Symvan Technology EIS Fund

The Symvan Technology EIS Fund offers investors exposure to early-stage technology businesses that are potentially disruptive in their sector and have high growth potential. It benefits from being able to make follow on investments in companies that have achieved success from incubation within Symvan’s earlier SEIS funds. 

Highlights

  • Exposure to early-stage technology companies which fit into the ‘equity gap’ of £250,000–£2 million
  • Target return of 2.85x (not guaranteed)
  • Investment selection puts strong emphasis on competent management teams
  • Collaborative approach with technology incubators, including Microsoft
  • Expected portfolio of six companies
  • Minimum investment £20,000 – you can apply online

Important: The information on this website is for experienced investors. It is not advice nor a research or 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, so you could get back less than you invest.

Read important documents and apply

The manager

Symvan takes its name from the Greek word for “event”. Symvan Capital was founded in 2013 and launched its first EIS fund in 2016. Symvan now manages three SEIS Technology funds alongside this EIS fund. 

CEO and co-founder Kealan Doyle has worked with venture capital firms for over 15 years as a corporate finance advisor and fund manager. He worked at HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and UBS.

Investment Manager and co-founder Nicholas Nicolaides previously worked at Lehman Brothers and BNP Paribas. His focus at Lehman Brothers was on European Telecom and Media. Whilst at BNP Paribas he worked with the Equity Capital Markets and TMT Corporate Finance teams. 

Rob Bird is adviser to the fund. He is an expert in AI and big data. Since 2014, Rob has led the Centre of Excellence in Machine Learning and Big Data product architecture at Akamai Technologies, Inc. In 2006, Rob founded Red Lambda, Inc., a Florida machine learning-based network security company. 

Watch a video interview with Kealan Doyle, CEO of Symvan Capital:

Recorded October 2018

The offer

Symvan looks to invest in a company across its lifecycle. The capital needs of a business are considered from first investment through to exit – so as well as providing any initial SEIS funding, Symvan will consider the requirements for later stage, follow-on funding, through the Symvan EIS fund. 

Symvan’s SEIS funds provide a rich source of deals for this EIS fund and mean Symvan has a deep understanding of the management teams, having in most cases taken a board seat and worked alongside them from an early stage. Symvan believes the competency of a management team is one of the most critical factors in determining whether a business achieves early success or failure.

Symvan often invests alongside technology incubators or accelerators. These help to create and grow young businesses by giving support, financial and technical services. Companies within an incubator can benefit from shared facilities and workspace, as well as support through networking and potentially providing commercialisation opportunities. Moreover, accelerators may provide a natural exit route, although this is not guaranteed. 

Performance

The chart below shows the net return of investing £100 in the Symvan EIS fund in the tax year indicated. For example, £100 invested in 2015/16 would now be valued at £168 based on Symvan's own valuation: note past performance is not a guide to the future and these kind of investments can be illiquid and hard to sell and value. 

Annual performance 

The table below shows the annual value of £100 invested for each fund to December each year.

Subscription date Dec 2015 Dec 2016 Dec 2017 Dec 2018
2015/16 (Apr 15) 100 100 152 168
2016/17 (Apr 16) n/a 100 138 143
2017/18 (Apr 17) n/a n/a 100 105
2018/19 (Apr 18) n/a n/a n/a 100
Source: Symvan Capital, as at 31 December 2018. Assumes £100 subscription made at the beginning of each tax year (April) and deployed pro-rata across all investments made by the fund in that 12 month period. Please note these are unquoted companies and the value is based on Symvan Capital’s own valuation with reference to International Private Equity and Venture Capital Valuation (IPEV) guidelines. Figures are net of fees and do not include tax relief. Remember, these investments are illiquid and can be difficult to sell or realise any value at all. Past performance is not a guide to the future.

Examples of previous investments

Note these are previous investee companies made by Symvan’s EIS and SEIS funds: new investors will be exposed to different companies.

Symvan Capital CognisessCognisess

Cognisess is a predictive people analytics company headquartered in Bath. The Cognisess SaaS platform uses cognitive neuroscience, predictive analytics and machine learning to help solve recruitment challenges and to better select, recruit and manage talent. Cognisess thus aims to removes the bias and subjectivity around hiring, annual appraisals and organisational design. It helps companies understand the current and future value of their most important and expensive asset: people.

Cognisess came to Symvan through the first cohort from the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Programme in London. By this stage, the company had developed the product and had taken on its first pilot clients.

Symvan was attracted to the business by the management, the existing client base (they already counted Ford and PayPal as customers), clear ownership of the intellectual property and the scalability of the Cognisess offer.

Since the initial investment in 2015, several new clients have been acquired: Intercontinental Hotel Group, Volkswagen UK and Uber in Australia.

In April 2017, Cognisess was the only UK company selected as one of only 15 startups globally (out of 500 graduates of Microsoft Accelerator) to attend the Microsoft Global Startup Roadshow at Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle, and met with Microsoft’s CEO and other executives, mentors and venture capital investors.

Cognisess was originally seed funded by Symvan in an earlier SEIS fund and follow-on funding was provided by Symvan’s EIS fund in 2016.

Auris Tech

Auris Tech uses proprietary interactive automatic speech recognition (“ASR”) software to encourage and teach children to read English via “Listening Books”. It was set up in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.

Auris aims to be the premier software system for ASR books targeting children aged 4 to 9 years, initially in the UK, and then expanding geographically to other countries.

The Listening Bookstore (which is Fonetti branded) app is now live in the UK Apple App Store with an initial offering of e-published children’s titles including the Oxford Reading Tree (used in 80% of UK primary schools) provided via an agreement with Oxford University Press.

The Company is in discussions with a number of other publishers, including advanced talks with a major publisher that has never digitised its catalogue to date.

The Company has received the support of Clare Balding, the presenter and celebrity children’s author. Ms Balding is an official ambassador for the company. The company is also supported by Lewis Bronze, MBE, the founder of Espresso Education (acquired in 2013 by Discovery). Mr Bronze was also editor of Blue Peter for many years and a producer of Newsround.

In April 2015 the company received investment from the Symvan Technology SEIS 2 Fund, and in April 2018 the Symvan Technology EIS fund provided follow-on funding.

WonderLuk

As is to be expected, not all investments work out. One example of a failure is WonderLuk, one of the early SEIS investments, from 2014.

WonderLuk sold 3D-printed jewellery (bracelets, rings, necklaces etc) designed by architects, product and jewellery designers from around the world. Durable high tech nylon pieces were digitally created and the sterling silver elements were crafted by lost wax casting from the 3D-printed shape.

WonderLuk opened the first pop-up store for 3D-printed jewellery in Europe and in 2015 the firm collaborated with Topshop to open a 3D-printed accessories pop-up store in the Topshop Oxford Circus branch.

However, WonderLuk was not able to scale. In 2017, the business was liquidated and a small amount was returned to SEIS shareholders.

The EIS fund did not invest even though the business was seeking further money: indeed this is one example of how Symvan’s knowledge and experience gained from working with a company at SEIS stage can have potential benefits at the EIS level.

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 / 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 / SEIS 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.

Diversification is limited, and this is a concentrated portfolio.

Fees & charges

A summary of the fees and charges is shown below. Please see the provider's documents for more details.

Initial charge paid by investor 0%
Initial charge paid by investee company 6%
Annual charge paid by investee company 2%
Performance fee 20%

More detail on the charges

Our view

The team are experienced and the performance of the Symvan EIS and SEIS funds is encouraging. The first few exits are now starting to emerge and these will be worth watching: note past performance is not a guide to the future and, like all technology investments, this is high risk.

The EIS fund benefits from being able to provide follow-on funding to the more successful companies from the Symvan SEIS funds. This “LifeCycle” approach gives Symvan deeper insight into the businesses than an external investor could achieve using due diligence alone and allows Symvan to support companies throughout their growth. 

Read important documents and apply

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.

The details

Type
Fund
Sector
Technology
Target return
2.85x
Funds raised / sought
£4.0 million / £10.0 million
Minimum investment
£20,000
Deadline
1 July 2019 for next allotment
Last updated: 6 April 2019

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