Firstminute Capital closes £87 million second early stage venture fund backed by 70 unicorn founders

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firstminute capital announces $111m second fund, now backed by 70 unicorn founders 

● firstminute capital launches its second seed fund at $111m, following its $100m debut fund in 2017. 

● firstminute is now backed by 70 unicorn founders, alongside a host of global CEOs. ● Investor base includes 16 decacorn founders, including Co-founders of Palantir, Ocado, Supercell, MongoDB, Check Point, Wayfair and Zalando. 

● Arek Wylegalski, formerly Index, becomes Partner; Lina Wenner, promoted to Associate Partner. 

LONDON, November 30, 2020 — firstminute capital today announces the launch of its $111m (£87m) second early stage venture fund. The firm, headquartered in London, now counts seventy founders of billion dollar businesses as investors. 

firstminute’s entrepreneur-led investor base is unique in venture, comprising 16 founders of $10bn+ “decacorn” technology businesses, including Palantir, Wayfair, Ocado, MongoDB, Zalando, Supercell and Check Point, as well as rising stars, including Huda Beauty, Graphcore and Rappi, and board members & CEOs from some of the world’s leading technology companies. 

RIT Capital Partners is the fund’s anchor investor, their first such position in a European venture capital firm, having previously backed leading US funds including Sequoia, Benchmark, Thrive and Iconiq. Additional institutional investors include the Chinese technology giant Tencent, FMCG conglomerate Henkel, London-based venture fund Atomico, the major European Growth Equity house Vitruvian, and four Californian multi-stage firms. 

With $211m AUM, firstminute’s team of 18 is based in London, Stockholm and Berlin — with plans to open an office in LA next year — and invests across Europe and the US at the seed stage. 

The firm was co-founded in 2016 by Brent Hoberman CBE, co-founder of lastminute.com, MADE.com, Karakuri, Founders Factory and Founders Forum, and Spencer Crawley, formerly of Goldman Sachs and DMC Partners. 

The unique group of backers assembled enables firstminute to have a powerful impact on the start-ups it backs. firstminute proactively provides its portfolio access to this roster of global

entrepreneurs, allowing early stage founders to tap into the collective wealth of expertise and entrepreneurial experience that the Limited Partners represent. 

With a large team, and a broader platform built by Hoberman over the last 15 years through his Founders Forum group, firstminute has a disproportionate ability to turbocharge seed-stage technology start-ups, by giving them credibility and global connectivity. 

firstminute will continue its investment approach of being founder-led and sector agnostic, with an average initial investment of $1-2m, and half the fund reserved for follow-ons. The fund backs star early stage founders across sectors, from driverless cars and lab-engineered leather, to preventative healthcare and multi-borrower mortgages, to edutainment platforms and sustainable skincare brands. The existing Fund I portfolio consists of 56 companies which have collectively raised approximately $0.5bn in funding. Portfolio founders include the founding teams of five prior unicorns, as well as senior engineers from Facebook, DeepMind, Workday, Magic Leap & ARM, and consumer talent from Rent the Runway, MADE.com & GIPHY. 

Half of the current portfolio companies have UK headquarters, with the remaining half split between continental Europe and North America. Two thirds of the businesses are B2B and one third are B2C. 

firstminute is the only European seed fund to have co-led early stage rounds in 2020 with the two leading US venture firms, Sequoia and Benchmark, and has also invested alongside a host of other top tier multi-stage investors, including Founders Fund, NEA, Khosla, Index Ventures, Mubadala and DST. 

Arek Wylegalski, formerly of Index Ventures, where he was responsible for sourcing their Revolut and Dubsmash investments amongst others, has joined firstminute as a partner for Fund II. Arek was a Venture Partner with the firm during Fund I, driving much of firstminute’s investments in enterprise software, commercial open-source software and decentralised finance. Arek completes a team of former founders, operators, investors and consultants with experience at Google, Microsoft, DeepMind, Monzo, McKinsey, and Goldman Sachs. 

Lina Wenner, formerly of BCG, has been promoted to Associate Partner, and Camilla Mazzolini, Clara Lindh Bergendorff and Sam Endacott have been promoted to Principals. Min Nolan, Head of Platform & Operations, and Anais Benazet, Head of Community, lead the portfolio support function, whilst Henry Lane-Fox, Steve Crossan and Tommy Stadlen continue to invest as venture partners. All nine have been with the firm since the beginnings of Fund I. firstminute continues to have a 50/50 gender split across the full-time investment team. 

firstminute today also announces its new Advisory Board: 

● Hanzade Dogan. Founder & Chairwoman at Hepsiburada, and founding Chairwoman of Doğan Online Group Companies, the largest online corporation in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

● Dr Ling Ge. Chief European Representative at Tencent 

● Francesco Goedhuis. Chairman and CEO of J. Rothschild Capital Management Limited ● Kevin Ryan. Co-founder, MongoDB (NASDAQ: MDB, $15bn market cap). Co-founder, Business Insider, Zola, Nomad Health, Gilt Group and AlleyCorp. Former CEO, DoubleClick (acquired by Google for $3.1bn) 

● Ilkka Paananen. Co-founder, Supercell ($10.1bn acquisition by Tencent) ● Ross Mason. Founder & former CEO of MuleSoft (which he took public before exiting for $6.5bn to Salesforce in 2018) and Founding Partner of Dig Ventures (pre-seed and seed B2B fund, investing across Europe and US). Author of First break IT 

● Marius Nacht. Co-founder, Check Point (NASDAQ: CHKP, $17bn market cap) and Founding Partner of aMoon, an Israeli Digital Health & Life Sciences venture fund. aMoon I was $75m of his own money; aMoon II raised $660m last year from Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and others. Marius is also building Israel’s first new (digital) bank in 40 years, which he has founded with Amnon Shashua, the Mobileye Co-founder. 

Spencer Crawley, firstminute Co-founder & General Partner, said:

“firstminute exists to support entrepreneurs, at the earliest stage, in creating platforms that will re-shape our world. Globally, outstanding technical minds are plotting how to solve the toughest societal and economic challenges with software. Many of these challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic and its recession. Our healthcare systems, workplaces and educational establishments face fresh complexities. The service economy is having to re-imagine itself. The gap between financial markets and the real economy is growing wider (with the young most at risk). Start-ups are not a panacea, but emerging technology companies have a key role to play in today’s recovery strategy, both in their mindset and the products they will create. firstminute aims to be a talent magnet to star founders building the most ambitious businesses, wherever we find them.” 

Brent Hoberman, firstminute Co-founder & General Partner, said:

“European technology is reaching escape velocity, and it’s fantastic to enable so many global serial entrepreneurs to give their experience to the next generation: we have over 70 unicorn founders joining us on this journey so far, and more to come as we approach final close. Seed venture investing is attracting ever higher quality backers which will help more founders succeed. We are delighted to have built a unique platform to support maverick founders to launch their breakthrough businesses.” 

Arek Wylegalski, firstminute Partner, said:

“In a post Covid-19 world, the line between a digital and a non-digital business has become more thin. Digital banks are now just banks, tele-health solutions are just health solutions. The technology sector has stepped up. Thanks to the rapid adoption of remote work, many business processes that had previously escaped digitisation are now becoming fully digital – and often automated. firstminute’s portfolio companies are at the forefront of this revolution.” 

Lina Wenner, firstminute Associate Partner, said: “At firstminute we are unashamedly sector agnostic. We focus obsessively on finding exceptional and resilient entrepreneurs. We gravitate

towards those entrepreneurs with the boldest missions, be they in healthcare or sustainability, mental wellness or software automation, and we strive to be an empathetic and constant ally to them from day one.” 

NOTES TO EDITORS 

The backers of firstminute capital funds include the founders and/or executives from the companies listed below: 

firstminute LPs – Founders of $10bn+ companies, include: 

Joe Lonsdale (Palantir Technologies), Robert Gentz (Zalando), Niraj Shah (Wayfair), Tim Steiner (Ocado), Marius Nacht (Check Point), Kevin Ryan (MongoDB), Ilkka Paananen (Supercell), Adyen, Autonomy, Airtel. 

firstminute LPs – Founders of $1bn+ companies, include: 

Sebastian Mejia (Rappi), Ross Mason (MuleSoft), Pete Flint (Trulia), Martin Migoya (Globant), Vikrant Bhargava (PartyGaming), Martin Varsavsky (Jazztel, Fon, Eolia), Fabrice Grinda (OLX), Steve Fredette (Toast), Rafi Gidron (Chromatis), Simon Nixon (Moneysupermarket), Lars Hinrichs (XING), Johan Brand (Kahoot), Huda Kattan (Huda Beauty), Tom Chapman & Ruth Chapman (Matchesfashion), Nigel Toon (Graphcore), Carl Pei (OnePlus), Hanzade Dogan (Hepsiburada), Barry Smith (Skyscanner), Sir Charles Dunstone (Carphone Warehouse), Hamish Shephard (HelloFresh), Alexander Rittweger (Payback), Marketshare, King.com, BlaBlaCar, Qunar, Net-a-Porter, Fox Kids Europe, Webhelp, Betfair, Datamonitor, Tradex Technologies, Zoopla. 

firstminute LPs – Current or Former CEOs and Chairs, include: 

Eric Schmidt (former Chairman and CEO, Google), Michael Lynton (Chairman, Snap and Warner Music Group, former CEO and Chairman, Sony), Sir Paul Ruddock (Co-founder & former CEO of Lansdowne Partners, Chairman Oxford University Endowment), Lord Mervyn Davies (Chairman of Corsair Capital, former Minister and Standard Chartered CEO & Chairman), Linda Fayne Levinson (former Chairwoman of Hertz), Jeremy Coller (Founder, Chairman and CIO Coller Capital), David Giampaolo (Chairman, Gousto), Ian Gallienne (CEO, Sienna Capital), Alexander de Carvalho (Co-founder & CIO of Public.io, Heineken NED), Babatunde Soyoye (Co-founder and Managing Partner, Helios Investment Partners), Nextdoor, PicsArt, Booking.com, Nordeus, Kinnevik AB, JCDecaux Holdings. 

firstminute LPs – Institutional Investors, include: 

RIT Capital Partners, Tencent, Atomico, Henkel, Felicis Ventures, The Raine Group, LionTree Partners, Vitruvian Partners, Lombard Odier.

About Brent Hoberman: 

Brent is Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Founders Factory (a corporate-backed venture studio and accelerator), Founders Forum (global community of founders, corporates and tech leaders), and firstminute capital. Previously, Brent co-founded lastminute.com in 1998, was CEO from its inception, and sold it in 2005 to Sabre for $1.1bn. The 15 technology businesses Brent has co-founded have raised over $800 million and include Karakuri and made.com. Brent has been an advisor to four UK prime ministers and was awarded a CBE in 2015 for his services to entrepreneurship. 

About Spencer Crawley: 

Spencer Crawley is the Co-Founder and General Partner of firstminute capital, a venture capital firm based in London. He co-founded the firm with Brent Hoberman in 2016, aged 28. 

The fund currently has $211m AUM, and invests at the seed-stage across technology sectors, focused on Europe and the US. 

Spencer sits on the board of Generation Home, a UK digital mortgage lender launched in October 2020, and Frontier, a US-based platform connecting work-at-home jobseekers with employment opportunities. 

Spencer started his career at Goldman Sachs, before becoming the first hire at DMC Partners, a Special Opportunities fund spun out of Goldman Sachs. 

Spencer studied History at Exeter College, Oxford, where he received the Waugh scholarship, and speaks fluent Russian. 

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Safiya Marzook

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