal. This is paid even if work with the scout ends after the trial period.

What other benefits do scouts receive? A right to invest into all Flashpoint deals introduced by a scout — Flashpoint covers all due diligence and any other transaction costs; access to the Flashpoint platform which includes resources for finance, legal, PR, marketing and its tech stack; access to Flashpoint’s network; regular team meetings to discuss investment opportunities and share learnings; a network of investors and peers.

Example investments?Ecommerce cashback startup Bonusway and sales platform
Growbots.

Peak 

Emma Tracey, cofounder of developer job platform Honeypot
Emma Tracey

Peak, an early-stage investment fund focused on European SaaS products, marketplaces and platforms, launched a scout programme in September this year.

How does it work? Each venture scout has 100k to invest. 

How many scouts? Five venture scouts have been selected for the first cohort. Scouts are either senior operators at well-known companies or successful founders, and are based in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden. 

Who are the scouts? Emma Tracey, former CEO and founder of Honeypot, based in Germany; Dennis Goedegebuure, former VP for growth at Airbnb, based in the Netherlands; Alok Alström, CEO and founder of Appjobs and former GM of Uber Sweden, based in Sweden.

Compensation? Scouts share a percentage of the total carry in the fund, and get “financial upside” on all deals in their cohort. Exact amounts are confidential. 

Other benefits? Monthly sessions to share tips and investing experiences and evaluate deals together; a monthly call with the fund’s team to learn how to make investment decisions; access to Peak’s portfolio and investor network.

Example investments? No investments made yet. 

Sequoia Capital

Roxanne Varza, director of startup campus Station F.
Roxanne Varza

Sequoia’s scout programme is the OG: it’s been running a scheme in the US for over a decade. And, when the world-famous VC firm opened a European office last year, it also set up a scout programme over here.

How does it work? Sequoia dedicates a portion of its $195m seed fund to the scout programme. Scouts are selected and added to cohorts that run for two years. They are given $100k to deploy over that time and can invest in pre-seed and seed-stage startups in almost any sector (bar “red lines” like narcotics). 

How many scouts? Around 24 in Europe.

Who are the scouts? Roxanne Varza, head of Station F; Cristina Berta, customer team lead at Picnic; Marc McCabe, a former director of operations at Airbnb.

Compensation? Details are hazy but if startups do well, scouts also benefit. 

What other benefits do scouts receive? Investment memo feedback from cohort peers, an investment track record and angel investing education. 

Example investments? The US scheme backed some real winners, like Stripe and Uber.

shl.vc

Sahil Lavingia, founder of creator marketplace Gumroad, started rolling fund shl.vc to invest over $10m a year into early-stage tech companies, writing $100k-$250k cheques. Lavingia is now raising a dedicated fund for the fully remote scout programme, which launched in July 2021.

How does it work? People apply and are accepted on a quarterly basis. 

How many scouts? 100 

Who are the scouts? Maya Caddle, product at Nestcoin; José Ocampo, team lead at Synthesis School.

Compensation? If the fund invests in a scout’s recommendation, they receive 25% of the fund’s carry for that deal. Lavingia says: “If I invest $100k into a company that you help me source, then you’ll get 25% of my carry (about 20%), or 5% — as if you had invested $5K into the company yourself.”

What other benefits do scouts receive? Access to a community, monthly calls and, one scout says, “Sahil’s brain”.

Example investments? Technical interviews platform Litebulb and video editor Sequence.Film.

Lakestar

Zurich-based VC firm Lakestar quietly set up an angel programme in January this year, a partner confirmed to Sifted. Halo, as it’s known, is part of a strategy to invest more at the seed-stage and “get our foot in the door early with a company [in order] to participate in later deals”, according to an investor update seen by Sifted.

How does it work? 12 founders and CEOs were selected by the firm. They have flexibility over how much they can invest. 

Who are some of the scouts? Renaud Visage, cofounder and former CTO of Eventbrite, is a Lakestar scout. The cohort is based all around Europe.

Compensation? Undisclosed.

Tiny Scouts 

Tiny Capital is a remote fund that buys companies to keep them operational. Founders can stay or go, depending on what they want from the deal. 

How does it work? Anyone can sign up — they need to review and sign the terms of agreement to be a scout. Scouts email recommended companies and then, if of interest to Tiny, will introduce the startup’s senior leadership to Tiny’s team.

Compensation? If a scout refers a business that is bought, a finder’s fee of $25k to $200k+ is paid out.

What markets does it invest in? Growing and profitable businesses that aren’t unicorn material.

Example investments? No-code platform Makerpad and women entrepreneurial network Girlboss. 

Speedinvest 

female angel investors
Deepali Nangia, angel investor

Vienna-based early-stage VC firm Speedinvest doesn’t have scouts — instead, it has venture partners. 

How does it work? Venture partners — some of whom are publicly announced, but not all — source and evaluate deals for the firm. Some focus on specific geographies or founder segments (such as underrepresented founders). Some venture partners also offer support to Speedinvest’s portfolio; for example, functional expertise. 

Who are the venture partners? The most prominent is Deepali Nangia, a well-known angel investor. She joined Speedinvest a year ago to focus on sourcing female and underrepresented founders. 

Compensation? Venture partners all have slightly different agreements. Some are paid monthly retainers, some get carry in the fund, others get cash rewards.

Mountside Ventures

This one is a little different. Mountside’s scouts aren’t hunting for startups; they’re looking for LPs. 

How does it work? The idea, explains managing partner Jonathan Hollis, is that Mountside’s scouts will “identify individuals connected to ’emerging LPs’ who are interested in investing into funds, and those connected to the more secretive world of family offices”. In return, the scouts will get to attend a conference for LPs and VCs which Mountside is running in February. 

How many scouts? Five to eight. (Mountside is recruiting scouts at the moment.) 

Blossom Capital 

Last year, just as cities started locking down, London-based VC firm Blossom launched a huge $5m angel programme. The idea was to “help transition operators into angel investing”, founding partner Ophelia Brown told Sifted. Blossom has since stopped the programme because, Brown says, “we successfully achieved this aim and more”. 

How did it work? It was a bit complicated. Blossom enlisted a troop of angels to source early-stage startups to invest in. The plan was to invest $250k in 20 companies, and for the angels to also provide mentorship. Angels were also invited to coinvest with Blossom.

How many angels? There are 13 listed on the programme’s website, all founders or executives from European unicorns. 

Who were some of the angels? Des Traynor, cofounder of Intercom; Guillaume Pousaz, founder and CEO of Checkout.com; Nilan Peiris, VP of growth at Wise; Jonas Templestein, cofounder of Monzo; and (very briefly) Shakil Khan, an early investor in Spotify. 

Amy Lewin is Sifted’s deputy editor. She covers VC, foodtech and diversity in tech, coauthors the Startup Life newsletter and tweets from @amyrlewin. Anisah Osman Britton also writes the Startup Life newsletter, and tweets from @anisahob

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