Wanna start a dotcom? Maybe Brent can help

The internet class of 2000 is back with a new investment fund. Online ideas gratefully received.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Those nostalgic for the heady days of the millennium will be heartened to hear that four of the original digerati are pooling their resources to launch an investment fund for…wait for it…internet start-ups. The one-time dot.com luminaries are Bebo co-founder, Michael Birch, lastminute co-founder Brent Hoberman, Pipex’s Peter Dubens and Jonathan Goodwin. The fund will be called PROfounders Capital. Err, great name guys...

The idea behind the fund is that back in the digital day, if you were in Clerkenwell and squinted very hard, Britain looked like it might be going the way of Silicon Valley with those who have made money in the industry putting something back and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. However the idea of this positive feedback loop was ground into so much digital dust with the dot.com bust and the moneymen scuttled back to the City to sell bundled mortgages to people who didn’t understand what they were buying.

But the four dot.com veterans believe they’ve spotted a gap in the market. The fund aims to raise money from entrepreneurs rather than institutions and the idea is to support start ups across Europe. It intends to focus on investments of between £0.5m and £1.5m – the idea being that there is a gap here which is too big for angel investors but too small for VCs.  The fund will be concentrating on digitally disruptive areas where Europe lags behind such as digital health and education. It has already raised £18m and has said that it aims to double this. 

Fine phrases such ‘by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’ and ‘nurturing the digital ecosystem’ are being bandied about with much muttering about they way things are done in Silicon Valley - although whether now is the time to change Europe’s rather risk averse attitude to new tech companies remains to be seen.

The fund will be managed by Sean Seton-Rogers, a former associate at Balderton Capital and Rogan Angelini-Hurll, an analyst who has worked at Salomons and Citigroup.  However as much of the commentary so far has come out of the mouth of the limelight loving last minute co-founder, one suspects Mr Seton Rogers and Mr Angelini-Hurll may discover that Mr Hoberman is not just an active investor, he can be a hyperactive one.


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