Business

Podcaster-turned-tech investor raises $140 million


The 24-year-old law school from southwest London who started a popular podcast on technology investment as a teenager has raised $140 million in new money to support startups.

Harry Stebbings has secured investment from MIT and Rothschild-backed RIT Capital Partners, as well as the founders and early backers of Spotify, Calm and Atlassian for his 20VC fund.

Several Stebbings investors appeared on his podcast, Twenty Minute VC, who has released hundreds of episodes since starting when he was 18 in 2015. He left law school the following year to focus on podcasting full-time, before moving on to investing in 2017, aged 20.

“When you look at the next 10 years, we see this bifurcation, with media and ventures colliding,” said Stebbings, “as competition becomes increasing for venture capitalists to get into the hottest startups.”

He cited Silicon Valley investor Andreessen Horowitz as another example of how VCs are building their own content platforms, allowing them to bypass traditional media and build a profile that can attract entrepreneurs.

After raising $8.3 million in initial funding in April 2020, Stebbings has invested in start-ups including audio social network Clubhouse and virtual events service Hopin, both of which have generated billions of dollars in valuations. Founder of Hobin Johnny Povarat He is also an investor in 20VC.

A string of social media influencers are trying to use their online profiles to become investors, including YouTubers Jake Paul and Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, and TikTok star Josh Richards.

But few have raised capital as quickly as Stebbings, who grew up in Fulham, southwest London.

His father is a stockbroker and his mother has multiple sclerosis. The podcast was initially launched to help pay for medical fees, as well as build connections in the tech industry.

“The podcast is my shop mark,” Stebbings said. “Content creation is easier than ever, but creating a brand is more difficult than ever… Distribution, at the end of the day, is everything.”

20VC is the latest example of increased capital inflow into European technology. Just last week, Balderton launched a $680m growth fund, while Draper Esprit revealed plans to raise another £111m from investors.

Venture capital funding for European tech companies reached €38.9 billion last year, according to investment tracker Dealroom.co, but it has already surpassed that in 2021 with an investment of €48.1 billion so far.

Stebbings admitted he was “a little worried” that the private tech market was “really hot,” but he cited the trillion-dollar valuations of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet as evidence that payouts for a winning bet could be greater than ever.

Among Stebbings’ backers is Shakil Khan, who has previously invested in start-ups launched by young British entrepreneurs. James Proud And the Nick D’Aloisio.

“I have believed in Harry since his first episodes of The Twenty Minute VC, which was taped from his mother’s kitchen six years ago,” said Khan, co-founder of Prima Materia, a €1 billion investment firm, along with the CEO of Spotify. Daniel Eck.

20VC will operate two funds, with a focus of $33 million on early-stage investment and $107 million in deals in more established technology companies.

But Stebbing insists there is a “complete demarcation” between the podcast and his investments.

“We can never really muddy the waters in terms of content quality. Just because I invest in your company, it doesn’t mean we feature you” on the podcast, he said.



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