Fuel Ventures Follow-on EIS Fund
Managed by successful entrepreneur Mark Pearson – backing promising companies from Fuel's earlier-stage funds
You are now able to apply
Please read all the offer information first
Fuel Ventures aims to back fast-growing digital marketplaces, platforms and software as a service (SaaS) businesses and use its first-hand operational experience to accelerate their growth.
To date, Fuel Ventures has invested £176 million into 142 EIS and SEIS-qualifying companies (August 2023). Two were featured in the Deloitte UK Fast 50 2022, a list of the fastest-growing private technology companies in the UK.
The Follow-on EIS is one of two EIS funds. It invests in companies Fuel Ventures has backed in earlier portfolios, provided they have started to generate revenue and Fuel Ventures believes they are showing encouraging progress.
Since its inception in 2019, the Follow-on EIS Fund has invested £60.6 million into 25 companies across 38 investment rounds. It has achieved two exits (Capdesk, acquired by Carta, and ContentCal, acquired by Adobe), generating total exit proceeds of £18.5 million, with a remaining portfolio balance of £83.7 million.
- Target return of 5x after 10 years – not guaranteed
- Exclusive minimum investment £20,000 (normally £50,000 for non-advised investors), you can apply online
- Next deadline: 15 December 2023, for planned deployment this tax year, not guaranteed
Mark Pearson’s background is not that of a typical fund manager.
He left school to become a chef at 16. By 19 he had won a national catering competition and had begun working at Claridge’s restaurant, at the time under Gordon Ramsay. Three years later, Mark was running three gastropubs in south London.
In 2006, he founded online voucher code company MyVoucherCodes and subsequently sold it – as part of parent company Markco Media – in a deal reportedly worth up to £55 million. At that point, the business had two million users, revenues of over £12 million and employed c.100 staff.
Whilst running MyVoucherCodes, Mark made personal investments into nine technology and software businesses. Fuel Ventures was born as a result of his experience with these early-stage businesses. They were run by talented founders and Mark felt he could help them scale up.
Mark is supported at Fuel Ventures by a team of circa 24 full-time staff, with backgrounds in venture capital, private equity and entrepreneurship. In addition, Fuel Ventures has an independent advisory committee to add challenge and rigour to the investment process.
Fuel Ventures is the investment advisor to the fund. The investment manager is Sapphire Capital Partners LLP.
Before your subscription is invested, the cash will be held by the custodian, Mainspring Nominees Limited. Shares will be held by the nominee, MNL Nominees Limited.
What is the difference between the Fuel Ventures funds?
Fuel Ventures operates three funds, one SEIS and two EIS, each targeting investments in young digital businesses at different funding stages.
- The Fuel Ventures SEIS fund invests in very early‑stage pre-seed funding rounds
- The Fuel Ventures Scale‑up EIS fund invests in early-stage companies between Seed and Series A funding rounds, which could include deal flow from the SEIS fund
- The Fuel Ventures Follow‑on EIS fund seeks to provide follow-on funding to what the manager considers to be the strongest performing companies from the SEIS and Scale‑up EIS funds. Fuel Ventures can also use its discretion to invest in new companies it believes are attractive.
Fuel invests in early-stage, revenue-generating, digital businesses it believes have the potential to scale globally. It seeks marketplaces, platforms, and SaaS companies. Fuel Ventures believes these are attractive as they tend to be easily scalable, have low costs per unit sold, and – once a product starts generating revenue – growth is typically limited only by market demand, not the ability of the business to supply it.
Fuel believes two of the biggest challenges founders face when growing a business are fundraising and hiring new talent, so it provides support through dedicated fundraising and talent development teams.
Mark Pearson and the Fuel team typically expect to engage with each company monthly during the first twelve months from investment, and when needed thereafter, as the company matures and later-stage investor may be involved.
Fuel Ventures believes its sector expertise and scale, together with the support it offers, are a key competitive advantage, allowing it to attract high-quality EIS opportunities.
The Follow-on Fund looks to back the top-performing companies from Fuel Ventures’ earlier-stage portfolios, provided the team considers the valuation attractive.
Fuel Ventures believes this could somewhat mitigate risks, as these companies are more mature, generating revenues and showing progress. In addition, Fuel should have a good understanding of the business. Note, however, this is still a high-risk investment.
The investment manager can also use its discretion to invest in new companies it believes are attractive.
Subscriptions are expected to be invested into five companies.
This is the seventh follow-on fund to be launched by Fuel Ventures since 2013. Previous iterations have invested £60.6 million into 25 companies across 38 investment rounds.
Below are examples of portfolio companies from previous iterations of the Follow-on EIS fund. They are outlined to give a flavour of the types of companies you might expect but are unlikely to be part of a new investor's portfolio.
Creoate – recent investment
Online B2B marketplace Creoate connects retailers with independent international wholesalers.
Through its AI-powered analytics Creoate aims to help retailers predict which products might sell well, to better manage inventory levels. Meanwhile, its cataloguing software aims to let them deal with fewer middlemen.
Creoate’s business model is based on similar marketplaces that have scaled in India and the US. Launched in January 2020, Creoate estimates it serves over 100,000 retailers in the UK, Europe and US, with stock from over 6,500 independent brands.
Fuel Ventures first invested in December 2020 via its Scale-up EIS fund and provided additional funding in 2021, 2022, and 2023 via the Follow-on and Co-investment funds. The business reports monthly Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) has grown from $203k in November 2020, to $5.7 million in June 2023. In aggregate, Fuel Ventures has invested £7.5 million, the stake is currently valued at £27.1 million. Past performance is no guide to the future.
Creoate is expected to be included within the current tranche, not guaranteed.
Demand for food delivery, which surged during the pandemic, remains strong: a recent report by KPMG found that 38% of 18-24 year olds ordered a takeaway at least two or three times a week in 2022.
Peckwater Brands was set to capitalise on this. It specialises in virtual brands. Peckwater Brands provides restaurants and kitchen operators with everything they need to take and fulfil online orders: branding, platform listings, suppliers, recipes, packaging, staff training, and technology and using its data it helps them select the best cuisine for a particular market.
Following the acquisition of eatclever, a virtual delivery brand in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Peckwater has grown to 600 sites, with operations in 12 countries including the US, United Arab Emirates, and France.
The Fuel Scale-Up fund first invested £2 million in September 2021 alongside Pembroke VCT in a round that valued the business at £7.37 million. In April 2022, the Follow-on fund invested £3.0 million as part of a £15 million investment round led by SoftBank Investments, which valued the business at £65 million (post money). Past performance is not a guide to the future.
ContentCal – example of previous exit
Content marketing helps companies reach and build relationships with their audience through relevant and useful articles, videos, emails and social media posts.
However, managing a huge amount of content across different platforms and channels can be challenging and time consuming. That’s where ContentCal comes in.
Founded in 2016, ContentCal makes content creation, planning, scheduling and posting simple across websites and social channels. Streamlining that process frees up time so marketing teams can focus on the activities that add the most value. The platform has attracted customers like the NHS, Specsavers and BMW as well as many freelancers and agencies.
Fuel initially invested £1.1 million in the business in February 2020 via an earlier iteration of the Fuel Ventures Scale-up EIS fund. Fuel has since supported the business on several occasions through its follow-on fund, investing an additional £3.4 million. In December 2021 ContentCal was acquired by Adobe for $110 million in an all-cash transaction. The exit delivered total returns of between 4.7x to 6.1x for Follow-on Fund investors and 7.7x for investors in the earlier iteration of the Scale-up fund. 97% of the return has been paid out with the remainder held in escrow on an earnout basis. In aggregate, the exit saw Fuel return £25.5 million to investors, with £0.8 million held in escrow. Past performance is no guide to future performance.
The Moot Group – example of previous failure
As with any early-stage investment, not all will work out. The Moot Group is an example.
The Moot Group started out as Olivias.com, a homeware and furniture brand. It then evolved into offering its own e-commerce technology, which managed everything from customer acquisition to supply chains. Despite some early traction, which saw the business raise further debt and equity finance, it failed to maintain its level of growth and in 2022 breached the covenants on its debt facility.
The Moot Group was placed into receivership in February 2023. Fuel Ventures EIS funds invested £4.2 million (£3.6 million from the Follow-on funds) across three investment rounds. Fuel Ventures has written its investment down to nil.
Since its inception in 2019, the Follow-on EIS Fund has invested £60.6 million into 25 companies across 38 investment rounds. The fund has achieved two exits (Capdesk, acquired by Carta, and ContentCal, acquired by Adobe) generating exit proceeds of £18.5 million. It has a remaining portfolio balance of £83.7 million.
The chart below shows the average performance of the total subscribed into the funds in each full tax year from 2013/14 (or from when the current strategy was adopted if later) to 2022/23. The chart is based on the latest valuations provided by the manager, expressed on a £100 invested basis. Please note, individual investor portfolios’ performance will deviate from the average.
Performance per £100 invested in each tax year
Source: Fuel Ventures, as at 11 August 2023. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The chart shows realised returns (where share proceeds have been returned to investors as cash) and unrealised returns (where cash has not yet been returned and the value of the investments is based on the manager’s own valuation methodology). There is no ready market for unlisted shares. The figures shown are net of all fees and do not include any income tax relief or loss relief.
Risks – important
This, like all investments available through Wealth Club, is only for experienced investors happy to make their own investment decisions without advice.
EIS investments are high-risk and should only form part of a balanced portfolio. As must be expected with early-stage investments, some or even all of the companies in the portfolio could fail: the fewer the companies included in the portfolio, the higher the risk of loss if things don’t go to plan. You should not invest money you cannot afford to lose.
There is no ready market for unlisted EIS shares: they are illiquid and hard to sell and value. There will need to be an exit for you to receive a realised return on your investment. Exits are likely to take considerably longer than the three-year minimum EIS holding period; equally, an exit within three years could impact tax relief.
To claim tax relief, you will need EIS3 certificates, normally issued once shares have been allotted. This can take several months: please check the deployment timescales carefully. Tax reliefs depend on the portfolio companies maintaining their EIS-qualifying status. Remember, tax rules can change and benefits depend on circumstances.
Before you invest, please carefully read the Risks and Commitments and the offer documents to ensure you fully understand the risks.
The fund relies heavily on the knowledge and experience of Mark Pearson. He’s wholly committed to Fuel Ventures, but there is key-person risk. As the number of companies grows, he will not be able to provide the same level of coaching and support to all Fuel Ventures portfolio companies.
A summary of the main charges is shown below. Some of these will be payable by the investor, whilst others by the investee companies. The investment may have additional charges and expenses: please see the provider documents, including the Key Information Document, for more details.
|Full initial charge||—|
|Wealth Club initial saving||—|
|Net initial charge through Wealth Club||—||Annual management charge||—|
|Performance fee||20%||Investee company charges|
|Initial charge||2.5%||Annual charge||2%|
More detail on the charges
In our view, this EIS fund is run by a credible – and to date successful – entrepreneur turned investor. Fuel Ventures has now invested more than £170 million into over 140 companies, establishing itself as a destination for marketplaces, online platforms and SaaS businesses looking for early-stage growth capital.
Fuel Ventures has also shown an ability to back some of the UK’s fastest-growing digital start-ups. In 2022, it achieved its second exit and several portfolio companies raised further funding rounds at higher valuations. Note, there have also been failures, as must be expected when investing in high-risk early-stage companies.
The fund’s strategy, to provide follow-on funding to some of the most promising investee companies back by Fuel Ventures, whilst limiting the fund to a narrow opportunity set, could be a valuable filter. Fuel Ventures will have known and worked with each business before committing investor capital.
This is a concentrated and high-risk portfolio of at least five software and technology companies with little diversification. The offer could appeal to experienced investors looking to complement a wider investment portfolio with exposure to early-stage digital businesses.
Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – investments. You should base your investment decision on the offer documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. The information on this webpage is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy any of the investments mentioned, nor does it include any opinion as to the present or future value or price of these investments. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination.
- Target return
- Funds raised / sought
- Minimum investment
- 15 Dec 2023 for 2023/24 deployment