Venture capital firm Hambro Perks, run by City grandee Rupert Hambro and former investment banker Dominic Perks, has opened its doors to retail investors for the first time.
The firm, which has backed businesses including Sipsmith gin and on-demand washing service Laundrapp, has previously only made investments from its own £25m balance sheet. This cash came from Hambro and Perks individually, and a select number of family offices and private individuals.
But the business is now launching an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) fund, which will raise cash from retail investors and allow them to make tax-efficient investments alongside the Hambro Perks business.
"There are five sectors that we're developing an expertise in, and where we think the UK can be a global leader," Perks told City A.M. "These are fintech, insurtech, digital media, healthtech and edtech, or education technology."
The fund will be open to investing in other technology-focused businesses, but will focus on these niches. "They are all areas which are in a state of change," Hambro added. "So many developments have been happening in education, while the NHS is crying out for help."
Unlike an average venture capital firm, Hambro Perks also incubates its own business ideas. Laundrapp was in fact Perks' idea, which he funded to set up while bringing in a management team.
Meanwhile with the new EIS fund, the firm aims to avoid the pitfalls which others have fallen into. While some funds have been known to invest in unsound businesses, simply so they can charge fees, or bleed businesses dry to generate a return, Perks emphasises that Hambro Perks will be putting its own money into every transaction.
"Britain is a fantastically innovative country, and we have a lot to shout about," he said.
With the extra money which the EIS fund gives it, the firm hopes to be able to write larger cheque sizes for investee companies and be able to build its stake in companies in which it is really confident.
Hambro Perks' EIS fund aims to raise £20m per annum, to continue investing in UK startups indefinitely.