If you’re looking for very early-stage investment for your start-up you may assume that venture capital funding is beyond your reach. While it’s true that many VC funds prefer more established businesses, there are plenty out there that focus on seed and early-stage investments and are looking for new, innovative companies in which to invest amounts as low as £250,000.
Here’s our list of the venture capital funds you need to be aware of if you’re looking for early-stage investment. We’ll be adding to the list constantly so if you’ve spotted something we’re missing, do tell us via the Contact us page.
This global firm has over 25 years of company-building experience. With Facebook and Getjar on its books, interest lies in budding technology firms.
020 7170 1000
This London-based fund has invested in, and helped create, world-class technology and life sciences businesses. Investments include Zong, a leading mobile payments solutions provider, and Qype, Europe’s largest local search and review site.
020 7932 2100
Ambient Sound Investments
Established in 2003 by four founding engineers at Skype Technologies, this seed investment company invests in people and ideas across the technology spectrum. They focus on companies in Europe, Asia and the US, and have Wahanda on their books.
Since 1980, this international firm has invested at the earliest stages in technology and life-sciences companies. The firm has an office in Central London and has helped businesses such as Zoopla.co.uk and Seatwave.
Skype-founder Niklas Zennstrom established this fund with Janus Friss in 2006. It looks to invest in early-stage and high growth technology companies, mainly in Europe. Previous investments include ChemistDirect.co.uk.
Barry Maloney founded this firm in 2000. Both early-stage investment and later growth funding are provided for technology companies, including the following sectors: enterprise software and services, communications and security, mobile computing, consumer services and media and financial services. The focus is primarily on European-based companies, but also some in the US and Asia.
020 7016 6800
Big Issue Invest
As part of the Big Issue Group, it provides finance to social enterprises in the form of loans and equity. With Nigel Kershaw as chief executive, the London-based fund can offer investment of between £50,000 and £500,000.
020 7526 3434
Founded in 2002, this private investment company invests in businesses that achieve social and/ or environmental goals. The London-based fund invests in companies ranging from start-ups through to small management buy-outs and property-backed ventures.
020 7262 5566
With Wonga as a current investment, this London-based fund offers early-stage capital to technology companies. Managing partner Haakon Overli started the firm.
Established in 1994, this firm invests in UK and Irish technology companies, and focuses on early-stage funding. Founded by Frank Kenny, Delta’s interests lie in information technology, communications and healthcare.
Dublin: +353 1294 0870
London: 020 7290 3040
Nenad Marovac and Steve Schlenker started this fund in 2000, with the focus on early-stage capital and growth equity funding for software and digital media businesses. A European investor, DN Capital also helps some US companies enter the European market.
020 7340 1601
Founded in 2002 by Mark Farmer, Charles Grimsdale and David Embleton, this fund invests in early-stage technology companies. Sectors include: telecommunications software, enterprise software, Software as a Service (SaaS), digital media, e-commerce, internet, social media and mobile.
Bath: 01225 472950
London: 020 7758 3440
Fidelity Growth Partners Europe
Born from its predecessor firm, Fidelity Ventures, which was originally founded in 1969 in the US,
this fund partners with innovative European technology companies - those that have just entered the market, as well as those ready for the next growth stage.
Gary Robins founded Hotbed in 2002. With offices in London and Milton Keynes, this fund offers investment to unquoted companies.
Milton Keynes: 01908 523 440
London: 020 7569 1440
With offices in London and Geneva, this fund invests globally in companies that have a European focus. It covers all sectors but primarily concentrates on technology and life sciences. Neil Rimer, Giuseppe Zocco and David Rimer established Index in 1996 and usually invest between €25,000 and €50m.
020 7154 2020
London Venture Partners
Established in 2010, this fund focuses on new technology companies in the online, mobile, social and web game space. It was co-founded by: David Lau-Kee, Phil Harrison, David Gardner and Paul Heydon.
Mangrove Capital Partners
With the focus on internet and software companies, this Luxembourg-based firm looks to invest as early as possible. Mark Tluszcz, Gerard Lopez and Hans-Jurgen Schmitz are the founders.
Early to mid-stage investments are the game at this Cheltenham-based firm. The primary interest is internet-based services, with funding from £250,000 available. Ian Milbourn, Chris Tottman, Ben White and Jos White are the founding partners.
0845 524 0018
This London-based firm has made 60 small business investments to date. Founded in 2000, this fund is not sector-specific, but is more interested in the entrepreneurial teams behind the companies. Prior investments include: Zoopla, LOVEFiLM and Graze. It will invest between £250, 000 and £5m.
Eddie Anderson founded this UK-based fund in 2001. It invests in early-stage, pre-revenue companies, as well as growing businesses, in the software industry.
Edinburgh: 0131 240 8280
London: 020 3128 7473
Pond Venture Partners
For early-stage investments, this firm concentrates on European technology companies. Richard and Charles Irving established the fund in 1997 and now have offices in Farnham, London and San Jose, California.
020 8940 1001
Michael Birch from Bebo and Brent Hoberman from Lastminute.com are both investment partners at this London-based fund. Having invested in TweetDeck and Keynoir, this firm focuses on early-stage investment in companies operating in the digital media and technology space. Rogan Angelini-Hurll and Sean Seton-Rogers started the fund in 2009, and typical investments range from £500,000 to £2.5m.
Scottish Equity Partners
This fund backs start-up and early-stage companies in the IT, healthcare and energy technology sectors. Co-founded by Calum Paterson and Richard Sparrow, investments range from £1m to £10m.
Glasgow: 0141 273 4000
London: 020 7758 5900
Venatus Interactive PLC
Established in 2010, this London-based fund was set up with the purpose of investing in up and coming companies in the interactive gaming industry, as well as investing in current established gaming businesses with a proven track record of strong returns.
020 7099 9646
The head office is in Munich, but this fund also has a London branch. Founded by Rolf Christof Dienst, the focus is on early-stage investment for companies in the clean-tech and electronics sectors.
020 3006 4190