It is clear that there is a large and growing appetite among consumers to switch to products and services that address some of the biggest issues of our era, be it climate change or problems with society. So we’ve seen the rise of apps that make ethical investments, or look at ways to reduce our carbon footprint, or shop more ethically. So it follows that VCs must come up with funds to invest in these consumer spaces.
This has been the focus of the UK-based Eka Ventures The ventures started investing in April 2020, ahead of today’s fund closure announcement.
It has now reached the final close on its $95m (£68m) fund, and now claims to be “the largest impact-driven early stage venture capital fund focused on the UK”, although Nerdshala was unable to verify that claim. .
Investors in the fund include British Business Bank, BSC, Isomer, Friends and St. Thomas Foundation, Planet First Partners, Draper Esprit, Snowball and others. It is also supported, it says, by 24 entrepreneurs, 12 of whom are founders, with Eka partners previously supported either at the fund or individual level.
Eka will aim to invest in consumer technology companies focused on sustainable consumption, consumer health care and an ‘inclusive economy’. The fund will focus on the UK with between £500k and £3m per deal.
Founders John Coker, Camilla Dolan and Andrew Richardson have previous experience in the venture where they were involved in VC deals for Gusto, Bloom & Wilde, Peak and Elder. Coker was previously with London-focused VC MMC Ventures.
John Coker, Eka’s general partner, told me: “We only invest in companies where we see a clear impact directly associated with the product or service they sell. So as they grow, the impact grows with the company.” We will not invest in companies where we do not see this. We have told all our investors that we will only invest in companies where it is supplied. We are assessing companies that we see as founder alignment We are looking, therefore, to understand how founders are going about building their company and the impact that is delivered through products and services. Once we have gone through that process of alignment and evaluation, we We measure that impact over time. We will also co-invest with investors who have no significant impact on their funds.”
I asked them how they expected to measure the impact of their investments: “We use a framework called the Impact Management Project Framework which is trying to build an industry-standard around the measurement of impact in the enterprise. Looks at different dimensions to identify the specific impact that the company you are investing in. When you are actually supporting early stage companies, you can measure the impact that their product currently has But you also want to measure progress against projects that will deliver impact in the future. We have a number of impact-focused LPs in the fund who have really helped us think about this framework. Worked a lot together.”
Camilla Dolan, General Partner at Eka, said: “One of our first investments was urban wilderness insurance. This is one example where we see it as inclusive, as they saw a huge opportunity to try and serve a segment that has historically been They do this through underwriting using behavioral characteristics rather than demographic characteristics, which is how the current industry does it. It doesn’t involve a lot of customers. They now launch a social housing-specific product. because they had a lot of testimonials from social housing.”
She continued: “When it comes to working with companies, we are clear in our desire to scale, and we will do everything in our power to help founders achieve their ambitious goals. We Looking for entrepreneurs who set the bar for impact-driven innovation and who are focused on fundamentally changing or creating a category the same way Tesla single-handedly has led the electric vehicle industry. Back to back companies established Eka with level of ambition.”
Gausto founder Timo Bold said: “John and Camilla are two of the best investors a founder could possibly hope for. They supported Gausto with our Series A in 2013 and have been cheerleaders ever since. Their new venture, Aka Our focus on sustainability is firmly entwined with our own philosophy. Much like them, we believe in the power of people to make a difference.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director of Venture Solutions, British Business Bank, said: “The Bank’s Enterprise Capital Fund program is a valuable tool in helping to develop and maintain an effective venture capital provision in the UK, providing opportunities for emerging fund managers Lowers barriers to entry and for those targeting less well-served segments of the market.Our commitment [of £36m] For Eka Ventures, this will enable them to support new and growing sustainable consumer technology businesses in the UK. “