Seedcamp, the prolific early-stage investor, has raised a new fund — its sixth — of $180m.
The European VC is one of the best performing globally; its third fund (raised in 2014) has six unicorns in its portfolio, including Revolut, wefox and UiPath, and has already given its investors a 6.4x return on their capital. Its fourth fund (raised in 2017) counts two unicorns — Sorare and (at its last fundraise) Hopin, and has a TVPI (total value to paid in — frequently used as a measure of fund performance) of 5.37x.
“That puts us in a top decile, one of the top few funds returning globally,” says Reshma Sohoni, Seedcamp founding partner.
Like previous funds, Seedcamp will invest in any sector, across Europe, at pre-seed and seed, writing cheques of up to $1m and targeting sub-10% ownership stakes. The new fund will back about 100 companies.
But Seedcamp has doubled the size of this fund compared to its last — of $95m, raised in 2020 — to maintain its ownership stakes in startups for longer.
When companies get acquired or go public, there are two things that really matter to a VC, says Sohoni: “What was the enterprise valuation, and what did you own of it and what did the founders own of it?”
By raising a larger fund, Seedcamp hopes to own more of those companies at the point they exit, because it can maintain its ownership stake in them as they raise subsequent rounds of funding.
About 50% of this fund will be reserved for these follow-on investments — although the total amount invested in follow-ons is likely to be higher; Seedcamp also expects to have capital from early exits to deploy.
That’s been the case with its fourth fund, says partner Sia Houchangnia. Early exits include:
- Data analytics startup Skew, which sold to Coinbase
- Sales engagement platform Reply AI, which sold to Kustomer (which was then acquired by Meta)
- Food delivery sales platform Kitch, which was acquired by Delivery Hero
- Open banking provider Nordigen, which was acquired by GoCardless
During the pandemic, Seedcamp was running “investment sprints” every six to eight weeks. Now they do them on a weekly basis.
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“We try to have three or four companies lined up for partner pitch,” says Houchangnia, so the team can “stack and rank” startups. “We look at what else we’ve seen in that sector in past months, and display data to the team in the last few companies seen in that sector for when they take decisions.”
Seedcamp sees around 5,000 startups each year. Founders are able to “cold” pitch to the firm by filling in an online form — and Houchangnia says they all receive a reply.
“Around two or three investments per year come to us totally cold like that,” he says.
Far more investments come via introductions from portfolio founders.
Seedcamp is also leaning on experienced operators at portfolio companies (or who were formerly at portfolio companies) to advise earlier-stage startups. It now has 100 members in this so-called “expert collective”, including Joe Cross, former head of marketing at Wise; Lily Chang, former chief of staff at Hopin; and Maria Campbell, COO at Griffin and former head of people at Monzo.
They aren’t paid and don’t get carry (a share of the profits) in the fund, says Natasha Lytton, director, but some do end up angel investing or landing consultancy work as a result. “It’s a community-led collective; they get out why they put in. Putting something too structured around it doesn’t work.”
Advisers adhere to a code of conduct and go through a trial period — and Seedcamp takes feedback from the founders they work with. It enrolls experts on an annual basis, and will “roll out” those who aren’t contributing or who don’t want to be involved anymore.
No slowdown at seed
Seedcamp often brings in angels and even smaller funds to rounds. The past few years have seen a lot of microfunds, solo GPs and operators writing angel cheques.
“Because we stay sub-10% ownership, it allows us to bring five or six angels into a round, writing everything from £5k to £50k cheques, plus one or two microfunds writing £75k to £300k cheques. It works really well,” says Houchangnia.
Despite later-stage deals almost grinding to a halt, there’s still plenty going on at seed stage, the team says.
“Since September, in the rounds we’ve been investing in, there’s still a lot of interest from angel operators,” says Houchangnia.
Some angels have slowed down, Sohoni adds, but they tend to be those who got into angel investing “when it was very hard not to make money in 2020 and 2021”. The more professional angels, who’ve been doing this for several years, are still active.
There are over 200 investors in the latest fund, including big investment firms like LGT, Reference Capital, Harbourvest and Legal & General. Dozens of founders and angel investors including Gumtree’s Michael Pennington, Indeed’s Paul Forster, Supercell’s Ilkka Paananen, Prima Materia’s Shakil Khan, Hopin’s Johnny Boufarhat and UiPath’s Daniel Dines also backed the fund.
80% of LPs from the previous fund reinvested.
LPs are increasingly interested in actual returns, says Sohoni, not just large portfolio valuations — and so there was “big appreciation for us getting liquidity” during the pandemic boom years.
“The sentiment amongst LPs was, if you didn’t take money out in 2020 and 2021, what were you doing as a VC?”