Author: Adam Arnold, Partner, BBH
Today sees the launch of The Black Sheep Fund – which we believe is the first venture capital fund of its kind. It is a venture between Zag (BBH’s brand invention business) and Spark Ventures – the London based VCs that backed start up phenomena including lastminute.com, Kobalt Music, notonthehighstreet.com and Moshi Monsters.
The background is increasingly obvious: There is a dearth of seed funds for start ups. If things feel tighter than they used to be in the States – then it is ten times harder to raise money in Europe right now. The banks demand personal guarantees for business loans (!), and institutions are incredibly risk averse. If you are proven entrepreneur with a string of successful exits under your belt, then you will get by. But if you are young, hungry and full of belief in your big idea – you might well get nowhere. The thing we spotted was that the next big digital business is just as likely to come from new entrepreneurs – and that is why we set up this fund.
The premise is simple: We offer a unique cocktail of business building and brand building in one investment package. All VC’s invest cash and sit on boards. Our fund will do this plus it will help to ensure the business captures the imaginations and loyalties of consumers too. We call it ‘creative capital’. We aim to invest this creative capital in businesses that intersect consumers, technology and content. Examples would include smart new social tools, disruptive e-retailing concepts or contagious GPS games. The portfolio will be broad so long as the role of the brand is business critical. The Fund was announced today in the Financial Times, and we already have our foundation funds in place. Over the next quarter we will be meeting prospective start ups and raising the rest of the fund – targeting £10m GBP.
The invitation is open: If you or anyone you know is currently sitting on a great start up idea that they plan to take to market – then do consider the Black Sheep Fund on your short list of VC’s. We are primarily a UK based fund, but we are idea led – and a good enough idea with the right management could be invested in overseas. And, if you are an angel, with a growing desire to re-enter or join in the start up scene, then do get in touch for more information. The fund will qualify as an Enterprise Incentive Scheme (EIS) – which the UK government made increasingly attractive in the Budget last week.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the Black Sheep Fund, BBH and Spark Ventures: