Ada Angels are still looking for promising start-ups — Apply well before 29th March

Xun Ning Choong
Ada Ventures
Published in
10 min readFeb 11, 2024

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Ada Angels are on the lookout for founders with early-stage start-ups in climate equity, economic empowerment or healthy ageing. Look up our Angel profiles via the directory and get in contact well before 29 March.

Team Ada with Angel programme founders at a Kitchen Sync hosted by the Google for Startups Team

In March 2023, Ada Ventures backed its second cohort of 20 angel investors with up to £50,000 each as part of the Ada Angel programme.

The programme was launched in 2020 to diversify the UK’s angel investing community and it has struck a chord, generating lots of positive feedback including coverage in Sifted and Tech.eu.

The Ada Angel programme ensures:

Ada Angels get to develop track records and hone skills by managing their own deal flows and portfolio.

Promising startups building breakthrough ideas get funding from Ada Ventures and support from the Ada Angels.

Ada Ventures gets access to interesting deals early in the journey.

For our second cohort, we want to build on our learnings and continue to provide training and capital to those who might otherwise not be able to angel invest due to economic, social and other barriers. It is also part of our strategy to build a network of experienced, scale-up operators who can act as advisors and mentors to Ada Ventures and founders in our portfolio.

And, like everything we do, the Ada Angel programme is designed to generate exceptional returns for our investors. We believe the best way to do this is by investing in underrepresented founders. Our Ada Angel (and Ada Scout) programmes help us find and support these underrepresented founders.

10 months into our second cohort of Ada Angels, we’re thrilled to share some of the experiences of the Angels and their portfolio below

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Angel Edwina Johnson

Experienced operator angel, mentor and voice for change in fintech.

Currently General Manager for MoneyGram Online International.

Has backed start-ups Noggin HQ and Amplifi as part of the Ada Angel programme.

You can contact Edwina via their LinkedIn.

(Left) Laura and Evangeline from Noggin | (Right) Minesh from Amplifi

What are you looking for?

I’m looking to invest under the fund theme of economic empowerment and am particularly drawn to start-ups working within the regulatory and compliance space: regulation always creates opportunity. The ultimate goal is consumer protection and empowerment.

How do you like to be approached?

I try to keep my network open to folks who are new to the start-up world as well as finding founders from my existing network.

If founders are approaching me cold, I like to know what they are building and why; what their mission is; what they are starting with; why they care about the problem. Founder mission, values and passion can get people a long way.

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Minesh Patel is the founder of Amplifi, a start-up that uses AI and machine learning to enable firms to communicate legal and regulated information better to customers.

How did you find Edwina?

Many investors have not been interested in Amplifi because we’re not your usual start-up and we don’t fit the general VC thesis.

But when I saw an Ada Ventures post on LinkedIn and came across Edwina’s profile in the directory, I immediately thought: “I’ve found the person I would like to work with.”

How are you using the new equity money?

The £10k was part of a much bigger round to help commercialise the platform.

Edwina has helped shape my thinking around what we need to scale. Her experience lends itself perfectly to creating new opportunities in an emerging market space.

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Evangeline Atkinson is the co-founder & CEO of Noggin HQ, a ​start-up with one mission — to put agency back into Credit Referencing. ​​ ​

​​How are you using the new equity money going into the business? ​​​

​​​​​​​​We’re accelerating our launch via the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox, expanding the team and advancing our regulatory position. 2024, the year of the credit score!​​ ​​

​​Edwina has opened ​countless​​ ​doors already, from introducing lenders for user research to championing Noggin within investor groups.

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Angel David Newman

Manchester-based investor with 8+ experience in fintech.

CEO at Firenze, an embedded finance solution for wealth managers and Chairman at Impact Agora, an impact investing platform.

Has backed start-ups like Financielle, Thelittleloop, Hace and Agile Life Sciences.

Team Agile Life Sciences

What are you looking for?

Whilst I have invested in some diverse areas such as circular economy, women’s health & vegan cheese, my real passion areas are (1) financial services, particularly around how finance can be used as a force for good, and (2) education and edtech that helps people unlock potential. I am keen to support founders in the north west and women.

David invested in Agile Life Sciences (ALS), a team of scientists and regulatory experts who help clients develop medical diagnostic technologies. Warrington-based ALS is using the new equity money to develop a perimenopausal test. This will use patented technology (next-generation sequencing) to identify bacteria present in the vaginal microbiome. Dr Jan Rogers is a co-founder of ALS.

What are your plans for 2024?

Plans for 2024 are to build the supply chain and confirm regulatory approvals. Mid 2024, we will launch the perimenopause diagnostic test via workplace advisors and direct-to-consumer partners with an existing market presence.

We also plan to complete the longitudinal study with women starting HRT to allow us to better understand the impacts of HRT on vaginal microbiome and their symptoms. AI and machine learning will allow us to predict the dose and type of HRT and allow for repeat revenue generation.

David has been super helpful in introducing us to new, very positive, potential investors. I have also used him as a ‘sounding block’ for business advice.

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Angel Bruce Walker

Co-founder of learning and community platform FutureX

Based in Scotland

Has invested in NeuroBright and Earlybird as part of Ada Angels.

You can contact Bruce here.

Claudine Adeyemi-Adams from Earlybird

Which start-ups pique your interest?

I get particularly excited about health-tech start-ups, especially if they have a focus on neurology and brain function. I’m also excited about climate-related solutions and economic empowerment, especially when it improves and expands social mobility.

How do you like to be approached?

I like being reached by email or through the Typeform contact form. LinkedIn is my least favourite way to be approached because it’s really hard to keep track of messages coming through.

In an ideal world, an initial email would be very short, with the first line explaining the mission, why them and their USP, how much they are raising, how much of the round is complete as well as a link to their pitch deck, timeline of when they want to close and a link to book a meeting.

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Award-winning former lawyer Claudine Adeyemi-Adams is CEO and founder of Earlybird, a voice-based user intelligence onboarding tool for employability providers.

How did you meet Bruce and Ada Ventures?

I met Ada Ventures co-founding partner Matt Penneycard years ago at a female founder office hour session when I was running my first start-up. He struck me as someone that genuinely cared about levelling the playing field for underestimated founders so I developed an interest in what he went on to build with Ada. But it was one of our investors and fellow Ada Angel, Richard Ng, who introduced us to Bruce.

Bruce and I hit it off from the very beginning. We quickly established a good rapport and shared values, particularly when it came to people, culture and leadership. I’m excited to learn from Bruce and continue the discussions as we scale the business and team.

How are you using the new equity money going into the business?

The new equity money will allow us to double down on product development, expanding our engineering team to iterate quickly to deliver value and solve problems for our customers.

We’ll be using the money to get Earlybird into more customers’ hands so that more organisations can access the intelligence that they need to deliver high-quality support to their workers and job seekers.

I’d also separately add that the process of raising through Bruce and the Ada programme has been brilliant. Bruce asked us great questions. He met with both of us co-founders to get to know us. He was transparent about the process, made his decision quickly and was attentive and responsive throughout. It’s a really great example of a smooth fundraising experience for which we are very grateful as busy founders!

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Angel Amina Ahmad

Non-Executive Director, Social Investment Business

Investments so far include Cogs AI, a mental wellbeing app created for and by the neurodivergent community, and Kinhub, a support platform for employees.

Zareen and Felix from Cogs AI

What type of start-ups are you looking for?

I write cheques to underfunded yet visionary founders.

Climate, healthcare and gender-lens investing are my three principles when seeking investments.

I look for women-led and gender-diverse teams who have a realistic plan of what the angel cheque can do for them. I need them to have a clear ask in terms of my network, connections, and experience.

Zareen Ali is CEO and co-founder of Cogs AI, the first mental wellbeing community built for neurodiversity. Their first product is a mobile app that helps users deal with stress and anxiety.

How did you find out about Amina and the Ada programme?

We had a previous relationship with Amina as we had all taken part in Year Here, a training programme for social entrepreneurs. Amina has known Cogs AI since we were just an idea on the back of a napkin. It means a lot to us that she has invested in us, as she has been there right from the beginning of our journey.

How are you using the new equity money going into the business?

The investment from Ada Ventures is being used to cover core business costs and increase our runway as we start fundraising this year. Amina has been an invaluable source of knowledge and support around fundraising. She is helping us shape our fundraising strategy, doing due diligence on potential funds to approach and introducing us to the right people in VC.

Plans for 2024?

We currently have two public sector contracts, including a large one with the NHS. Our focus for 2024 is on expanding our reach within the NHS, offering our product to more trusts and a wider range of patient groups. We will be growing the product, taking advantage of the comprehensive neurodiversity-specific dataset we’ve generated to build personalised experiences that go beyond diagnostic criteria.

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Angel Michael Tefula

Ada Ventures’ Investor in Residence

Formerly CFO at the impact-investing platform Circa5000, also part of the Ada portfolio

Has invested in start-ups like Sync Savings, Teal, At Last and Spruce.

Joss from Sync Savings

What types of start-ups are you looking for?

I especially like areas that aren’t immediately obvious. For example, in the UK, there’s £250bn of people’s savings that sit in bank accounts that pay no interest. But if small and medium sized banks could have the technology to quickly spin up and launch competitive cash savings products, millions of consumers would be better off. And that’s exactly why I invested in Sync Savings. They are rebuilding the banking infrastructure for savings products, and will ultimately help connect people to better and more competitive savings accounts.

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Ex-Monzo executive, Joss Tasker, is CEO at Sync Savings. Sync Savings helps connect banks and building societies with mass market savers using their own embedded savings and banking infrastructure.

How are you using the new equity money going into the business?

The money from our fundraise is predominately spent on salaries for our small team of five focussed on designing, building and selling embedded cash savings infrastructure.

How has your Angel been helpful (apart from the money)

We really value and appreciate Michael’s advice and input being someone with deep experience as an investor as well as a very successful operator.

We were grateful for Michael’s early-doors advice and coaching on our financial model and approach to fundraising.

Michael kindly interviewed a potential CFO for us and provided clear and thoughtful feedback. The free Sifted Summit ticket he provided allowed us to meet potential clients, cash savings distribution partners and investors.

Plans for 2024?

Having closed our pre seed round and started our build in August 2023, 2024 will be a big year for Sync. Alongside banking and retail distribution partners, we’re planning to bring the first embedded cash savings products to the mass market.

We look forward to creating new partnerships between deposit takers and non-financial businesses interested in offering cash savings to their customers. On our product roadmap we are also looking to expand our capabilities to allow our partners to provide great cash savings products to underserved segments including SMEs, Charities, Trusts, Children and those using Power of Attorney.

We’ll also be raising a seed round to support our growth and will no doubt benefit from Michael’s guidance on our approach, key metrics, positioning and strategy.

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