Carwow backer Episode 1 revs up with new £60m venture capital fund
Episode 1, the software-focused venture capital firm, has launched a new £60m fund to seed UK entrepreneur-led companies.
The Enterprise Capital Fund is 60 per cent larger that Episode 1's first, and received investment from the likes of the British Business Bank and later-stage venture capital firm Draper Esprit.
Simon Murdoch, former Amazon UK chief executive and Episode 1 managing partner, said that the growth in fund size was due to both increasing opportunities and strong support from investors for UK startups.
“We see about 1,000 software-driven startups in the UK every year,” said Murdoch. “There are more and more businesses being created.”
Murdoch himself has invested in businesses which have since become household names, including Zoopla and LoveFilm. Episode 1's first fund will be hoping to recreate this success, with portfolio companies including vehicle retailing platform Carwow and biometric recognition company AimBrain.
However, Murdoch noted Brexit was not helping the entrepreneurial environment. “I think Brexit is a bad thing for the UK economy,” he said. “It's harder for our companies to attract talent from the EU – people say it doesn't feel like a welcoming place.”
The UK's exit from the EU would also make it less likely that foreign entrepreneurs would bring their business ideas to the country, Murdoch added. “We have a strong pipeline of deals and we will survive, but we're shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be particular areas of interest for the fund, along with blockchain – although Murdoch is less keen on the bitcoin currency which is its most famous application.
Meanwhile SyndicateRoom, a platform which matches startups seeking investment with its high-net-worth members, has launched a new Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) fund.
The fund will invest in select best-performing companies in SyndicateRoom's portfolio, allowing high-net-worth investors access to Series A and B funding rounds usually reserved for institutions.