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Draper Esprit targets seed funds with strategy to invest significantly over the next five years

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 16 Oct 2017
 

Draper Esprit (AIM: GROW, ESM: GRW), a leading venture capital firm investing in high growth digital technology businesses, announces a strategy to target up to £75m ($100m) of investment in the top seed funds across Europe over a five-year period. Draper Esprit has committed to invest in the latest funds of both Seedcamp (www.seedcamp.com) and Episode 1 Ventures (www.episode1.com), widely recognised as two of the UK’s leading seed fund platforms. Draper Esprit are already investors in leading crowdfunding companies, Crowdcube and Seedrs. This complements Draper Esprit’s core investment strategy, set out at the time of the Company’s fundraising in June this year, to invest up to approximately £100m ($130 million) a year in technology businesses at series A, B, and C+ rounds across the Group’s funds (the plc balance sheet, EIS, VCT and secondary funds), with investment from the Company’s balance sheet representing approximately £60 million per annum. By closely aligning Draper Esprit with the seed fund ecosystem, the Company is able to provide growth capital to the best companies and unlock the strong performance of Europe’s highest quality seed funds to the benefit of the plc shareholders. Simon Cook, CEO Draper Esprit plc commented: “Our mission to democratise the venture capital model continues. Our plan is to create a significant fund of funds business, which will target investment in 10 to 20 seed funds, angel networks and early stage investment platforms over the coming years. We are investing in two of the UK’s best-known seed investors: Seedcamp and Episode 1 and are currently looking into three others. “By partnering with the best seed funds, we can help them scale up their series A and B funding rounds more quickly, which in turn will accelerate growth for the most ambitious entrepreneurs. “We have a number of pools of capital to back leading entrepreneurs and to deploy across the different funding life cycles of fast growing technology companies. External investors both institutional and private can use our evergreen listed venture capital model to access, on a pooled basis, the top seed funding platforms, screened and picked by our experienced team. This gives them exposure to a very important asset class on a pooled portfolio approach; giving a degree of risk mitigation, with added liquidity and without them having to sift through and pick individual seed funds themselves.” He added: “Post Brexit it is imperative that UK investors continue to have access to the best early stage investment opportunities and having established itself as a leading hub for technology entrepreneurs from all over the world, the UK needs to keep supporting all stages of venture funding. Draper Esprit is building a business of scale, partnering with leading institutional and private investors, to support and benefit from high growth private technology companies across Europe.” Reshma Sohoni, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Seedcamp commented: “At Seedcamp there is a key ingredient of our model that gives us a performance edge. That ingredient is our LPs and we choose them carefully. We strive to bring on experienced Angels, top tier VCs, active Corporates and knowledgeable Family Offices and Fund of Funds around the table. With Draper, we are thrilled to get a double combination - both a top-notch VC who will be able to invest at Series A and beyond in our companies and is a fund of funds business with relationships we can benefit from. We are honoured to be one of the first investments from their new fund of funds.” Simon Murdoch, Managing Partner of Episode 1 commented: “We’ve known Draper Esprit for many years and are excited to be working with them again. As a leading seed fund our role is to find and accelerate UK startups helping them to become the sort of rapidly growing businesses that Draper Esprit want to invest in and grow to global success stories.” Ends For further information, please contact: Draper Esprit plc Simon Cook (Chief Executive Officer) Ben Wilkinson (Chief Financial Officer) +44 (0)20 7931 8800 Numis Securities Nominated Adviser & Joint Broker Alex Ham Richard Thomas Jamie Loughborough Harry Trueman +44 (0)20 7260 1000 Goodbody Stockbrokers ESM Adviser & Joint Broker Don Harrington Linda Hickey Charlotte Craigie Richard Tunney +353 1 667 0420 Belvedere Communications (PR) John West Kim van Beeck +44 (0)20 3567 0510 Notes to Editors About Draper Esprit Draper Esprit is one of the most active venture capital firms in Europe, developing and investing in disruptive, high growth technology companies. We believe the best entrepreneurs in Europe are capable of building the global businesses of the future. We fuel their growth with long- term capital, access to international networks and decades of experience building businesses. Currently Draper Esprit is a shareholder in a diverse portfolio of companies including Trustpilot, Graze, Perkbox, PushDoctor and Graphcore. For more information visit www.draperesprit.com About Seedcamp Seedcamp is Europe's seed fund, identifying and investing early in world-class founders attacking large, global markets and solving real problems using technology. Since launch a decade ago Seedcamp has invested in 250 startups including fintech unicorn TransferWise. For more information visit www.seedcamp.com About Episode 1 Ventures Episode 1 Ventures is a software ¬only venture capital firm that invests £250k to £1m in early¬ stage, revenue- ¬generating startups and plays an active and supportive role in turning them into growth businesses. With experience of startups from the inside, it provides frank and fast feedback to founders as well as strong entrepreneurial ‘know- ¬how’ and a passion for building successful businesses. With 20+ years of experience investing in software businesses, its partners have made early investments in some of the UK’s best- known success stories including Betfair, LoveFilm, Natural Motion, ScanSafe, Shazam, Shutl, Zoopla and Viagogo. Founded in 2013 and based in London, the firm is rapidly forming a portfolio of software businesses with enormous potential for growth. Its investments include CarWow, Cluster HQ, Raising IT, Scurri, SwiftShift, Touch Surgery, TripTease, TV Beat and User Replay. For more information visit www.episode1.com



 

Verve, the world’s leading word-of-mouth sales software for live entertainment, raises $18.5 million

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 10 Oct 2017
 

Verve, co-founded by Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, is building a global platform that enables people to sell products they love to their friends in exchange for rewards. Over the last 12 months Verve has achieved significant success within the live entertainment industry, growing from 170 to 450 clients, selling more than 500,000 tickets globally and securing major partnerships with some of the best ticketing companies around the world. With $28.5m raised to date, the company will use the capital to continue its global expansion within the live entertainment sector, as well as enter new markets.   In a globalised and noisy world, customers increasingly crave authentic and curated experiences. Nothing fulfils this more than a recommendation from a friend based on both their accumulated knowledge of their own passion, and their understanding of your evolving tastes and idiosyncrasies. We all have experts in our networks who can access faster than ever before — the friend who is obsessed with computers, the one who knows all the best restaurants or that person who you turn to for fashion advice. These are the people who are the most valuable when making a purchase decision. Verve enables brands to harness the power of these recommendations, turning word of mouth into a reliable and scalable sales channel for the first time.   Verve’s clients include Live Nation, AEG, C3, Bonnaroo, React Presents, Bestival, Digital Dreams, Electric Zoo and many more.   Simon Cook, CEO of Draper Esprit, says: "Callum and Liam have built a world-class team which we back with full confidence. We very much believe in where Verve is heading. Today’s audiences are becoming immune to traditional advertising and increasingly prefer to discover through friends and people they trust. Verve has already proven word of mouth is a scalable and powerful tool for live entertainment, and we will support them in taking this channel to other markets and sectors.”   Leila Zegna, founding partner at Kindred, says: "Kindred is delighted to have increased its commitment to Verve as a part of this financing round, joining a strong global venture capital brand in Draper Esprit.”   “Since our first investment in Verve in 2016, we have been continually impressed by the buildout and strength of the management team, as well as the consistent execution against ambitious product and commercial targets. Going forward, we are excited about Verve's ability to not only dominate the festivals market but also penetrate the enormous opportunities within music and sport on a global basis."   "We were very impressed with the success of the Krewe of Voodoo and their ability to get tickets into more fans hands and helping grow Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. We look forward to working with them again this year!” Patrick Dentler, Marketing Director, C3 Presents   “Verve has successfully grown our network, encouraging our biggest fans to join us in selling tickets for the best festivals in the world.” - Festival Republic



 

UK Insurtech Company Premfina Raises $36m To Make Insurance More Accessible, In An Oversubscribed Round Led By Draper Esprit

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 04 Oct 2017
 

  • UK insurance premium financing and software company PremFina raises $36M in equity and debt
  • The funds will strengthen PremFina’s expansion into new global markets and meet high demand in the UK
  • PremFina is fully regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
London, UK: PremFina Ltd, a UK-based company that increases access to insurance by providing financing options for the purchase of insurance premiums, today announced US$36 million in equity funding and a debt facility. Rakuten Capital, the investment arm of Japan’s Rakuten, a global leader in e-commerce and fintech services and the main global partner of FC Barcelona and the UK’s Draper Esprit Plc led the financing, and were joined by global investors Thomvest Ventures, Emery Capital, Rubicon Venture Capital, Talis Capital and the company’s founder. PremFina is the first premium finance company in the UK to receive venture funding, with the equity portion of round more than three times oversubscribed. The investment will be used to accelerate PremFina’s UK operations to meet a high demand for its white-label premium financing solution among insurance brokers and support international expansion. Its white label offering improves brokers’ efficiency, profitability and customer relationships. PremFina makes the purchase of insurance more affordable by eliminating the financial strain of lump-sum upfront payments, thereby promoting financial inclusion within the insurance industry. Its solution is simple and user-friendly: PremFina funds the upfront payment of an insurance premium to an insurer, on behalf on an insured party. PremFina then collects the same amount via monthly instalments, along with a finance fee, from the insured party. To better enable insurance brokers to offer this option, PremFina also provides a standalone, white-labelled software-as-a-service (SaaS). “The participation of outstanding investors from Toronto to Tokyo in our oversubscribed round highlights the vast opportunity ahead for PremFina, ” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, CEO and founder of PremFina, who invested in 17% of the equity portion alongside the institutional investors. “Our new investors bring great strategic value and priceless global financial relationships.” “Premium financing is an industry that’s been crying out for innovation. The incumbents have remained largely unchallenged due to age-old barriers to entry, such as the lack of funding for insurance start-ups, costs and time of regulatory compliance and significant investment in technological capability needed to meaningfully enter the market. Consequently, insurtech has lagged behind other areas of fintech in terms of innovation. PremFina has overcome these barriers and is now poised for growth,” Rangar added. “Rakuten sees outstanding growth potential in PremFina’s business model of promoting insurance inclusion and providing access to affordable insurance,” said Oskar Mielczarek de la Miel, Managing Partner at Rakuten Capital. “We are excited to support the growth of PremFina’s innovative business in the UK and internationally.” “PremFina has built a strong SaaS revenue model with excellent growth opportunities,“ said Simon Cook, CEO of Draper Esprit. “With its innovative offering increasing efficiency in the insurance industry model, PremFina ticks all the insurtech boxes. We are excited to help them dominate the market in the next few years.” The equity round was led by Rakuten Capital, the investment arm of Rakuten, Inc., a global innovation company and Japan's leader in e-commerce and fintech services that has invested in ride-sharing companies Lyft, Cabify and Careem as well as app-based micro-investor Acorns and online lending companies Upstart and Kreditech. The round was co-led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Draper’s UK affiliate Draper Esprit. California-based Draper was an early investor in telecoms company Skype, electric carmaker Tesla, rocket company SpaceX, Chinese search engine Baidu and email provider Hotmail. Thomvest Ventures, an early investor in peer-to-peer lender LendingClub, small business lender Kabbage, and student finance provider Social Finance, Inc., joined PremFina’s equity round.  Thomvest augmented its PremFina investment with a credit facility to fund PremFina premium finance agreements. Worldwide insurance penetration, measured as the percentage of gross written premiums against a country’s GDP, dropped 1.3% to 6.2% from 7.5% in the decade to 2015, according to London-based professional services firm EY. This drop occurred even as governments in many countries announced financial inclusion to be a key national policy objective. PremFina aims to reverse this trend by making personal and commercial insurance more affordable worldwide.