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The most active angel investors in the UK

Meet the UK-based angel investors who backed the most startups in 2020.

By Connor Bilboe

Credit: Deepali Nangia, angel investor

UK angels may have been cooped up at home for much of last year, but that didn’t stop them investing.

The last 12 months have seen Britain’s brigade of angel investors continue to back early-stage businesses. Overall, venture capital investment hit a record €14.1bn in the UK in 2020. 

But who were the most active UK angels in 2020?

Given that many angels do not publicly disclose their deals, it’s far harder to track angel investments than VC investments. So, to build this list, we contacted dozens of prominent angels to find out how many startups they backed last year.

Based on their input, here’s our list the 13 most prolific angels in the UK in 2020.*

Topping the charts

Matt Robinson

Angel investor Matt Robinson
Matt Robinson, cofounder of GoCardless and Nested.

He’s the cofounder of payments business GoCardless and home selling platform Nested. Robinson finds angel investing is a great excuse to work with lots of great founders. 

Robinson invested in a staggering 50 companies in 2020 alone including financial management startup Codat, virtual events platform Hopin and collaboration tool Radical.

Ian Hogarth

Angel investor Ian Hogarth
Ian Hogarth, cofounder and chief executive of Songkick.

He’s the cofounder of Songkick, the concert service used by 20m music fans every month to discover concerts. Songkick was backed by Y Combinator, Index and Sequoia and was one of the first wave of internet startups to scale internationally from London. 

Hogarth is a visiting professor at University College London and coauthor of The State of AI Report.

Hogarth invested in 30 companies in 2020 including virtual events platform Hopin, 3D design platform Gravity Sketch and machine learning medicinal chemistry startup PostEra.

Taavet Hinrikus

Angel investor Taavet Hinrikus
Taavet Hinrikus, cofounder of TransferWise.

He’s the cofounder of money transfer platform TransferWise. Prior to building the fintech unicorn, Hinrikus directed strategy at Skype.

The entrepreneur’s angel investing portfolio is expansive, reportedly making over 100 angel investments across the tech sector in the past 12 years.

According to Dealroom, in 2020, Hinrikus invested in 25 startups, including online wills platform Farewill, identity verification service Onfido and HR management software Hibob.

  • A Sifted deep-dive into Hinrikus’ angel portfolio is on its way! Watch this space

Richard Aseme

Aseme is Paramount Pictures’ vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa. His cheques typically sit at around $20k for each startup he invests in. While his investments are more weighted to the UK, Aseme invests on a geo-agnostic basis.

In 2020, the angel investor raised funds for 18 startups including challenger broadband startup Disputed, SMS commerce platform BluePrint and skip hire startup Skrap.

Chris Adelsbach

Chris Adelsbach, managing director of Techstars London Accelerator Programme.

Adelsbach is managing director at Techstars’s London accelerator programme. 

He was hot on the angel investing trail in 2020, investing in 17 startups, including Gen Z digital bank Zelf and insurtech startup Bequest.

On diversity, 47% of Adelsbach’s investments last year went towards startups that were female, BAME or LGBT+ led.

Michael Pennington

Michael Pennington, cofounder of Gumtree

Cofounder of ad platform Gumtree, Pennington is one of London’s most active B2C and B2B tech angel investors in startups. His notable investments include contract automation platform Juro, nanny matching platform Koru Kids, diabetes coaching app Second Nature and energy efficiency platform Hometree. 

In 2020 he invested in 12 companies including B2B carbon footprint reporting startup Emitwise, B2B sales management tool OneShot and debt collection SaaS company Kolleno.

Scott Mackin

Mackin is managing partner of energy and resources focused private equity firm Denham Management Capital. Away from Denham, Mackin focuses most of his personal investments on women-led startups, funding 11 female founded and cofounded startups in 2020.

In total, Mackin’s 2020 angel investment count is 13, having invested in startups like seaweed plastic alternative startup The Shellworks and health app Baobab Circle.

Victoria van Lennep

Angel investor Victoria van Lennep
Victoria van Lennep, cofounder of Lendable.

Van Lennep is cofounder of London-based online consumer lending platform Lendable, a startup reportedly with profits well ahead of most European unicorns like Monzo. Before launching the startup in 2014, van Lennep worked for the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In 2020, van Lennep made 10 angel investments in companies such as payroll management startup Payfit and financing platform Sugar.

Deepali Nangia

Deepali Nangia, cofounder of Alma Angels.

Nangia is a seasoned angel investor with over a decade of experience in private equity and investment banking. She cofounded Alma Angels in 2019, an angel community in support of female founders.

Last year, she joined the second cohort of Atomico’s Angel Programme — and she’ll continue investing with it this year too. Over 2020, she invested in 10 startups — eight of which are female founded — including sexual wellbeing startup Kama.

In 2021, Nangia joined Vienna-based early-stage VC Speedinvest as a venture partner with a focus on female founders.

Yi Luo

Angel investor Yi Luo
Yi Luo, global head of strategy and expansion at Earnd.

Luo was previously chief strategy officer of FreeUp.io — a fintech startup acquired by Greensill — and currently leads expansion at on-demand pay platform Earnd. 

In 2020, she invested in 9 companies including B2B payments security startup BondAval, time management app Daybridge and workspace provider FLOWN. 

Marcus Exall

Marcus Exall, former chief commercial officer at Monese. Now founder at UP AND TO THE RIGHT.

Previously chief commercial officer of online banking platform Monese, Exall has been an angel investor since 2013 after selling his first business, digital advertising agency Blue Barracuda. 

He has invested in 20 businesses, including in the first round of companies such as cloud-based game developer platform Improbable and Monese, as well as more recently in Swedish brain training product Mendi, which secured €3m in total (the most funded brain and mental health startup on Kickstarter). He aims to take a ‘founder first’ approach, adding value beyond the money.

In 2020 he invested in 7 businesses including contract data processor Nomio, wealth management startup Kolleno and Clim8, an app for sustainable investments.

Eamon Jubbawy

Eamon Jubbawy, cofounder and chief operating officer of Onfido.

Jubbawy is the cofounder and chief operating officer of identity verification platform Onfido. The company was founded in 2012 and has raised over $200m to date. He is an active angel investor with 15 companies in his portfolio. 

Six of those investments were made in 2020, including payments company Trustshare and cancer treatment startup Pear Bio.

Doug Monro

Doug Monro, cofounder and chief executive officer of Adzuna.

Previously chief operating officer at property website Zoopla with Alex Chesterman and managing director at Gumtree with Michael Pennington, Monro is cofounder and chief executive officer of job searching platform Adzuna. 

In 2020, he invested in five startups including Clim8, an app for sustainable investments, ticket buying platform Tickitto and mental health platform Mindlabs. His preferred area of investment is consumer and marketplaces.

Alex Chesterman

Alex Chesterman, founder of Cazoo.

Founder of Cazoo (valued over £2bn), Zoopla and LoveFilm, Chesterman has backed dozens of early-stage British digital startups including Perkbox, CarWow, Farmdrop, Tide, Perlego, Cleo, Thriva, Farewill, Thirdfort and many more.

In 2020, Chesterman invested in payments provider Vyne, mental health platform Mindlabs and payments company Trustshare, amongst other startups.

In particular, Chesterman has been prolific in top fintech companies.

  • Want to find out who tops the fintech angel list? Meet the 40 fintech angels you should know

Will Neale

Will Neale, founder of Fonix.

Neale is the founder of Fonix, a mobile payments company which went public in 2020 and cloud-based video editing platform Grabyo, with a list of impressive clients including the FA, MotoGP, Fox and BT Sport.

Since 2014, Neale has invested in over 50 early-stage startups — primarily in fintech and software — including digital bank Revolut, administrative solutions software SeedLegals and car insurance startup Marshmallow. 

In 2020, he invested in coding startup 418Sec, energy efficiency platform Hometree and ticket buying platform Tickitto.

*Not all of the most active angels we identified wanted their names published, so we left those people off the list. But if you’re an active UK-based angel and want to join the list, let us know.

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