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Dr. Amber Hill

We’re proud and excited to have led the seed round for R.grid and to be supporting the amazing Dr. Amber Hill in her highflying healthtech startup .

R.grid has built machine learning based software for medical research. Projects in this sector are complex, highly regulated exercises that involve many stakeholders, long periods of time and billions of pounds/dollars/euros of inefficiently allocated capital. Much of the process coordination that underpins this work is manual and paper-based. R.grid’s machine learning and intelligent UI technology streamlines and automates this work. Massive time and cost savings are possible for R.grid’s customers as a result.


Do you feel trapped in perfectionism, or the need to make sure everything is in its right place before you can start living?

I’ve worked to reject the concept of perfection, and to become curious about difficult situations, which has helped me hugely. A friend I was talking to about this thought that these thoughts might help others may be similarly stuck outside the present, and encouraged me to share my thoughts…

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I want to tell you how I went from finding it hard to leave my flat unless I felt that everything was “just so” to what I now call revelling in imperfection. …


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Chomp! Chomp!

The Founder-VC tussle over valuations is probably one of the more opaque aspects of the startup world. It’s often a classic case of one party not understanding where the other is coming from, in which case there is no hope of building empathy.

As part of Ada Ventures commitment to Open Venture, I’m going to describe our approach here to valuations, which is based our our returns expectations for our fund.

Ada Ventures I LP is a £30M fund. The underlying investors (those amazing folk that believed in what we’re doing and entrusted their capital with us) are called Limited Partners (LPs). Typically LPs exposure to VC might be 5% of their total assets under management (institution) or net worth (individual). They will probably have much more capital invested in lower risk/return asset classes such as stocks, bonds, cash or real restate. Financially therefore they are investing in a venture capital fund to generate a higher return (to compensate them for the risk) than they would expect from the stock market for example. …


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Huboo’s seed round was announced in Techcrunch last month, but we’ve been invested in the company for a year now.

Huboo built proprietary, full-stack, multi-channel fulfilment software and systems, which they now sell to hundreds of e-commerce clients that they service from their warehouse facilities in Bristol. The Covid-19 related lock-down we’re all experiencing has shone a light on this special company and their amazing team.

The uncontested fulfilment market (the market nobody wanted or could afford to work in, until Huboo) is ~£1bn of fulfilment revenues in the UK and another £6bn across the rest of Europe and the US. …


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For those of you that are at all interested, this is simply our current thinking at Ada Ventures, given these unprecedented times.

So, first to Ada Ventures — what are we doing right now? Alongside communicating with our portfolio companies and our investors, we are actively investing. We are fortunate to have closed our fund recently, which we feel super lucky to have done. We are reacting dynamically to a market that’s doing the same, but we are very much open for business. We are closing on two investments this month, and expecting to agree terms with others.

We do expect the life cycle of successful venture-backed start-ups to go up — it will take longer to get to liquidity, which increases the overall risk on the portfolios we’re building. This means, generally, that VCs will want more capital held in reserves to support those companies for longer, and we’re no different there. …


I feel a chill in the air. The mornings smell different…

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The tech M&A markets are slowing, there is still no meaningful IPO route, and Silicon Roundabout just isn’t jumping as much. The signs are there, and Series A’s get further away each month. We have short shoulder seasons in VC, so if the Big Chill is really on its way, lets make some plans and ensure we can see out the winter and live to fund another day.

A couple of months ago, Silicon Valley’s Bubble Guy, the authentic Bill Gurley, was saying this and more on Kara Swisher’s great Podcast. Its a solid listen from a guy who’s seen a bunch more cycles than most of us in this business. One point Bill makes is to talk about the value of perseverance and passion. …


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Back in the day when software was really expensive to build, data was expensive to store and sales were, well, expensive to procure, VCs had big loss ratios. When the going got tough, you had to cut your losses, quick!


Software, SaaS, mobile apps, responsive, encrypted, SQL/Ruby/Python/et al. In the Tech and VC industry, we’re pretty much obsessed with software. But what about the casing? The outward facing design? What about the actual devices? Where is the love?

Its time to get your nerd on, and follow me back down memory lane…

The first device I fell for was the Speak & Spell, an early 80s masterpiece from Texas Instruments:

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As a child, this thing rocked my world. I couldn’t believe the interaction with the computer — it felt like I was communicating with something else: not a person (certainly not a Eng. Lang. teacher!), but some higher force that didn’t feel quite human, and yet interacted with me. …


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Fascinated (sickened?) though we all are by the dark sitcom that is the US Presidential election, as a non US citizen, who would you vote for if you could?


Sound familiar? Read on, dearest.

Live to work, or work to live? WTF is a work-life balance these days anyway, when we’re constantly connected?

Humanity used to enjoy an almost complete separation of the two parts of daily life. Now, not so much. We’re probably transitioning to a state of hyper-efficiency that’s about 100 years off, but in the meantime it feels as though both “work” and “life” are being short-changed. A natural response to daily pressure for many high achievers is to hide behind the importance of work, and become a functioning workaholic.

Sorry, I can’t do that, I have important work to do. Ooo, I’d love to, but I’m working. Darling, don’t bother me, I’m working. …

About

Matt Penneycard

Partner at Ada Ventures

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