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Written by Mike Butcher

Founders Factory backs Creator Fund, student-led VC to back EU student startups

It seems like everyone wants student entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur First makes startups out of raw student material, for instance. Most countries want high-skilled students to stick around and make new companies. Only the UK likes to charge them a fortune for an education and then kick them out if they don’t earn enough. But I digress!

In its long march to gradually cover several aspects of the UK’s startup scene, Founders Factory has invested in Creator Fund, the student-led venture capital fund. It launches today in the UK but plans to spread abroad to unearth startup innovation within European universities. It will use a network of “student VCs” in university campuses to invest in new technology ventures and student founders.

The idea here is that students invest in their peers, offering an alternative route to growth for university-based startups.

So far it has people signed up in 13 UK universities and offers up to £30,000 investment per startup. Equity is determined on a “case-by-case” basis. Pretty paltry for the average startup, but a king’s ransom for the average student starting, I guess.

While Creator’s Fund thinks that “the best person to find and support the most promising student founders, is their classmate next to them in the laboratory or classroom” I have a feeling this might end up tying them in a few interesting knots that may end up in some conflicts of interest. We shall see.

The fund intends to make about seven investments over the next 12 months. The VC has already made an investment in Imperial College London-based, Refund Giant- a service that syncs with credit and debit cards to automatically issue fast, hands-free VAT refunds for travelers.

Jamie Macfarlane, founder and CEO, said in a statement: “In the US, many of the great tech companies were born on college campuses – Facebook, Google, Snapchat & Yahoo were all started by student founders. The UK has some of the world’s best universities and the same potential for students founders to be creating great businesses. For those high potential students to pursue this path, they need better access to three things – capital, business support and community. We, at Creator Fund, are delivering a new VC model specifically focussed on delivering this. We’re training students at top universities to find and invest in deals with their peers and give them the early-stage support they need. And creating a community where they look around and see other people taking this entrepreneurial path.”

Henry Lane Fox, Co-founder and CEO of Founders Factory, added, “What Creator Fund is doing is very special. They are challenging the VC landscape and we are excited to be part of it. It is giving highly-educated students the skills to be the investors of the future and uncover the founders of tomorrow.”

Creator Fund launches with a mix of students from a wide range of backgrounds. Current members of the team include Richa Bajpai from India who has previously built a global CSR company that raised over £20m and Toyosi Ogedengbe from Nigeria who has built a platform to help investors deploy capital in West Africa.

At launch, Creator Fund has teams across 14 UK universities – Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL, Kings, Imperial, LBS, Warwick, Newcastle, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Aberdeen and St Andrews.

Meet the first wave of speakers & enter your startup for The Europas Awards, 25 June

Excitement for The Europas Awards for European Tech Startups is hotting up. Here are the first wave of speakers and judges — and more are coming!

The Awards – which have been running for over 10 years – will be held on 25 June 2020 in London, U.K. on the front lawn of the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton, London — creating a fantastic and fun garden party atmosphere in the heart of London’s tech startup scene.

TechCrunch is once more the exclusive media sponsor of the awards and conference, alongside The Pathfounder.

The application form to enter is here.

We’re scouting for the top late-stage seed and Series A startups in 22 categories.

You can nominate a startup, accelerator or venture investor that you think deserves to be recognized for their achievements in the last 12 months.

CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS: 25 March 2020

For the 2020 awards, we’ve overhauled the categories to a set that we believe better reflects the range of innovation, diversity and ambition we see in the European startups being built and launched today. This year we are particularly looking at startups that are able to address the SDGs/Globals Boals.

The Europas Awards
The Europas Awards results are based on voting by experts, experienced founders, hand-picked investors and the industry itself.

But the key to it is that there are no “off-limits areas” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs.

Timeline of The Europas Awards deadlines:

Submissions now open!
25 March 2020 – Submissions close
14 April – Public voting begins
25 April – Public voting ends
8 June – Shortlist Announced
25 June – Awards evening, winners announced

Amazing networking

We’re also shaking up the awards dinner itself. There are more opportunities to network. Our awards ceremony this year will be in the setting of a garden lawn party, where you’ll be able to meet and mingle more easily, with free-flowing drinks and a wide selection of street food (including vegetarian/vegan). The ceremony itself will last less than 45 minutes, with the rest of the time dedicated to networking. If you’d like to talk about sponsoring or exhibiting, please contact Claire Dobson on [email protected]

Instead of thousands and thousands of people, think of a great summer event with the most interesting and useful people in the industry, including key investors and leading entrepreneurs.

The Europas Awards have been going for the last 10 years, and we’re the only independent and editorially driven event to recognise the European tech startup scene. The winners have been featured in Reuters, Bloomberg, VentureBeat, Forbes, Tech.eu, The Memo, Smart Company, CNET, many others — and of course, TechCrunch.

• No secret VIP rooms, which means you get to interact with the speakers

• Key founders and investors attending

• Journalists from major tech titles, newspapers and business broadcasters

The Pathfounder Afternoon Workshops
In the afternoon prior to the awards we will be holding a special, premium content event, The PathFounder, designed be a “fast download” into the London tech scene for European founders looking to raise money or re-locate to London. Sessions include “How to Craft Your Story”; “Term Sheets”; “Building a Shareholding Structure”; Investor Panel; Meet the Press; and a session from former Europas winners. Followed by the awards and after-party!

The Europas “Diversity Pass”
We’d like to encourage more diversity in tech! That’s why we’ve set aside a block of free tickets to ensure that pre-seed female and BAME founders are represented at The Europas. This limited tranche of free tickets ensures that we include more women and people of colour who are specifically “pre-seed” or “seed-stage” tech startup founders. If you are a women/BAME founder, apply here for a chance to be considered for one of the limited free diversity passes to the event.

Meet the first set of our 20 speakers and judges:


Anne Boden
CEO
Starling Bank
Anne Boden is founder and CEO of Starling Bank, a fast-growing UK digital bank targeting millions of users who live their lives on their phones. After a distinguished career in senior leadership at some of the world’s best-known financial heavyweights, she set out to build her own mobile bank from scratch in 2014. Today, Starling has opened more than one million current accounts for individuals and small businesses and raised hundreds of millions of pounds in backing. Anne was awarded an MBE for services to financial technology in 2018.


Nate Lanxon (Speaker)
Editor and Tech Correspondent
Bloomberg
Nate is an editor and tech correspondent for Bloomberg, based in London. For over a decade, he has particularly focussed on the consumer technology sector, and the trends shaping the global industry. Previous to this, he was Senior Editor at Bloomberg Media and was head of digital editorial for Bloomberg.com in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Nate had held numerous roles across the most respected titles in tech, including stints as editor of WIRED.co.uk, Editor-in-Chief of Ars Technica UK, and Senior Editor at CBS-owned CNET. Nate launched his professional career as a journalist by founding a small tech and gaming website called Tech’s Message, which is now the name of his weekly technology podcast hosted at natelanxon.com.


Tania Boler
CEO and founder
Elvie
Tania is an internationally recognized women’s health expert and has held leadership positions for various global NGOs and the United Nations. Passionate about challenging taboo women’s issues, Tania founded Elvie in 2013, partnering with Alexander Asseily to create a global hub of connected health and lifestyle products for women.


Kieran O’Neill
CEO + Co-founder
Thread
Thread makes it easy for guys to dress well. They combine expert stylists with powerful AI to recommend the perfect clothes for each person. Thread is used by over 1 million men in the UK, and has raised $35m from top investors including Balderton Capital, the founders of DeepMind, and the billionaire former owner of Warner Music. Prior to Thread, Kieran founded one of the first video sharing websites aged 15 and sold it for $1.25M aged 19. He was then CEO and co-founder of Playfire, the largest social network for gamers, which he grew to 1.5 million customers before being acquired in 2012. He’s a member of the Forbes, Drapers and Financial Times 30 Under 30 lists.


Clare Jones
Chief Commercial Officer
what3words
Clare is the Chief Commercial Officer of what3words; prior to this, her background was in the development and growth of social enterprises and in impact investment. Clare was featured in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list for technology and is involved with London companies tackling social/environmental challenges. Clare also volunteers with the Streetlink project, doing health outreach work with vulnerable women in South London.


Luca Bocchio
Principal
Accel
Luca Bocchio joined Accel in 2018 and focuses on consumer internet, fintech, and software businesses. Luca led Accel’s investment in Luko, Bryter and Brumbrum. Luca also helped lead Accel’s investment and ongoing work in Sennder. Prior to Accel, Luca was with H14, where he invested in global early and growth stage opportunities, such as Deliveroo, GetYourGuide, Flixbus, SumUp, and SecretEscapes. Luca previously advised technology, industrial, and consumer companies on strategy with Bain & Co. in Europe and Asia. Luca is from Italy and graduated from LIUC University.


Bernhard Niesner
CEO
busuu
Bernhard Niesner, Co-Founder and CEO, Busuu
Bernhard co-founded Busuu in 2008 following an MBA project and has since led the company to become the world’s largest community for language learning, with more than 90 million users across the globe. Before starting Busuu, Bernhard worked as a consultant at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. He graduated summa cum laude in International Business from the Vienna University of Economics and Business and holds an MBA with honours from IE Business School. Bernhard is an active mentor and business angel in the startup community and an advisor to the Austrian Government on education affairs. Bernhard recently received the ‘EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 UK Awards’ in the ‘Disruptor’ category.


Chris Morton
CEO and founder
Lyst
Chris is the founder and CEO of Lyst, the world’s biggest fashion search platform used by 104 million shoppers each year. Including over 6 million products from brands including Burberry, Fendi, Gucci, Prada and Saint Laurent, Lyst offers shoppers convenience and unparalleled choice in one place. Launched in London in 2010, Lyst’s investors include LVMH, 14W, Balderton and Accel Partners. Prior to founding Lyst, Chris was an investor at Benchmark Capital and Balderton Capital in London, focusing on the early-stage consumer internet space. He holds an MA in Physics and Philosophy from Cambridge University.


Husayn Kassai
CEO and co-founder
Onfido
Husayn Kassai is the Onfido CEO and Co-Founder. Onfido helps businesses digitally onboard users by verifying any government ID and comparing it with the person’s facial biometrics. Founded in 2012, Onfido has grown to a team of 300 across SF, NYC and London; received over $100m in funding from Salesforce, Microsoft and others; and works with over 1,500 fintech, banking and marketplace clients globally. Husayn is a WEF Tech Pioneer; a Forbes Contributor; and Forbes’ “30 Under 30”. He has a BA in Economics and Management from Keble College, Oxford.

Long term room-rental platform Badi launches its service in NYC

As things stand in many countries, renting houses and whole apartments is relatively straightforward, if you can afford it. But trying to find rooms in those apartments and houses to rent has been chaotic for many years and relies on hugely informal networks. Some startups have launched in recent years to address this problem of finding roommates and rooms for rent as the market becomes more competitive.

Roomi (NYC, raised $17M), Roomster is in NYC, and then there’s SpareRoom. All have appeared to try and capture this growing market. And of course, they have Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace as competitors. 

Then there are other co-living companies include Common, Ollie, Quarters, Startcity, X Social Communities, and WeLive.

Backed by $45 million from U.S. and international investors like Spark Capital and Mangrove Capital, including $30 million from Goodwater Capital as their first investment in a Spanish startup, Badi is a Spanish-born startup (founded in Barcelona by Carlos Pierre) which is a long-term room rental platform, operating in cities like London, Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin.

It’s now launching in New York City, after claiming to have surpassed more than two million users in Europe. Badi says its web and mobile app now features over 300,000 listings. After soft-launching in November of last year, it claims to be growing booking requests by 370%. 

Pierre says: “Every major city around the world is suffering from overcrowdedness and increasing rent prices. The strong interest from the participants in our beta group alongside the findings from our 2020 survey on NYC indicates that city dwellers are warming up to the idea of sharing and co-living arrangements.”

During its beta in NYC, Badi found that the majority think co-living is a growing trend and shared living spaces with shared resources are viewed favorably.

Badi’s main pitch is that it provides a safe and secure communications channel for users to get to know potential roommates without an intermediary, using a visual verification tool for ensuring renters profiles and photos of the rooms and amenities.

It’s serving a need. The United Nations projects that 2.5 billion people will live in cities by 2050. This will cause rents to skyrocket, of course.