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Top Series A investors in the UK

The UK is a powerhouse when it comes to European VC, but which early-stage investors are best at spotting gems at Series A?

By Sophie Zhang

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Balderton Capital

The value of the UK’s ecosystem jumped 42.8% last year, and although startups are living in a different market now than they were 12 months ago, the UK continues to dominate in Europe. So far this year, according to Dealroom, the UK has seen more VC investment ($20.9bn) and more rounds closed (943) than any other European country.

But which early-stage VCs are contributing to that growth?

Using data from Dealroom, Sifted has put together a list of the top Series A investors in UK startups. You can find Dealroom’s full methodology here, but the rankings are based on the following data points:

  • Number of unicorns in portfolio;
  • Number of “future” unicorns in portfolio;
  • Number of rounds in the last 12 months.

Dealroom has also weighted the rankings by a “dilution score”, with firms that invested early in companies that went on to become unicorns scoring more highly than those that joined at a later stage. This ranking looks at Series A investments made in the UK, but from investors based anywhere.

Do note that some listed funds are investing at both seed and Series A.

Top Series A investors in the UK

1. Index Ventures

An image of the Index Ventures team, one of the top Series A investors in the UK
Index Ventures

Latest fund: Last year, Index Ventures raised two new funds — a $900m fund to back startups at Series A and B and a $2bn growth fund for later rounds. Index also raised a $200m seed fund last year.

Focus: Index Ventures is a global investment firm, which invests across sectors from seed to IPO. The majority of its initial investments take place at seed or Series A. The team has a particular interest in fintech, gaming, ecommerce, creator economy, enterprise software, productivity, open source, security, SaaS and marketplaces.

Deal count in UK in 2021: 26

Gender split of investment team: Seven women partners and eight male partners in its Europe team.

Notable investments: 

  • Birdie, an elderly care startup based in London.
  • Rooser, a B2B marketplace platform for seafood suppliers and buyers, headquartered in Edinburgh.
  • Multiverse, a London-based edtech unicorn.
  • Revolut, a London-based fintech.

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market:

  • Make a cold hard assessment of your business: How much runway do you have? Do you have product-market fit? Is your growth strategy cash-efficient or not? What is your competition doing?
  • If you have two or more years of runway, stay aggressive.
  • If you have less than two years of runway, be ruthless with prioritisation.
  • If you have less than a year of runway, it’s time to trim. 

2. Accel

An image of the Accel team
Accel

Latest fund: Accel’s $650m fund was announced in 2021, with a focus on the EMEA region. The team also announced a $4bn global fund earlier this year.

Focus: The VC firm focuses on a broad range of sectors usually at Series A but sometimes also at seed stage.

Deal count in the UK in 2021: Three

Gender split of investment team: Four male partners and one woman partner, Sonali de Rycker. Outside of the partners, the investment team is 42% women.

Notable investments: 

  • Deliveroo, a food delivery company headquartered in London, now IPO’d.
  • Hopin, a live events platform headquartered in London.
  • Gravity Sketch, a 3D design platform with headquarters in London.
  • Monzo, a London-headquartered fintech.

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market: 

  • Work backwards from your next financing event. 
  • Map out your talent needs. 
  • Seize opportunities.

 Read about the top early-stage investors in:

3. Octopus Ventures

Latest fund: In 2021, Octopus raised more than £250m for its latest fund, and just last month launched its first ever pre-seed investment vehicle. 

Focus: The team invests in companies across Europe from pre-seed onwards, writing cheques of £1m at seed stage through to cheques of £10m at Series B. The team focuses on five sectors: B2B software, consumer tech, deeptech, fintech and healthtech.

Deal count in UK in 2021: 68

Gender split of investment team: 48% of its team consists of women, and 34% of those leading deals are women.

Notable investments: 

  • ManyPets, an insurtech company headquartered in London with a focus on pet health. 
  • Cazoo, a car purchase and rental website also headquartered in London.
  • Elvie, a healthtech company developing smart technology for women, based in London.

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market: 

  • Take steps to conserve cash and extend runway. 
  • For those companies needing to raise money in this period, expect it to take longer and be more challenging, so ensure you’ve built enough time to accommodate this. 
  • Growth may be slower, which may feel strange coming out of a period where growth was paramount. 
  • “Capital efficient growth” will be the new North Star.
  • The war for talent becomes less fierce, and opportunities present themselves. Talent teams at earlier stages in their development are often well suited to adapt to those opportunities.

4. Balderton Capital

Latest fund: Its latest $600m fund was announced in 2021. 

Focus: The team invests in companies across Europe in a variety of sectors, but they are particularly interested in open finance, mobility, SaaS, data-driven healthtech, security, retail, food and entertainment companies.

Deal count in UK in 2021: Undisclosed

Gender split of investment team: One female partner, seven male partners. Within the wider investment team, the gender split is eight women and five men.

Notable investments: 

  • Citymapper, a city transport app headquartered in London.
  • Healx, a healthtech company that specialises in developing rare disease treatments, headquartered in Cambridge.
  • Better Origin, an AI-powered insect farm company also based in Cambridge.

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market: In a memo obtained by Sifted, Bernard Liautaud, managing partner at Balderton Capital, wrote: 

  • “We expect activity levels and $ invested to continue to trend substantially downward.”
  • “We have a lot lower to go in terms of $ invested before we even get back to 2019 or 2020 levels.”
  • “Sectors like cyber security, software infrastructure, climate tech, fintech and SaaS would remain safe, but consumer would bear the brunt of the impact.”
  • “Be very careful about engaging with this inbound and getting dragged into a preemptive round.”

5. MMC Ventures

An image of the MMC Ventures team, one of the top Series A investors in the UK
MMC Ventures

Latest fund: MMC has an evergreen Series A fund, which invests £100m annually, as well as the MMC Greater London Fund, which is a vehicle of £52m focused on seed-stage companies.

Focus: MMC is a European deeptech investor with a focus on transformative technologies, with a special interest in companies that utilise AI and data across sectors including fintech, enterprise software, digital health, cloud and data infrastructure. The majority of the team’s investments are in the UK, but it also invests across Europe. The team typically writes cheques of up to £1m at seed stage, and cheques of £5m-10m for Series A companies.

Deal count in UK in 2021: 40+, with around a third of those being new investments.

Gender split of investment team: Four male deal leads and two female deal leads.

Notable investments: 

  • Snowplow, a B2B data collection platform headquartered in London.
  • Masabi, a London-based company developing mobile public transport ticketing technology.
  • Hussle, a London-based fitness network that provides flexible gym passes. 

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market: 

  • Continue to pursue growth and take market share, particularly where competitors may be slowing down or struggling.
  • But take a more balanced approach to growth acceleration versus cash burn.
  • We’re working with our portfolio companies to capitalise them for at least 24 months, where possible, in order to ride out shorter-term market uncertainty.

Other top Series A investors in the UK

  1. Amadeus Capital — a UK-based VC with a focus on Europe and emerging markets.
  2. Lightspeed Venture Partners — a Silicon Valley-based VC that has traditionally focused on enterprise software, fintech and data.
  3. Notion Capital — a London-based VC investing in European SaaS and enterprise tech.
  4. Northzone — early-stage VC headquartered in London. 
  5. Atlas Venture — US-based early-stage VC with a focus on biotech.

Sophie Zhang is an editorial assistant as Sifted. 

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