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We formed Mountside Ventures to optimise the fundraising process between founders and funds, and to increase the flow of venture capital into the startup ecosystem: Jonathan Hollis, Managing Partner

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“Our philosophy is that if we can be helpful higher up the food chain, we can better support the founders.”

The knowledge gap between founders and investors is inherently large. Between them, it’s likely that partners at the investment firm will have entered into over 100 deals, whereas the founder will have made one, two, or maybe a few more deals if they are lucky.

Not only does this mean that there may be a lack of understanding of the key investment terms, but there will also be a lack of awareness of whether the terms are market standard.

Mountside Ventures addresses this imbalance by partnering up with founders to minimise the disruption of fundraising on their business and to maximise their chances of securing investment on the best terms.

There is also a diversity problem in the venture. Take female founders; for example, approximately a third of founders are women, yet funding only goes to one percent. This is partly due to a large part of the market investing in their primary or secondary network. Therefore, warm intros are solving a key problem to level the playing field.

Mountside is an award-winning advisory firm, specialised in early-stage fundraising and exits. It has been successful in advising on over £80m of funding in the last few years. Needless to say, the firm is on track to become the leading fundraising advisory business in Europe.

Mountside Ventures is regulated in the UK for investment advice.

The Silicon Review reached out to Jonathan Hollis, Managing Partner of Mountside Ventures, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Q. What circumstances or events led to the creation of Mountside Ventures? Please brief us about the history so far.

I was having a great time and had met some amazing people, including my two co-founders, at PwC, where I spent just under a decade. By the end of 2019, we’d built two new startup propositions and had expanded them to other countries, but working as part of a massive global organisation with a turnover of over £30 billion always brings certain challenges. I also wanted to better service the startup ecosystem by working somewhere where this world was a top priority, and be part of a leaner and more agile team.

We (my two co-founders and I) therefore decided to leave our cushy jobs at PwC three months before Covid hit and build a business we could be proud of!

Q. Can you introduce us to your services? What are their key features?

Our value proposition for founders raising their first and second institutional rounds of funding is split into the following five parts.

  • We prepare companies to become institutionally investor-ready by updating their documents, ensuring they are fit for purpose with a clear investor proposition. As a minimum, this includes the pitch deck and investor FAQ made up of the value proposition, market size, go-to-market plan and competitor analysis, a financial model (where we spend a significant proportion of time, often re-building it), valuation benchmarks, and the data room. It also includes perfecting the investment pitch.
  • We identify the most appropriate funding options by mapping the investor and lender population based on the profile of the business and the growth aspirations of the management team.
  • We introduce relevant investors by tapping into our network of 1,200 VCs, corporates, family offices and lenders.
  • We negotiate the best deal available by levelling the playing field and building competitive tensions, leveraging our knowledge of the market. Lawyers do not typically address the key commercial issues, and the reality is that most only get involved when the term sheet is signed.
  • We maximise the chances of a smooth due diligence process by avoiding common mistakes and speeding up the process between signing the term sheet and receiving the investment.

More importantly, our advice has included a coaching role. It’s lonely at the top, and founders receive very little empathy or gratitude for the work they do. It’s difficult to turn to family and friends as most don’t understand what they’re building, they can’t turn to their employees in fear of looking weak or not in control, and often they can’t turn to their board in fear of conflicts and showing a lack of direction; so many turn to us for a coaching role.

In order to have a significant impact on the ecosystem and work with a larger group of companies, we also run free fundraising accelerators for pre-seed and seed companies, on behalf of our partners, including the British Business Bank, Funding London, Innovate UK and Wayra. We also publish fundraising templates, resources and investor lists.

We delay 100% of the payment for the work we perform until close. We do this because we want to work at risk with the best founders, and reduce selection bias (charging upfront may reduce the quality of the founders we would otherwise work with). This means we need to be selective about the companies we work with and unfortunately, it means turning down the majority we speak to.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how Mountside helped them overcome those challenges?

All our clients come to us with the same challenge — how can I run the most efficient fundraising process and generate an outcome I am happy with and find an investor who understands my business, can provide real value and with whom I can build a long-term relationship with.

We address this challenge in the ways described above and have so far been successful!

Q. What’s the one thing you want Mountside to be known for?

Our vision is to be the first point of call for the most ambitious entrepreneurs looking to raise their next round of funding, and for venture capital funds to source their best deals. We formed the company to support the flow of venture capital into the ecosystem and to optimise the fundraising process between founders and funds.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?

One of the aspects that sets us apart is that we also support emerging VCs (they have to fundraise too) by providing them with access to fundraising insights and running regular conferences (free of charge) to connect them with Limited Partners and Family Offices.

Our philosophy is that if we can be helpful higher up the food chain, we can better support the founders.

Jonathan Hollis | Managing Partner

Jonathan Hollis splits his time between advising entrepreneurs raising their next round and identifying top-tier emerging VC managers for Family Offices and Limited Partners.

He qualified with PwC as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) and co-founded their early-stage corporate finance practice and Series-A accelerator, whose alumni have raised over £500m with a combined valuation of £3bn, before leaving the firm three years ago to set up Mountside.

“Our vision is to be the first point of call for the most ambitious entrepreneurs looking to raise their next round of funding, and for venture capital funds to source their best deals.”