New London Incubator SeedCloud Puts £500,000 Into Sentience Technology, Aims At Big Data Startups

As if there weren’t enough technology startup accelerators already in Europe, yet another launched today with the hope of attracting ‘cloud’ based startups in the areas of Big Data, Machine Learning and other similarly high-end areas. But unlike some, this one will have some pretty heavyweight serial entrepreneurs involved. SeedCloud is an new London-based incubator which also announces its first transaction, a £500,000 fundraising for Sentience Technology.

SeedCloud is the brainchild of Stephen Chandler (ex-MessageLabs and managing partner at the cloud-focussed VC Notion Capital) and Graham York (ex HP senior CTO and director of a number of enterprise software companies). They hope to bring to bare their technical expertise in Cloud architectures (back-end scalable Cloud platforms), mobile, Big Data analytics, semantic and NLP, AI / Machine Learning and graph (social and collaboration) architectures.

The incubator wil be leveraging the UK Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) programs which have won plaudits for their investor-friendly terms.

Chandler said Seedcloud usually facilitates an initial £150k fund raise under ‘Seed EIS’ (the maximum available) to complete the proof of concept for a startup. He says this is attractive because if the investor has capital gains it is a ‘no lose scenario’ on a net basis. A further £500-750,000 raise is later used to launch a startup properly.

Chandler commented: “We are not a fund. We have no committed capital to deploy. What we do is facilitate the fundraising by creating an informal marketplace to match High Net Worth Investors (HNWI) with interesting tech ideas. The SeedCloud team always invest personally in the idea along side these HNWIs. SeedCloud also gets some sweat equity on top for the role we play.

“We are actually earlier stage than even SeedCamp. Often these are just ideas (no tech built and not even a corporate entity created). We take the idea, do market research to shape a proposition, complete the technical architecture then resource the build. Sometimes these ideas are internally generated and we backfill resources to execute and sometimes its an entrepreneur that brings it to us. The equity we get therefore varies considerably depending on this factor and the stage.”

SeedCloud’s first venture is Sentience Technology, which provides a real-time enterprise recommendation engine for both content and sources of expertise by creating a knowledge graph within the enterprise.

SeedCloud joins Seedcamp and TechStars London (formerly Springboard) and other incubators/accelerators in the city, though the latter two don’t particularly specialise in any one area. So the highly technical focus of Seedcloud is probably to be welcomed.