Fuel Ventures Scale-up EIS Fund

New “Meet the manager” video – watch below

Fuel Ventures was set up and is run by successful entrepreneur Mark Pearson, founder of MyVoucherCodes. It 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. 

The Scale-up EIS fund is one of two EIS funds from Fuel Ventures. It seeks to make investments into early-stage digital businesses operating in three key areas: marketplaces, platforms and software as a service. The companies the manager considers most promising from the Scale-Up EIS fund may subsequently receive investment from the Fuel Ventures Follow-on EIS fund.

Through the Scale-Up EIS Fund and its previous four iterations (Fuel Ventures EIS Portfolio 1-4), Fuel Ventures has invested £91.7 million into 73 companies. The funds have returned £10.7 million to investors, and the current portfolio balance is valued at £223.4 million (January 2024).

  • Target return of 10x after 10 years, not guaranteed
  • Aims to be fully invested within 12 to 15 months – not guaranteed
  • Minimum investment £20,000; you can apply online
  • Next deadline: 28 June 2024

Important: The information on this website is for experienced investors. It is not a personal recommendation to invest. If you’re unsure, please seek advice. Investments are for the long term. They are high risk and illiquid and can fall as well as rise in value: you could lose all the money you invest.

The manager

Fuel Ventures operates four funds: the SEIS Fund, Follow-on EIS Fund, the Scale-Up EIS Fund, and the Fuel Ventures VCT

Fuel Ventures was founded in 2014 by successful entrepreneur, Mark Pearson. He had previously founded online voucher code company, MyVoucherCodes, then sold as part of parent company Markco Media for a reported £55 million. Whilst running MyVoucherCodes, Mark made personal investments in nine technology and software businesses. Fuel Ventures was born as a result of his experience with these early-stage businesses. 

Since its inception, Fuel has invested £184.8 million into 149 EIS and SEIS qualifying companies. It invests in early-stage marketplaces, platforms and SaaS businesses. 

Fuel Ventures has circa 23 full-time staff. There are seven investment professionals: four dedicated to EIS/VCT and three to SEIS. Both investment teams are overseen by Mark, who has the final say on investment decisions. An independent advisory committee adds challenge and rigour to the investment process. In addition, a 13-strong fundraising team helps raise capital both for Fuel’s funds and its portfolio companies, whilst a talent team assists founders with hiring. 

Mark Pearson and some of the wider team will be investing personally in the Scale-Up EIS fund, and have accounted for 10% of all Scale-Up EIS fund contributions to date.

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.

Meet the manager – watch our interview with Fuel founder Mark Pearson:


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.
  • The Fuel Ventures VCT is a new VCT focusing on early-stage digital businesses backed by Fuel’s other funds. It aims to invest in early-stage, revenue-generating, digital businesses, usually marketplaces, platforms, and SaaS companies. 

Investment strategy

Fuel Ventures invests in early-stage, digital businesses it believes have the potential to scale globally. In particular, it seeks marketplaces, platforms and Software as a Service (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 generates revenue, typically growth is limited only by market demand, not the ability of the business to supply it.

Fuel Ventures looks to invest between the Seed and Series A rounds of funding, where Mark Pearson believes there is a funding gap. Both stages are competitive: they attract angel investors at seed stage and larger EIS providers at Series A. By looking to invest in-between, where there might be less competition, Fuel hopes to achieve better entry valuations for the fund, although this is not guaranteed. 

Fuel Ventures believes its sector expertise and scale, together with the support offered to its investee companies, is a key competitive advantage, allowing it to attract and win more of the best EIS-qualifying opportunities.

Support is provided through dedicated fundraising and talent development teams. Fuel believes two of the biggest challenges faced by founders when growing a business are fundraising and hiring new talent.

Mark Pearson and the wider Fuel team typically expect to engage with each investee company monthly during the first twelve months after investment, after which point contact becomes more “event-driven” or a later-stage investor may become more involved.

Central to the investment strategy is the active role Mark Pearson takes in helping management teams grow their businesses. Drawing from Mark’s experience, Fuel Ventures helps investee companies build products and services people want and need, and then looks to help grow these businesses internationally, maximising the potential value for acquisition or listing opportunities.

If successful, investee companies backed within the Fuel Ventures Scale-Up EIS fund may benefit from further investment from Fuel Ventures’ Follow-on EIS fund. Fuel Ventures launched its SEIS fund in 2021, and has now invested more than £10 million into over 80 companies. The fund may provide the Scale-Up EIS fund with additional deal flow. 

The manager is targeting a return of £10 per £1 invested after 10+ years, net of all costs and performance fees, high risk and not guaranteed. 


The target portfolio for each investor will be a minimum of five, and a target of 10-15 companies (marketplaces, platforms and SaaS businesses). 

Through the Scale-Up EIS Fund and its previous four iterations (Fuel Ventures EIS Portfolio 1-4), Fuel Ventures has invested £91.7 million into 73 companies. The funds have returned £10.7 million to investors, and the current portfolio balance is valued at £223.4 million (January 2024). 

Below are previous portfolio company examples. 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. 

Odore-Fuel-Scare-EIS.jpgOdore – recent investment 

Founded in 2019, Odore is a self-serve marketing platform. It was originally created to help brands manage their new client acquisition campaigns and evolved to also cover lead conversion and nurturing.

The platform offers easy-to-use tools to create and manage marketing campaigns as well as data and user experience analytics to measure performance. It also integrates with third-party apps and services such as TikTok, and fulfilment services for brands that offer product samples.

Since launch, Odore has built a list of large and well known clients, including LVMH, L'Oréal, Dior, Shiseido, and Clarins. Odore claims to have driven a 10-fold decrease in campaign deployment costs with marketing opt-in rates exceeding 90%, three times the industry average.

Fuel Ventures first backed the business in June 2023, investing £3.3 million via its Scale-up fund as part of a $5 million funding round. 

Volt – Fuel Ventures Scale-up EISVolt Technologies

Volt Technologies (trading as Volt.io) is building infrastructure to facilitate online real-time payments using open banking: instead of going via a payments network such as Visa or Mastercard, payments are made directly between two bank accounts. Merchants receive instant payments, have lower transaction fees and increased payment security. 

Volt.io believes account-to-account payments will soon become the new normal, whilst card-based payments will see a gradual decline. 

The business was founded by three payment industry veterans (pictured): Tom Greenwood (ex-CEO IFX Payments), Steffen Vollert (led global expansion at payments platform Adyen), and Jordan Lawrence (ex-CEO PCN Capital, a payments recruitment specialist). 

Fuel Ventures initially backed the business in January 2020, investing £1 million at a £3.3 million pre-money valuation. In June 2021, the business raised $23.5 million from EQT, Augmentum, and Fuel Ventures. In June 2023, the business raised a further $60 million at a $350 million valuation. The round was led by Silicon Valley’s IVP, one of the world’s leading venture investors and a backer of fintech’s Robinhood, Wise, and Klarna among others. Fuel’s initial £1 million investment is currently valued at £32.8 million. Past performance is not a guide to the future. 

Capdesk – Fuel Ventures EISCapdesk – example of previous exit

Capdesk was founded in 2015 to help private companies – from seed to pre-IPO stage – keep track of and manage their cap tables, shareholder registers, and employee shares: an easy and effective alternative to messy spreadsheets. 

Over 3,500 of Europe’s fastest-growing startups — including Gousto and Checkout.com — use Capdesk’s platform to manage their share ownership. It currently oversees more than £90 billion of assets. 

Fuel Ventures first invested £1.0 million into the business in March 2019 and provided a further £1.4 million in follow-on funding in March and April 2020 via its Follow-on Fund. 

In September 2022, Capdesk, was acquired by US fintech unicorn Carta for $88.4 million. The transaction represented a 7.1x overall gain for Fuel Ventures’ March 2019 investment and a 3.6x gain for its March/April 2020 investment. Past performance is not a guide to the future.

Admedo – example of previous failure

As is to be expected with EIS, due to the high-risk nature of early-stage investing, some investments will not work out and failures tend to come before successes. Admedo is an example of a previous failure. 

Admedo was a technology company seeking to provide marketers, agencies, and publishers with greater transparency and control over programmatic advertising. Fuel Ventures invested £550,000 in December 2017. Fuel believes both the technology and the founder were impressive, but the route to market proved more difficult than expected. As a result, Admedo went into administration in June 2020 due to cash flow issues. Fuel Ventures backed the same founder in his subsequent venture, The Moot Group.


Fuel Ventures Scale-EIS fund, including its previous four iterations, has invested into 73 investee companies across 82 investments (January 2024). Of these investments, 17 are valued in excess of 5x cost and of these eight are valued at more than 10x cost. There have been 19 failures and two profitable exits. Please note, past performance is not a guide to the future.

The chart below shows the average performance of the total subscribed into the funds in each full tax year from 2012/13 (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 29 January 2024. 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. Fuel Ventures Scale-up EIS Fund does not apply an initial charge to investors or investee companies. 

The investment may have additional charges and expenses: please see the provider documents, including the Key Information Document, for more details.

Investor charges
Full initial charge
Wealth Club initial saving
Net initial charge through Wealth Club
Annual management charge
Administration charge
Dealing charge
Performance fee 20%
Investee company charges
Initial charge
Annual charge 2%
The fees and charges above are stated exclusive of VAT, which applies in some cases, as determined by the manager. Please check the VAT position carefully in the provider documents. Any fees and charges payable by the investee companies or the underlying businesses do not directly come out of your investment. However, they will effectively reduce the returns generated by investee companies and therefore impact your investment.

More detail on the charges

Our view

This is an EIS offer for consideration, run by a credible – and to date successful – entrepreneur turned investor.

Mark Pearson has a clear passion for digital businesses. He has a wealth of experience in building such companies, having previously taken MyVoucherCodes.co.uk from the ground to a reported £55 million sale. Mark is able to lend his expertise and experience where required and will invest in the fund on the same terms as investors.

Fuel Ventures has shown an ability to back some of the UK’s most promising digital startups, such as Arbolus, Volt and WeGift. A good proportion of Fuel Ventures' investee companies have gone on to attract significant additional funding and achieved valuation uplifts from some renowned third-party investors (such as IVP, EQT and SoftBank). Early EIS investors have seen some substantial paper gains. The portfolio has now generated its first two exits, both to large US technology companies. This should help strengthen Fuel Ventures’ reputation as one of the UK’s leading early-stage venture investors.

The Scale-Up EIS fund’s strategy, to invest in and provide support and mentorship to early-stage digital businesses and their founders, is strengthened, in our view, by the presence of Fuel Ventures’ two other S/EIS funds. The Fuel Ventures VCT and Follow-on EIS fund should be able to provide additional funding to support further development, whilst the SEIS fund may provide additional deal flow. 

This is a high-risk portfolio targeting 10-15 software and technology companies. 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. 

The details

Target return
Funds raised / sought
Minimum investment
28 Jun 2024
Last updated: 7 February 2024

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