Anne Hathaway backs Pact, an all-women led VC for mission-driven startups, from West to East • TechCrunch

How many VC funds can you name where the three partners all had babies while raising the fund, have deep ties in Asia as well as Europe and the US, and include actress Anne Hathaway as an LP? Not much I would risk.

But that’s the profile of Pact, a new Seed VC fund launched with a £30 million ($36 million) pot of cash to back early-stage startups across Europe. Pact will target “mission-driven” startups in what it calls the “ABC” categories: Access (economic inclusion), Enhancement (personal and professional well-being) and Climate. (This is a much more interesting way of addressing ‘doing well’ areas, instead of trotting out the UN’s SDGs, IMHO). Pact’s investment tickets will range from around £1m to £1.5m.

As well as Anne Hathaway (she’s not ‘only’ an Oscar-winning actor, but also a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador), other LPs include Jeff Dean, the head of AI at Google, and Keith Teare, a founder ( and former) shareholder of TechCrunch and former technology entrepreneur in the UK and US.

They are joined by Anchor investor Campden Hill Capital; Yeming Wang, the former head of EMEA of Alibaba; Fahd Beg, the chief operating officer of Naspers; Todd Ruppert, the retired CEO of T. Rowe Price Global and venture partner at Greenspring Associates, and Tilo Bonow, CEO of PIABO.

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The three female partners – Tong Gu, Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham and Monik Pham – were former VCs in other funds. Gu was an investor at ADV (of which Teare was previously a part) and built a data analytics business in Shanghai, which she exited. Wyndham was also an investor in ADV and a former founder. Pham was part of the founding team of the early stage fund Fuel Ventures and launched several social enterprises in Africa and India.

She spoke to Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham and told me they had been raising the fund for a little over a year (during their pregnancies and first children), but the idea had been “in the works” for about five or six years: “We both joined ADV the same week. And we met Monik around the same time. What we observed in the early stage landscape in the UK were some key things that were missing. There are very few early stage fund managers who have both operating experience and deep operating experience abroad in emerging markets. And that’s something that the three of us bring to the table in a very complimentary way.”

“We believe that capitalism should and can be inclusive while still delivering big results,” she added. “And we really want it to be able to support early-stage companies that really positively shape the future. We have all built our careers with that Northstar as a guide for us. It’s a value we’ve always stood for, but it’s only now at this point that the market is really coming around to it. There should not be a trade-off between socially sustainable, environmentally sustainable and commercially sustainable outcomes. You have to think about both. And that’s a value that all three of us agreed on,” she said.

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Tong Gu told me, “Growing up in China, I saw how entrepreneurship and technology enabled a large population of people who used to be below the poverty line to become richer and make their lives better. I started a technology company that enables independent small brand owners to compete with the bigger ones. And for me, it was the experience of really driving economic inclusion, but in kind of a technology-enabled way.

Wyndham admitted “it’s not a big fund”. However, she said the £30m should get them enough companies to get the “healthy diversification” needed for fund returns: “We could do 18 to 20 companies, either leads or co-leads. We were very thoughtful about how we’ve assembled our LP base. So the LPS that have come in are strategic and they provide domain expertise and market access, but they also provide capital continuity. The vast majority are looking for access to deal flow. So in that sense, it’s actually furthering our firepower to scale than the 30 million.”

Anne Hathaway (Source: Wikipedia)

Anne Hathaway (Source: Wikipedia)

About a Hollywood movie star among their LPs, Wyndham added: “She’s actually been a friend and mentor of mine for about 12 years and since then we’ve become friends and shared values. One of her major causes is childcare, and the lack of it, as the final frontier for gender equality. And this is something we experienced first hand as three female GPs who all had our first children while raising this fund. We had to figure out how to overcome the structural headwinds to be able to do both. That’s very much one of the lessons we hope to share with the ecosystem, and that’s kind of where Anne comes in.”

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Pact’s first investment was made in Growth Kitchen, a London-based company launching sustainable food brands based on data insights.

Previous investments for Pact’s team members include clause acquired by DocuSign. Onto, an electric vehicle subscription service; Perlego, an online learning platform; and Yoco, an African FinTech company.

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