10 VCs Investing In Early Stage Startups In Leeds

Leeds is known for its vibrant, diverse population and strong presence in finance and tech industries. Venture Capital firms recognise the city’s potential, with many investors eager to support high-growth startups.

Leeds is a dynamic environment for innovation, attracting those looking to be part of the next big thing. Here, we explore 10 VC firms that could be the perfect fit to help fund your next venture.

These firms are positioned to support Leeds’s promising startups, driving further growth and success in the region.


How Does Private Equity and Venture Capital Differ?


Private equity and venture capital are investment strategies that, while related, have distinct differences. This guide will help you understand each approach and how they differ.


What is Private Equity?


Private equity involves buying and managing companies that are not publicly traded. These investments are typically in distressed companies that have potential for improvement. Private equity firms use various strategies to make these companies profitable:

Leveraged Buyouts (LBOs): This involves borrowing a significant amount of money to buy a company, using the company’s assets as collateral. The debt is repaid over time with the company’s cash flow.
Growth Capital (GC): This strategy targets companies that are already profitable and want to expand. Unlike LBOs, private equity firms often take a minority stake in these companies rather than full control.

Private equity is a high-risk, high-reward investment. While successful turnarounds can lead to substantial profits, failures can result in significant losses.


What is Venture Capital?


Venture capital is a subset of private equity, focusing on early-stage companies with high growth potential but not yet profitable. VC firms invest in these start-ups in exchange for equity stakes. If the startup succeeds, the VC firm can earn a substantial return on investment. However, the high failure rate of startups makes VC a risky venture.

VC investments offer critical funding and expertise to emerging companies, helping them grow and potentially become profitable. However, entrepreneurs may have to give up some control and ownership in their company.


Key Differences


Private Equity targets mature companies, often distressed or underperforming, and aims to improve their profitability before selling them. It involves large investments and controlling stakes, utilizing both debt and equity. This type of investment is generally less risky as it focuses on companies with a history of profitability.

On the other hand, Venture Capital focuses on early-stage start-ups with high growth potential. It involves smaller investments and minority stakes, typically using only equity. Venture Capital investments are higher risk as they deal with unproven startups. Exit strategies for Venture Capital investments may involve selling the stake, an initial public offering (IPO), or mergers and acquisitions.


10 VCs Investing In Early Stage Startups In Leeds


Octopus Ventures




Octopus Ventures is a venture capital firm in Leeds that invests in early-stage startups across seven sectors: B2B Software, Bio, Climate, Consumer, Deep Tech, Fintech, and Health.

They offer funding from pre-seed to Series A stages, along with hands-on support and access to their global community of entrepreneurs. The firm focuses on backing founders with purpose who aim to create a positive impact.


DSW Ventures




DSW Ventures is a venture capital firm in Leeds that invests in early-stage businesses based in the UK regions. Their focus areas include software, spin-outs, and consumer businesses with talented founders, defensible positions, and evidence of product-market fit.

DSW Ventures takes a hands-on approach, offering extensive support to their portfolio companies through board participation, team building assistance, and problem solving guidance.



Lifted Ventures




Lifted Ventures is a Leeds-based investing space that strives to increase the flow of early stage capital to female founders and promote the business benefits of backing women-led companies.

Lifted Ventures is building two angel networks – a women’s syndicate and a mixed-gender network – to invest in female founders. They also provide investment readiness support and angel education programs tailored for women entrepreneurs and investors.

Additionally, Lifted Ventures collaborates with public and private sector partners to create sustainable, diverse angel networks and develop blueprints to support female founders in securing funding.


Concept Ventures




Concept Ventures is the largest dedicated pre-seed fund in the UK. Concept Ventures has a transparent four-step investment process, providing visibility to founders throughout.

They take a founder-first approach, with a team of pre-seed experts from non-traditional backgrounds.

Their goal is to redefine early stage VC by being approachable, transparent pre-seed specialists dedicated to helping founders succeed.


Balderton Capital


Balderton Capital is a venture capital firm that specialises in investing in European technology companies from seed to IPO stages.

Their services include founder support programs, access to a powerful community of portfolio company leaders, and deep European market knowledge obtained over their 24-year history in the region.

While providing significant capital, Balderton also prioritises founder well-being through holistic support programs.


Praetura Ventures




Praetura Ventures is a venture capital firm that offers “more than money” to the early stage startups it invests in.

Beyond providing financial capital, Praetura provides extensive operational support from experienced professionals across various domains like staffing, HR, marketing, and strategy.

The firm gives founders access to proprietary toolkits, business analytics, exclusive discounts, and mentorship from industry leaders. It also assists startups in securing government grants, co-investments, and partnerships.






Seedcamp is a European seed fund that identifies and invests early in world-class founders building disruptive technology companies targeting large global markets.

Seedcamp provides a team and global community to support founders in areas like finding product-market fit, building sales and marketing capabilities, scaling teams, and making connections with operators and investors worldwide.

Seedcamp takes a long-term partnership approach, positioning themselves as a highly experienced and connected co-founder to set their portfolio companies up for success.


Earlybird Venture Capital




Earlybird Venture Capital is a European venture capital firm that invests in technology innovators across various stages. Earlybird provides portfolio companies with financial resources, strategic support, access to international networks, and guidance for capital markets.

The firm has four specialised teams focused on different sectors and geographies – the Digital West Fund for early stage digital opportunities in Western Europe, the Digital East Fund for ICT investments in Eastern Europe and Turkey, the Health Fund for digital health/medtech across Europe, and Earlybird-X for deep tech like AI and robotics at the earliest stages.

Beyond financial returns, the firm is committed to sustainable operations and expects eco-friendly practices from portfolio companies.


Unconventional Ventures




Unconventional Ventures is a boutique consulting firm that aims to drive innovation and improve systematic financial wellness.

They offer various services, including connecting founders with funders, providing mentorship to entrepreneurs, and offering strategic advisory services to corporates.

Unconventional Ventures works with clients across banking, fintech startups, technology firms, and other industries, helping them navigate and diversify their business models to adapt to changes in the financial services landscape.


UK Business Angels Association


The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) is the national trade association for angel and early-stage investment, representing around 18,000 investors. UKBAA connects entrepreneurs with potential investors and provides resources to support the investment process.

It offers membership, training programs like Venture Into Investing, events, and investment facilitation services to help startups secure early-stage funding from angel investors and angel groups across the UK.