Evonetix Raises $12.3 Million USD (£9 Million GBP) to Advance Development of Its Highly Novel Gene Synthesis Platform

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 30 Jan 2018

Series A round co-led by Silicon Valley investor DCVC and London-based Draper Esprit

CAMBRIDGE, England--(BUSINESS WIRE)--EVONETIX LTD (‘Evonetix’), the Cambridge-based company pioneering an innovative approach to enable scalable and high-fidelity gene synthesis, announced today that it has completed a $12.3 million (£9 million) financing to advance the development of its technology. The financing was co-led by DCVC (Data Collective) of Palo Alto, CA and European-based Draper Esprit, and included the Morningside group, alongside existing investors Providence Investment Company (Jersey), Cambridge Consultants Ltd (Cambridge, UK), Rising Tide Fund (San Francisco, CA) and Civilization Ventures (San Francisco, CA). Evonetix was founded in 2016 to develop technology that enables the parallel synthesis of DNA on silicon arrays, to facilitate the fast-emerging field of synthetic biology, where there is increasing demand for high-throughput and highly accurate DNA synthesis. The company’s platform uses an addressable silicon array to direct the synthesis of DNA at many sites in parallel, followed by an error-detection process to allow the assembly of high-fidelity DNA at scale. Matt Ocko, Managing Partner of DCVC, said: ‘This is a truly novel approach to gene synthesis that can deliver massive parallelisation with an extremely low error-rate for high-complexity RNA and DNA constructs.’ He continued, ‘We are excited to back a team and technology that can materially reduce costs and improve innovation in our own portfolio companies and multiple global industries.’ Vishal Gulati, Venture Partner at Draper Esprit, added: ‘Evonetix’s platform offers the prospect of synthesising DNA sequences accurately without limitation of size. This is the superpower that could transform the world of synthetic biology and allow us to engineer next-generation medicines and better versions of products we use every day’. Hermann Hauser, the Cambridge-based scientist and entrepreneur, commented: ‘Synthetic biology will unquestionably be the next frontier in the life sciences and provides the opportunity to fundamentally change the way in which our planet’s resources are managed, but this brings a requirement for very large amounts of DNA synthesised with high accuracy. Evonetix is developing a solution to this problem through its highly parallel and high-fidelity approach to synthesis’. Tim Brears, Evonetix CEO, said: ‘We are delighted to be supported by such high-quality investors who have a deep understanding of the requirements of synthetic biology and are committed to this important, emerging area of science, and we look forward to working with them through the next stage of the company’s development’.


RavenPack, the big data analytics platform used by 70% of the world’s leading hedge funds, secures $5 million backing from Draper Esprit

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 21 Mar 2017

RavenPack, the big data analytics provider for financial services, is today excited to announce it has secured $5 million backing from Draper Esprit (AIM:GROW, ESM: GRW), a leading venture firm involved in the creation, funding and development of high-growth technology businesses. Privately financed to date, this is the first financing that the company has sought from a venture capital firm. The money raised from Draper Esprit will fast-track RavenPack’s mission to transform the way investors gain insights from unstructured data. International investment banking firm EOC Partners acted as advisor to RavenPack on the transaction. “RavenPack has become a vital source of information for quantitative investors,” said Yin Luo, Vice Chairman of Wolfe Research and Wall Street’s top-ranked quantitative analyst (six years in a row by the Institutional Investor Equity Research Survey). “The RavenPack platform bridges the gap between systematic and fundamental investment managers exploring market anomalies and looking for an edge from unstructured big data.” RavenPack is a high growth company with more than 100 customers worldwide. With over 50 developers, data scientists, and business professionals, the company has offices in New York, London, and Marbella (Spain). The company plans to double the size of its team, further develop its flagship big data analytics platform, and reach new verticals within financial markets. “Receiving the backing of one of the largest and most active VC firms in Europe is a strong validation of our vision to help people make better decisions using big data,” said Armando Gonzalez, CEO of RavenPack. “RavenPack’s core value lies in turning unstructured big data into real-time actionable insight to generate significant results. This is particularly relevant for banks, hedge funds, and asset managers who are fast becoming data hoarders. Their new platform will empower investors across the board to better understand volatile markets. We’re excited to be investing in a fintech company with a brilliant track record and look forward to working with them as they become an important cornerstone in the big data ecosystem.” Simon Cook, CEO Draper Esprit – ENDS – Notes to editors: About RavenPack RavenPack ( is the leading big data analytics provider for financial services. Financial professionals rely on RavenPack for its speed and accuracy in analyzing large amounts of unstructured content. The company’s products allow clients to enhance returns, reduce risk or increase efficiency by systematically incorporating the effects of public information in their models or workflows. RavenPack’s clients include the most successful hedge funds, banks, and asset managers in the world. About Draper Esprit Draper Esprit ( was founded in 2006, and is one of the largest and most active VC firms in Europe, helping entrepreneurs to build global ground-breaking technology companies. In 2016 it moved its primary funds into a listed PLC model (LSE: GROW.L) in order to take a longer term, multi-stage, patient capital approach. In recent years, Draper Esprit’s exits have generated more than $3 billion in combined enterprise value. Draper Esprit is the exclusive Western European member of the Silicon Valley-based Global Draper Network with offices around the world, with portfolio companies including Baidu, Skype, Space X, Tesla and Yammer and other world leading companies.   RavenPack Contacts: Marc Pandolfi Director of Sales & Marketing +1 646 277 7339   Draper Esprit PLC Contacts: Isabella Cookson Head of Marketing +44 (0)20 7931 8800


British tech company POD Point secures investment to power surge in electric vehicle ownership

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 20 Feb 2017

Innovative electric vehicle charge point supplier, putting infrastructure in place to fuel EV boom in the UK and overseas ● POD Point launches new crowdfunding round as part of £9m fundraise led by Draper Esprit ● Investment to expand vital charging infrastructure for electric vehicles across UK ● Mission for EV charge point everywhere people park for more than hour by 2020   LONDON: POD Point, the UK electric vehicle charge point supplier, has launched a new £1.5m crowdfunding round, part of a larger £9m fundraise led by Venture Capitalist Draper Esprit. The funding round sees Draper investing £3m for new shares and £2m for secondaries alongside Barclays Capital who are providing £2m of venture debt and £550k additional equity investment has been secured from angel investors. POD Point has made £1.55m worth shares available to the public through Equity Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Over the past two years, POD Point has already successfully raised £3.3m in two crowdfunding rounds, through Seedrs and Crowdcube.* The new investment will be used to expand​ the vital charging infrastructure necessary for widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the UK. POD Point’s target is to double turnover to £9m in the 2016/17 financial year and benchmark market growth thereafter. POD Point​ is already a well established, leading player in this country’s EV sector, having manufactured and sold over 27,000 charging points since it was founded in 2009. This new investment is intended to fund the next stage of business growth, directly creating 50 new jobs in the UK, and helping to lay down the bedrock EV charging infrastructure to fuel the expansion of the market both here and in Europe. Following recent partnerships with Barratt Homes, Holiday Extra and Hyundai, POD Point intends to have one of its stations installed everywhere people park for an hour or more by 2020. Globally, the Electric Vehicle market is going from strength to strength, driven by advances in technology, infrastructure developments and cost efficiencies. Here in the UK, over 38,000 plug-in vehicles were registered in 2016, compared to just 1052 over the same time period in 2011, a five-year growth rate of almost 3500%.** Tesla, the most world renowned player in the EV space, recently announced its Model 3, entry level offering for EV drivers, has already attracted over 400k+ deposits. According to some reports, electric and hybrid vehicles are expected to make up over 7% of all new vehicle sales by 2020, and environmental pressures are already boosting this growth. Policies in the UK are set to create clean air zones in at least five cities by 2020, and in Europe the German Parliament has even moved to ban sales of new combustion engine powered vehicles by 2030. Little surprise then that investors are moving to capitalise on an industry that, ​globally, has a positive outlook for the coming years. “This is a significant milestone for a sector that has been gathering momentum for some time,” said Erik Fairbairn, CEO, POD Point. “The way people use cars is changing and how they are powered is at the epicentre of that. Travel shouldn’t damage the earth, which is why we are building the most advanced intelligent charging network in the UK, the POD Point Open Charge Network.” Simon Cook, CEO of Draper Esprit said “​POD point is leading the charge in the EV infrastructure market in the UK and Europe. We not only think that the EV market will develop at pace over the next decade, but that POD point is set to play a significant role in enabling adoption. We are proud to be backing a company who are committed to creating cleaner cities and mitigating climate change." Sean Duffy, ​Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms at Barclays, said: “We’re very attracted to POD Point. It’s a very good company; it’s a high growth business in a high growth market.” Luke Lang, CMO and Co Founder at Crowdcube said: “POD Point is a perfect example of co-investment, with crowdfunding forming part of a larger investment round alongside VCs and institutional investors. We’re seeing more of this at Crowdcube, especially with businesses coming back to the platform for follow-on funding rounds.” Crowdcube Risk Warning:- Investing involves risk and should be done only as part of a diversified portfolio. Investing equity in startups and early stage businesses involves risks, including illiquidity, lack of dividends, loss of investment and dilution. Crowdcube is targeted exclusively at investors who are sufficiently sophisticated to understand these risks and make their own investment decisions. Approved as a financial promotion by Crowdcube Capital Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 650205).   - Ends - Notes to Editors: * POD Point funding timeline: December 2014 - £1.45m via crowdfunding platform Seedrs January 2016 - £1.81m via crowdfunding platform CrowdCube November 2016 - £x.xm in via crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, venture capital (Draper Esprit) and debt finance (Barclays) February 2017 - £9m in via crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, venture capital (Draper Esprit) and debt finance (Barclays) ** The number of plug-in vehicles sold (year to date) in 2011 totalled 1052, compared to 2016 at 30,489 to date. This has created a growth rate of 2898%


A VC Firm IPOs… Itself

Posted by Paula Darlison, 16 Jun 2016

Article by Dan Primack, Fortune magazine Draper Esprit is now publicly traded in London. Draper Esprit, a London-based VC firm that has been backing European startups since 2006, is now publicly-traded on London’s AIM. The IPO raised £103 million, with proceeds being used to buy out limited partner positions in existing funds (it had last raised in 2010). Around £24 million of the IPO came via LPs rolling over their stakes, while the other £79 million was new capital. Simon Cook, Draper Esprit’s co-founder and CEO, says that he and his partners were planning to launch a new fundraise, but ultimately felt that a “patient capital” model would make more sense, given how few startups are mature enough for exit within the 10-year investment life of a traditional fund. “Look at how many U.S. funds are extended,” Cook says. “Or all of the other things that firms are adding, like opportunity funds. In Europe, venture capital is not as well understood by LPs, so adding lots of things can create confusion. Plus, there are a lot of investors that, for regulatory reasons, can’t invest in an illiquid fund structure.” To be sure, this isn’t novel. 3i Group ― where Cook once worked ― has been publicly traded for years. So is Imperial Innovations. Last year, Neil Woodford raised £800 million via an LSE float (Woodford also is a Draper Esprit backer). And then there is Boston-based Allied Minds, which also went public in London. Cook doesn’t believe the model would necessarily work in the U.S. although, to be honest, I’m not so sure. Private equity has been moving a bit in this direction, with balance sheets at firms like KKR actually supporting growth equity deals in tech startups, and there was talk before the financial crisis of Sequoia Capital trying to pull off an IPO. Remember, the UK had equity crowdfunding long before the U.S. got around to it….


So We Just IPO’d Our Venture Capital Firm (Draper Esprit plc)

Posted by Paula Darlison, 15 Jun 2016

Draper Esprit plc is pleased to announce that on Wednesday 15th June we will be admitted to the London and Dublin Stock Exchanges with the stock tickers GROW.L and GRW.I raising an initial £102m of permanent capital. That’s PERMANENT capital – i.e. money we can grow and invest over and over again in generations of startups, not a one-time fund. Why IPO a venture firm? Like the entrepreneurs we support, we have always seen the world a little differently and believe that, just because there’s a way it’s always been done, it doesn’t always have to be that way. The current popular VC structure, the Limited Partnership (LP) was first used nearly 60 years ago by our very own Tim Draper’s grandfather, General William Henry Draper, who moved to Palo Alto and started the first private VC limited partnership: Draper, Gaither and Andersen. Whilst the 5+5 year LP model has been largely unchanged since 1957, and it clearly works for many successful VC funds, there are some interesting new “patient capital” models emerging here in Europe. Europe and especially the UK lead the way globally in innovation in financial technology. From crowdfunding to currency exchange, the environment for innovation here sometimes challenges the USA and has driven the “Fintech” revolution to its recent highs. We are pleased to join a number of successful “patient capital”, non-LP VC firms already developing this new model in Europe, providing long term permanent capital to technology companies; firms such as as Imperial Innovations plc, IP Group plc, BGF Ventures, Eight Roads and Octopus Ventures. Having a different view is risky. As every entrepreneur who has had that “eureka!” moment appreciates, you learn that others often don’t see things the same way immediately; many will disagree, and the pull of the status quo is formidable. Like the visionary teams we back, we are doing what feels right to us, we believe in the model and we are 100% committed. Our motivations for evolving our VC business model were threefold and we want to share these with you. INVESTING FOR THE LONGER TERM First, we wanted to be able to invest for much longer in our winning companies than a typical 5+5 year LP fund allows, and to be able to build bigger stakes as companies remain private for longer periods. The pressure to show returns in Europe continues to force funds to sell out early after just a few years, and we believe the best global technology businesses take much longer to build to their maximum potential. We’ve gone public so our portfolio companies don’t have to until they are ready. Europe has different capital markets from the US, and we are fortunate to have supportive long term shareholders including Woodford Investment Management, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, China Huarong Asset Management, Ballie Gifford and several other city institutions and successful entrepreneurs and family offices, many of whom have active later stage and IPO investment activities. This will allow us to complement our series A and B rounds with larger growth capital rounds later. As highlighted by many respected firms such as Atomico, growth capital remains the main funding gap in Europe for technology companies. We are pleased to be able to help address this gap by bringing major equity investors into the technology VC market, who don’t typically invest in Limited Partnerships. DEMOCRATISING VC ROUNDS The second motivation was to further democratise funding for entrepreneurs. Draper Esprit has joined the revolution for early stage investing with our EIS angel network and our investments in crowdfunding platforms: Crowdcube, Unbound, and Seedrs. We wanted to extend this openness to all investors through series A, B and later VC rounds. At present individual investors can access seed deals through crowd platforms, but after that traditionally the VC LP model has restricted who can invest in VC LP funds. So, rounds from series A onward are often unavailable to ordinary investors, restricted to large family offices and LP focused institutions. Many exciting technology companies are not accessible for investment by individuals until their IPO or even later. Now everyone can participate in the growth of VC--backed companies from their earliest stages through series A, B and beyond in the later stages up to and including their IPO. In some ways an IPO is just a very large crowdfund and we love being able to open up our investments to the wider community. LONG TERM CULTURE Our third motivation was to add depth to our culture – to help Draper Esprit become a more permanent business, moving away from the risks of only being as good as our last fund, creating a vision for a firm that will be here in 20 years’ time or longer. Like our best portfolio companies we can look beyond our next fund raise, and that will allow us to invest more in our business: we can invest for the long term in our people, in our services; we can build our brand alongside the ever inspiring Tim Draper; we can create a deeper training programme and career path for our staff (ps we are hiring associates, marketing and data scientists); and we can build upon the services provided to our portfolio via our membership in the global Draper Venture Network, particularly global expansion, recruitment and IPO/M&A/business development support. Culture is vitally important in any business and a long-term vision will strengthen our firm and make us a better partner. After all, what better way to understand how to help entrepreneurs to build and IPO great businesses than to do it ourselves? KICKSTARTING THE MODEL To get started, we have transferred our existing portfolio company investments on to our balance sheet and are very excited to have such an amazing portfolio for our shareholders to invest in today. Great companies such as Trustpilot, Graze, Movidius, Sportpursuit, Conversocial and Lyst, among many others, will underpin our portfolio growth from day one. We look forward to be able to continue to work with their management teams to build these exciting global leaders for many years to come, sharing that growth with our shareholders. We appreciate short-term share price movements will be impacted by daily sentiment on the health of the technology industry or global economy, and we are prepared for that; our broad, growing portfolio will help. As Mark Andresen and Ben Horowitz found with the IPO and growth of Opsware, value ultimately comes down to building a good company over the long term, and investors recognise that. We take inspiration from the $1 billion+ market cap listed UK university IP investment firms, such as Imperial Innovations plc and IP Group plc, who have operated in these conditions for many years, and who have been credited with transforming university technology commercialisation in the UK. We hope to do the same for digital entrepreneurs, wherever in Europe we find them. Of course, we will be actively looking to add many new entrepreneurial companies to our portfolio and we will continue to invest £500k to £30m+ in series A, B, C and beyond rounds across Europe. Our day job will remain as it has been for the last 10 years: helping to build global companies starting in Europe but with potential in the US, Asia and globally, with the aim to create global across consumer, enterprise, hardware and digital health. We welcome our new PLC board members; Karen Slatford, Richard Pelly and Grahame Cook, and thank our new capital markets advisors at Numis, Goodbody and Zeus, who will help us to grow further over the coming years. Thank you for your support and sharing our adventure over the last 10 years. We hope you will join us in our next evolution as we transform our VC model in Europe, and accompany us for many years to come as a publicly listed company. Our mission is simple: the right amount of capital as you need it, for as long as you need it, from whoever wants to invest in you at any stage. The founding team of Draper Esprit plc


Lyst announces $40m investment round

Posted by Paula Darlison, 30 Apr 2015

April 30, 2015: Lyst, the fashion ecommerce platform, today announced it has raised $40 million in a Series C round of investment from LVMH’s controlling shareholder (Groupe Arnault), Accel Partners (investors in Facebook), Balderton Capital (YOOX Net-A-Porter Group), 14W (Everlane), DFJ Esprit and DFJ (Skype), and a New York based hedge fund. Launched in 2011 in London, Lyst connects millions of shoppers globally with over 11,000 designers and stores - including:

  • Acne
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Alexander Wang
  • Barney’s
  • Burberry
  • Harrods
  • J.Crew
  • Lane Crawford
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Topshop
  • Valentino
1 checkout :  $400 Average Order Value Significantly, Lyst was the first to launch a  universal cart in the fashion space, enabling  shoppers to check out from multiple retailers in  a single, unified checkout. Lyst now generates hundreds of millions in sales for the fashion industry and has grown  over 300% year on year for the past three years. 154 countries have shopped on Lyst in the last 3 months This investment will support Lyst’s continued internationalisation as the universal cart technology is rolled out globally. It will also fuel the company’s growth across its teams in London and New York. Growth in sales (run-rate) $40M(12 months ago) $150M(today). “This is an exciting time in our space and we are very proud to be at the centre of it. Our model has grown exponentially in the USA and UK, and this round of funding allows us to take Lyst to fashion consumers around the world. We are already seeing a higher conversion by as much as five times through our universal cart - its widespread adoption by the industry’s leading brands and stores is a testament to the unique platform we have built and the volumes of sales it is generating.”  Chris Morton - Co-Founder & CEO. How Lyst is an innovative way to shop for fashion online that’s used by millions every month. Lyst partners with the world’s greatest fashion designers and stores to provide people with a personalised way to discover the fashion they love. The level of service, intelligence and insight that Lyst provides to its users and partners comes from analysing over 4.5 million points of fashion data every hour - from product changes and user behaviour to sales and active browsing. Lyst has raised $60 million to date, and is backed by range of all-star  investors including 14W (Moda Operandi, Reformation), Accel Partners (Facebook, Spotify), Balderton (Yoox Net-A-Porter Group), DFJ Esprit and DFJ (Skype), and the teams behind  LVMH, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, and Tory Burch. Contact Joanna Christie Head of Brand & Communications +44 (0) 7887 527 52


Horizon secures £69m in London flotation

Posted by DFJ Esprit, 21 Aug 2014

  • Horizon Discovery, which has been backed by leading European investor DFJ Esprit, secures £68.6m to fuel global growth through oversubscribed IPO
  • Cambridge-based biotech company is only healthcare business in UK Government’s Future Fifty list of most promising tech companies, and only second to float
Embargoed, 00.01, 27 March, 2014: Horizon Discovery Group has become the second of the government’s ‘Future Fifty’ to float on the London Stock Exchange. (more…)


Crate Data, an easy to scale, real time SQL data store, secures funding from Sunstone and DFJ Esprit

Posted by DFJ Esprit, 24 Apr 2014

Berlin-based Crate Data, an open source data store for developers, secures a $1.5m funding round London and Amsterdam, April 24, 2014 - Crate Data, an open source data store for developers, has raised $1.5 million from Sunstone and DFJ Esprit. Crate Data, which makes real time SQL queries on large data sets super simple, also announced its general availability. It is already in use by thousands of developers. Through its distributed real time SQL engine and a massively parallel shared nothing architecture, it enables tens of thousands of concurrent real time queries, even while dealing with a massive inflow of data, problems that today’s software only partially solves. (more…)


Trustpilot Secures $25 Million Funding to Accelerate Growth

Posted by DFJ Esprit, 13 Jan 2014

13 January, 2014 – New York – London – Copenhagen – Trustpilot, the leading review community for online shoppers, today announces it has raised $25m in Series C financing. This comes following 117 per cent growth in its consumer reviewer base with over five million online shoppers now posting reviews on Trustpilot.  Global expansion also led to new offices in New York and London. (more…)