Who we are
Collegiate Capital is the most entrepreneur friendly venture capital firm and company builder. We do things differently and provide the investment, invaluable tools and access needed for ambitious founding teams to grow and succeed in addition to starting companies from scratch. We build and accelerate businesses, providing more than just cheques. We aim to be your best partners, aligning our interests, and recognise that when you win, we win. Cross-border, we utilise our unparalleled reach, resources and networks to help innovative early stage companies scale and make as great an impact as possible. Between us, our partners have over 150 years of experience in building and managing companies, investing, advising and scaling businesses and helping entrepreneurs (particularly in the technology space). We have global reach and a track record that we feel speaks for itself. We have been in your shoes and through the whole lifecycle of a company, have sat at both sides of the table and have ridden the rollercoaster. We truly understand the challenges you face and what founders both need and want. We look forward to working together in partnership to help you achieve remarkable results.
About our mission
We want to change the world and create a better future by investing in, supporting and building innovative companies and by turning cutting edge research into a commercial reality. Yes, we realise this is of course an ambitious mission, but we enjoy challenges and believe there is no better time to aim high - particularly when technology is capable of being more transformative than ever before. We recognise the power that entrepreneurs have in being able to make a truly game-changing and meaningful impact and we feel the best way to achieve our goal is to harness this ability and help build iconic, distruptive companies. We seek to identify and support the highest potential businesses (support in every sense of the word from investment to invaluable advice, services and much more), to create companies from scratch and to develop an ecosystem that is most conducive to their success. We are passionate about our mission and are committed to working tirelessly towards it to help exceptional founders build brilliant innovations.
How would you best describe us then? Part venture capitalists, part startup? Advisors? Investors? Talent scouts? Managers? Creatives? Ecosystem developers? Problem solvers? Convenors? Venture catalysts with an entrepreneurial mindset? We are the enthusiastic businesspeople, engineers, designers, marketers, data scientists and growth experts dedicated to turbo-charging companies. We are innovative trouble-shooters. We are committed partners. We are a hybrid of all of these and believe that perhaps the best way to describe us is as company builders and changemakers, industriously working away to create ground breaking businesses. We are not your typical investment company.
Problematic industry trends
We are deliberately set up to do things differently. We want to change the way that much of the venture capital industry currently works with entrepreneurs.
We find it a great shame that in recent years there has been a worrying trend of ever widening misalignment in interests between founding teams and their investors. Unfortunately, this often leads to dysfunctional and distracting drama and conflict and in the end it is not just the entrepreneurs and investors who suffer but also the wider market of users. The industry statistics from the late 1990s clearly show just how poorly the majority of ‘traditional’ VC funds have performed. This is not merely the result of economic cycles and difficult conditions and ascribing these as the sole reasons would be wrong. It should come as no surprise that organisations that seek to invest in innovative ideas but have themselves failed to innovate their own businesses much, in the past decade or more, have suffered. Trying to replicate many practices from several decades ago and hoping that they still work is not wise. Without trying to be cynical, there also appears to be a disappointing shift in the type of companies that are preferred by investors – a preference for ‘quicker wins’ rather than more game-changing innovations in some cases. Furthermore, in some cases there has a been a shift in attitudes towards entrepreneurs with less favourable and less fair terms being put on the table which is not right. In addition, for many it appears as if less time is being spent on helping portfolio companies grow beyond just writing cheques and holding some occasional oversight meetings; instead more energy is being focused on raising larger and larger funds after funds.
This has all resulted in many entrepreneurs losing out and we are determined to arrest the trend, raise the bar and challenge the status quo. The so called ‘traditional’ model or at least the perception of it by many has failed many teams. We want to do right by the companies we work with because we feel that they deserve both more and better. We would not call this contrarian but rather pragmatic. Truly helping founders on their journey with more than just monetary investment and achieving large positive returns are not mutually exclusive. It is not a crazy idea! Our priority is you because when your business grows, so does our own and when you win so do we! Simple. Financial capital is important and often necessary for the success of ventures but is not sufficient on its own. We believe that in order to truly add value our responsibility is greater than writing cheques. What is more crucial, from the earliest stages and beyond, is working alongside founding teams to provide them with the resources, access and guidance they need and to counteract any difficulties or weaknesses. We work hand in hand with you to put you in the best possible position to attack opportunities in markets and we go into battle with you! We do not seek to interfere with your vision but are here to help as much as we can and strive to be your best partners across the lifetime of your business. We are dedicated to giving you the essential attention, time and empathy you need at any and all times in a respectful and open manner that you deserve.
How do we help you?
We wear our hearts on our often rolled up sleeves and are ready to get stuck in and get our hands dirty if necessary. We are approachable and always honest and open with you, preferring to be direct. Whilst we know it can be a difficult and long journey ahead, it is an incredibly exciting and rewarding one too and we are here to help you navigate past any perilous obstacles on this path. We have been through this all before and aim to use our expertise and experience to help you with the challenges you face on the way each day. We want you to think of us as part of your extended team, working in the background so that you can concentrate on the things that really matter. We do not believe in any ‘us and them’ separation between investors and entrepreneurs and instead see ourselves as peers on your journey. When you need it, we go out into the frontlines with you and at other times support and hold fort. We are smart about how we work and how we use our time and are very nimble and flexible. This is something you need when taking on big challenges. Our name, ‘Collegiate’, comes from the Latin for ‘companion’ and ‘joined together’ and reflects the collegiate culture of cooperation we embody. We see everyone we work with as a colleague and treat them as such. We want to empower you so you can focus on building your business rather than having to steer through all the different challenging legal, financial, technological and HR distractions. They can act as noise and should not stand in the way as barriers to your success. You can be assured that you are in good hands if you entrust us with dealing with these important aspects. While important, they are ones which you should not be wasting your energies and time on when there are far more crucial uses for that!
The creation of significant value and a successful business is not something that happens by accident. In addition to the major factors such as the identification of significant dislocations and gaps in large and/or growing markets, the framing of the opportunity, the development of defensible offerings and then the team to execute it all, the basics do also matter but are often ignored at your peril. You need a strong foundation. We operate a platform for company building. Our aim is to help you prosper and succeed and we work hard to provide you with the best platform from which to maximise and unleash your potential. Whilst investment is of course important, on top of this we provide you with the necessary tools needed for making a success of your business. Our value added business services include complete technological and software development, financial, marketing, legal and HR services that help entrepreneurs to focus on developing the best products, relationships and traction possible. In short, we provide the fertile soil, water and light for your venture to grow. If any support you need is not available in-house, we will certainly find what you require in our unrivalled and extensive network. It is most likely just a phone call or email away. The help you need could come from our mentors, our partnerships or from any of the many different people we have come across during our own journeys over the course of our careers. Rest assured we will work to get you the assistance you need and will not stop until you are fully satisfied.
We do not believe that obstacles that often trip up entrepreneurs such as the legal or HR sides, the technological development challenges or even international borders and cultural, political and relationship based differences should be barriers to your success. Single founder? We can be your partners and help you build your founding team. Non technical founder? We can build your product for you and act as your CTO and help build up your wider team. Academic or scientific expert but lacking in business skills? We can work to commercialise your research, navigate intellectual property hurdles and help run the business side of things. The skillsets of innovative researchers who create and businesspeople who grow companies are uniquely different – this usually results in the innovators missing out on value creation. We seek to bring both skill sets together.
Collaboration and the democratisation of innovation & technology
We live in truly exciting times where technology is actively transforming every industry and innovation is borderless with the potential for more international collaboration than ever before. Entrepreneurs play a hugely important role in stimulating economies and are key drivers of growth all over the world. Today global development is entering a phase where entrepreneurship will increasingly play an even greater role. We seek to empower the next generations of exceptional entrepreneurs and help them create market-leading businesses of the future to drive economic prosperity and transform societies. Innovation, which derives from the Latin word novus, meaning ‘new’, can be defined on a broad level as the introduction of either new or significantly improved ideas, products, services or ways of doing things/methods (including processes, approaches or activities). We are committed to the ‘democratisation’ of innovation and technology where access to solutions is universal regardless of your location. Innovation, in this digital and internet led age, is increasingly being driven from the bottom up rather than just from the top down with users being empowered to have their say and collaboration between individuals, companies (of all sizes from small startups to large corporations) and entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world driving change. Across the globe entrepreneurs are rethinking each sector and each market, building entirely new ones and looking to change the world and shape the future. However, innovations do not always generate value and this is, in part, due to barriers, which we want to combat. Great innovations should not be restricted to only certain parts of the world and consumers in particular regions should not have to wait for solutions that already exist elsewhere. In this day and age, we believe that no matter where you are based in the world, you should be able to capture the global value of your creations whilst users anywhere should be able to benefit from them.
There are excellent opportunities for collaboration between entrepreneurs in their home countries and market opportunities abroad. We want to play a key role in facilitating these interactions and in fast-tracking the development of truly multi-national startups and fast growing companies. We do not look at the big challenges the world faces as areas of worry but instead as problems to solve and feel that this can best be done through leveraging the power of international collaboration and diversity of thought. We want to break down the borders, traverse geopolitics and develop business to business (B2B) relationships around the globe, using commercial links or bonds as a force for good and a driver of change. Rather than looking at interactions between countries merely through the lens of strategic rivalries (such as US vs. China vs. India etc.), by working together to tackle the greatest issues the world faces and to build the best solutions, everyone can win and prosper and grow economically with the creation of new wealth and jobs. We should not balk at the differences in cultures, languages and customs that may set people apart but embrace the similarities and make the most of network effects.
We can help you unlock and access foreign markets and expand your operations and your reach, through comprehensive support from us and through our relationships with public and private sector partners and our global network of contacts. We aim to be the keys to unlock the doors of different markets and communities around the world, the bridge that connects you to significant investment, crucial partnerships and comprehensive support and the map that shows you the route to scale your ventures and grow. It is a journey and we can help you at every step of the way, benefiting all your stakeholders. It is our goal to be the first port of call and the premier partner of choice for any technology company seeking smart, strategic and accelerated international expansion and the best launchpad from which to propel your global presence and offerings. We also work with our corporate and strategic partners alongside other investors, accelerators and funds to assist their portfolio companies looking to scale and enter new markets. We want to help develop the ecosystem for better international collaboration. In particular we would like to help Europe to be at the forefront of this. We believe there is a huge amount of potential in the UK and Europe and want to help emulate some of the success of Silicon Valley in a way that is adapted for Europe as a whole. This is not something that will not happen overnight but there is already promising progress underway and we hope to see the culture change materialise soon.
It is promising that collaboration between startups and large corporations is improving and this is something we want to contribute to developing further. In terms of the higher education sector, outside the US, in Europe and Asia in particular, there is a huge amount of ground to make up in terms of the commercialisation of university research. According to the UK Parliament, 80% of commercialised research is commercialised by third parties, with innovators missing out on nearly all subsequent economic rewards, due to lack of experience and expertise in making scalable products. We are determined to help fix this. Through technology transfer we aim to apply the knowledge, innovative ideas and discoveries or inventions from academic research and translate it into products, solutions and businesses that benefit the world both in terms of society and the economy but also in terms of solving civilisation’s most pressing problems. Such challenges include environmental protection and sustainability, global health, clean energy and much more. We aim to be a one stop shop for those connected to research, particularly universities. From university students graduating, to the highly technical scientific research conducted in labs, we aim to be the most approachable, impact driven and helpful partners available.
The community is very important to us and we believe in collaboration and rewarding those who help us, whoever they might be. This can be directly or through donation to a philanthropic cause of choice. If we invest in a company that has been referred to us, we share any profits with those who made the referral. The same goes for anyone who helps us win a deal or helps our companies reach major milestones. We work and co-invest alongside other investors and partners in our wide network, forming the most formidable syndicates for entrepreneurs. We can be of assistance for companies looking for external and expert advice and guidance or to benefit from outsourcing services that can help solve problems or improve performance. We want to help those who we come across on their journeys regardless of whether we end up working together formally. Even if we do not end up injecting our own capital we want to assist you and make valuable introductions. We really are all in this together and by working with and helping others we are all stronger.
Full-service, multi-stage and cross-border, our support window is wider than your typical VC. Our added value services aim to give you a significant head-start and super-charge growth. Not all money and not all VC firms are equal and it is of utmost importance that founders pick the right partners – ones that appreciate the true meaning of what it means to partner with you. We want to empower you and provide you with the best possible chance of reaching your full potential. Our job is to take calculated risks and whenever we invest and partner with you we take the responsibility that we are entrusted with very seriously and are determined to do our very best for you, sharing in the risk. We pledge this to everyone we are fortunate enough to work with. We are creating the kind of venture capital firm and company builder that we would have so dearly wanted ourselves when we were starting out. There are huge opportunities ahead waiting to burst out and exciting (and fun!) times are ahead as we look to shake things up, so join us on our journey today!