BGF launches £200m venture fund
BGF is expanding its activities by launching the largest ever venture capital fund dedicated to earlier stage UK technology companies. The £200m fund will be run by a new, dedicated team based in London and will open for business in autumn 2015.
The initial team will be Rory Stirling and Harry Briggs, both of whom bring extensive venture experience from MMC Ventures and Balderton Capital respectively, and Simon Calver, former chief executive of LOVEFiLM. BGF will provide £200m of investable capital as well as support from its established regional platform, meaning the team can focus on investing in Britain’s best entrepreneurial talent.
Stephen Welton, chief executive of BGF said: “Harry, Simon and Rory bring a strong mix of venture and entrepreneurial experience, with ambitions to unearth some of the most exciting UK technology companies of tomorrow. With BGF’s extensive support network and £200m behind them, they have the financial firepower to quickly establish themselves as a major new ventures business.
“BGF has become a game-changer in the UK in providing equity and long term capital for growing companies. We want to use our nationwide platform to extend our support to earlier stage businesses, especially in the technology sector, with a dedicated team, while our core business continues to focus on providing growth capital for small and mid-sized companies which has shown tremendous growth over the last 2 years.”
About the new team:
Harry Briggs has been both an entrepreneur and an investor. He co-founded Firefly Tonics, a health drinks company, which he built into a luxury brand with customers in 35 countries before selling to Private Equity firm Langholm Capital. Prior to Firefly, Harry was at McKinsey & Co. in London and New York. He joins BGF from one of Europe’s leading Venture firms, Balderton Capital, where he initiated investments including The Hut Group, GoCardless, Lyst and Tictail.
Simon Calver is best known for his seven year tenure as chief executive at LOVEFiLM, one of the great successes of the UK venture industry. He grew the company from a series of small start-ups into a multi-million pound enterprise and negotiated the highly successful sale of the business to Amazon in February 2011. He went on to become chief executive of Mothercare plc, kickstarting the turnaround plan to improve profitability and growth in the UK and accelerating international expansion through its franchise partners. Before this, Simon worked at multinational companies including Unilever, PepsiCo and Dell. He is chairman of Moo.com and chemistdirect.co.uk. He has a blend of operating and managerial experience that is highly relevant to the earlier stage business community.
Rory Stirling joins the team from MMC Ventures where he has been leading investments across the internet, mobile and software sectors. He became a Partner of MMC Ventures at the age of 29 and in 2014 was shortlisted for Investor of the Year at the Investor Allstar Awards. Rory has been one of the most active venture capital investors in the UK; his investments include NewVoiceMedia, AlexandAlexa, Base79, Pact, Masabi, Reevoo, Tyres on the Drive, Somo, Brightpearl, Wool and the Gang, Hubbub, Appear Here, PayasUgym and Love Home Swap. Prior to MMC, Rory was an investment banker at Greenhill & Co. in London.