A year ago this week, Ada launched Ventures – a UK and European VC with an "Impact Twist" aiming to invest in various founders dealing with societal issues – on the stage of Techcrunch Disrupt. (You can see the video of this launch below).
Today Ada announces that she has closed her first $ 50 million fund. The cornerstones of the fund include Big Society Capital, a UK government company, and the British Business Bank.
Check out Warner, One co-founder said the raise was oversubscribed: "We weren't even sure we could raise $ 30 million." And then to get to £ 38 million, then $ 50 million, which was above our initial hard cap of 35, is really very, very big. “The entire fund was raised via video call during the 2020 pandemic.
Ada is designed as a "first-check" seed fund, trying to address the tricky problem that the VC industry itself has created in large part: the "flipping" that occurs when white male investors invest in other white men, and ignores such big problems swaths of society. Instead, it seeks to invest in the best talent in the UK and Europe, regardless of race, gender or origin, with the specific goal of "creating the most diverse pipeline and portfolio on the continent" while addressing issues like mental health, obesity , Labor rights and affordable childcare.
It seems to be on the right track. In 2020, Ada invested in eight seed stage companies to solve the above problems. Four of the eight companies have female CEOs. This brings the total portfolio size to 17, including the portfolio before the fund.
On portfolio advancement, Huboo Technologies raised a Series A valued at £ 14 million led by Stride VC and Hearst Ventures. Bubble provided tens of thousands of hours of free childcare to NHS staff. and Organize grew membership from 70,000 to over 900,000 and stood up for the government to support the self-employed during Covid-19.
On Ada Lovelace Day in October of this year, Ada started its own fishing program, which allowed five new angel investors to write their first checks. This is not dissimilar to similar Angel programs run by other VCs. The company also has a network of 58 “Ada Scouts” who make up around 20% of the deal flow. Two investments have now been made across the portfolio and come from Boy Scouts.
However, this is no ordinary scout network. Ada's scout community includes the leaders of the Hustle Crew, a nonprofit committed to making the tech industry more inclusive, and Muslamic Makers, a tech community of Muslims.
In 2021, Ada will continue to expand its network of Ada Scouts across the UK, with a focus on the LGBTQ + community, disabled entrepreneurs and regions outside of London.
And the Scout network is not just "on display", as Warner told me: "We have talked to the Iranian women's association and Islamic makers and all these groups that are underrepresented in tech and VC. And they bring us companies. And when we do when we end up investing in these companies we pay them both an upfront fee and an interest portion. So there are a few things that make it different from other scout programs. Many other scout programs just take existing investors like existing angels and give them more Capital and double their investments. We are actually enabling a whole new group of people who would otherwise not have access to VC. We involve them in our due diligence process and gain insights into markets we would not necessarily understand, such as the Take the Shariya financial market, for example, so there are some things that we do differently, and we now have 58 of these scouts who are between two months in a given month drive between 10 and 20% of our deal flow. "
Warner continued, "When we took off, we could not predict the seismic changes and tragedies of Covid-19 or the social upheaval caused by the assassination of George Floyd. These events formed the backdrop for the first year of operation Ada Ventures Fund I. In the light of these events, Ada Ventures' strategy seems more poignant and urgent than ever. "
In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Warner and co-founder Matt Penneycard admitted that the fund is unlabeled. as an “Impact Fund”, which, however, has a similar focus.
Penneycard said: “The difference, the difference is often in the eye of the beholder. This is how the investor wants to make it. Some investors may see us as an impact fund if they choose, and that's fine. Other investors see the massive financial arbitrage you get with a fund like ours just because you look in very different places than other funds. So if you have a decent process, you should get a better result. For some of our investors, this is one of the main reasons they invest. They believe we will achieve superior returns over other funds depending on where we look. It's not just an effect. It's a real fund that happens to be the by-product of a pretty deep, meaningful social impact. "