We caught up with Tom March from Redrice Ventures to discuss their first impressions of working with the ECF programme. Read on to find out what we discussed.
Q: Who are Redrice Ventures?
A: We are a team of former operators and founders investing at seed stage into premium consumer brands and related tech. Our brands encompass a range of business models, from products and services to platforms and marketplaces, as well as new models. We also invest in B2B retail technology companies that enhance brand performance. Our partnership with Walpole (the official sector body for UK luxury) brings us close to their 270 member brands meaning we can open doors for B2B tech start-ups and share our expertise.
Q: Who are the Redrice team and what are your backgrounds?
A: We are four partners:
- Tom March: Founder – former global equity investor/Partner S&W
- Robert Senior: brand strategy – former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi and founder of Fallon (exited to Publicis)
- Jonathan Heilbron: finance and supply chain – former CEO of Thomas Pink and Walpole board member
- Andrew Sutcliffe: Investor – Co-Founder of Writtle Holdings, the UK’s largest private media group
The team also includes Associate, Gabrielle Swycher (previously Deutsche Bank M&A); Operations Lead, Kayleigh Atkinson (former COO at UK Connect); and Tech Lead, John Paskin (Founder of Commodity Flow, exited to S&P).
Q: What made you decide to apply for an ECF?
A: As an emerging manager, we wanted fund investors who shared our values and brought fresh insights. We’ve seen the benefits of long-term partnerships, having begun our journey as part of a multi-family office with a network of exited brand founders who support us and our portfolio today. We recognised that the BBB could also bring advice and connections, as well as credibility that institutional LPs would find appealing. Already, the BBB team has shared priceless advice on matters such as resourcing and team.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve with your ECF?
A: Our focus is to achieve strong returns for LPs and commercial success for founders.
We are also driven by a broader purpose – impact. All the team have given up a lot to be here. We are at our best when creating meaningful things and helping others. It means we care a lot about our founders and fund investors.
We believe this approach can make us the go-to European venture capital business for ambitious founders of culture-defining brands and tech solutions. We want to have multiple funds led by an extraordinary team of founders, operators and investors, known for value creation derived from the right kind of behaviours.
Q: Who have you backed?
A: We’re early in the ECF, having closed oversubscribed a year ago. We have invested in 7 companies including Hylo, a sustainable trainer company; By Rotation, a peer-to-peer fashion rental app; and Confer With, a brand enabler of live one-to-one video commerce. Previous investments have included Castore sportswear, the official kit supplier for the Red Bull Racing, Harlequins and the England Cricket Team; and sustainability platform, Ocean Bottle; as well as strong team exits in Purplebricks, Curlsmith and Eagle Eye Solutions, among others.
Q: What is the biggest lesson learnt in your time of running an ECF so far and working with the ECF team?
A: Like we tell our founders, when selecting investors, surround yourself with a range of skills. The ECF team has unique knowledge of the venture landscape given their market analysis and the wave of applications they receive for the programme. It means they share insights on the market as well as fund manager operations and processes. This fund of fund expertise compliments the investor and operational brand experience we have on the Limited Partner Advisory Committee (our fund governance committee).
Q: What advice would you give to a first-time or emerging fund manager?
A: Speak to as many VC fund founders as possible. You can learn tonnes from the mistakes and successes of others. As a nimble emerging manager, you benefit from a flexible approach and a flat team structure that makes continuous learning and improvement very powerful. Final thought, your business is your team. Don’t rush team formation, get it right! Be diverse in every way and make sure you have shared values, integrity, and trust from the start – very few incumbent fund managers benefit from that purity of alignment and open culture; it’s your competitive advantage!