London-based Blossom Capital is launching an angel investment program, Cultivate, modeled after the early-stage funding networks in Silicon Valley. Composed of up to 30 angels, each a founder or executive of a European unicorn, Cultivate’s members are committing their time to mentoring the founders in addition to funding. So far members include Des Traynor (Intercom), Guillaume Pousaz (Checkout.com), Nilan Peiris (Transferwise) and Shakil Khan (Spotify). “As CEOs, we’re keen to find and develop the next-generation of business leaders; to pay it forward, but we don’t have the time to search for and uncover these hidden gems,” said Pousaz.
Over the next year, the program aims to invest $5 million in the seed or pre-seed rounds of 20 startups. Each startup will get an equal investment of $250,000. Members are able to invest personal capital alongside Cultivate's investment; they can also introduce the new founders to other funds. Ophelia Brown, founder of the VC firm, said the purpose is to give European founders “as much access to capital and experience in Europe as they need to scale. Our ambition is to democratise this access and continue to help tech founders punch well above their weight on a global scale.” Additionally, Brown said she hopes the launch of Cultivate sends a message that now is the time to invest in innovation, not shy away from it.