There comes a time in every successful venture when the existing structure needs to expand. From seed phase one to global operation, each phase of growth has its own needs and requirements for investment and nurture. Likewise the angel investor. He might start out small, prove his abilities, test himself and his values before opening up to invite like-minded investors to join him on his mission. Superangel Chris Adelsbach has done exactly that with Outrun Ventures a syndicate he co-founded with Tariq Khan, bringing fintech founders together with investors who care about innovative, and disruptive enterprises in this sector. Since the world is connected virtually, it makes sense to use a digital investment platform to bring his network together, adapting to the needs of each deal.
I'm an inquisitive person. I like to talk to people about what works and what doesn't work and how things operate and by doing that, I've just built up a good network of people that I can learn from, I can introduce opportunities to where they can act as either a mentor or maybe a fellow investor and it's great.
Chris has put his heart and soul into being a new kind of angel investor. He started - and exited to a NASDAQ-listed company - his own fintech, Marlin Financial Group, which featured in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 every year from 2009 to 2013 as one of the top 100 fastest-growing privately held companies in the UK. In this hour of triumph, Chris pledged to put half of his proceeds back into seed‑stage companies as an angel investor, allowing him to pursue, develop, and hone his passion for fintech disruption, innovative thinking, and business excellence. To date, Chris has personally invested in over a hundred and fifty fintech companies, standing out from other angels who typically invest in only six to ten.
“ Working in early stages is really collaborative, I find. Being a smaller ticket investor that tries to be value-add, I tend to be either invited or space tends to be made for me to be in the deals I want to get involved in. ”
His attention goes deep beyond the money. Chris maintains contact and interest in the founders long after their companies are flourishing, helping them grow to capacity at every phase. Investing this way is his full‑time job and a genuine passion, growing him an impressive network and track record.
Chris knows that in order to continue to expand, his own operation has to morph as well. And that requires bringing in people he trusts who share his passion - investors, mentors, founders – without taking himself out of play. He achieves this through his niche and exclusive digital-first syndicate, built on his reputation as a value-add investor, which gains inclusion in deals other small ticket investors couldn’t get a look in. Vauban brings the back end Chris needs to combine his passion, skills, and network in the best format for the deal.
I'm looking for driven, inquisitive, and intelligent founders that accept mentorship. I want to be able to help them in that first year or two. I think that gives me a slight edge in my investments because, if they accept mentorship and they're open to introductions, I can introduce them to potential revenue opportunities, other investors, employees, or things that will give them an edge.
Outrun Ventures syndicate: $6M
Nigel Verdon, CEO and Co-founder of Railsbank has hinted at the company’s current “near-unicorn” valuation although he doesn’t disclose the exact numbers. According to Techcrunch, “Railsbank is at the forefront of financial services as a service, building APIs for banking, payment cards, and credit products for use by fintechs and a range of businesses, a market set to hit $7.2 trillion by 2030, according to a forecast from Bain Capital.
“Our mission is to reinvent, unbundle and democratise access to the complex, opaque and byzantine 70‑year-old credit card market, which is worth $4 trillion in the U.S. alone,” Nigel Verdon, CEO and Co‑founder of Railsbank
London-based Railsbank plans to use its latest funding to grow internationally and to add more features to its product set. It raised $70 million in new equity through a syndicate led by Anthos Capital, a previous backer of the company, with Central Capital, Cohen and Company, and Chris Adelsbach’s syndicate Outrun Ventures, as well as other unnamed previous backers.
Outrun Ventures syndicate: $700K
Cutover is an online platform that brings people and technology together for more efficient and effective working with advanced mapping of complex business operations, timelines, services, analytics, and beyond. They have their own technology for a vast, intuitive, integrated arsenal of systems and software that streamline business operations on all levels.
This particular kind of innovation sparks the imagination and interest of Chris Adelsbach, falling into the category of services he could imagine using successfully within many kinds of businesses and from there into the category of businesses backed by his investment.
Chris Adelsbach found his angel investment growing to an unprecedented scale but his model was one he created intentionally, keeping close to its origins, the personal aspect, the passion, the connection, and the values that he held strongly. When the existing structure needed to expand, he took his principle of innovation and applied it to his own growth, bringing his network and investor/investment matchmaking skills to the Vauban platform where he could create and lead syndicates.
“ As time goes by, some risks fall away or dissipate to the point where a company raising a Series B is a growth story and I feel more comfortable putting opportunities like that on a platform. Ultimately, people have to look at the merits of an investment themselves to make a decision. I feel like having written that first, second, or third check myself, having got to know a team over years, my level of conviction is much higher once it reaches the Vauban platform. ”
In a syndicate, risk can be shared, networks leveraged, and paperwork accelerated. Multiple investors have opportunities to fund companies that fit their remit, through strategy or passion. Digital makes sense. Chris invests a little in many places because it replenishes and perpetuates an “ecosystem” of growth phases and innovation within the fintech industry. Founders with shared values at the helm are open to the mentorship and guidance that he brings. The value of small and diverse but numerous applies to both investments and investors. Both Chris and Vauban understand that.
For Chris, angel investment is about shared values, a personal connection, a sense of mission, and passion for the business. The syndicate lowers individual risk and costs, clearing the path to a strong track record. As Chris has known and stated from the beginning, angel investing is a passion then a skill. It’s about enabling founders who share his vision for fintech innovation even further down the line and syndicating his networks for mutual success. “What do you do as an Angel with pro-rata rights in 150 companies? You open the opportunity to others and back your winners at Series B!”