A Chat with Sarah Barber, CEO at Startup Investment Firm: Jenson Funding Partners

Jenson Funding Partners is a startup investment firm. We specialise in working with founders throughout their early-stage growth, supporting them from pre-seed to Series A. We launched one of the first and longest-running SEIS funds and have helped to shape the landscape of startup investment by pioneering the industry standards for SEIS. As a diverse and experienced team, we understand and recognise what a business needs at each stage and quickly deploy capital with hands-on guidance to scale the companies in our portfolio and deliver returns for investors.

Our focus is very much about inclusivity, not exclusivity. We invest in businesses across a range of industries to create a diverse investment portfolio across sectors, geographies and founder backgrounds. Consequently, 18% of Jenson’s businesses have a female founder – beyond that of the 2.3% of industry-wide investment that goes to female-led startups – while 60% of our firms are based outside of London.
Invest in EIS & SEIS Schemes - Jenson Supporting Growth Capital

Having occupied numerous financial roles throughout your career, was venture capital a natural progression and what appealed to you about investing?

I started my career at Deloitte as a chartered accountant, undertaking everything from financial analysis through to cash management. A decade there provided a great foundation for understanding the inner workings of operating a business, enabling me to move into interim FD roles. Reflecting on this, becoming an investor and working with startups really seems fated.

Through my financial journey, I’ve seen that the prospect of raising capital can be overwhelming for early-stage entrepreneurs seeking their first significant investment. As such, it’s important to me that founders feel as supported as possible throughout the process. I really believe that investment is something that should be accessible to all and have had conversations with the likes of the British Business Bank on how crucial it is to empower people with excellent ideas, so they can manifest them.


As an EIS fund manager, what are the benefits for the investors participating in EIS funds and the companies that receive capital?

When observing EIS funds, there’s a wide variety for investors and advisors to pick and choose from. However, that variety shrinks when drilling down into those with the capacity to deploy capital at speed.

At Jenson, we have a strong pipeline of validated portfolio companies from S/EIS funds lined up for investment. So, any eligible investor applications received by Tuesday 22nd March 2022 can expect to have us deploy EIS funds raised within this tax year. EIS investors have a suite of attractive tax advantages from 30% income tax, Capital Gains Tax relief allowing deferral to investors with a capital gain and IHT relief after two years and can carry this back for a year. In turn, investors are provided with an excellent overview of startups they’ll be funding from our S/EIS portfolio, such as tree planting service TreeApp and smart vehicle repair company Axioma.

What can we expect to see from Jenson in the future and which startup trends will you be watching?

We’ve been actively expanding our team and growing our EIS portfolio with plans to launch our first institutional fund, which will allow us to continue supporting our portfolio companies as they scale.

For trends, we’re sector-agnostic as an investor which means we’re always open to hearing about innovations, regardless of which space they’re positioned in. This allows us to effectively meet trends as they arise. In the near future, RPA will be huge, as businesses increasingly look to quickly adopt digital strategies.

In the main though, I get excited when I come across a proposition that really solves a common problem, whether that’s a broad issue an industry faces, or a difficulty encountered by a niche market. As long as there’s room to scale the solution long-term and the founder recognises that we’re buying into the roadmap and the team as a package, not just the idea, I’m all ears.