Why we’ve secured $115m to invest in the world’s most ambitious individuals

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THE NEXT CHAPTER OF OUR DEVELOPMENT

 

Today at Entrepreneur First we announced the $115 million first close of our new global fund. In some ways, raising a fund like this is significant in itself: it is one of the largest pre-seed funds ever raised, the investors include top institutional investors across the US, Europe and Asia; and it underlines our global reach and ambitions.

Leading entrepreneurs have also joined us as investors: Taavet Hinrikus, founder of TransferWise, Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla, and EF alumnus Rob Bishop, who on on EF LD3 co-founded Magic Pony Technology, which Twitter bought for $150m in 2016.

But to us, what feels far more significant, is what that money will allow us to do.

EF exists to enable the world’s most ambitious people to become founders, no matter where they are, and this fund allows us to realise that mission.

 

 

INVESTING IN TALENT - PRE-TEAM, PRE-IDEA

 

At EF we aren’t an accelerator or an incubator, or even a company builder. We are a Talent Investor; put simply, we invest time and money in extraordinary people. We are interested in you before you have a team or an idea. We invest in Outliers, purely on the basis of talent, ambition and skill.

And this fund will allow us to do that at previously unheard of scale. We will invest in more than 2,200 individuals over the next three years. To put that into context, in the eight years since EF was founded, we have had roughly 1,200 people go through the programme.

More than that, after the blitzscaling the company went through in 2018, opening four new offices in 12 months, the global nature of this fund is a natural next step. It allows us to offer ambitious individuals the chance to become entrepreneurs — wherever in the world they are. Our offices in London & Singapore, Berlin & Hong Kong, Paris & Bangalore will all benefit from this.

Teams from Singapore and Hong Kong pitching at our recent Asia Investor Day
Teams from Singapore and Hong Kong pitching at our recent Asia Investor Day

It will enable us to fund more people like Rohit, who came from Jamshedpur to Singapore, and later quit his job at RBS to join our first Singapore cohort. He is now CEO of Transcelestial Technologies, rolling out super-fast 5G in Seoul.

Or Joanne, a biologist from Beirut who left Lebanon for the first time to take up a full scholarship for her Masters at ENS in Paris. She just left her PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology to join our first Paris cohort.

And there are many, many, other stories of Outliers from around the world for whom EF has provided a platform; this fund will serve to further that hugely.

BUILDING GLOBALLY IMPORTANT COMPANIES

 

While individuals are EF’s input, companies are our output. Specifically deep tech companies that have enormous, global-scale ambitions. The money from the new fund will be used to invest in the best companies coming out of all of our programmes globally. We expect that to result in 300+ venture backed companies over the next three years. This is three times the number of VC-backed companies that EF has created to date.

This is clearly a huge step-change, but it is just one part of an overarching global strategy to ensure that we are building and helping fund globally important companies.

As part of this General Partner Joe White will be relocating to Silicon Valley, to focus on growing EF’s investor network on the West Coast.

EF has great support from Silicon Valley – with our investors Reid Hoffman, Greylock and Founders Fund, and anchor LP Trusted Insights – and this move will allow us to build on that for ourselves and our portfolio companies.

While we are betting on the global distribution of talent, the capital concentration and scaling firepower remain on the West Coast and likely will do for years to come. For many of our best companies the route to global scale and success will lead them to Silicon Valley at some point. By being there, Joe can actively support their ambition to raise from the world’s best funds and compete at the highest level.

CONTINUING AT PACE

 

Raising this fund took much work, travel and effort from Matt, Joe, Alice and the entire EF team. But beyond that it represents the cumulative work of the entire EF community – above all, our alumni. It’s the fact that 1,200 extraordinary founders took a bet on us over the last seven years that’s given us the stories and the track record that enabled us to reach this new milestone.

When we announced Reid Hoffman and Greylock’s investment in EF in 2017, we said it was because ultimately we want EF to be accessible to all the world’s most ambitious people. This global fund takes us a big step further on that journey.

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