Concept Ventures secures British Business Bank backing to launch £50m pre-seed fund ‘built for founders’
Concept Ventures (Concept), formerly known as RLC Ventures, has launched an oversubscribed £50m pre-seed fund (the Fund) – including a £30m cornerstone commitment from the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme – to close the ever-increasing funding gap at pre-seed and createthe largest, dedicated pre-seed fund in the UK.
Established in 2006, the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme aims to increase the supply of equity capital to high-potential, early-stage UK companies by supporting new and emerging VC fund managers who target the early stage equity gap.
Launched in 2018, Concept has recorded a string of impressive early successes. To-date, the team has backed 100+ founders at the pre-seed stage, with Concept backed-founders seeing a 71% graduation rate from pre-seed onward (twice as high as the industry average). With 2 exits within the last two years (including Cliff.ai which was acquired by Gtmhub in June), prior funds are displaying strong returns.
With the recent surge of US funds expanding to the UK and an increased blurring of stage-discipline from multi-stage VCs, many firms are writing optionality cheques; creating a market which is leaving founders struggling to deal with signalling risk, confusing processes and a lack of clarity on which firms they should partner with. Concept Ventures will bring clarity back to the pre-seed stage with this dedicated, founder-first Fund.
Concept Ventures will invest in pre-seed stage founders reshaping how we “work, play, and learn”, writing cheques from £100K up to £600K and offering founders the flexibility to shape or join their rounds. The 60+ start-ups they will back over the next 4 years will join notable existing portfolio companies including corporate gifting platform Reachdesk, live-streaming video pioneers Condense, and female financial education platform, Your Juno.
The Concept team centres their decision making around founder personality; deploying a data-led approach to identify the traits and characteristics key to entrepreneurial success. This means they can look beyond the narrow parameters of work history, education and networks, to access a wider range of entrepreneurial potential. Based on this, Concept then builds a value-add framework tailored to each founding team to help them through the crucial first 12-18 months.
A key driver behind the approach comes from the “outsider” mentality the Concept culture has been built upon. All team members come from non-VC backgrounds, something which they believe helps them spot overlooked talent in the underserved pre-seed space and avoid bringing preconceptions about founders or industries into their decision making.
The Fund’s LP base consists of 80% ethnic minorities and 18% women, and over 70% of the Fund’s LP’s are current or exited founders, collectively responsible for a combined £2bn in enterprise value. These include Ahluwalia Family Office, Y-Combinator backed founders such as Henry De Zoete, and senior global technology executives.
The Fund is also deeply committed to running a values-led organisation and pledges 1% of the total carry pool to charities of a founder’s choosing. Following a successful exit last year, Concept funded a school in India, providing education for over 300 children per year.
Reece Chowdhry, founder and General Partner of Concept Ventures, comments:
“There is a major gap in the pre-seed ecosystem, with too few funds offering dedicated pre-seed expertise. We are completely focused on this critical stage of a company’s life cycle and are able to provide the funding, expertise and network they need to succeed. We’re deeply committed to setting our portfolio up for future success. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved to date and to have that recognised by the British Business Bank, is a humbling and exciting milestone.
“We are looking forward to making more personality-led investments in companies transforming how we work, play and learn, and doing so under our new name – Concept Ventures.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank, comments:
“The British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is key in helping to develop and maintain effective venture capital provision in the UK, lowering the barriers to entry for emerging fund managers and for those targeting under-served areas of the market. Our cornerstone commitment to Concept Ventures will help them to provide finance and support to young and diverse, high-potential businesses at the pre-seed stage, helping to close the early stage equity funding gap.”