We’re delighted to announce that we’ve led a £2m investment in Spill. Spill provides all-in-one mental health support, delivered through Slack, to over 100 companies and growing.

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A (lightly edited) picture of Ada Street — a strange coincidence that we passed it during a meeting with Calvin, co-founder of Spill

Matt and I have been searching for solutions to address the growing mental health epidemic for many years. We’ve struggled until now to find companies led by exceptional teams who are building products that are used regularly, are accessible, affordable and effective. Spill meets every element of this wishlist. Spill enables employers to support their employees’ mental health and broader well-being through a growing number of seamless workplace support tools and products.

One of the long term, concerning consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is the devastating impact that the trauma, fear and uncertainty of this year has had on people’s mental health, particularly when combined with the isolation of remote working. In this context Spill’s product is more needed than ever. …

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Some members of the Diversity VC team with speakers at our first Data Study Launch event at Silicon Valley Bank in 2017

Diversity VC was conceived nearly five years ago by a group of people who believed, passionately, that the future of technology needed to be fair, equitable and inclusive.

Back then, Diversity VC consisted of little more than a powerpoint deck, the beginnings of an event series, and an ambition to affect change.

In 2016, the conversation about diversity in venture capital had begun, but there was very little by way of action in the UK or abroad. …

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The Ada Ventures team on the rooftop of our new Bristol HQ, in the summer of 2020.

Matt and I launched Ada Ventures, a $34m VC fund that invests in overlooked founders and markets, on the 11th December 2019, one year ago today.

Our strategy for generating outstanding returns is to (i) increase awareness of, and access to, venture capital amongst previously overlooked founders, and (ii) make Ada Ventures the fund of choice for the boldest founders from any background. [For more on us — watch our video, read my post on fundraising and privilege or read our thesis].

Yesterday we announced 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. …

[Health warning — this is an article by a VC about VCs. It might only be interesting to other VCs].

Venture Capital is eating itself. In the 2010’s, VC disruption took the form of syndicates, crowdfunding and angel funds (think Ron Conway’s SV Angel, founded in 2009). In the 2020’s it’s rolling funds, scouting models, and now ‘solo-capitalists’ (SC’s?) have bombed into the venture pool.

The rise of the ‘solo-capitalist’

SC’s are individuals who start meaningfully-capitalized venture funds with external Limited Partners (i.e not just their own money), without the complexity and politics of having partners or a team. Dubbed ‘solo capitalists’ by Nikhil Basu Trivedi, this new generation of VCs aren’t pioneering a completely original concept (take Steve Anderson’s Baseline and Charles Hudson’s Pre-Cursor). But — spearheaded by Brianne Kimmel (Work Life Ventures), Josh Buckley, and Jeff Morris Jr (Chapter One) amongst others — the class of 2020 crop is different in one significant way — they leverage their personal brand to the hilt. …

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Bex and Nat, co-founders of Organise

We’re pleased to share today that Ada Ventures has led the pre-seed round in Organise. Organise is a technology platform for workers to self-organise, and campaign anonymously for fairer treatment at work. This is much needed — even more so in the context of a massive economic recession catalysed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Companies are becoming more and more powerful and employees, particularly lower paid employees at large companies, lack the tools to come together to fight for issues that affect them most. Organise exists to give everyone the tools, network and confidence to improve their lives at work.

At Ada Ventures, we only invest in the boldest ideas with global ambition, and only in people who are looking to have a positive impact on the world around them. Organise is a great example of this. The company has already had a huge impact on tens of thousands of people, enabling them to get a fair deal at work and the rights and benefits that they’re legally entitled to. We’re pleased to invest in Organise to enable them to expand the reach, scope and impact of their work. …

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Deborah Okenla speaking at a One Tech event in 2019 (© Copyright 2019, Capital Enterprise (UK) Ltd.)

This week the UK Government’s Future Fund will open for business. The Future Fund is £250m of matched capital that will be made available to high tech, high growth start-ups impacted by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. The operational launch is a result of an enormous amount of hard work from across Government, the Treasury, the British Business Bank and the private sector.

The companies funded under this scheme have the potential to shape the economy for many years to come. …

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Image courtesy of UK Black Tech (https://ukblacktech.com/stockphotos/)

Today, in response to the devastating economic impact of Covid-19, the UK tech community received the welcome news of the government’s new support package for start-ups, providing a £500m injection of capital (£250m in match funding) and £750m in grants which will be distributed by Innovate UK. Details here. At a time when there are so many urgent needs globally for funding it seems like yet more money for start-ups should be a low priority — however, it’s crucial to the future of the digital sector which (pre-Covid) was growing 5x faster than the rest of the economy. …

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An entirely unposed (!) picture of me and Ari, co-founder and CEO of Bubble at Huckletree West.

On Sunday we announced that Ada has led a £2m investment round in Bubble. Bubble is a childcare and babysitting marketplace on a mission to become the destination site for flexible, accessible and trusted childcare.

Part of our mission at Ada is to broaden access to and understanding of venture capital. As part of this, we wanted to share some thoughts on what Bubble is, why we invested and how it happened.

What was the process that led to investment?

Some investment processes happen quickly, some take a while longer. Our investment in Bubble is the result of over two years of discussions. We’ve been following Bubble’s progress since Ari Last (Bubble’s CEO and co-founder), was introduced to us by one of Ada’s scouts, Deborah Okenla (founder of YSYS) in early 2018. Ada’s scouts are a phenomenal group of people like Deborah who run communities of different kinds. They are incentivised through a cash payment and a longer term carry-linked payment and we are delighted that Deborah has chosen to invest that payment in Bubble alongside us - so she’s going to be an even bigger part of the Bubble journey. Deborah met Ari when she was working at Huckletree, the co-working space where Bubble is based. …

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Matt and I launching Ada Ventures in December 2019 at TechCrunch Disrupt, Berlin.

Matt and I launched Ada Ventures, a $34m VC fund that invests in overlooked founders and markets, on the 11th December 2019. January 2020 was our first ‘live’ month, when we were actively looking for and making new investments. [If you missed the backstory on the fund or the fundraise — watch our video or read our thesis].

Our strategy for generating outstanding returns is to (i) increase awareness of, and access to, venture capital amongst previously overlooked founders, and (ii) make Ada Ventures the fund of choice for these founders. As part of this we will transparently share as much as possible about venture capital — how it works, who it is for, how it gets raised. To start, we’re sharing our investment process and dealflow pipeline, with real data on what happened in January 2020. …

On fundraising and privilege

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Presenting at AdaCon in front of our community on Ada Lovelace Day 2019

Yesterday we announced the close of Ada Ventures fund one, a $34m fund to invest in overlooked people and overlooked markets. It has taken nearly 18 months to raise the fund and it was one of the hardest things I’ve done.

The mission of the fund is to open access to venture capital funding for people building businesses serving customers who are underserved by venture-backed companies, products and services. …


Francesca (Check) Warner

Partner, Ada Ventures. Investing in overlooked founders and markets. Co-founder & CEO of Diversity VC. www.adaventures.com

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