2023 In Review: Adapting to a ‘New’ Investment Era

Adam French
Houghton Street Ventures
5 min readJan 10, 2024


“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

― George Bernard Shaw

Having started the Houghton Street Ventures blog with our first post looking back at the LSE entrepreneurial ecosystem data for 2021, I can’t help but feel we led with so many records being broken; it has been hard to match that given the very well-documented change in the venture capital landscape since then.


I wanted to start with something familiar — more records!

We have never tracked as many LSE alumni founders as we do today. We are monitoring 27,000 individuals who have graduated from the LSE and either previously ran or still run an entrepreneurial venture — that is more than 10% of the total alumni base (and up from under 25,000 this time last year). If you look at those still actively involved, we count over 17,000, up from less than 16,000 a year ago. Part of it is that we continue to find a handful of historic LSE founders (due to our efforts on the data side of things), but the vast majority is the inclusion of over 1,000 additional companies started by LSE alumni in 2023.

2023 has officially marked a return to the true meaning of the word ‘unicorn’. They are indeed a rare beast; so rare that CB Insights only counts 69 newly minted in 2023 (down from 511 in 2021). The good news is that LSE alumni founded two of them.

Synthesia raised their Series C, and have fast become the biggest AI video platform in the world and MNT-Halan became our first LSE African unicorn; they are fast becoming one of Egypt’s largest banks and lenders to the un- and underbanked.

As of today, with the data we currently have, there have never been more LSE-founded unicorns in the wild at one time — we currently count 26.

However, from a data point of view, the bad news lies not in the absolutes but in the relatives. Depending on whether you look at total dollars raised as equity in venture capital or the number of rounds undertaken, we are back to levels not seen since either 2019 or 2014, respectively.

Total equity capital raised by LSE entrepreneurs (in USD)

Number of investment rounds announced by LSE entrepreneurs

To provide a bit of a benchmark, this puts the LSE ecosystem (in terms of USD raised) at more than 3x that of the Spanish venture capital ecosystem, around half of the Swedish and around a third of the French, according to Dealroom ecosystem data. Not bad for an ecosystem with a “population” in line with that of Barbados.

So, if you had disappeared into a cave in 2014 (a year with a significant health crisis in Ebola) and looked at the number of LSE funding rounds or if you had done the same in 2019 (a year with global climate change concerns in the Australian wildfires) and looked at the USD raised by LSE alums you would have thought that not much has changed. So what has, if anything?

Obviously, we have seen a consistent increase in both the median and average round sizes over time. Rising from $800k and $5m, respectively, in 2014, leading to $2m and $8m in 2019 and $5m and $15m in 2023.

The same pattern emerges if we hone in on the seed data only, removing any bias from large rounds raised by businesses that have naturally grown and matured over time. In 2014, the average Seed round raised was $800k, which compares to nearly $4m in 2023.

We are able to bucket all companies into various industries or verticals to look at the changing makeup of the ecosystem over time. It’s not the easiest thing to do and has many issues (e.g. classification of company to vertical is ‘1 to N’, classifications are hard), but we do see a few themes.

Share of Money Raised by LSE entrepreneurs, grouped by Year and Industry

In 2023, Fintech businesses accounted for approximately 50% (vs. 30% in the UK) of all venture capital dollars raised by LSE entrepreneurs. This is up from approximately 25–30% on average across the previous 9 years. We will have to wait to see if this was purely an anomaly or if it marks a year where the leading LSE-founded fintech businesses like Lendable, Bitpanda, OakNorth and Scalable Capital have matured and are driving a new paradigm.

Share of Funding Rounds Announced by LSE entrepreneurs, grouped by Year and Industry

And if we look at the data in terms of number of rounds (to filter out the late-stage investment rounds which are dominating the dollar-raised value), we can see a pick up in businesses making waves in the health sector. Health is a huge sector globally and in desperate need for innovation to deliver better value and service to more people to ensure better outcomes, and this is a problem LSE entrepreneurs are very willing and equipped to tackle.

We are not one to make forecasts, but it very much feels as though the tide has started to turn in the venture capital market. However, even if it hasn’t, it is clear that innovators still want to build, and the world’s biggest problems still need solving by those who dare — a slowdown in funding will not put them off.

If you are building a business and have a connection with the London School of Economics and Political Science, we would love to speak to you and learn more about your vision for your company.

Learn more about us and submit your pitch at houghtonstreet.com, follow us on LinkedIn or read what others have to say about us at Landscape.vc.



Adam French
Houghton Street Ventures

Partner at Houghton Street Ventures. Backing LSE entrepreneurs.