Ada Ventures thesis
Ada Ventures launches to invest in overlooked founders and markets.
At Ada, we believe that talent is evenly distributed but, at present, opportunity is not. We also believe that the venture capital industry, at large, is missing a huge opportunity, because it isn’t investing in so many groups of talented people.
The cult of the ‘warm introduction’ is a huge problem. Founders that are introduced to investors by friends, school friends and colleagues are thirteen times more likely to receive investment, compared to an entrepreneur who doesn’t move in rarefied circles.
The statistics bear this out. In 2017, in the UK, only 1% of investment went to all-female teams, whereas 89p of every £1 invested went to all-male teams (BBB, Diversity VC, BVCA, 2017). 72% of venture capital funding was invested in London companies (London & Partners, 2018). Ethnic minorities are hugely underrepresented both in the investor and founder community, relative to the UK population (Diversity VC 2019). Plus, the angel investor community is 91% male, and 93% white (BBB, UKBAA, 2018).
This is not the way to find groundbreaking ideas. Great ideas come from places where nobody else is looking and people who are overlooked. These people are the ones who bring new thinking — they are the people who bring pencils when everyone else is using a pen. They have the ability to not be constrained by established ways of operating.
Ada Ventures is named after Ada Lovelace, an exceptional person who challenged the status quo with her bold and creative ideas. Born in England in 1815, she was just 12 when she wrote ‘Flyology’, which described how humans could fly, complete with mathematically and gravitationally accurate diagrams. She was in her late twenties when she worked on Charles Babbage’s notes for the Analytical Engine which predicted the future of computing. Yet it wasn’t until over 100 years later that Ada Lovelace was recognised for the major contributions her ideas made to computer science. Even today, she is a little known figure.
Ada Ventures is a fund designed to find and fund the Ada’s of today.
And it’s not just the founders that are overlooked, the markets they commonly serve are overlooked too. And these markets are huge. Women’s health is a prime example and has only been recognised as its own category in recent years. The over 65s is the fastest growing segment of the global population. Yet capital has not been invested in these markets to the extent that reflects the size of those opportunities. We will continue working on this sector, and we will work with founders who are boldly exploring others.
Ada Ventures invests in bold ideas from overlooked founders and markets.
Ada Ventures has been designed around three principles we call Open Venture.
Founders come from anywhere. We will invest in anyone, no matter where they come from or who they are.
We’ve designed a deal sourcing system which actively seeks out founders from underrepresented groups, such as women, LGBTQ+ founders, BAME founders, founders outside of London and more, but we will invest in anyone.
The sourcing system currently enables over 40 diverse communities to access a venture capital fund and rewards the leaders of those communities with both a cash finders fee and a performance-linked payment. We’ve made two investments which have come through this network and we’re excited about doing more.
Investment decisions should be objective, transparent and fair.
Unlike many VCs, we have published our investment criteria and process and we use software to assess founders on objective criteria, rather than using shortcuts like where they worked or where they went to school.
You don’t need a ‘warm introduction’ to reach us and we are working to ensure we are as accessible as possible.
Venture Capital should be invested responsibly and for the good of society, without compromising on returns.
We will only invest in the boldest ideas with global ambition, and only in people who are looking to have a positive impact on the world around them. We believe this will drive best in class returns.
We’ll invest anything pre-series A. However, we like to invest in companies earlier than others. We believe there’s a gap in the market for investors who are prepared to lead rounds and write cheques post-product, pre-traction. For Ada Ventures Fund I we will focus on companies which have a UK presence.
Future of living
Food, agriculture, cities, mobility, property, finances. All of these fundamental parts of society are impacted by demographic shifts, the change in consumer mindsets. For example: Polipop — The world’s first patent-pending flushable & biodegradable sanitary pad. We invested in Polipop by leading their round in 2019.
We will spend 10x more on our bodies and health over the next 10 years. Segments like women’s health and preventative health for ageing populations are especially interesting to us. For example: Juno Bio — Juno bio is working to close the gender health gap. Juno is using cutting edge sequencing technology to decode the vaginal microbiome and discover the right solutions for every woman. We invested in Juno by leading their pre-seed round in 2019.
The way that people buy products has changed and will continue to change. Companies with strong communities will drive value creation. For example: Motley — Motley works with the world’s leading fine jewellery designers to create unique collections, at affordable prices, exclusive to Motley. We invested in Motley by leading their pre-seed round in 2018.
Matt and Check have been investing together for nearly five years. We are a true partnership of equals with complementary skills. Matt’s been a VC for 15 years, Check’s background before VC was in consumer marketing. We are 10 years apart in age and different in many ways but we share the same fundamental values. We have invested in over 40 companies together including Trouva, Papier, Craft, Open Bionics.
We’re determined that Ada Ventures is not just a fund on its own, but a ramp for future angels, future VCs and people thinking of starting their own funds too. We’re going to be hiring several people in the fund, both full and part time and each year we plan to take interns from the Diversity VC Future VC programme. Keep an eye on our website for more details.
We are supported by a diverse and world-class steering group who support on day-to-day operations of the fund, and an expert operating network who provide specific input to our portfolio companies. The steering group includes West Coast pre-seed investor, Charles Hudson, Founding Partner of Precursor Ventures, Partner at top European VC fund, Northzone, Marta Sjögren, Partner at top New York tech law firm Lowenstein Sandler and serial Angel Investor, Ed Zimmerman, Limited Partner Michelle Ashworth and Facebook principal scientist and angel investor Ahmed Medhat.
Venture Capital has funded most of the most valuable and globally impactful companies in the world today. It can be a force for major positive societal change, but only if it’s accessible to everyone and only if it’s directed at the founders and companies solving society’s biggest challenges. We’re proud that Ada Ventures is contributing to a more inclusive future for the Venture Capital industry and we’re excited about investing in the boldest ideas from the most ambitious founders, whoever they are.
If you’d like to find out more about us or get in touch, please visit www.adaventures.com.