The year started with the SFC Alumni Alumni Awards, where we acknowledged the efforts in fundraising, reporting, and commercial traction of portfolio companies Tapoly, Torsion IS, and Olly’s Olives respectively. But we are not the only ones to recognise the potential of the SFC Alumni. This has been a busy awards year for our startups, with many of them receiving accolades for their hard work – from Valkyrie Industries winning the Best use of VR/AR Award at the Go:Tech Awards and Big Couch’s co-founders Irina Albita and Maria Tanjala being named Blockchain Founder of the Year at the UK Tech Founder Awards, to food and drink companies as Hunter & Gather, Superfood Bakery, and Davina Steel dominating their respective categories. Furthermore, we had the pleasure to close the year by handing out the Startup of the Year 2018 Award at the SFC Alumni Christmas Party earlier this month, which was granted to SFC-funded Cognism.
Cognism has had a stellar year besides its increasing monthly revenues and its rapid growth since Startup Funding Club first invested in it. The marketing and sales acceleration platform has also closed two funding rounds this year – including a Series A led by South Central Ventures, who invested £2M. But Cognism is not the only SFC-funded company to have raised remarkable amounts in 2018. Most of these funds come from rounds that have been led by SFC – including those closed by Winning Minds and MeVitae –, with money typically coming in from both the SFC Angel Network and SFC Funds. This year has also been noteworthy for our funds as we reached a very coveted milestone when the SFC Angel Fund invested in Blue Skies Space and became our 100th fund investment.
Other Alumni are also in the process of fundraising – as is Solo Coffee with its Kickstarter campaign – or getting ready for further rounds in 2019 – as is the case of AI-driven Humanising Autonomy. Despite its young age, the automotive company has already secured partnerships with Daimler, Airbus, and Cisco amongst others, and has had a hectic year closing their seed round and attending the TechStars Mobility Program in Detroit last summer. Humanising Autonomy has also had a great year when it comes to publicity, with the company having been featured in multiple publications worldwide including Forbes DACH and Bloomberg.
Humanising Autonomy has not been the only SFC-backed business to have taken part in a renowned startup program this year. Earlier this year Valkyrie Industries participated in the Digital Catapult 2018 Augmentor Programme alongside nine other VR and AR businesses and joined the Brinc Accelerator Program in Hong Kong this autumn as well. Other SFC Alumni have also been on business abroad in 2018, most notably Vortex IoT, which visited China this spring to take part in the final of the China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition for Overseas Talents. The team is now back in Wales, where it will be busy with its recently announced partnership with Swansea University and Swansea City Bay Region’s Factory of the Future, which is set to boost Welsh innovation.
This seems to have been an exceptional year for our Welsh Alumni, as south Wales-based Transcend Packaging has secured strategic partnerships. In June, the company announced it had struck a deal with McDonald’s to supply the fast food giant with paper straws, and in October, it was announced that Transcend Packaging would be partnering with Plastico, the UK’s market leader in catering products. In addition to tackling plastic pollution, these partnerships will also benefit south Wales as Transcend Packaging’s factory is set to create two hundred new jobs once it is fully running.
Last but not least, the year has culminated with fintech company Bean being acquired by BGL Group and becoming the first Startup Funding Club portfolio company to exit. The digital personal finance manager has exited only two years after SFC’s investment, showing that, although rare, early exits can happen for early stage investors.
This has certainly been a terrific year for the SFC Alumni Network. Our portfolio is starting to show solid growth and, following this year’s great developments and with bright companies as Swytch Technology and Leading Sports Media having just recently joined the portfolio, we can only be excited for what 2019 may bring.
Meet the whole Startup Funding Club portfolio on startupfundingclub.com/portfolio.