How many VC funds can you name where all three partners had children at the time of fundraising, deep connections in Asia as well as Europe and the US, and included actress Anne Hathaway as an LP? Not too many I’m afraid.
But that’s the profile of Accord, a new seed VC fund launched with a £30 million ($36 million) pot of cash to back early-stage startups in Europe. The pact will focus on ‘mission driven’ startups in what it calls the “ABC” categories: access (financial inclusion), betterment (personal and professional well-being), and climate. (It’s a more interesting way to address areas of ‘doing well’ than to single out the UN SDGs, IMHO). Treaty investment tickets will range from around £1m to £1.5m.
As well as Anne Hathaway (she’s not ‘only’ an Oscar-winning actress, but also a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador), other LPs include Jeff Dean, Head of AI at Google, and Keith Teare, a founding (and former) shareholder. of TechCrunch and a former tech entrepreneur in the UK and US.
They are joined by anchor investor Campden Hill Capital; Yeming Wang, former head of EMEA at Alibaba; Fahad Baig, COO of Naspers; Todd Rupert, T. Tilo Bono, retired CEO of Rowe Price Global and venture partner of Greenspring Associates and CEO of PIABO.
Three of the female partners — Tong Gu, Reem Mobasaleh Wyndham and Monique Pham — were former VCs at other funds. Gu was an investor in ADV (of which Teer was previously a part) and built a data analytics startup in Shanghai that she exited. Also an investor and former founder of Wyndham ADV. Pham was part of the founding team of early-stage fund Fuel Ventures and has launched several social enterprises in Africa and India.
Speaking to Reem Mobasaleh Wyndham, she told me that they had been doing the fundraiser for a little over a year (during her pregnancy and with the first children) but that the idea had been “in the works” for about five or six years: “We both had ADV the same week. joined in. And that’s when we met Monique. What we saw in the early stage landscape in the UK were some key things that were missing. There are very few early stage fund managers who have both overseas operational experience and deep operational experience in emerging markets. And that’s something that all three of us, in a very complimentary way, bring to the table.”
“We believe that capitalism should and can be inclusive while still producing massive results,” she added. “And we really want it to be able to support early-stage companies that are really shaping the future in a positive way. We’ve all built our careers with that Northstar as a guide for us. That’s a value we’ve always supported. , but this is when the market is really coming around to it. There shouldn’t be a trade-off between socially sustainable, environmentally sustainable and commercially sustainable outcomes. You have to think about both. And that’s a value that the three of us came together on, ” she said.
Tong Gu told me: “I grew up in China, and I saw how entrepreneurship and technology enabled a large population of people living below the poverty line to become wealthy and improve their lives. I started a tech company that enables independent small brand owners to compete with larger companies. And for me, it was really an experience of driving economic inclusion, but in a kind of technology-enabled way.”
Wyndham admitted “it’s not a huge fund”. However, she said the £30 million should get them enough companies to get the “healthy diversification” they need for funding returns: “We could do 18 to 20 companies, either leading or co-leading. How do we build our LP base? We are very thoughtful about what we have curated. So the LPS that have come in are strategic and they provide domain expertise and market access, but they also provide capital continuity. Most people are looking for access to deal flow. So in that sense, this is actually increasing our firepower beyond 30 million.
On having a Hollywood moviestar between his LPs, Windham added: “She’s actually been my friend and mentor for about 12 years and since then we’ve become friends and shared values. One of her big causes is childcare, and the lack thereof, as the final frontier for gender equality. And it’s something we experienced firsthand as three female GPs who had our first children at the time of this fundraiser. To be able to do both we had to figure out how to overcome the structural headwinds. That’s very much a lesson we hope to share with the ecosystem, and that’s kind of where Annie comes in.”
Pact’s first investment is in Growth Kitchen, a London-based company that launches sustainable food brands based on data insights.
Past investments for contract team members include clauses acquired by DocuSign. Onto, an electric vehicle subscription service; Perlego, an online learning platform; and Yoko, an African fintech company.