Oxford Capital Partners are a fund manager that is focused on "Tech" type Companies (Oxford Capital Partners is the manager of four Oxford Gateway Funds). They were Best EIS Fund Manager of the Year in 2006.

They will provide you with financing from their funds directly but it’s useful to know that these funds are generally invested in by high net worth individuals seeking EIS protection. They generally provide small amounts of funding (up to £500K) by VC standards but they are able to invest in early stage investments that most VC’s are not.

They are happy to syndicate to enable you to raise larger amounts of funding and will even help you find a suitable additional partner.

They describe themselves as a science and technology venture capital firm with extensive experience in investing in and supporting businesses with high growth potential. Oxford Capital Partners looks for the best opportunities, backing exceptional entrepreneurs and investing across all stages of development, from start-up to IPO.

Their terms:

  • 3-5% deal fee. £5k annual monitoring plus NEDs costs (£12K)
  • They would require a board seat, the right to veto the chairman and the right to an observer.
  • They have the usual VC type terms and controls without some of the ‘ratchets’

One key benefit to the entrepreneur in using an EIS fund is that they cannot use preference shares and other nasty vehicles other VCs use! On the downside it’s key that your business is and will remain an EIS investment.

Investment Criteria:

They look for ambitious management teams capable of executing and delivering on their business plans. We focus on the commercialisation of innovative and compelling science and technology. They predominantly invest in the UK where we often act as lead investors.

  • Proven management and strong leadership
  • Robust technologies
  • Identifiable and addressable markets and with proven demand
  • Growth potential in the target markets
  • Demonstrable route to superior profitability
  • Willingness to work with financial and professional partners
  • Exit orientation

The funding process:

You send your business plan to Victor Christou and they pre-screen your opportunity. They prefer initially to receive a short executive summary. This should include details of the management team’s experience.

It’s likely that one of the team will contact you for an early discussion before they get you in to present your plan in more detail. It’s important you are at the right stage and they tend to prefer working with companies that need their first major round of financing and one that will be large enough to get to cash flow break even and/or profitability.

They have a small, but highly knowledgeable team, lead by David Mott based in Oxford where you be expected to present your plan.

It will be essential to be an EIS compatible investment.

The team:

I enjoyed working with and meeting most of their team. They have a broad mix of skills and backgrounds. They are a professional, friendly and skilled bunch of people that seem very thorough and diligent.

As they play an active role in their portfolio companies, building close partnerships with management teams and leveraging their extensive network of contracts to support their development it will be important to have the right ‘chemistry’ before you accept an investment.