Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Spencer Crawley was recorded in November 2018.
Spencer Crawley is Co-Founder of Firstminute Capital, based in London and focused on European startups.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us about your firm and yourself.
Spencer Crawley: We’re a new seed fund. Obviously, that’s what the world needs – more seed funds. We’re based in London. We launched the fund in the summer of 2017. We’re a $100 million fund. We’re backed, predominantly, by tech entrepreneurs. We have about 50 founders of technology businesses invested in the fund. We’re proud and energized that 30 of them are unicorn founders. We also have a couple of institutional investors such as Tencent from China and some other mixture of tech savvy CEO’s and family offices. The DNA of our investor base is a slightly unusual one.
Sramana Mitra: That’s great. Tell me a little bit about how this came together. How did you get to these 30 unicorn founders? Are they European unicorns? What’s the genesis of the firm?
Spencer Crawley: We went to them with a mandate that we wanted to turbocharge seed investing across Europe and also allocate a third of our fund to US companies when investing alongside friends and funds that we know well on the East Coast and West coast. It helps having a much more successful and legitimate co-founder in Brent Hoberman.
Brent is a well-known figure in Europe who started Lastminute.com back in 1998. He IPO’d that two years later at the height of the dot-com boom. Then, he sold that business in 2005 for just over a billion dollars. That was one of Europe’s early successes in the digital space. His co-founder for Lastminute.com was an amazing woman called Martha Lane Fox who’s now on the Board of Twitter.
After that, he went on to co-found a cluster of other businesses, one of which is Made.com, which has been a big e-commerce success here in Europe. Founders Forum was an event for entrepreneurs that he started in 2005 to 2006 and which has been going on since then. It has started to build out a cluster of other companies, all under a founder’s umbrella including a consultancy or recruitment firm, Europe’s largest incubator, as well as starting a seed fund.
When we went to market in 2016, there was a two decade plus context of Brent having been a leading figure in the tech ecosystem here in Europe. That was the the call to arms for these tech founders. It’s to say that we would love to create a fund that can help the founders that we back have a competitive advantage – an unfair competitive advantage.
Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. I just looked at Brent on LinkedIn. He and I have 331 mutual connections.
Spencer Crawley: I’m surprised you haven’t met before. When you come to London, you must meet.