Mark Pearson knows a thing or two about investing. He sold his company Markco Media, which owns MyVoucherCodes, to Monitise last year for up to £55 million ($85.4 million). The original investment back in 2006 was just £300.
Now the British entrepreneur wants to help everyone become a venture capitalist (VC) by launching his own £30 million fund. And £500,000 comes from crowdfunding, where a number of people can invest money to reach the funding target.
Using the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs, investors can back Fuel.Ventures for as little as £100. Currently the campaign has raised £117,600 of the half a million target.
“I love crowdfunding and I love what it’s done. It opens up the opportunity for normal crowd retail investors to actually come and invest in really high-tech startups,” Pearson told CNBC on Wednesday.
It’s no surprise there is an appetite for this given the explosion of crowdfunding platforms as well as the number of startups with whopping valuations.
The venture capital industry poured $86.7 billion into companies globally in 2014, the highest level in nearly 15 years, according to consultancy EY, with companies such as taxi app Uber and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi boasting $40 billion plus valuations.
Fuel.Ventures is looking to invest in e-commerce companies — given Pearson’s own background — that need early-stage and seed funding.
It can be difficult for retail investors to get into VC investing given the high amount of capital needed to back a company. Seedrs allows an investor to take an equity stake in a company without meeting the board and company. In short, an investment is made based on the firm’s mission statement.
Pearson said he hoped to offer something different by allowing investors to back his fund, which works like a traditional VC, meeting companies and investing in companies that he thinks can perform well with a good team.
“There’s a lot of wannabes that aren’t actually going to do the hard work. I really believe it’s about the team, it’s about the passion and drive… I meet the teams face to face, I nurture and mentor them and actually help them over all the hurdles that will stop them being successful,” Pearson said.
While no guarantees can be made to investors about how much they will earn, Pearson hoped investors will see a tenfold return on their investments.
The fund has a “pipeline” of 15 to 20 businesses it is looking to invest in, Pearson said. He told CNBC that the first investment will be announced soon in a company “disrupting the estate agent market.” The VC declined to name the firm but said that in the last nine months, it had increased its net revenue per month from £9,000 to £115,000.
Despite the risk involved, Pearson hopes his past success will draw more investors to Fuel.Ventures.
“I’ve invested in 10 companies myself, my strike rate is pretty phenomenal and I’ve decided to venture into venture capital but being very different, putting a whole new spin on it,” he told CNBC.
Image Credit: CC by LendingMemo.com.