BGF Ventures, a £200 million fund for startups, is shaking up and 3 partners are leaving

BGF Ventures partners Rory Stirling, Simon Calver, Wendy Tan White, and Harry Briggs

BGF Ventures partners Rory Stirling, Simon Calver, Wendy Tan White, and Harry Briggs
BGF Ventures

  • Business Growth Fund, or BGF, is to “scale up” its £200 million venture arm to invest in more companies outside of London.
  • The restructure means three partners at BGF Ventures are leaving – namely Wendy Tan White, Harry Briggs, and Rory Stirling.
  • Another BGF Ventures partner, former LoveFilm chief executive Simon Calver, will remain to lead BGF Ventures’ operations.
  • BGF has was originally set up in 2011 with £2.5 billion in funding from the UK’s five biggest funds, and launched its BGF Ventures arm in mid-2015.
  • One source told Business Insider that Briggs and Stirling are thinking about setting up their own fund.

Business Growth Fund, the £2.5 billion investment company set up by the UK’s big banks, is to restructure its £200 million venture arm to focus more on companies outside of London.

The changes mean that three of BGF Ventures’ partners will leave their full-time positions: Rory Stirling, Harry Briggs, and Wendy Tan White. Wendy Tan White will continue to advise the fund.

BGF Ventures was set up in 2015 and has £200 million to invest in early stage, risky startups. It has so far focused on tech startups, while parent company BGF invests in more established small-to-medium enterprises.

Now it seems remaining partner Simon Calver will lead efforts to invest in more startups outside London.

BGF has given few details, but the the firm’s statement suggests that the venture fund will also expand its focus beyond tech.

Simon Calver said in a statement:

“BGF Ventures was created to extend BGF’s proven investment approach to earlier-stage companies. Our long-term strategy has always been to create a nationwide platform that enables us to make long-term, patient capital investments in volume – building scale and getting more capital to more growing companies. The challenge for BGF Ventures now is to disrupt early stage investing in the way that BGF has disrupted growth investing since 2011. We intend to do that by expanding what we offer to more sectors, particularly knowledge-based businesses and tech-enabled companies, and to use out national footprint of 12 offices across the UK and Ireland to invest in more companies based outside London.”

One source suggested that Harry Briggs and Rory Stirling were considering raising their own fund.

Wendy Tan White is the newest partner at BGF Ventures and only joined in June 2017. She is the cofounder of website builder Moonfruit and was formerly general partner at UK company builder Entrepreneur First. She was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to technology businesses.

Briggs was formerly a principal at another major venture firm, Balderton Capital, and led investments into market research startup Streetbees and ad platform Tapdaq. He is also an advisor to Diversity VC, a campaign group to promote women and minorities in venture capital.

Stirling was previously a partner at MMC Ventures, and sits on the boards of fashion startup Mastered and direct hotel booking platform Triptease.

A BGF spokesman said: “Harry, Rory and Wendy will be leaving BGF full-time to continue their sector focus of investing solely in early stage technology companies. BGF respects their decisions whilst remaining fully committed to expanding its earlier-stage platform to provide investment for a wider sector of companies across the whole of the UK. Wendy will continue to work with BGF in an advisory capacity through 2019 while continuing to deepen her links with the AI and deeptech ecosystem.

“We are thankful for their contributions in creating a great foundation in the technology ventures space and look forward to working collaboratively with them going forward.”