Following strong year, Ada Ventures closes $50m fund & continues its mission to back overlooked founders in underserved markets
- In December 2019, Ada Ventures launched a $34m fund. Today the fund closes at $50m, following new investment from Big Society Capital and a number of funds and individuals.
- In 2020, Ada invested in 8 seed stage companies, which tackle issues including mental health, obesity, workers rights and affordable childcare — 4 of these 8 companies have female CEOs.
- 50% of dealflow came in without a ‘warm introduction’, which is good news, as warm intros are typically bad for diversity. Also, 10% came from Ada’s Scout programme.
- On Ada Lovelace Day, the fund launched its groundbreaking Angel Programme.
- Today, in addition to announcing the additional funding, Ada can also announce that it will continue to grow its network of Ada Scouts across the UK, with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community, disabled entrepreneurs, and regions outside of London.
LONDON: After launching one year ago in December 2019, Ada Ventures today announces that it has closed its first fund at $50m.
Ada Ventures is a first-cheque seed fund, and is on a mission to make venture capital truly accessible to the best talent in the UK & Europe, regardless of race, gender or background. It is the fund’s aim to have the most diverse pipeline, and portfolio, of any fund in the continent. The British Business Bank is the cornerstone investor in the fund through its Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme, which supports new and emerging VC fund managers who target the early stage equity gap.
In 2020, Ada invested in eight seed stage companies, which tackle issues including mental health, obesity, workers rights and affordable childcare. The companies with female founders that Ada Ventures have announced their investments in so far include:
- R.Grid – Dr Amber Hill (written up by Matt here)
- Organise – Nat Whalley and Bex Hay (written up in Techcrunch here)
The founders across the portfolio are diverse in ethnicity, location in the UK, age and gender. 4 of the 8 companies have female CEOs. This brings the total portfolio size to 17, including the ‘pre-fund’ portfolio.
43% of the companies the fund reviewed in 2020 had at least one female founder. Over 50% of dealflow overall came in ‘cold’ — without a ‘warm introduction’, which is good news, as warm intros are typically bad for diversity. One investment, Organise, was made after they uploaded their deck to the Ada Ventures website.
The current crop has shown great progress: Huboo Technologies raised a £14m Series A, which was led by Stride VC and Hearst Ventures. Additionally, portfolio company Bubble delivered tens of thousands of hours of free childcare to NHS staff; and Organise grew their members from 70,000 to more than 900,000, and successfully campaigned for the government to provide support for the self-employed during Covid-19.
Ada’s Angels: Update
On Ada Lovelace Day in October, Ada Ventures launched a first-of-its-kind angel programme, enabling five new angel investors – Anjel, David, Ash, Nicole and Arfah – to write their first cheques as angel investors. One of these angels has made their first £10,000 investment, which will be announced soon.
Ada Scouts: Update
Ada Ventures deploys a team of Scouts, a growing network of ‘Ada Scouts’ who are positioned and incentivised to bring excellent opportunities, in line with the firm’s investment strategy, to the table. Ada Scouts are vital: innately grassroots, they mirror the startups Ada wants to find and support, with the opportunity, via a finder’s fee and a longer term aligned incentive to become investors themselves.
To date, the Scout programme is working. The firm has worked with 58 scouts, and this has resulted in around 10% of dealflow coming from scouts, with two investments now made across the portfolio that were scout sourced.
In 2021, Ada will continue to grow its network of Ada Scouts across the UK, with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community, disabled entrepreneurs, and regions outside of London.
Francesca Warner, founding partner, Ada Ventures, comments. More from Check here.
“When we launched we couldn’t have predicted the seismic changes and tragedy brought on by Covid-19, or the social dislocation precipitated by the killing of George Floyd. These events have provided the backdrop of the first year of deployment from Ada Ventures Fund I. In light of these events, the Ada Ventures strategy feels more poignant — and urgent — than it has perhaps ever been.
Despite these challenging circumstances, we’re proud to have been able to execute our strategy of investing in bold ideas from exceptional, overlooked founders. Today, we are also thrilled to announce that we’ve increased the size of the fund to $50m, bringing on some fantastic new investors including Big Society Capital to complement our existing investor base”
Joe Shamash, Investment Director at Big Society Capital, who led the Ada Ventures investment, comments:
“Our mission at Big Society Capital is to change the way investment flows to support organisations that improve lives – and thinking about equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental if we are to succeed.
“We believe Ada’s focus on engaging more diverse founders to solve problems for underserved communities is vital to create the change we hope to see in the investment market. The team are in a really strong position to generate positive social impact through high quality investments.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank, said:
“Our Enterprise Capital Fund programme has a track record of successfully backing first time fund managers like Ada Ventures, our 30th fund in the programme. Our cornerstone support has helped unlock extra capital from other investors which will allow Ada Ventures to back more overlooked founders in underserved markets and we are looking forward to working with the team as they build on this great start.”
— Ends —
About and Resources
About Ada Ventures
Ada Ventures is a European first-cheque fund, and is on a mission to invest in founders that have been commonly overlooked by the venture capital industry. Ada’s mission is to make venture capital truly accessible to the best talent in the UK & Europe, regardless of geography, race, gender or background. It is the fund’s aim to have the most diverse pipeline, and portfolio, of any fund in Europe. Typically, Ada Ventures will look to invest a £500k first cheque, and reserve half the fund for follow-on investments. The British Business Bank is the cornerstone investor in the fund through its Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme, which supports new and emerging VC fund managers who target the early stage equity gap.
The fund is co-founded by Check Warner and Matt Penneycard, who are equal partners. The team have a combined 18 years of investment experience in early-stage companies including three of the fastest growing companies in the UK, Move GB, Papier and Trouva. They’ve also invested in companies that have gone on to be backed by top venture funds in the US and UK such as Craft.co and Zyper, backed by Uncork Capital and Forerunner Ventures.
Six investments have now been made from the fund since closing in November 2020, with one company (Huboo), having already closed a £14m Series A round.
Check is also the co-founder of Diversity VC, the non-profit dedicated to diversity and inclusion in venture capital and entrepreneurship, which has published several original studies on the subject since its launch in March 2017.
About the Ada Scout programme
To ensure Ada Ventures is in the best possible position to succeed on this mission of building the most diverse pipeline in Europe, the firm has built a unique grassroots sourcing model, based on a network of well-connected scouts that are incentivised to bring deals to the firm.
Ada’s Scout network will not only reward scouts for surfacing deals, with both an immediate and longer term incentive, but will empower a generation of diverse entrepreneurs and community leaders to become investors, equipping them with the capital, support and resources they need.
Ada currently works with 58 scouts, and applications can be made via the website. The Scout community which includes the leaders of Hustle Crew, a for-profit working to make the tech industry more inclusive, Muslamic Makers, a community of Muslims in tech, Yena, the Young Entrepreneurs Networking Association, and YSYS a thriving community of entrepreneurs from a diverse range of backgrounds.
If Ada Ventures invests in the company, the Scout in question is incentivised by a finder’s fee which they can invest directly into the company, or take as cash. Ada has made three investments using the scouting model so far.
About Ada’s Angels
The 2020-21 cohort is made up of five individuals who all have access to £50,000 capital, to be split into £10,000 cheques into five companies across a 12 month period. The 12 month investment period for this cohort will run from 26th October 2020 (following the paid for slot at Andy Ayim’s Angel Investing School course) to 26th October 2021. The final investment decision will be a joint decision between the angel and Ada Ventures. Angels will receive 100% of the carry on their £50,000.
All candidates were existing members from Ada’s scout community, and. As well as capital, the programme includes dedicated mentoring time from a member of the Ada team as well as further support during the course of the programme.