Houghton Street Ventures | July 2022 Newsletter
We’re switching up the format slightly with the latest edition of the Houghton Street Ventures newsletter. Alongside some updates on the fund and the ecosystem, we’re sharing insights into what makes an LSE alumni Unicorn founder.
What's happening at Houghton Street Ventures
First investments of the fund
We held the first close of the fund at the end of July! Very shortly, we hope to make our first investments into two exceptional LSE founders. We’re excited to share details with you all once they have closed. To see further information about our investment pipeline, please visit our fund dataroom here.
We invested in Raylo
We can finally announce our latest SPV investment in Raylo’s $7.8m pre-series B funding round following their $11.5m Series A in 2021. We invested alongside Octopus Ventures and strategic investors, Wayra (Telefónica). Founded by Richard Fulton, Raylo is the leader in refurbished electrical goods, and the fundraise will be used to accelerate the adoption of Raylo Pay, their new subscription payment service for retailers.
What makes an LSE Unicorn Founder?
Given the early stage that Houghton Street Ventures operates, we often don’t have access to extensive quantitative data on the companies we’re backing. We make assessments of the individuals, teams, and the viability of their long-term vision. Often this assessment is based on what that entrepreneur has achieved up to the point of founding their company and how this will enable them to execute their vision. Today, we have 24 active unicorns in the LSE ecosystem, and 29 founders of those companies attended the LSE. This month we’re investigating what they did prior to starting their business. See some of the insights below, but keep an eye out for a larger blog post coming over the next couple of weeks on Linkedin.
What did they study?
Almost 50% of the unicorn founders studied Economics whilst at the LSE. This figure is more than double the second and third most popular courses, Management and Accounting. Economics students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, account for only 10% of the entire student body. It looks like we should be getting more friendly with the Economics department…
What industries have they come from?
After looking at an individual’s education, often the next consideration is what prior work experience they have under their belt. The results are what you probably expect for a university such as LSE; historically, we have been a feeder school for careers in banking, consulting, and finance. This rings true in the data, 33% of unicorn founders went into banking following their graduation.
Is this their first rodeo?
Across the whole LSE entrepreneurial ecosystem, the average time between graduating and founding their first company is 7 years. For unicorn founders, that figure is slightly longer at 8.8 years. Are they spending more time with previous entrepreneurial ventures or developing their expertise in a specific sector? Of the 29 LSE unicorn founders, there is almost a 50/50 split between those who had prior entrepreneurial experience and those who had never started their own company. Perhaps more surprising is that an overwhelming majority of unicorn founders had no sector experience in the industry of their company prior to founding.
What's happening within LSE alumni-founded companies?
The Lowdown - founded by Alice Pelton - $2.5m Seed from Speedinvest
Bunch - founded by Levent Altunel - $7.5m Seed from Cherry Ventures
Built Ai - founded by Firoz Noordeen - $2.5m Seed from MMC & Puli Liyanagama
Finalis - founded by Federico Baradello - $10.7m Seed from Tribe Capital
Pulley - founded by Mark Erdmann - $40m Series B from Founders Fund
In the News
Giuseppe Balpiede, founder of Listopro, was on Nathan Lustig’s podcast talking about their recent acquisition and the LATAM LSE Mafia
Sifted named the LSE as a Top 10 Unicorn University in Europe, albeit with some questionable data, we are ranked 2nd in Europe for Unicorns created; see our response here
Antler released their DACH Unicorn report, the LSE once again ranking highly as the top Unicorn University outside of the region and top 3 overall
To conclude this month's edition, the team will be travelling over the next couple of months, we'd love to catch up if our paths cross:
San Francisco: 23 - 29th August
NYC: 12 - 15th September
Berlin: 13 - 15th September
Adam, Veronika, Hannah & David
The Houghton Street Ventures Team