Company builder Entrepreneur First closes £40m fund to help its startups scale up, with £26m investment by the British Business Bank

Press release 06 September 2016

Entrepreneur First creates a Next Stage Fund to support its companies beyond demo day.

The award-winning UK investment programme, Entrepreneur First (EF), has raised a landmark £40m Enterprise Capital Fund, with a £26m investment by the British Business Bank, to continue investing in the startups it has created. Other investors include Imperial College, Freston Ventures, Isomer Capital and a number of entrepreneurs, family offices and funds.

The Next Stage Fund will invest alongside early stage VC firms and will help the startups being built at EF scale successfully. It will provide £70,000 loan notes to each company presenting at each Demo Day to giving them an immediate injection of capital, as well as following in their seed and Series A rounds. The fund will be available for the current cohort, EF6, presenting to investors today, through to EF10, taking place in September 2018. It will cover five cohorts and will invest in over 100 UK companies.

Supporting seed funded companies for a further 18 months after Demo Day, the Next Stage Fund will help companies in making the best decisions at a critical stage of their growth trajectory. It will be used to provide key support following investment in key growth areas such as; fundraising, networking, coaching, mentoring, training and recruitment.

When we started Entrepreneur First, we broke the mould when it came to creating defensible technology startups. We’re proud to say that we are no ordinary fund: we build the companies we invest in. The new fund, supported by the British Business Bank’s ECF programme, will take this on a stage further helping us to continue recruiting world-class technologists at volume to turning them into world-class startups. Matt Clifford co-founder and CEO, Entrepreneur First

Entrepreneur First, invests in people pre-team, pre-idea and creates startups from scratch. Since 2011 it has worked with 350 individuals to build over 100 startups that are now valued in excess of $400m. Over the past six years, the companies being created by EF are growing in value year on year. Magic Pony, one of the first graduates from the EF programme, recently sold to Twitter for $150m, while the previous cohort group, EF5, raised more capital more quickly than any previous cohort.

It is vital to the UK economy that we support innovative, entrepreneur-led startups on their journey to becoming the high-growth businesses of tomorrow. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Entrepreneur First in their Next Stage Fund, which will provide much-needed capital and support to help realise the potential of smaller companies across the country. Keith Morgan CEO, British Business Bank
This £26 million investment by the British Business Bank will help entrepreneurs take important next steps to grow their business. This is an exciting addition to the Government programme of support for innovation and entrepreneurship that will create more jobs and export UK success around the world Margot James Minister for Small Business

New General Partners Joe White and Wendy Tan White will manage the fund alongside co-founders Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck. They will draw on their experiences as entrepreneurs, angel investors and venture partners at EF to support the companies through their seed rounds and the deployment of first capital.

We believe the decisions companies make at early stage are crucial to future performance. Unlike other VCs, who focus the majority of their time on deal origination and selection, we will dedicate a considerable amount of time and resource to the performance of this portfolio. It will further cultivate the companies being created by EF and enable us to continue buck the trend in the way that early stage startups are created and funded. Wendy Tan White General Partner, Entrepreneur First
In just a short time, Entrepreneur First have developed a brilliant pipeline of technology startups with potential to grow into world class businesses. We are delighted to support these businesses as they scale. Sir Charles Dunstone Freston Ventures

The sixth cohort’s Demo Day, taking place today at the Facebook UK HQ in Euston, sees the continued growth of the EF programme with a further 22 startups graduating from its most recent cohort. With companies specialising in everything from insurance tech to automated traffic surveillance, the latest EF cohort is a further indication as to the strength and variety of technical startups being borne out of the programme.

This year’s EF cohort, which will present their businesses to a room of potential investors in today are:

  • Accurx – Working to eliminate inappropriate antibiotic use by building a supervised, linked, person-level dataset, to provide an empirical diagnoses free from human biases.
  • Bloomsbury AI – Building a platform to enable everybody to program. It provides web services that enable everyone to rapidly create, train, use and share models online.
  • Brolly – Brolly’s mission is to re-define how customers experience insurance. Brolly is a mobile app that brings all insurance into one place, across understanding, buying and managing.
  • Calipsa – Calipsa’s mission is to automate traffic video surveillance using Artificial Intelligence.
  • Crypto Quantique– Working to develop a hardware based cybersecurity solution that simplifies, improves, and reduces cost of performing authentication and encryption in a (wired) local network. Our appliances benefit from cutting edge secure quantum communication technology, and can be integrated into current existing infrastructure.
  • Cyra – Aiming to make the hiring process simpler and cost effective for the employers of small to medium businesses, by providing an inexpensive, easy to use and smart Artificial Intelligence based recruiting assistant.
  • Eblur – The company’s mission is to bring about a revolution in the highly competitive and popular eSports game genre, by providing access to an online AI coaching companion
  • Flexciton – The company’s mission is to revolutionise industrial automation in the process systems and energy sector.
  • Intelligent Robots – Its mission is to democratise the use of mobile robots for industrial applications, by developing robots equipped with cheap sensors and controlled by cutting-edge deep learning algorithms.
  • Keypla – Its aim is to build a 360° view of all for-sale properties in UK, to reduce the cost of house viewings. With advances in hardware, the cost of 360° tours can be reduced by 90%.
  • Kheiron – Kheiron is developing and building tools to help radiologists with their various everyday professional workflows
  • Loop Perfect – LoopPerfect’s mission is to streamline the development of C++ code, by using a just-in-time compiler, which allows the user to update their program logic without closing the running application.
  • Neurofenix – Aiming to make rehabilitation more autonomous, enjoyable and accessible to stroke victims
  • Petagene – The company’s mission is to make genomics data cheaper, faster and better. The cost of storing and transferring genomic data is rapidly outstripping sequencing costs.
  • Plasticity– The company’s mission is to help patients to be an active part of their rehabilitation treatment, by providing an affordable piece of wearable electronics together with a software to engage people to exercise at home.
  • Quotable – The company aims to drastically simplify the purchasing of bespoke goods and services, by providing a cheap, cloud-based solution that automates most of the quotations process and pro-actively provides market insights to both buyers and suppliers.
  • Neo AI – Neo AI develops a technology that makes using machine learning cheaper and faster, enabling new applications around different industries and making complex computations available to more customers.
  • Sanctum Technologies – Working to eliminate the sound of planes for households and companies near airports, by providing a 360% aviation noise cancelling device.
  • Suits Me – The mission is to develop the most personalised lifestyle assistant in the world; starting with fashion. The immediate problem SuitsMe is solving is to bridge offline with online shopping in terms of customer experience, by making it equally comfortable.
  • Alpha I – The company’s mission is to bring research into the heart of quantitative investing, by applying advanced multivariate Bayesian models together with cutting edge computing platforms.
  • Xihelm – Working to ensure that street surveying for utilities are more reliable, cheaper and faster than before, by visualising current and own augmented data from multiple sources, showing where likely assets are, in a user friendly format.

For more information about Entrepreneur First, or to apply to join its next cohort, please visit,

Further Information

Notes to editors

About Entrepreneur First

Entrepreneur First was founded by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck to help top technical talent build world-class tech startups in London. It is the only seed investment programme in the world to accept candidates pre-team, pre-idea with individuals selected purely on the basis of their technical ability or domain expertise. As well as pre-seed funding, the full-time programme provides individuals with mentoring and advice from the Entrepreneur First team and some of the world’s top entrepreneurs, as well as office space and legal and administrative support, so that each cohort has the best possible environment to meet potential co-founders and launch their startups.

The programme has so far helped 350 people to build over 100 companies who have been funded by some of the world’s leading venture investors, including Balderton Capital, Index Ventures; Notion Capital, Octopus Investments and Y Combinator.

About The British Business Bank

The British Business Bank makes finance markets for smaller businesses work better, enabling the sector to prosper, grow and build economic activity.

Its objectives are to:

  • increase the supply of finance available to smaller businesses where markets don’t work well
  • create a more diverse and vibrant finance market for smaller businesses, with a greater choice of options and providers
  • build confidence in the market by increasing smaller businesses’ understanding of the options available to them
  • achieve this whilst managing taxpayer resources efficiently and within a robust risk management framework.

More information, including a legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries, can be found on the British Business Bank website.

British Business Bank Enterprise Capital Funds (ECFs) are managed by experienced investors from a variety of backgrounds – including teams from the venture capital industry as well as serial entrepreneurs with a history of success in building early stage UK companies. They are commercially-focused funds which bring together private and public money to make equity investments in high growth businesses. The British Business Bank’s rolling investment programme of commitments to new Enterprise Capital Funds is a competitive process, with typically 2 to 3 investments made per year. The Entrepreneur First Next Stage fund is the 20th ECF in the programme.

British Business Bank plc is a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8NH. British Business Finance Limited registered in England and Wales, registration ‘British Business Finance Ltd’ is a wholly owned subsidiary of British Business Bank plc, registered in England and Wales registration number 09091928, registered office at Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8NH.

British Business Bank plc is the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, and is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. Neither British Business Bank plc nor its principal operating subsidiaries are authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). British Business Bank plc and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such.

About Wendy Tan-White

General Partner at Entrepreneur First, Advisory Board UK Government Digital Services, Board of TechCityUK and Co-founder of Moonfruit, first SaaS website builder sold to Yell Group 2012 ($37m), Zopa, Egg. Imperial College BEng Computer Science, MA Smart Textiles, Central St. Martin

She was co-founder and CEO of Moonfruit, the UK’s leading DIY website and online shop builder for SMB’s. Design and community is at the heart of the Moonfruit brand. Invested in by Macromedia(Adobe), LVMH, Stephens Inc (US) and Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups. Moonfruit was acquired in 2012 by Hibu plc (formerly Yell Group) for $37m to support its transformation to a global digital services provider. As co-VP Digital within Hibu, integrating the website product into Hibu’s international sales team creating a $150m combined business within 24 months.

About Joe White

General Partner at Entrepreneur First, Co-founder of Moonfruit, first SaaS website builder sold to Yell Group 2012 ($37m), non- exec director Demotix, COO McKinsey, Cambridge MA Economics.

Joe is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor based in London. Over the past 15 years Joe has founded, grown and led multiple businesses, managing teams of over 100 people, and growing sales to $150m+.

Joe was co-founder and COO/CFO of While at Moonfruit, Joe raised €13.5m to acquire, acting as CFO from 2005-2010. Joe was a Non-exec director at Demotix, a citizen journalism newswire, sold to Corbis in 2012. Previously Joe was a Consultant at McKinsey.