Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars hits $1 Billion valuation mark.
2014 was a pivotal year in my life. After seven years of hard graft and good timing we sold our business to a NASDAQ listed financial services company. Finally, after years of uncertainty, financial independence. It felt good. My next career move was going to be on my terms!
I really enjoyed being an entrepreneur, but I decided what I wanted to spend the next part of my career on was helping entrepreneurs, rather than being one myself. A chance meeting in 2014 with Jed Christiansen, then at Techstars in London, resulted in a meeting with Greg Rogers and before I knew it I was in my final interviews in Boulder with David Brown and David Cohen. A few weeks later I was officially a Managing Director at Techstars in charge of running the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars, London. It has been, without a doubt, the most fun and rewarding time I’ve had in my career.
Fast forward five years and we have arguable built the leading #FinTech accelerator in Europe, possibly the world. That’s a pretty bold statement, I know. But last week when we ran the numbers, we hit a key milestone that makes me feel even more bullish.
We passed the “1 billion dollars” in company valuation point! (As an Austin Powers fan, I am even more excited by this achievement).
This is, for sure, a team effort. What started in London with Greg and then me, grew. Legendary Techstars MD’s Jenny Fielding and Jon Zanoff led similar programmes in NYC, Yossi Hasson launched us in Cape Town and Liron Rose and Hilla Ovil-Brenner grew our footprint in Tel Aviv. In total, we’ve now backed 150 amazing FinTech companies. For sure they are still in their infancy, but this makes it even more exciting. There is far more growth to come!
When I look back I am firstly proud of the founders we have backed. We were the first investors in firms such as Chainalysis, Everledger, Aire, ClauseMatch, Ravelin, Post Quantum, Seldon, Cuvva, Shieldpay, Simudyne, Bokio, Flux, Nimbla, Crowdz, and INBOTiQA. The 50 firms that went through our London programme alone are now worth over $500 million as of April 2019, employing nearly one thousand people in highly skilled jobs.
I’m also proud (and grateful) for our mentors. Both Techstars and Barclays knows that mentors are our secret weapon. They are not paid advisors. They are a unique group of people who are not only talented and connected, but ascribe to the values we cherish such as #FounderFirst and #GiveFirst. Post programme, some of our mentors have become advisory board members, some became employees of the companies they mentored and many (around 40%) went on to be a seed investor in a portfolio company! I’ve written about the values of these angels as part of my #AngelManifesto during the past year as part of my role as UK Business Angel Association Angel Investor of the Year. The upshot is they are awesome.
So what’s next? Well, $1 Billion is a great start, but we have a long way to go. With Barclays leaders in place like John Stecher and Mariquit Corcoran and Techstars leaders like Kartik Varma, Hilla, and Jon, we are in a great place to continue to thrive. For me? Well, after making 50 FinTech investments with Techstars and a further 50 as an angel I’ve decided to do two things. First, I’ve accepted a (part-time) role as Venture Partner at Techstars. I will be mentoring Techstars MD’s, helping them to select the best FinTech companies globally. The really big news, however, is that together with my former business partner, Tariq Khan, we will be launching Outrun Ventures this summer. We will be focussing on Series Seed and A stage Fintech companies in the UK and Europe. We’ve built up a formidable network of mentors, financial institutions, founders, and other investors and as former founders ourselves, we like getting our hands dirty. It’s going to be fun!