Anne Hathaway backs Pact, an all-women led VC for mission-driven startups, from West to East • TechCrunch

How many VC funds can you name where the three partners all had babies while raising the fund, have deep connections in Asia as well as Europe and the US, and include actress Anne Hathaway as an LP? I don’t want to risk much.

But that’s the profile of Pact, a new Seed VC fund launched with a £30 million ($36 million) pot of cash to back early-stage startups across Europe. Pact targets ‘mission driven’ startups in what it calls the “ABC” categories: Access (economic inclusion), Betterment (personal and professional well-being), and Climate. (That’s a more interesting way of addressing the ‘doing good’ areas, rather than trotting out the UN SDGs, IMHO). Pact’s investment tickets range from around £1m to 1.5m.

As well as Anne Hathaway (she’s not only an Oscar Award Winning Actor, but also a UN Woman Goodwill Ambassador), other LPs include Jeff Dean, the Head of AI at Google, and Keith Teare, a founding (and former) shareholder. of TechCrunch and former UK and US tech entrepreneur.

They include Anchor investor Campden Hill Capital; Yeming Wang, Alibaba’s former head of EMEA; Fahd Beg, the COO of Naspers; Todd Ruppert, the retired CEO of T. Rowe Price Global and venture partner at Greenspring Associates, and Tilo Bonow, CEO of PIABO.

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The three female partners — Tong Gu, Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham, and Monik Pham — are former VCs at other funds. Gu was an investor in ADV (of which Teare was once a part) and built a data analytics startup in Shanghai where he left. Wyndham is also an investor for ADV and a former founder. Pham is part of the founding team of early-stage fund Fuel Ventures and has launched several social enterprises in Africa and India.

Talking to Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham, she told me that they had been raising the fund for over a year (during their pregnancy and first children) but the idea had been “in the works” for about five or six year: “We both joined ADV in the same week. And we met Monik around the same time. What we observed in the early stage landscape in the UK was that some key things were missing. There were very few early stage fund managers who were both experienced in operations and deep experience operating overseas in emerging markets. And that’s something that the three of us, in a very complimentary way, bring to the table.

“We believe that capitalism should and can be inclusive while still producing big results,” he added. “And we really want to back early-stage companies that are really positively shaping the future. We’ve all built our careers on that Northstar as a guide for us. It’s a value that we’ve always upheld, but it’s only now at this point that the market is really coming into it. There shouldn’t be a trade off between socially sustainable results, environmentally sustainable and commercially sustainable results. You have to think about both. And that’s the value that the three of us put together, she said.

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Tong Gu told me: “I grew up in China, and I witnessed how entrepreneurship and technology helped a large population of people who were once below the poverty line to become rich and improve their lives. I started a tech company that enables independent small brand owners to compete with larger ones. And for me, that’s the experience of really driving economic inclusion, but in a technology-enabled kind of way.”

Wyndham admitted that “it’s not a big fund”. However, he said the £30 million should get them enough companies to get the “healthy diversity” needed for the fund’s return: “We can do 18 to 20 companies, either leadership or co-leading. We’ve thought a lot about how we’ve curated our LP base. So the LPS that come in are strategic and they provide domain expertise, and market access, but they also provide capital continuity. The most are looking for access to deal flow. So in that sense, it actually increases our workforce by over 30 million.

Anne Hathaway (Source: Wikipedia)

Anne Hathaway (Source: Wikipedia)

On having a Hollywood moviestar among their LPs, Wyndham added: “She’s actually a friend of mine and mentor of about 12 years and since then we’ve become friends and have shared values. One of her big causes is childcare, and lack thereof, as the final frontier for gender equality. And that’s something we experienced firsthand as three female GPs who all had our first children while raising this fund. We had to figure out how to overcome the structural headwinds to do the same. That’s one of the lessons we hope to share with the ecosystem, and that’s kind of where Anne comes in.”

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Pact’s first investment was made in Growth Kitchen, a London-based company that launches sustainable food brands based on data insights.

Previous investments for Pact team members include Clause’s acquisition of DocuSign. Onto, an electric vehicle subscription service; Perlego, an online learning platform; and Yoco, an African FinTech company.


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