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Investment appetite in FinTech and FashTech

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A report created by our friends at Ascendant Corporate Finance reveals some fascinating facts and statistics about current investment trends in the UK (article below), naming FinTech and FashTech as two of the biggest internet sectors VC’s are pouring investment into.

Between January and June this year, 22 FinTech businesses received just under £300m from investors – more than the combined totals for Software and Cleantech. We have recently completed a number of assignments in the FinTech sector, for companies which are disrupting the retail banking and payments space. Furthermore, we have been extremely busy placing senior-level candidates for FashTech clients, a space for which VC’s have an increasing appetite when it comes to investing. Although this sector has yet to achieve “the scale that requires the type of ‘super investment’ (ie >£10m) deals that are more common in FinTech”, there are larger investments being made into FashTech companies, such as FarFetch which has raised £39m to date. This suggests that this may be about to change.

Our clients in FinTech include CapitalAid, Meniga and Inpay, and in FashTech our clients include New Look, Goop and Styloko.

Data courtesy of Stuart McKnight from Ascendant Corporate finance.

Investment Trends in Q2 2014

The simple headline is that in Q2 2014, £320m (vs £192m in Q2 2013) was invested in 84 deals (69) of over £0.5m by 117 investors (82).  These deals bring the totals for the year to date to £856m (£479m) and 170 investments (128).  This represents 93% of all funds invested in the whole of 2013.

The clear phenomenon of 2014 (so far) has been huge growth of investment in internet/mobile service companies.  In the first six months of the year, £520m was received by 92 companies in the sector.  This compares to £259m invested in 91 internet service businesses for the whole of 2013.  In 2014, London has completely dominated the sector taking 88% of funds invested and 79% of number of deals.

The biggest single subsector in this internet group is “FinTech” – financial technology.  Between January and June, 22 of these businesses received just under £300m from investors – more than the combined totals for Software and Cleantech.  In many ways this simple statement underlines the major shift that has occurred in the VC market over the last 5 years.  In 2009, Cleantech took twice the amount of VC money that all internet service companies received.  In 2014, investors have new priorities…

Other than FinTech, the only other major grouping amongst internet service investments was in fashion/retail companies.  We tracked 16 of these who received £85m.  So whilst “FashTech” is a popular area for investment, relatively few of the businesses have achieved the scale that requires the type of “super investment” (ie >£10m) deals that are more common in FinTech.

•           In Q2 2014,  £320m was invested in 84 deals by 117 investors

•           In the year to date, £856m has been invested in 170 companies

•           The busiest investors were MMC, Scottish Investment Bank, Index Ventures, Archangels, Balderton Capital, Forward Partners and Imperial Innovations

•           75% of deals involved more than one investor

•           Private investors participated in 37% of VC deals, US investors in 10%, Euro investors in 8% and Corporate Investors in 15%

•           The 14 biggest deals received 55% of funds invested, included: Farfetch (£39m), Nutmeg (£19m), Ebury (£18m), MyOptique (£16m), Transferwise (£15m), Brandwatch (£13m), Nujira (£12m), Roli (£8m), Ticketscript (£7m), Osper (£6m), Aveillant (£6m), Brightpearl (£6m), Citymapper (£6m) and Currency Cloud (£6m).

•           Internet/Wireless Services companies received £180m, Software £65m and Cleantech £17m. £60m was invested in companies that could not be simply categorised

•           In the Internet/Wireless Services sector, 40 companies received investment, Farfetch (£39m), Nutmeg (£19m), MyOptique (£16m), Transferwise (£15m), Osper (£6m), Citymapper (£6m) and Currency Cloud (£6m) received the biggest VC cheques

•           The largest Software deals were: Ebury (£18m), Brightpearl (£6m), Certivox (£5m) and Intent HQ (£5m).  20 Software companies received VC backing

•           Just 5 Cleantech companies raised capital: Cylon Controls (£6m), E-Leather (£5m), Nova Innovation (£4m), Netthings (£1.3m) and Celtic Renewables (£1.2m)

•           Outside of the key subsectors, the biggest deals were: Roli (£8m), Aveillant (£6m), MCor (£5m), Nualight (£3m) and Masabi (£2.5m)

•           London and Scotland which were responsible for 52% and 11% of deals respectively

•           London’s share of the VC money was down from its peak in Q1 to 65% of all funds invested in the UK and Ireland.

•           On a city-by-city basis, 45 London tech companies received VC, 8 in Edinburgh and 6 in Cambridge. All other cities or towns had less than 5 deals.


Royal Society Science CEO Summit

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Rosemary and Brett spent yesterday mentoring at the Science CEO summit, part of an annual calendar of events by Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK). This event, staged in partnership with the oldest scientific society in continuous existence, The Royal Society, drew the best and brightest CEO’s from the UK’s emerging high growth science companies. The CEO’s were selected by a high-profile group of industry professionals, VC’s, and well respected organisations within the science community, and they were carefully selected based on their company’s growth and progress.

Forsyth Group client GetLenses acquires Vision Direct

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UK online contact lens retailer announced today that it has acquired Dutch online retailers Vision Direct and Lensbase, which sell contact lenses, contact lens solutions and prescription glasses to consumers in the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The combined entity is expected to generate revenues of over €30 million in 2014.

GetLenses is the largest online contact lens retailer in the UK, offering highly competitive prices and next-day delivery on an extensive range of prescription contact lenses. In addition to a broad product range and significant price savings, customers also benefit from being able to check their prescription before they purchase. The company employs an award-winning call centre team in York, which is trained by opticians to meet regulations and provide excellent customer services.

Vision Direct, which was founded in 1998, sells contact lenses and prescription glasses online in Europe. The company offers a huge selection of contact lenses from all the leading suppliers at extremely compelling prices from its base in the Netherlands.

“This cements our position as a market leader in Europe, significantly increases our customer base and enhances our ability to deliver a fantastic service to all our customers,” says Michael Kraftman, CEO, “We expect to complement this with further acquisitive growth in other European markets.”

The acquisition was financed by a new funding round led by existing shareholder Octopus Investments and included Fidelity Worldwide Investments, Hargreave Hale and Artemis Investment Management.

Forsyth Group Clients Tradeshift raise $75M

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Tradeshift, a company that provides free electronic invoicing along with tools for managing payments and buyer-seller relationships, is announcing today a new $75 million funding round.

Tradeshift, a startup that began life in Copenhagen, and has expanded to the US and throughout Europe, is now heading to Japan. The company has raised the $75 million in venture funding from Scentan Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Singapore.

The deal will fuel Tradeshift’s expansion into Japan, starting with an office in Tokyo. Scentan will help out on the strategic side, giving Tradeshift a hand with recruiting and product development for the local market. In exchange, Tradeshift will offer Scentan exclusive rights to product development, sales marketing and servicing the Tradeshift platform in Japan.

Prior to this, Tradeshift, which offers software for business-to-business sales and collaboration, had raised $37 million in venture funding from Notion Capital, Ru-net, Kite Ventures, Intuit and PayPal. The company had opened an office in China in 2013.

The Forsyth Group shortlisted for the Service Provider of the Year award at the Investor AllStars Awards 2013

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LONDON: 5 September 2013The Forsyth Group has been shortlisted for the Service Provider of the Year Award at the eleventh annual Investor AllStars Awards. The Awards celebrate professional excellence in entrepreneurship and the professional investor community and will be hosted at London’s Natural History Museum on 25 September 2013.

The Investor AllStars Awards is an annual event organised by GP Bullhound, the technology investment bank, and GrowthBusiness, a Vitesse Media website specialising in providing information for entrepreneurs and leaders of fast-growth enterprises.

The Forsyth Group provides retained executive search services to early stage and high growth technology companies in the USA, UK and across Europe. The company focuses exclusively on the emerging technology sector, working at CxO, VO & Director level for companies in Big Data, SaaS/Software, Mobile, Internet and Digital Media.

“This is a great achievement for The Forsyth Group to be shortlisted for the award for Service Provider of the Year” said Manish Madhvani, Managing Partner at GP Bullhound. “It has been a great year for growth and innovation in the European technology sector, companies like The Forsyth Group set a high standard and are a great role model for others seeking to push the boundaries in this exciting industry.”

“We are very proud to be shortlisted for this award together with so many excellent Service Providers.”  said Rosemary Forsyth, General Partner at The Forsyth Group. “This year we have worked with some of the most exciting high growth technology companies in the UK, EU and USA and it is a great honour to have been nominated by our customers for this award”

“The Investor AllStars Awards highlight entrepreneurs and VCs who are driving the technology sector forward,” said Niki Baker, CEO, Vitesse Media. “The Awards are an opportunity for the European venture capital community to consider the biggest successes of the past year and look forward to the trends and innovation still to come.”

The following is the full list of awards categories: Venture Capital Fund of the Year; Europe’s Most Exciting Investor Backed Company of the Year; Investor of the Year; Female Entrepreneur of the Year; Male Entrepreneur of the Year; Equity Gap Fund of the Year; Exit of the Year; Growth/Buyout Fund of the Year; Private Investor Network of the Year; Service Provider of the Year and VCT of the Year.

The Award’s headline sponsor is global investment company SFERIQ. The premium sponsors are Orrick, a global law firm, and MTI Ventures, which focuses on early stage venture capital and management in software, communication, life sciences, materials technology and industrial products.


About GP Bullhound
GP Bullhound is an international technology investment banking group with offices in London, San Francisco, Stockholm and Berlin. Founded in 1999, GP Bullhound provides world-class advice on mergers, acquisitions and private placements to a diverse range of corporate clients, institutional investors and high-net-worth individuals.

Combining a true love for entrepreneurship and innovation with deep global buyer relations and sector expertise, GP Bullhound has completed transactions for many category leaders and most recently sold Tunigo to Spotify, and Fjord to Accenture. For more information, please visit their website.
In 2013, GP Bullhound was awarded Boutique Investment Bank of the Year and Leading Advisers of the Year by the Acquisition International M&A Awards.

Vitesse Media
Vitesse Media is a multimedia business and offers award-winning publications, fast-growing websites, exciting events and much-acclaimed research. They are the leading specialists in growth businesses ¬ entrepreneurs and CEOs, their investors, advisers and suppliers. Vitesse Media is quoted on AIM. More information

AudaCity of Fashion toasts fashion creativity

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AudaCity of Fashion invited a select, influential group of fashion bloggers and other fashion creatives to celebrate our launch at Felicities showroom on the Hoxton/Shoreditch borders.

Shoreditch is home to the famed ‘Silicon Roundabout’ where the most innovative tech start-ups in Europe cut their teeth and where Google Campus has set up shop. Hoxton as you may know, is the centre of London’s contemporary art world and home to The White Cube. AudaCity’s launch event couldn’t have been a better geographical location because in actual fact, our fashion crowdfunding platform enables creative vision through technical innovation.

We raised our glasses to the three campaigns we launched with: Operation Wardrobe, Jerboa Jewellery and Ada Zanditon. Among other notables in the house were Rivkie Baum, Editor of Drafted Magazine, Danny Keeling and Joshua White from Candid Magazine, the super-lovely Jay Pinxie Turnbull,  Alice Wilby from the ethical fashion magazine FutureFrock, Andree Latibeaudiere from IndiePRGirl, Alison Lewy from Fashion Angel and Hannah French, of the Forsyth Group who invests in SeedCamp.

Former Mr Porter global marketing acquisition manager joins Styloko as marketing director

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Orla Barrett has joined social shopping site as its new marketing director from Mr Porter.

Barrett was Mr Porter’s first marketing hire and has now been tasked with establishing Styloko as a global fashion destination.

With more than a decade of marketing experience behind her, having also served as a product marketing manager for Google, Barrett’s expertise in building a luxury brand, social media, and digital marketing strategies are hoped to be an asset to the brand as it looks to communicate its offering to customers.

“Orla is a fantastic addition to the team. With a background in fashion as well as technology she immediately understood our vision…Orla’s role will be to find innovative ways to introduce more shoppers to the convenience of the Styloko experience,” commented Styloko co-founder Ivailo Jordanov.

Barrett added: “As a self-confessed techy and Google alumni, Styloko’s innovative technology really appealed to me, and from a marketing perspective it’s always exciting to promote a product which is truly the first within its field. Following my experience of launching Mr Porter this role provides a fresh challenge and I look forward to communicating Styloko’s visionary features to a new audience.”

Brett invited to attend Hy! Berlin

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Brett invited to attend Hy! Berlin

hy! brings together 150 creators who push boundaries in technology & media. They will engage in powerful dialogue in a laid-back atmosphere while discovering Berlin.

Attendees will include Charles Adler (Kickstarter), Jawed Karim (YouTube), Renaud Visage (Eventbrite), Travis Kalanick (Uber), Francis Pedraza (Everest) and many more.

This summer, hy! welcomes special guests including young entrepreneurs and high profile players in the national and international start-up scene as well as the leaders of European businesses and politics. The three-day event commences on Sunday, June 2nd with a live show for the public, and then becomes an invitation-only summit for 150 pioneers of the start-up scene.

From June 2nd to the 4th hy! Berlin’s main focus is the creative digitisation of the European ecosystem. The diverse program of the opening show on Sunday reflects this principle and offers the audience not only captivating discussions, but also the trademark hy! start-up competition, including new and innovative industry players.

HPI appoints Madhur Srivastava as consumer director

Our clients HPI have recently completed a strengthening of the management team and Forsyth Group are proud to have assisted the company in placing Madhur Srivistar as consumer director with the company.

A new management team has been appointed at HPI, with Roger Evans as the new automotive sales director, and Madhur Srivastava as consumer director.

 They are joined by Dominique Horton, who takes the role of chief financial officer, and new head of industry relations, Barry Shorto.

Evans has previously held a number of senior positions, including director of business development and European sales manager for Avis Rent-a-Car, head of developments at the AA, and director of sales North America for Europcar.

E-commerce expert Srivastava joins HPI after founding pay-to-bid auction site, Madbid in 2008. In his role as operations director, Madhur oversaw the growth of Madbid which achieved a turnover of £10-12 million within three years.

In addition to five years in specialist claims management, Horton worked in manufacturing, distribution and utilities industries.

Shorto, who has been with HPI for more than nine years, will be responsible for developing relationships with influencers across the motor, finance and insurance industries as well as with key government representatives.

Congratulations to the fabulous team from TransferWise

P2P Currency Exchange TransferWise Raises $6M Led By Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, With Participation From SV Angel, Others

Steve O’ Hear



Here’s some encouraging news for the European startup scene, and London in particular.TransferWise, the online currency exchange that uses the crowd to undercut traditional money transfer services, has announced that it’s closed a $6 million series A round led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures — the first investment in Europe by the PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor’s international fund.

We also understand that Ron Conway’s SV Angel has joined this round, along with a small number of angels, and TransferWise’s existing backers IA Ventures, Index, Seedcamp, and TAG. This brings the total raised by the company to $7.35 million since its launch just two years ago.

Originally billing itself as the “Skype of money transfer,” TransferWise enables individuals and businesses to send money between countries for a fraction of the price that banks and others charge, using a peer-to-peer, “crowdsourced” model — where money destined for transfer doesn’t unnecessarily actually leave each country. It passes on these saving by charging a small flat fee per transfer.

(It’s the P2P element that playfully draws the Skype comparison, as well as the fact that TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus was the Internet calling giant’s first employee, while other members of his team also worked at the company.)

The company also pitches itself as the preferred method of money transfer for European startups, recently garnering some decent PR with an offer to waive the fees for a total of $100 million worth of international money transfers for qualifying startups using the TransferWise platform. Interestingly, Thiel was one of a host of names publicly endorsing the campaign, so we probably should have known something was going down.

Hinrikus tell me that the new funding will enable TransferWise to continue expanding, both in terms of the number of currencies it plans to support, and in raw head-count. It started out offering British Pound and Euro transfers, and has since added support for the U.S. Dollar, Swiss Franc, Polish Zloty, and Danish, Swedish and Norwegian Krone. In total, the company claims to have transferred over £125m worth of customers’ money, saving £5 million-plus in banking fees (though it isn’t without competition). Meanwhile, the team has grown to 33 members of staff.

“There’s another dozen currencies to be launched this year and 20 more people needed in the team,” says Hinrikus. “Also we need to launch locally in key European markets – Germany, France and Spain.” Hinrikus says TransferWise continues to grow between 20-30 percent a month, which to date equals roughly 10x year-on-year growth. “Doing what’s in the pipeline puts us on track to do another 5-10x this year,” he says.

Staying on message, London-based TransferWise (with an office also in Tallinn, Estonia) is now calling itself a Tech City startup. Tech City, headed up by Joanna Shields, ex-Google, AOL/Bebo, and most recently Facebook’s head of EMEA operations, is the UK government’s re-branding of the London tech scene and, specifically, East London’s “Silicon Roundabout” area.

Cue the now prerequisite statement from Shields: “Transferwise is a shining example of the successful businesses that make Tech City a thriving ecosystem. London has a real strength in financial services and technology, with many companies like Transferwise transforming financial services for consumers, for the better.”

That said, TransferWise’s HQ is on Shoreditch High Street, which doesn’t get any more Silicon Roundabout than that. And certainly, a $6 million series A is no mean feat for a European startup, and nor is attracting a top tier Silicon Valley investor like Peter Thiel.




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