Wednesday 21 October 2020 1:15 pm

Startup community Supernode merges with VC fund to invest in media-tech

Investor and startup community Supernode has absorbed media-tech VC fund Rooks Nest Ventures in what it claims is an industry first. 

The creation of Supernode Global comes out of the £28m Rooks Nest Ventures fund, launched in 2017 by film producer Michael Sackler, and the community platform Supernode. 

The new venture will offer access to capital, investing at the intersection of media and technology, as well as access to mentorship and potential partners, customers and service providers. 

Supernode Global claims it is an “industry first” but access to capital and mentorship are what most investors offer startups in one form or another anyway.  

Sackler tells City A.M.: “In many respects you see smaller versions of [what we’re doing] when VCs talk about value-add or advisory boards.” 

But he is at pains to explain what differentiates Supernode Global from the typical VC model. “We’re doing it at a massive scale, where… any question that you come to use with, should in theory be answered by dipping into the community.”

“We believe the community will be one of the most important resources and we see it day in, day out in the way we operate with our portfolio companies at the moment. Whether that’s having experts on tap in any particular field, or being able to help them recruit,” he adds. 

One of Supernode’s portfolio companies exercise app Fiit told City A.M. the community had been essential in its scale-up efforts. Chief executive Daniel Shellard said Supernode peers had made introductions to Sky which eventually allowed Fiit to launch on Sky Q at the start of this month. 

“The reality is being an entrepreneur and building a startup is really hard and exchanging war stories is always helpful and useful”, Shellard told City A.M. “The bigger you get the more you can give back to the community, it is an important value exchange.” 

Certainly the community aspect to Sackler’s new venture will help both startups and partners in what continues to be a testing environment, both for the media-tech landscape and investment more generally. 

Supernode Global will ‘help hard-hit media’ sector

Sackler thinks the integration of Rooks Nest Ventures and Supernode will be essential to support startups in the media-tech sector, which have been hard-hit by a lack of investment opportunities.

The new venture will continue to invest solely in media-tech firms as a continuation of Sackler’s work with Rooks Nest Ventures. 

Sackler told City A.M. that Supernode Global takes a “holistic” view of the media, before explaining it has been“undervalued and even sometimes underappreciated,” particularly during the pandemic. 

While Sackler takes an almost philanthropic approach to the media, it is the logistical issues the media firms have faced that should be more of a concern for investors. 

A report by Supernode launched in July revealed the majority of professionals in the industry reporting coronavirus had a “high or medium” impact. And 82 per cent of media-tech firms reported a negative impact on their ability to create new content since the start of lockdown. 

A cautious approach by investors at the start of the UK’s lockdown has also done little to inspire confidence among the startup community.

Research by Plexal published last week revealed more than 1,000 tech startups have filed for administration since the start of lockdown. 

Therefore launching the “world’s first” media-tech community that offers access to capital – or a media-tech VC firm with a community – is a bold but necessary move. 

There are few VC funds that invest solely in this sector so the decision to integrate both the capital and community elements may well be a standout feature for startups looking for investment.

And Sackler seems bullish on the prospects of the industry as people watch and consume more media than ever before because of the pandemic.