With the Lean In EU WBA (Women Business Angels) Pitching Battles just around the corner, we’re delighted to announce that Funding London’s startup investments guru Flavia Richardson will join us here in Athens, to take part as a judge.

Leading Lady: Q&A with Funding London’s Flavia Richardson – Startup investments

The big event is of course taking place right here at Starttech Ventures’ HQ, on February 22.

And one woman who is just as excited as we are about it is Flavia. A Portfolio Manager at Funding London since September 2016, Flavia is at the sharp end of the UK’s startup ecosystem. Her primary role is to monitor startup investments and build a closer relationship with Funding London’s portfolio companies. She tracks their growth, and provides valuable support along their way to success.

Startup investments focusing on early stage tech

Previously, she has worked in Private Equity. There, she set-up an investment subsidiary and advised on the fund’s first tech investments in the UK. She has a keen interest in early stage technology. We caught up with Flavia to get the lowdown on and her views on everything entrepreneurial.

Q1: Flavia, you’re in Athens taking part as a judge investor at the Pitching Battles event of the Lean In EU WBAs project. What do you think of the initiative?

A1: The Lean In EU WBAs project seeks to support women business angels, create and support ecosystems and startup investments across Europe. It fosters an environment from which everyone can learn, and in which all can share their experience and knowledge.

As a woman, working in our ecosystem, I think this is an extraordinary initiative. One which should be further implemented across Europe and even more in the UK. It is really great to have the opportunity to join the Pitching Battles competition. And to meet so many amazing entrepreneurs.

“We are experiencing a great momentum, one that will enable us all to leverage our intellectual diversity. And to promote a healthy leadership model.”

My goal is to support the competition, the entrepreneurs, and potentially to help bring our communities more closely together.

Q2: You’re currently working at Funding London. Tell us a bit about what you guys do. What activities and interests the organization is involved in and your role in that picture.

A2: In 2004, the then Mayor of London established Funding London, with a specific long-term mandate to support the Economic Development Strategy for London. Through funding small and medium enterprise (SME) activities. We bridge the funding gap for SMEs in London and enable real opportunities for sustainable growth. We help grow London’s early-stage ecosystem through the provision of both loan and equity funds for startup investments, and more.

London Co-Investment Fund invests in budding tech and science start-up businesses in the capital. Ones that are looking to raise the finance they need to take their business to the next level. The London Co-Investment Fund is supported by £25m from the Mayor of London, and up to £130m from our partners.

I work as Portfolio Manager for the London Co-Investment Fund. Monitoring and working with over 100 technology companies in which the fund invested alongside 14 other co-investment partners.

Q3: How would you describe the startup investments scene currently in London?

A3: Most tech startups and investors naturally flock to London as it is a center for venture capital and innovation. By default, it attracts top talent, entrepreneurial teams and some of the largest funds in the European VC market.

London continues to account for most of the UK venture activity, and retain its place in the European market. Attracting over $8bn of VC level investment in 2017.

At the same time, we are observing a layering of our VC sector, with top 10 mega deals attracting over 25% of the whole market. London is breaking ground to for late VC rounds, maintaining top companies in Europe.

For us, this is a mark of a maturing market where technology companies will not be required to seek late seek and shift to the US market. Overall, it is a recalibration of the whole ecosystem.

As a market matures, it is not the lack of capital at an early stage that is the cause for this shift, but the lack of quality deal-flow. Since the requirements for such companies have changed dramatically over the last 5 years.

As fewer deals qualify the requirements of our sector, more VC funds will move into the growth stages. Leaving a gap in the market for idea capital and more scope for incubators and accelerators.

Q4: Hear, hear! That’s where we feel the real magic happens concerning startup investments. So, moving on, what are your expectations about the Greek start-up ecosystem? Have you ever funded any Greek start-ups, and what do you expect to see here?

Every time I travel to other countries, I am humbled by how unlimited human potential really is. How different perspectives help us address ever-evolving market and consumer needs in our economies.

During my trip, I expect to find untapped potential, brilliance, new technologies and ideas. The entrepreneurial spirit has no borders, is not limited to any specific characteristics.

We are proud to have made startup investments backing entrepreneurs and teams from all around Europe and beyond. Our co-investment partners are exceptionally skilled in sourcing and supporting companies from various geographies. LCIF has not supported a startup originating in Greece, this, of course, does not mean that we will not do so before the end of our investment period.

Q5: Investors and Entrepreneurs alike always seem to be looking for the next big thing. What do you believe that might be? I’m thinking AI and blockchain here but I might be wrong.

A5: It is without doubt, very difficult to predict what will be valuable in 5 to 10 years’ time. How will our economies will evolve.

The advancements that we are making in robotics, applied AI, IoT and blockchain (excl. cryptocurrencies), are going to find their way to the market. In the consumers’ homes, offices, schools and pretty much everywhere else.

Light digital solutions will give way to deeper technologies. Perhaps those that manage to combine AI tools and the integrity of blockchain to certain vertical that has been historically bureaucratic and opaque. It is expected that with the first introduction of quantum computing, solutions or the large-scale commercialisation many new generations of AI, blockchain and IoT will become mainstream. Unlocked by almost limitless computational power.

Of course, if we consider trends then I would say that AI technologies lead from afar with the highest quantum and number of deals. Also, largest number of acquisitions by corporates or other technology companies.


Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.