Concept Ventures secures British Business Bank backing to launch £50m pre-seed fund ‘built for founders’
London, UK - 28th July 2022 - Concept Ventures (Concept), formerly known as RLC Ventures, has launched an oversubscribed £50m pre-seed fund (the Fund) - including a £30m cornerstone commitment from the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds (ECF) programme - to close the ever-increasing funding gap at pre-seed and create the largest, dedicated pre-seed fund in the UK.
Established in 2006, the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme aims to increase the supply of equity capital to high-potential, early-stage UK companies by supporting new and emerging VC fund managers who target the early-stage equity gap.
Launched in 2018, Concept has recorded a string of impressive early successes. To date, the team has backed 100+ founders at the pre-seed stage, with Concept backed-founders seeing a 71% graduation rate from pre-seed onward (twice as high as the industry average). With 2 exits within the last two years (including Cliff.ai which was acquired by Gtmhub in June), prior funds are displaying strong returns.
With the recent surge of US funds expanding to the UK and an increased blurring of stage discipline from multi-stage VCs, many firms are writing optionality cheques; creating a market which is leaving founders struggling to deal with signalling risk, confusing processes and a lack of clarity on which firms they should partner with. Concept Ventures will bring clarity back to the pre-seed stage with this dedicated, founder-first Fund.
Concept Ventures will invest in pre-seed stage founders reshaping how we “work, play, and learn”, writing cheques from £100K up to £600K and offering founders the flexibility to shape or join their rounds. The 60+ start-ups they will back over the next 4 years will join notable existing portfolio companies including corporate gifting platform Reachdesk, live-streaming video pioneers Condense, and female financial education platform, Your Juno.
The Concept team centres their decision making around founder personality; deploying a data-led approach to identify the traits and characteristics key to entrepreneurial success. This means they can look beyond the narrow parameters of work history, education and networks, to access a wider range of entrepreneurial potential. Based on this, Concept then builds a value-add framework tailored to each founding team to help them through the crucial first 12-18 months.
A key driver behind the approach comes from the “outsider” mentality the Concept culture has been built upon. All team members come from non-VC backgrounds, something which they believe helps them spot overlooked talent in the underserved pre-seed space and avoid bringing preconceptions about founders or industries into their decision making. The Fund’s LP base consists of 80% ethnic minorities and 18% women, and over 70% of the Fund’s LP’s are current or exited founders, collectively responsible for a combined £2bn in enterprise value. These include Ahluwalia Family Office, Y-Combinator backed founders such as Henry De Zoete, and senior global technology executives.
The Fund is also deeply committed to running a values-led organisation and pledges 1% of the total carry pool to charities of a founder’s choosing. Following a successful exit last year, Concept funded a school in India, providing education for over 300 children per year.
Reece Chowdhry, Founder and General Partner of Concept Ventures, comments:
“There is a major gap in the pre-seed ecosystem, with too few funds offering dedicated pre-seed expertise. We are completely focused on this critical stage of a company’s life cycle and are able to provide the funding, expertise and network they need to succeed. We’re deeply committed to setting our portfolio up for future success. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved to date and to have that recognised by the British Business Bank, is a humbling and exciting milestone." “We are looking forward to making more personality-led investments in companies transforming how we work, play and learn, and doing so under our new name - Concept Ventures.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions at the British Business Bank, comments:
“The British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is key in helping to develop and maintain effective venture capital provision in the UK, lowering the barriers to entry for emerging fund managers and for those targeting under-served areas of the market. Our cornerstone commitment to Concept Ventures will help them to provide finance and support to young and diverse, high-potential businesses at the pre-seed stage, helping to close the early stage equity funding gap.”
About Concept Ventures Concept Ventures is a pre-seed investment fund investing in start-ups transforming how we learn, work and play. We support bold founders in building their companies from concepts to icons. Founded in 2018 (and originally known as RLC Ventures), Concept has backed over 100 founders to date. You can see the full portfolio here.
We don’t come with any preconceptions about you or your industry. We came to VC as outsiders ourselves, and bring this mindset to everything we do.
We saw Pre-Seed funding was underserved, overlooked, and inaccessible - leaving founders guessing where to start and who to speak to. That’s why we designed our approach and process around you, the founders - leaving you with no misconceptions about us.
About the British Business Bank
The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by improving access to finance for smaller businesses. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
The British Business Bank’s core programmes support over £8.5bn  of finance to almost 95,000 smaller businesses  . The British Business Bank is responsible for running the government’s Coronavirus business loan schemes and Future Fund, together responsible for delivering £80.4 bn of finance to 1.67m businesses. The schemes are now closed to new applications.
As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses. The British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and EU Exit, the Finance Hub has expanded and it now targets a wider business audience. It continues to provide information and support for scale-up, high growth and potential high growth businesses, but now provides increased content, information and products for businesses in survival and recovery mindsets. The Finance Hub has been redesigned and repositioned to reflect this, during this period of economic uncertainty.
British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. It is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. They are not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A complete legal structure chart for the group can be found at www.british-business-bank.co.uk
The investment from British Business Bank to Concept Ventures does not amount to any endorsement or warranty from the British Business Bank plc, or the government of the UK.
Enterprise Capital Funds are administered by British Business Finance Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of British Business Bank plc.