The student-run Seed Fund at Saïd Business School has made its first investment in two startups, ACE Consensus and Onfido, both founded by Oxford alumni. Each of the companies received an investment of £20,000.
ACE was founded in 2013 by Alex Money (2010 D.Phil in Economic Geography). It offers a digital platform that delivers proprietary information about market expectations for publicly traded companies. ‘ACE appeared on the Seed Fund’s radar during the first round of application reviews,’ said Mark Clayton Hand, current MBA student and founding Chair of the Seed Fund committee. ‘It turned out to be exactly the kind of start-up the Seed Fund looks to back: a high-potential management team working on a business that is high-growth and high-scale.’
Commenting on the investment, Alex Money said, ‘We’re delighted to have the Seed Fund as an investor. The funding will be used to enhance ACE’s analytics platform and improve scalability. The association is particularly valuable to us as we roll out further innovations in this area, and add to our team.’
Onfido was founded in 2012 by four Oxford University graduates, including a former president of Oxford Entrepreneurs. The company graduated from the ISIS Software Accelerator programme and offers pre-employment background checks and reference reports. Onfido's platform enables organisations to instantly conduct in-depth checks on new and existing employees, incorporating references checks and employee verification helping organisations reduce their hiring costs as well as reducing the risk of inadvertently hiring illegal or fraudulent workers.
Commenting on the investment, Eamon Jubbawy said, ‘The investment from the Seed Fund will allow us to service our growing client base and accelerate the development of our technology. We are delighted to have the support of Saïd Business School as well as continued support from our existing shareholders.’
Managed by a committee of eight students from the Oxford MBA and Masters in Law and Finance programmes, and mentored by successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics, the Saïd Business School Seed Fund was created to help support the ecosystem of entrepreneurial activities at the School and the University of Oxford. It not only provides the initial capital for Oxford student and alumni ventures to get off the ground, it is also provides a hands-on learning experience for the committee, giving students behind-the-scenes access to the management of early stage investing.
‘We’re delighted to see this effort from the students to support the Oxford ecosystem for venture creation,’ said Jim Hall, Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Entrepreneurship. ‘We hope the Seed Fund will not only become a launch pad for successful commercial ventures originating from Oxford, but also for students considering a career in this sector.’