An example of the young startups that Octopus usually backs is TRAFI, a public transport app that helps journey planning. In May, the Lithuanian business secured a $6.5m Series A round from the VC firm to build a London office, scale the team and introduce a growth VP.
However, the formal Opportunities fund launch comes after Octopus led a $60m investment alongside Google in July to back discount luxury travel company Secret Escapes, which it has supported since its early days in 2011.
At the time, Alex Saint, CEO of Secret Escapes, said: The continued support and investment from Octopus since the earliest stages of our company formation has helped us to build a rapidly growing global company based in London.
This new round of investment will allow us to accelerate our brand and expansion into the USA and Asia. We forecast to be a global multi-billion turnover business by the end of the decade.
Zoopla, SwiftKey and graze.com are among the other companies Octopus sorted early on, all of which have grown into huge success stories. And as the case of Secret Escapes has proved, Octopus wants to ensure companies continue to thrive even when they become larger and more mature.
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At Octopus we seek unusually talented entrepreneurs, and we want to be there supporting them from the beginning of their business journey to the later stages of company growth and maturity,” Alex Macpherson, head of Octopus Ventures, explained.
The Octopus Opportunities fund is a really exciting development that enables us to keep travelling with some of our existing entrepreneurs for longer, while also providing additional funding to find new investment opportunities.
He added that the company has always been comfortable investing at the early stages of a startup, but noted that the partnerships are long-term, thus the newfound desire for supporting the management team as they continue to realise the full potential of their businesses during the course of its lifetime .
Secret Escapes’ Saint detailed that the business was able to lean on the Octopus team from the initial tie-up back in 2011 and even now four years later. He also said the VC partner played a crucial role in the development of Secret Escapes.
Recent years have seen significant changes in both the London and wider European technology markets; the rise of $1 billion business valuations across Europe has been particularly well documented,” Macpherson continued.
As the European ecosystem continues to develop and mature, this $140m fund allows Octopus to continue backing talented entrepreneurs from an early stage, but then to provide crucial on-going support, remaining an investment partner as they go on to build big, enduring businesses.