MMC Ventures EIS Fund
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Most EIS funds invest in technology these days; indeed, many have turned their attention to it. However, the MMC Ventures EIS fund has been investing exclusively in technology for the last 20 years.
It focuses on high-growth, early-stage companies in areas such as ecommerce, fintech, and digital health.
MMC’s investment strategy has been largely unchanged since launch. MMC believes the companies most likely to transform today’s markets — or create new ones — will do it from the inside out: improving existing technology, rebuilding tech infrastructure and using data in fundamentally new ways. These are the businesses MMC aims to identify and help to scale up.
To date, MMC has delivered encouraging results, including a good history of realised gains; past performance is not a guide to the future.
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- Evergreen EIS fund investing in transformative technology businesses
- Dedicated research function gives MMC a deep understanding of technologies and investment sectors
- Well-resourced investment team
- Investors should expect a diversified portfolio of c. 10 companies
- Mix of new and later-stage investments
- Deal flow and exit options provided by MMC’s Greater London Fund (seed and pre-seed stage) and Scale-Up Fund (later stage)
- £25,000 minimum investment – you can apply online
MMC Ventures Ltd (“MMC Ventures” or “MMC”) was founded in 2000 by Bruce Macfarlane, its current managing partner, Alan Morgan, its current chairman, and Allan Cockell – hence the initials MMC. It started as a syndicate for high net worth individuals making early-stage technology investments, then launched the EIS fund in 2005.
MMC has always exclusively invested in high-growth technology-enabled businesses. This means, unlike many of its peers, it was unaffected by recent EIS rule changes.
Today MMC has £500 million under management. In addition to the EIS Fund, it manages two institutional funds: the £52 million MMC Greater London Fund, launched in May 2019, and the £100 million MMC Scale-Up Fund, launched in November 2019.
The former is a seed and pre-seed fund backed by the Mayor of London. It invests at an earlier stage than the EIS Fund and provides potential deal flow. In the words of Bruce Macfarlane, “if you’re not in early, it can be hard to get in at a later stage”.
The MMC Scale-Up Fund sits at the other end. It looks to invest in companies once they have grown beyond the limits of EIS investment. MMC believes this will appeal to existing MMC-backed entrepreneurs looking for later-stage funding as well as EIS investors seeking another potential route to exit.
In our view, the position of the MMC Ventures EIS fund is strengthened by these additional two mandates.
The MMC Ventures team is a mix of 17 investment professionals with a range of backgrounds, from experienced venture capital investors to younger talent from consultancies, investment banks, law firms and asset managers.
Within the Ventures team, MMC has a dedicated investment research team of former investment bank analysts. Each has a deep understanding of a specific technology area. In MMC’s view, this is a key differentiator: understanding the technology and business model helps MMC make sound investment decisions and identify the highest-potential opportunities. The research team contributes to deal flow, helping to identify promising companies within target sectors, and running an outreach programme to create deal flow.
The MMC team commits to investing in every EIS fund deal and has invested over $17 million to date. This helps align the management team’s interests with those of investors.
MMC invests across a variety of subsectors within technology, including fintech, digital media, digital healthcare, consumer internet (including ecommerce), as well as travel and transport.
MMC operates a two-stage Investment Committee process when assessing new investments. The first is before terms are offered to a potential investee company to shape the due diligence focus. The second is to review the due diligence findings before investments complete.
As well as providing capital, MMC draws on its own experience and network to assist investee companies in areas including international expansion, senior hiring, access to potential clients, corporate governance, fundraising, bank finance and exit. Its research team works closely with investee company founders to help businesses grow.
MMC targets an initial investment of £1–5 million in each investee company. MMC can support companies as they grow through further EIS funding of up to £12 million per company, or up to £20 million if it is a ‘Knowledge Intensive Company’. Beyond that, the Scale-Up fund could potentially provide support.
The fund aims to return 2–3x the invested amount over a 3–8 year investment period. This is not guaranteed. The timescale is, however, likely to be longer than three years.
The choice of exit route is likely to depend on market conditions at the time. MMC has in the past exited via AIM IPOs or sales to strategic acquirers, financial buyers and secondary funds. Past performance is not a guide to the future and exit options are not guaranteed.
As part of its remit, the Scale-Up Fund can offer to buy equity stakes from earlier MMC investors. MMC has exited two EIS companies in this way to date, returning up to 5.5x and 6x respectively (before EIS tax reliefs) to investors who wished to sell – note investors were given the choice whether to hold or sell, which helped avoid a conflict of interest. Please note, there are no guarantees the Scale-Up Fund will be used to offer an exit route to new investments and past performance is not a guide to the future.
Investors into the MMC EIS Fund can expect exposure to 10 investee companies (not guaranteed) comprising new deals and more mature investments. MMC aims to deploy funds over a 12–18 month period.
The companies outlined below are historic investments made by the MMC EIS fund. Note these are previous EIS investee companies and may not form part of a new investor’s portfolio. They are outlined to give examples of the types of companies an investor might expect.
Current Health aims to make healthcare proactive, not reactive. The company has developed wearable technology which can monitor vital signs and clinical indicators with the same accuracy as an ICU monitor.
Healthcare providers can monitor patients all in one place, allowing them to prioritise care and easily share information with team members. In turn, clinicians are able to intervene earlier, reducing the need for admissions and A&E visits and improving patient outcomes.
Current Health has secured regulatory clearance for its device in the UK and US and already has a number of partnerships in place with leading healthcare companies. In April 2020, it announced a partnership with Mayo Clinic (now an investor) to detect Covid-19 infections.
MMC first invested in July 2018 and then led a £9 million Series A funding round in November 2019. MMC invested alongside Legal & General, Par Equity, and Scottish Investment Bank.
Gousto has created food delivery technology to offer a weekly box of healthy, responsibly sourced ingredients, providing everything needed in the right quantities for couples or families to cook delicious meals. The scale of its data means it can predict what each customer will choose to cook for dinner, helping consumers avoid wasting space and food.
This approach has enabled the business to grow rapidly and Gousto is now delivering more than 4 million meals to 380,000 UK households every month. Demand increased significantly during the first six months of 2020 and the company has already surpassed the £83 million of sales reported for the whole of 2019.
MMC first invested in 2013 and has participated in further rounds of funding, the most recent being over £30 million of institutional capital. The unrealised return for MMC investors in the 2013 round is 20x (excluding EIS tax relief), please note, returns are not guaranteed and past performance is not a guide to the future.
Interactive Investor (example of previous exit)
Interactive Investor (II) is the second-largest online investment service in the UK with £30 billion assets under administration and over 300,000 clients.
MMC first invested in Interactive Investor in 2012. In 2016 II announced the acquisition of TD Bank Group’s European direct investing business. This acquisition was financed by private equity firm JC Flowers & Co.
Interactive Investor is one of the companies offered an exit from MMC’s new Scale-Up fund. MMC investors holding Interactive Investor were offered the choice to sell some or all their shares at a 5.5x return (before EIS tax relief) or to continue to hold the shares.
Please note, there are no guarantees or obligations for the Scale-Up Fund to acquire future EIS investments.
Mastered (example of previous failure)
As with any EIS company, these are high-risk investments and not all will work out as planned. Mastered is an example of a failure. The business was created to serve a new generation of emerging talent from the creative industries – film, music, etc. The business delivered online and in-person tuition with feedback, coaching and content from prominent industry figures including Val Garland and Sam McKnight who have worked with celebrities including Princess Diana, Kate Moss and Lady Gaga.
The MMC EIS Fund first invested in early 2016. The company grew well and MMC invested again in 2017. However, over the course of 2017 and 2018, the business took longer than hoped to fill enrolment targets and sign corporate sponsorship deals and needed further investment.
Ultimately, conversations with potential new investors did not result in an offer of funding or acquisition, and MMC decided not to commit further money. The board put the company into administration ensuring any customers already enrolled could finish their courses.
MMC Ventures has a strong track record of delivering returns to investors. Since its inception, the EIS fund has invested in 58 companies and achieved 26 exits. 11 exits were profitable, two were below par, and 13 were written off.
For investors investing in tax years 2010/11–2014/15, on average, for every £100 invested into MMC EIS fund, investors would have received £106.80 in realised returns, not including initial tax relief, and would have a portfolio balance of £63.47 remaining. The chart below shows the valuation as at 30 June 2020, had you invested £100 in each tax year. Past performance is not a guide to the future.
Source: MMC Ventures, as at 30 June 2020. Performance figures are supplied by MMC Ventures and are net of all fees, based on MMC Ventures’ valuation methodology. Past performance is no guide to future performance. In the above figures, initial tax relief of up to 30% – remember tax rules can change and tax benefits depend on circumstances.
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 and SEIS investments are high-risk so should only form part of a balanced portfolio and you should not invest money you cannot afford to lose. They also tend to be illiquid and hard to sell and value. Before you invest, please carefully read the Risks and Commitments and the offer documents to ensure you fully understand the risks.
Tax rules can change and benefits depend on circumstances.
This EIS fund invests in early-stage businesses which are more likely to fail than larger ones. So you should expect a number of failures in the portfolio, or even be prepared for all companies to fail.
Exits could take considerably longer than three years.
A summary of the main charges and savings is shown below. Some of these will be payable by the investor, 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||3%|
|Wealth Club initial saving||—|
|Net initial charge through Wealth Club||3%||Annual management charge||2.5%|
|Performance fee||20%||Investee company charges|
|Initial charge||—||Annual management charge||—|
More detail on the charges
Timing of the offer
MMC anticipates taking between 12–18 months to fully deploy investor capital. As is typical with EIS and SEIS investments, it may not be possible to have all funds deployed before a deadline such as the end of the tax year.
There are no deadlines with this EIS offer.
MMC Ventures is a credible and experienced manager which has had an unwavering focus on technology for the last 20 years.
It has demonstrated an ability to add value, and more importantly, to return capital to investors, noting that past performance is not a guide to the future. MMC attracted significant assets under management in 2019 with the launch of its two institutional mandates, The Greater London Fund and the MMC Scale Up Fund. These add potential deal flow and exit opportunities.
For investors looking to invest in technology via an EIS fund this year, this could be an attractive consideration. It appears the investment strategy and process is disciplined and well thought through: experienced investors should form their own view. The interests of the team are aligned with those of investors. The team invests personally in every EIS deal made by MMC and has committed over $17 million to date.
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Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – tax-efficient investments. You should base your investment decision on the provider's documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. This review is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy the investment mentioned. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination.
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