A year in review: 23 highlights in 2023

19/12/2023

At our recent Christmas lunch, we were reflecting on one word to sum up the past year. Amidst suggestions like choppy, resilience, tenacity, unpredictability and dynamic, one word stood out as a unanimous resonance – proud.

In a demanding and ever-changing business and fundraising landscape, we’re immensely proud of the achievements of our founders, portfolio companies and the Active team. So, to shine a spotlight on some of the key moments from the year, we’ve curated a list of our 23 highlights for 2023.

1. We started the year with some exciting promotions in our existing team – Janice Cargo and Tom Profumo became Partners and Dan Linegar and Billy Fox became Principals.

2. Active-backed online car repair marketplace WhoCanFixMyCar was acquired by Niterra EMEA GmbH, the world’s leading ignition and vehicle electronics specialist and the perfect strategic partner to support the business through its next phase of growth.

3. We made a new growth investment into KatKin, the leading fresh food brand for cats, joining existing investors Perwyn, V3 Ventures (Verlinvest) and Octopus Ventures as its backers.

4. We closed our second early-stage fund, firmly establishing ourselves as early-stage investors with 10 new investments this year across the whole consumer economy including:

  • MEplace – early years nursery group promoting both mental and physical health.
  • Patch – work and cultural venues in commuter towns for the ‘Work Near Home’ era.
  • Roots Allotments – taking underutilised, greenbelt land and turning it into allotments.
  • Glowb – accelerating the transition to cleaner home energy by making light work of solar for homeowners.
  • Innovate Recycle – textile recycling company operating the first and only carpet recycling facility in the UK.
  • Padel Social Club – a premium padel community through pay-to-play courts and social spaces.
  • Creature Comforts – designing vet care by focusing on preventative care and vet satisfaction.
  • Flash Pack – group adventures for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s.
  • Sipgood – redefining hydration with all-natural infusion drops.
  • Diem – affordable access to high-quality, unique fragrance.

5. We welcomed four fantastic additions to our team: Courtney joined as a full-time investor in our early-stage team upon completion of her MBA at London Business School after working with us since the summer of 2022; Anna joined as an early-stage intern in January and later became a full-time member of the team; Jasper Smith joined as Finance Director and Simon Porter joined our growth investment team.

6. Claire Gilmartin, former CEO of Trainline and Vice President of eBay Europe, joined us as an advisor, bringing over 25 years of leadership experience building transformational businesses through innovation.

7. TravelLocal, which provides tailor-made holidays globally, closed a £8.3 million Series B round led by Puma Private Equity with follow-on investment from Active Partners and Gresham House Ventures.

8. The Fold raised £1.7 million, with two-thirds of the crowd investors participating identifying as female, nearly three times higher than the investment platform Crowdcube’s average. This followed the brand’s “Start with One” campaign to encourage more women to start investing in the UK.

9. Taylor & Hart raised a £3.5 million round led by Virgin Money and Active Partners and involving the crowd to develop its state-of-the-art technology and grow internationally.

10. Honest Burgers raised nearly £3 million from the crowd and Active Partners to open further restaurants and launch a new quick-service burger concept.

11. Several of our portfolio businesses opened new sites including:

  • Caravan’s eighth and largest restaurant in Covent Garden.
  • Northern Monk’s The Northern Market, featuring a food market and beer hall.
  • Roots Allotments launched new patches in Croydon and Stourbridge and secured planning permission for its next site in Bristol.
  • Patch opened two new sites in Twickenham and High Wycombe.

12. We launched our Women Leaders Breakfast event series, bringing together women leaders across our portfolio companies together to share ideas and experiences. We hosted two events at Caravan in March and alongside Facetheory in November.

13. A number of our D2C businesses moved into physical retail including the opening of Piglet in Bed’s first store in Harrogate, Facetheory’s partnership with Sephora Asia and Vinterior’s first pop-up store in Selfridges.

14. Growth portfolio company Cubitts became a B Corp, coinciding with its 10th anniversary and joining three other B Corp companies in the Active portfolio: Finisterre, Context Travel and Facetheory.

15. Our team joined demo days, office hours and masterclasses to support underrepresented founders through our charity partnership with Hatch Enterprise.

16. We hosted several events for our portfolio and wider investment community including a breakfast event on leadership, an advisor’s dinner, and a virtual event with Gavyn Davies on the current state of the consumer economy. The events calendar culminated in our annual early-stage investor and founder drinks at Dream Factory where our early-stage portfolio founders shared a snapshot of the businesses they are building with a room of over 120 people.

17. Finisterre continued its industry-leading sustainability initiatives by launching the world’s first programme to rent Yulex wetsuits.

18. Code First Girls reached a major milestone of having taught 100,000 women to code, cementing its place as the UK’s largest provider of free coding education to women.

19. Our team kept busy speaking at and attending various events throughout the year, including Blue Earth Summit, eCommerce Expo, Sifted and VivaTech.

20. Our Managing Partner Nick Evans hopped on a bike with Patrick Hosking, Financial Editor of The Times to test ride Classified’s patented tech and share why it has the potential to transform the cycling industry.

21. TALA expanded into plus sizing to reach more customers and continue working towards its mission to make sustainable activewear more accessible and affordable for everyone.

22. Subdial entered a tie-up with Bloomberg for its Subdial Market Index and launched the Subdial Clubhouse for a new generation of watch collectors to manage, trade and build their watch collections.

23. Rob Pasco, Founder of Plend and Jamie Genevieve, Founder of Vieve, become part of the European Class of 2023 in Forbes’ 30 Under 30, joining Active portfolio founder Grace Beverley, Founder of TALA.

Active Partners back the UK’s leading fresh cat food brand KatKin to set new standard in the industry

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