A PARTNERSHIP with matthew…

I’m looking for investors who want me.

Because it is me. I’m who you speak to, I’m who advises you and I’m the person you need to trust. Which means we don’t waste time or energy or money, and there’s no fuss. I’m very flexible, I’m only interested in driving results, and I’m easy to get on with. 

The Ask

• £10m invested over 5 years.

The Offer

• £2m into 4-6 startups per year, for five years.

• 2% Management fee to cover running costs.

• ‘Carry’ of 20%.

The Aim

• To make outsized returns.

Who will it suit?

Someone ambitious, who thinks a bit differently. Someone who sees the value of long-term relationships in evaluating future stars of the business world. Someone who embraces risk in a sensible way. Someone who values results over activity. 

If that’s you, let’s talk

* * * *

My story

I am an angel investor, syndicate lead, community builder and author of 'Find your 9others'. I grew up on a farm in Northumberland but always wanted to be in London. In 1999 I started working in IT and progressed well with RBS, The Bank of New York and other software firms. Then, aged 27-30, I took time out to study Computer Science at Durham University, and a few years later discovered Venture Capital at Imperial College Business School as part of my MBA.

In 2010 I started working in venture. A year later I co-founded 9others.

What started as a simple meal for myself and 'nine others' has grown a lot. To date 9others has hosted over 5,000 people at over 500 intimate meals in 47 cities around the world. But that's not all it has done.

By starting and maintaining lasting and trusted relationships with founders long before any investment conversations take place I have developed the unique intuition necessary to evaluate them.

And so, through 9others I have been consistently observing the quiddity — the very essence — of founders month after month, year after year for well over a decade. That’s a lot of learning.

What am I looking for?

The simple bit is finding startups with high market share and a high growth rate that have a positive impact on the world, which is my target. The harder bit is evaluating which founders are worth investing in.

My experience with 9others has allowed me to identify what I call, ‘Star Founders’. 

Star Founders are those people with the highest levels of grit and self-awareness necessary to build world-leading companies. They are people like Tim, who started and grew FanBytes to an 8-figure exit, people like Vivi who has almost half of UK universities as customers at Black Bullion, and people like Chris who invented a new, global addressing standard in what3words.

I believe the greatest investment returns come from backing these Star Founders. 

How do I find the right founders and the right investments?

To find Star Founders, I observe their quiddity, i.e. the essence that makes them them. It’s their journey, childhood, and evidence of their grit and self-awareness. It's who they surround themselves with and what they do on evenings and weekends. It’s what they say and what they don’t. It’s how they conduct themselves. A meal with 9others makes the founders vulnerable in front of me. I listen and am patient, and because of this I have developed unique intuition. I see people differently. I see a side of them that’s not accessible to others. It’s how I spot them early, am on their wavelength and am able to have money accepted by them. 

I am also seeking those with extreme ambition.

To pass muster, startups must answer the following positively:

• Could the company exit for 100-1,000 times the presented valuation?

• Will the company have longevity? Could it be around in 100 years?

• Does the company have the ‘last mover’ advantage?

• Is there superior technology, network effects, economies of scale and a strong brand?

• Does the company have a positive impact on the world?

When to invest

If I meet a founder for the first time and they are fundraising then I will not invest in that round. It’s a golden rule I keep to, no matter the situation. 

Instead I build a trusted, non-investor, relationship first and through meals with 9others and other means. It means I can gather intelligence and hone my intuition. I want to know I can have an open and trusted relationship with the founder, and that I can get to the truth of their situation. 

If the founder is good they will get that round done anyway, and if they're on the path to dominating a market with a high growth rate they will require more funding, so there’s no downside. 

With my approach I can also preemptively make investment offers and have done this a number of times. I can effectively play offence when everyone is on the back foot playing defence. This investment strategy and approach is not replicable. It’s something I do, and it needs me. 

What else should you know?

I remain active after investment. In fact, I take the  ‘9others-style support’ to a whole new level. Connections and shared learning from other founders at portfolio dinners as well as a supportive online group.

I’m not playing someone else’s game. Funds may talk about safe 3 or 4x returns, but I don’t believe in that. To do something remarkable in life you can't play the game everyone else is playing (which isn’t one they always win anyway). For the right investors, that means being involved in something that could be really special. Sure, we won’t fly to the moon this afternoon, or even next year. But over a 5-10 period, we can do thing that will make you wonder why you ever cared about the moon in the first place.

How things turn out…

Because of the way I work, I get opportunities others simply don’t. And because of the way I work I can influence the outcome in unique ways (from a global network of connections for biz dev, recruitment and funding, to confidence boosts to keep heads up and hearts hungry). 

  • FanBytes achieved more than 50x ROI.

  • BlackBullion was oversubscribed but I made a preemptive offer 12 months before the formal fundraising started.

  • Seep took my small cheque because it came from me, when the founder was only taking larger cheques from others.

  • I helped what3words recruit early team members and connected the team with 9others hosts around the world and with angel investors in 2013. That helped me negotiate a £50m investment in 2022, which happened in under a month from start to finish.

I've seen success happen. There are a small number of people I've met through 9others who are now billionaires. And there are a few more who I know have the grit and ambition needed to become billionaires in the future.

If you’ve made it here, I think we might be on the same page. So let’s talk. About the philosophy of business, about current opportunities or about F1, ultra-marathons or family (my three big passions!). I look forward to it.

Disclaimer notice here.

“The meals with 9others were a great way to test feedback to what3words in the early days. More than that, using the 9others network I was able to source talent and recruit early team members”

— Chris Sheldrick, Co-founder what3words

Current Investments & Exits:

  1. EVware (2023)

  2. SearchSmartly (2022)

  3. Black Bullion (2022)

  4. Seep (2021)

  5. Unplugged (2021)

  6. Ayda (2021)

  7. Looper Insights (2021, 2022)

  8. what3words (2020, 2022)

  9. Stitched (2020, 2021)

  10. Stay One Degree (2019, 2020, 2021, 2023)

  11. IDu (2019)

  12. CENTURY (2017)

  13. Desmond & Dempsey (2017)

  14. Bearded Colonel (2014)

  15. Exit - NoblyPOS (2017. Acquired by Revolut 2021)

  16. Exit - FanBtyes (2014, 2017. Acquired by Brainlabs 2022)

  17. Exit - LiveSmart (2018, 2020. Acquired by Inuvi 2023)

  18. Exit - Coconut (2017, 2019, 2020, 2021. Acquired by GoSimpleTax 2023) 23, 2023

"Extreme patience combined with extreme decisiveness. You may call that our investment process. Yes, it's that simple."
— Charlie Munger

Contact Me

Contact Me

Contact Me

© 2023 Matthew Stafford