Today, we have one of the pioneers of the European tech ecosystem on to discuss how the European early-stage VC landscape has changed since its early days – and how their fund, Passion Capital, has unlocked access to individual investors with an innovative decision for their most recent fundraise.
Eileen Burbidge is a Founding Partner of Passion Capital, one of the UK’s top seed stage VCs.
Eileen and I had a fascinating conversation about all things VC. We discussed:
How Eileen’s early days in Internet 1.0 working at Sun Microsystems, Apple, Skype (one of the first employees in Europe & Head of Product), and Yahoo! helped shape her views on venture.
How Passion Capital helped build the fabric of the UK startup ecosystem with White Bear Yard.
How Passion is opening up access to the asset class to individual investors with their crowd raise on Seedrs.
What crowdfunding means for the future of venture capital.
Eileen’s love of Arsenal and why she’s not a fan of the European Super League.
Eileen has built a reputation as the go-to VC for seed stage companies in the UK and Europe – and for good reason.
Her aptly named fund, Passion Capital, has built a name for itself as one of the top early-stage funds in the UK because of her passion for rolling up her sleeves, much like she did in her days as an operator at Skype, Apple, Yahoo!, and Sun Microsystems.
I won’t forget when we met last year at her office – she had just stepped out of non-stop meetings with one of her growth-stage companies, where she was helping them figure out team and talent questions.
Not every seed stage VC has the ability to stay involved as their companies grow nor does this type of work, but that’s what separates Passion from the pack.
Eileen is just as much at home in her office, which doubles as a co-working space for Passion portfolio companies, as she is in 10 Downing Street, where she has been named the UK Treasury’s Special Envoy for FinTech, has been appointed by the Chancellor as the Chair of Tech Nation, and was awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honors for her services to businesses.
So maybe it’s no surprise why she’s been described as “The Queen of British VCs” by Fortune Magazine.
She’s certainly backed many of the British startup royalty at early-stage, being a Seed investor in Monzo Bank, where she still serves on the board, Tide Bank, GoCardless, Digital Shadows, Marshmallow, Butternut Box, and a number of others.
Eileen has also had an illustrious career as an operator, working for Apple, Yahoo, and Sun Microsystems in the early days of the internet before moving to London in 2004 to become one of Skype’s earliest employees and Head of Product.
She then founded Passion in 2011 as one of the first Seed funds in London, serving a critical market need for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in London.
She’s now trailblazing once again by being one of the first funds to open up their LP base to the crowd, where they have partnered with Seedrs to allow individuals to invest into Passion’s latest fund.
She’s also an independent non-executive board director at Dixons Carphone, a 10B GBP revenue electrical and telecoms retailer and on the Transformation & Innovation Advisory Board at UniCredit.
Thanks Eileen for being a pioneer in the European VC ecosystem and bringing innovative structures in venture capital to LPs.
You can find this episode on Spotify here, Apple Podcasts here, and Transistor here.
I hope you enjoy.
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