* JV to invest in digital fashion brands, enabling tech
* Raised its first fund of $120 mln
* Felix Capital Partners will focus on Europe
By Eric Auchard
LONDON, June 3 (Reuters) - Frederic Court, one of Europe’s standout early-stage investors in recent years, has formed a venture capital firm to invest in digital fashion brands and enabling technologies.
The partnership has raised its first fund of $120 million, as demand from institutional investors outstripped the firm’s initial plans to raise $80 million, Court told Reuters.
Court has backed a number of start-up success stories, such as online fashion marketplace Farfetch. He was the first investor in Farfetch, which is now one of a handful of UK “unicorns”, the popular term for start-ups valued above $1 billion.
His new firm, London-based Felix Capital Partners, will focus on first- and second-round investments in online retail, advertising and wearable device start-ups, mainly in Europe. However, it would also look at U.S. firms seeking funding to expand into Europe, Court said.
Felix Partners aims to invest between $2 million and $5 million in early-stage rounds but has flexibility to consider investments as low as $100,000 and up to $10 million, he said.
It has already made three investments, including a follow-on investment in Farfetch and new investments in Business of Fashion, an online media company focused on the fashion industry, and RAD, an online streetwear brand.
It will announce two further investments this month, including one in the food category, Court said.
He vowed to put entrepreneurs at the centre of Felix’s investment strategy rather than focusing on game-changing business models where proven leadership may be secondary, as many big Silicon Valley venture capitalists often do.
“We are looking for people who don’t need a huge check to go out and do something, in part because we don’t have the huge check to write,” Court said, adding that its smaller scale frees the fund from having to invest in “anything that is shiny”.
Court, 45, a native of France and now based in Britain, is managing partner at Felix. The other partners are Antonie Nussenbaum, a former banker and hedge fund manager, and Les Gabb, a partner of Court’s for 15 years at Advent Ventures, their previous venture firm.
Reflecting the company’s focus on identifying and working with entrepreneurs, Felix Capital will work with a team of 10 successful start-up operators, who are all investors in the fund.
They include David Marcus, vice president of Facebook’s mobile messaging business, Sebastian Picardo, former chief financial officer of Net-A-Porter, and Henri Moissinac, who has worked at eBay, Facebook and now Uber.
At Advent, Court was an early investor in Zong, the mobile payments company Marcus sold to eBay for $240 million, before later moving to Facebook. Court also backed Vitrue, a social media marketing firm acquired by Oracle, and Dailymotion a popular online video platform based in France, now owned by telecom network operator Orange. (Editing by Susan Fenton)