How many VC funds can you name where three partners all had children while raising the fund, have deep connections in Asia as well as Europe and the US, and include actress Anne Hathaway as one are you LP? I don’t have much to risk.
But that’s the profile of Pact, a new Seed VC fund launched with a £30 million ($36 million) pot of cash to back early-stage startups across Europe. Pact targets ‘mission-driven’ startups in so-called “ABC” categories: Access (economic inclusion), Healing (personal and professional well-being), and Climate. (That’s a much more interesting way of addressing ‘doing well’ areas, instead of trotting out the UN SDGs, IMHO). Pact investment tickets range from around £1m to 1.5m.
As well as Anne Hathaway (she is not only an Oscar Award Winning Actor, but also a UN Woman Goodwill Ambassador), other LPs include Jeff Dean, the Head of AI at Google, and Keith Teare, a founder ( and former) shareholder. of TechCrunch and a former tech entrepreneur in the UK and US.
They were joined by Anchor investor Campden Hill Capital; Yeming Wang, the former head of EMEA at Alibaba; Fahd Beg, the COO of Naspers; Todd Ruppert, the retired CEO of T. Rowe Price Global and venture partner of Greenspring Associates, and Tilo Bonow, CEO of PIABO.
The three female partners – Tong Gu, Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham, and Monik Pham – are former VCs at other funds. Gu was an investor in ADV (of which Teare was once a part) and founded a data analytics startup in Shanghai that he left. Wyndham is also an investor for ADV and a former founder. Pham is part of the founding team of early-stage fund Fuel Ventures and has launched several social enterprises in Africa and India.
Talking to Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham, she told me that they raised the fund for more than a year (during their pregnancy and first children) but the idea “was in the works” for about five or six years: “We both joined ADV in the same week. And we met with Monik at the same time. What we observed during the first phase of the UK scene was that some key things were missing. There were very few fund managers in early stage with both operational experience and deep overseas operational experience in emerging markets. And that’s something that the three of us, in a very complimentary way, bring to the table.”
“We believe that capitalism should and can be inclusive while still producing great results,” he added. “And we really want to support early-stage companies that are positively shaping the future. We’ve all built our careers on Northstar as a guide for us. It’s a value we’ve always supported, but now it’s only at this point that the market is really coming to it. There should be no trade-off between sustainable social, sustainable environmental and sustainable commercial results. You have to think about both. And that’s a value that the three of us share,” said he.
Tong Gu told me: “I grew up in China, and I witnessed how entrepreneurship and technology enabled a large population of people who were once below the poverty line to become richer and improve their lives. I started a tech companies that allow independent small brand owners to compete with the big ones. And for me, that’s the experience of really driving economic inclusion, but in a technology-driven way.
Wyndham admitted it was “not a huge fund”. However, he said that the £30 million should get them enough companies to get the “healthy diversification” needed for the return of the fund: “We can do 18 to 20 companies, leading or co-leading . We think a lot about how we curate our LP base. So the LPSs that come in are strategic and they provide domain expertise, and market access, but they also provide capital sustainability. The majority looking for access in the course of the deal. So in that sense, it actually increases our firepower beyond 30 million.”
On having a Hollywood moviestar on their LPs, Wyndham added: “He’s actually been my friend and mentor for about 12 years and since then we’ve been friends and shared values. One of her main causes is childcare, and the lack of it, as the final frontier for gender equality. And that’s something we’ve experienced firsthand as three female GPs who all gave birth to our first children while raising this fund. We need to figure out how to overcome structural headwinds to do both. That’s one of the lessons that we hope to share with the ecosystem, and that’s the class that Anne is in.
Pact’s first investment was made in Growth Kitchen, a London-based company that launches sustainable food brands based on data insights.
Previous investments for Pact team members include Clause’s acquisition of DocuSign. Onto, an electric vehicle subscription service; Perlego, an online learning platform; and Yoco, an African FinTech company.