Sustainable Accelerator 2019
Sustainable Accelerator offers a diversified portfolio of exciting SEIS & EIS sustainability startups.
- London, United Kingdom
Categories: Energy Mixed Digital/Non-Digital Mixed B2B/B2C
What is Sustainable Accelerator?
The Sustainable Accelerator Investment Fund, led by the Sustainable Ventures management team, supports the UK’s best SEIS & EIS sustainability startups.
Our goal is to empower the next generation of businesses redefining the way we consume energy, manage waste, clean air, and apply smart resource technology. Sustainable Ventures’ success over the last 8 years has exemplified how sustainability has moved from niche to mainstream, as resource economics fundamentally change how industries work.
By supporting our investee companies with a bespoke, long-term Accelerator programme, we reduce the failure rate and increase returns.
We are successful entrepreneurs with a track-record of developing and investing in high growth startups.
We leverage our industry networks, experience, and seed capital to accelerate startups from idea to exit.
We are specialist early-stage investors in the sector with a portfolio of over 15 investments. We have deep expertise in this sector having already created two portfolios of high-growth, early-stage companies.
By supporting our investee companies with a bespoke, long-term Accelerator programme, we reduce the failure rate and increase returns.
The Sustainable Accelerator Investment Fund 3 (SAIF3) will invest between £50k - £200k into around 5-8 high potential sustainability businesses. These businesses join Sustainable Accelerator’s high touch one year support programme of expert mentorship, network introductions, fundraising support, and growth services.
By investing in the Sustainable Accelerator Investment Fund, you will gain access to a portfolio of sustainability businesses benefitting from our fourfold strategy: (1) gain exposure only to start-ups receiving substantial 1-on-1 support from our experienced team, (2) diversify exposure across multiple start-ups, (3) leverage grant and tax advantages for the sustainability sector – making your investment go further and (4) capture value by investing at the pre-seed stage and capturing equity stakes just prior to growth inflection points.
Across our previous Fund 1 and Fund 2, the Sustainable Accelerator Investment Funds have invested in fourteen high growth sustainability businesses - all either SEIS or EIS tax relief eligible, with more than ~75% of the funds deployed qualifying for SEIS.
Since 2011, Sustainable Ventures has developed a successful portfolio of sustainability businesses, championing innovative solutions and attracting significant later stage funding.
We also have experience funding companies alongside the crowd, having achieved the UK’s first crowdfunded exit, when E-Car Club was bought by car rental giant Europcar within 4 years of inception.
All of the companies in Fund 1 have now raised follow-on funding. In particular, portfolio company Rovco secured £1.25m and tripled its valuation six months after our initial investment. A second portfolio company, Drygro recently has secured £1m investment from an institutional investor at >6x Sustainable Accelerator entry valuation from November 2017.
Sustainable Accelerator Fund 1 portfolio:
Sustainable Accelerator Fund 2 invested between £60k and £125k in seven high growth sustainability businesses - all either SEIS or EIS tax relief eligible, with ~65% of the funds deployed qualifying for SEIS within energy efficiency, environmental monitoring and marine surveying, renewables marketplace, and fashion sub-sectors.
Four of the Fund 2 investments were co-investments leveraging an additional investment of between £50k and £75k into these companies alongside Sustainable Accelerator’s investments of £100-125k.
Sustainable Accelerator Fund 2 portfolio:
In the last two years we have sourced over 300 potential investments, affirming both the quality and quantity of the UK’s growing market.
Please note, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
Our Sustainable Workspaces community
In 2015 we opened Sustainable Bridges, our first co-working and workshop space in London Bridge, to accommodate our own portfolio of companies and for other like-minded early stage companies.
In 2017 we launched our second space, Sustainable Bankside and in 2019 our third space Sustainable Bankside II, which has quickly developed into a vibrant community next to the Tate Modern. We now have over 50 start-ups in our eco-system who use Sustainable Workspaces as a hub to showcase products, host events and build networks within Europe’s largest sustainability cluster.
How does Sustainable Accelerator source start-ups?
Sustainable Accelerator leverages the established Sustainable Ventures network to help source startups. We have strong relationships with many of the industry’s best incubators, universities, research funding bodies and venture capitalists from years of working side by side.
Our first two funds have sourced and considered more than 300 sustainability companies across the UK. We host pitch days to short-list promising companies and then undertake detailed due diligence on the strongest opportunities.
We have made fourteen early-stage investments over two years making us one of the most active funds at this stage of investment in the UK, specifically tackling a prominent funding gap in pre-Series A venture investing.
This year’s fund will be able to leverage the established network and growing pipeline of companies already sourced by our previous scouting activities, as well as the growing number of start-ups within our Sustainable Workspace community.
How our Acceleration Programme strengthens startups
An accelerator is a hands-on model for funding early stage companies; by providing start-ups with a package of investment and support, good accelerators provide unanticipated advantages to their portfolio companies – giving them the best shot for success.
We pair an investment of £50k - £200k (from the funds raised via this campaign) with a one year accelerator programme, which makes us more invested and more embedded than the classic model, typically lasting three months with an investment of between £10-50k.
Our belief is that by spending a full year (1) embedding the experience of our management team into our start-ups, (2) providing services we know help founders succeed, and (3) sharing our readymade industry network, the companies we select will routinely outperform their peers. Our hypothesis has been proved by the performance of our Fund I companies. All of the seven portfolio companies have raised next round financing with some achieving significantly higher valuation multiples. Many of our Fund 2 companies are now preparing for their next rounds of funding and will also hope to achieve significant valuation uplifts.
The one year Sustainable Accelerator programme consists of:
• Routine 1-to-1s with experienced Programme Directors
• Dedicated business development and market research support
• Dedicated fundraising support / preparation
• Access to experienced industry mentors
• Panels and feedback from successful entrepreneurs
• Access to our readymade industry network
Our relationship with Sustainable Ventures allows portfolio companies to gain access to their suite of proprietary growth services during their year-in-residence, including:
• Bid Writing (leverage £125m+ /y in available grants)
• Bookkeeping (avoid common early stage mistakes)
• Tax Rebates (use government support)
Our relationship with Sustainable Workspaces, Europe’s largest sustainability cluster, to our knowledge, allows us to place companies there. Residence means far more than desk space – it means better networks, more learning experiences, and a greater chance of success.
• Priority access to desk and workshop and event space
• Work with like-minded sustainability start-ups creating peer to peer support including knowledge sharing and problem solving
• Attend tailored professional and social events across calendar year
What does Sustainable Accelerator look for?
We look for early stage, SEIS and EIS eligible, UK sustainability businesses to join our accelerator programme.
Though we are interested in a range of themes across sustainability, there are a few we are particularly focussed on – where we believe disruption is inevitable.
When evaluating opportunities, we predominantly reference the following criteria.
For our programme, we expect high quality teams, early traction, and a disruptive technology or business model. We want companies capable of gaining momentum from equity investment, and coachable founders willing to leverage our programme to the fullest.
Who am I investing alongside?
We are raising a minimum of £500k from investors looking for curated exposure to the broader sustainability space.
Should there be sufficient demand, Sustainable Accelerator would be prepared to overfund to help increase our anticipated portfolio size, and/or retain a proportion of the cash as a reserve dedicated for follow on funding.
Our management team is investing a minimum of £60k into the Sustainable Accelerator Investment Fund. These funds will be deployed into the cohort companies alongside other funds raised via Seedrs on exactly the same terms, aligning our interests with anyone who joins us via Seedrs.
Sustainable Accelerator uses a threefold strategy to maximise the potential of cohort companies.
(1) Substantially Support Companies
We offer investee companies more than just funding – we provide our experience, proprietary growth services, and ready made networks so our chosen early stage companies have the best chance of success, ensuring portfolio companies have the runway, tools, and mentorship to succeed. This also means our investors are only exposed to companies receiving significant support, from an experienced team, when navigating early stage growth.
(2) De-risk and Diversify investment
The accelerator fund model diversifies capital, giving investors exposure across a spread of companies within the sustainability sector. We believe in investing early and broadly – a tactic responsible for unearthing internationally successful technology companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Magic Pony Technologies.
(3) Leverage Investment with Grant & Tax Advantages
Tax advantages and sustainability specific grant initiatives allow us to offer investors some downside protection, and make your investment go further.
Significant SEIS/EIS tax advantages exist to support investment into early stage companies; all cohort companies will require HMRC advanced assurance for either SEIS or EIS relief. However, any tax relief is dependent on individual circumstances and is subject to change in the future.
The sector qualifies early stage start-ups for more than £125m annually in (non-dilutive) public funding to support rapid growth – we help start-ups secure grant funding, increasing their runway without decreasing your equity holding.
(4) Capture Value
Investing early allows pre-seed investors to capture equity stakes just prior to growth inflection points. Accelerator investments can see rapid and outsized appreciation against venture capital and private equity comparables.
*Please note that any tax relief is dependent on personal circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.
Andrew Wordsworth, Managing Partner:
Andrew co-founded Sustainable Ventures in 2011, holds over 15 years in new venture development, and has been directly involved in securing over £250m in equity commitments into portfolio ventures.
Prior to Sustainable Ventures, Andrew held roles at Esso, Bain & Co and as Managing Director of Carbon Trust Enterprises Limited – where he invested alongside the likes of HSBC and SSE. Andrew holds a first class MEng in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, where he was awarded the University Fox Prize.
Peter Shortt, Chief Investment Officer:
Peter is an experienced Venture Capital fund manager with a focus on environmental businesses, having spent 30 years in VC covering seed investments to IPOs.
Prior to Sustainable Ventures, he led the Corporate Finance team at the Ministry of Defence responsible for selling a number of owned businesses – including the Defence Support Group, sold to Babcock PLC for £140m. Prior, he was an Executive Director at Shareholder Executive, where he co-invested UK Government capital alongside private funds.
Peter was also Chief Investment Officer of Carbon Trust Investment Partners, where he oversaw the successful IPOs of Ceres Power and CMR.
Susannah McClintock, Investment Director:
Susannah holds more than 20 years’ experience in start-up development and finance.
Prior to Sustainable Ventures, Susannah held cleantech finance and operations roles at Tamar Energy, where she worked on anaerobic digestion projects, and Carbon Trust Enterprises, where she successfully fundraised a low carbon property fund with a current investment value of £175m.
Susannah has also worked as a venture capitalist for Impax Asset Management, an £11b private equity fund dedicated to changing resource economics, and as an International Manager at HSBC Bank Plc. Susannah holds a first class BA(Hons) in Economics with European Study from the University of Exeter and Universidad de Valladolid.
Chris Morris, Venture Development Director:
Chris is a co-founder and Venture Development Director of Sustainable Ventures, and was co-founder and Managing Director of E-Car Club – which exited to car rental giant Europcar in 2015.
In 2012 Chris co-founded E-Car Club Ltd and quickly cemented it as a significant player in the sustainable transport space, raising over £1.5m in investment and grants whilst forging national partnerships with household names including British Gas, Nissan and Renault. In July 2015 the business was acquired by Europcar, delivering the world’s first crowdfunding exit.
He holds an MBA from the London Business School and is the 2016 Business Green Entrepreneur of the Year.
Irene Maffini, Portfolio Director:
Irene has 9 years of experience in early-stage cleantech venture commercialisation and investment. Prior to Sustainable Ventures, Irene held roles at the Carbon Trust, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Commission and various sustainability start-ups. Irene holds a first class MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College (UK), and a double degree in Business & Economics from Northeastern University (US) and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Italy) with top grades.
What are the fees?
100% of the invested funds will be eligible for EIS or SEIS tax relief (dependent on the personal circumstances of the investors and is subject to change), as no management fees are charged to investors at the point of investment.
Up front fees are only charged to the investee companies. Each investee company will be charged a fee upon investment:
• 6% of total funds raised
• 0.5% payment processing fee
• £2,000 completion fee
This fee will be shared between Sustainable Accelerator and Seedrs. These fees are equivalent to Seedrs’ standard crowdfunding financing fees.
To deliver the year long acceleration programme, Sustainable Accelerator charges investee companies £2k per month.
Sustainable Accelerator is also motivated by a carry fee on any profits made by an investor on a per investment basis. Sustainable Accelerator will charge a carry fee equal to 12.5% of profits investors make on each investment into an investee company. Seedrs will also charge its standard 7.5% carry fee.
Investor capital will be held in escrow by Seedrs until SEIS or EIS eligible start-ups are identified by Sustainable Accelerator and accepted into the programme.
Once a company has been selected for the Sustainable Accelerator programme, Seedrs as nominee, will perform legal due diligence and then invest your funds directly into the chosen business in exchange for equity. Seedrs holds these shares as your nominee (in the same way it does for start-ups that raise money on its platform).
The valuation that investments are made at will be the same for all investors in the Sustainable Accelerator Investment Fund, including the management team who will be responsible for negotiating the valuation terms.
We are proud of our ever-growing investor group. We have over 750 investors across our two previous Sustainable Accelerator funds. Our investors bring huge benefits to our portfolio companies from feedback and ideas through to mentorship and customer introductions.
Below is our proven framework for engaging with start-ups from an investor point of view, and how you will be able to get involved Sustainable Accelerator 3 events, investment strategy and portfolio companies.
We keep all our investors up to date with news and performance of Sustainable Accelerator companies through:
- Quarterly portfolio updates
- Interim updates on headline news from the portfolio
- Invitation to our annual investor event
For larger investors we offer a tiered range of additional benefits including:
- Invitations to private investor events and networking opportunities
- Opportunities to participate in our pitch panels
- Priority preview/first refusal on next round funding opportunities (EIS)
- Mentorship opportunities
- Quarterly reviews with our investment team and cohort
- Membership of our Sustainable Workspaces – access to hot desks, meeting rooms, event space
Note: investor benefits will vary depending on size of investment. Please contact us to discuss specific investor benefits.