What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Enabling fantastic entrepreneurs in their quests to improve the way business works. If I were trying to affect the most amount of change, I could build a company solving one problem but that would take all of my time and effort. Investing allows me to impact on such a wider scale, we are investing in companies that are changing whole industries.
We are also enabling private investors to access the very best companies and put their capital to work in the most effective way we see. When the investment is made as well there is a great alignment of interests where we all want the company to do well, to grow rapidly, and then we can all benefit from the results. I don't know of a job that offers this breadth of challenges and achievements.
How do you see your role changing in the next 3-5 years?
"...I could build a company solving one problem but that would take all of my time and effort. Investing allows me to impact on such a wider scale, we are investing in companies that are changing whole industries.”
What makes your firm stand out?
We are the only fund focused on solving the number one reason startups fail; poor product-market fit, and we do this through sales. Too many startups build products and services the market simply does not need or want. We invest in technical founders who are solving real-world problems with unreal ambitions. We then empower them to scale rapidly and eventually go toe-to-toe with the US.
We are also entrepreneurs. In the US, 60% of VCs are entrepreneurs but in the UK, it is only 8%. Having real-life, first-hand experience of starting, growing, and exiting companies allows us to help entrepreneurs, to speak their language, and to know how best to support their growth.
Finally, we have 8 exits already as entrepreneurs and investors so we know how to take an investment right through to returns.
What are the three areas of focus for your firm this year?
1. Continue to grow our evergreen EIS fund, both in terms of AuM but also the portfolio, and continue the success we have had to date.
2. Second is to close our $50m institutional venture fund that will invest alongside our EIS fund but enables us to follow on in later rounds, allowing us to retain control and continue to capitalise on growth within the portfolio.
3. Helping more of our portfolio accelerate through the £1m ARR milestone, is a great mark of success and lines the companies up very well for their Series A rounds.
I am very interested in the use of AI in insurance, it is a great space for innovation and I have seen some very exciting companies in the space. I am also really interested in older, less technologically advanced industries that can benefit hugely from software, areas such as logistics and manufacturing. We already have two investments in manufacturing; ThingTrax and AI Build, both are doing amazing things and have secured some very impressive contracts.
What are 3 things you look for when investing in a business?
- Does the market need and want the technology?
- Are the team world-class, are they ready to “breakthrough walls” to achieve milestones.
- Are there sufficient people willing to pay for the software?
Those three are fundamental to investment selection. I know the team, the technology and, defensibility. etc are also very important but those three are paramount to finding an exciting investment.
What character trait helps you succeed in your role?
I am naturally inquisitive, I am tenacious, and also genuinely interested in what people are building and why. The ‘why’ is often overlooked but engaging with why an entrepreneur is building what they are building helps you understand the market need, but also the driving force behind the entrepreneurs. My business mentor used to say, “Be interesting and interested and your marketing will work for itself.”
Tenacity is essential. Business is as much about staying power as it is about skill, you have to keep going, that is essential but also being wary of adapting to the changing situation or as new information becomes available.
I also believe that if you are genuinely interested in a startup you naturally build a rapport and are more likely to be included in their round.
Who do you admire professionally?
I am very lucky to be constantly engaging with high achievers, I joined a whole team of them at SuperSeed.
In my role, I also get to meet people I admire frequently as you can but be impressed with the ambitions of entrepreneurs, but I suppose people who have continuously impressed me over the years are people like Rory Sutherland, he is amazing, Jordan Peterson, in investments, then the classic Charlie Munger, Richard Thaler, and Daniel Kahneman.
If it is people very close to home then people that are quietly amazing at their job, Tim Mills of Angel coFund, Andrew Hodson (angel investor), and John Garland (ex Isle of Man Govt).
About SuperSeed Ventures
SuperSeed targets the number 1 killer of start-ups - poor product-market fit. We test market demand before investment, often selling the investee’s products pre-investment.
We’re entrepreneurs investing in entrepreneurs - the partners have 8 exits as investors and entrepreneurs. 60% of US VCs are entrepreneurs, in the UK it’s only 8%.
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