At the end of 2022, economic conditions were tough and unexpected. Then we had the failures of Credit Suisse, SVB and First Republic banks causing a real stir amongst VCs – meaning they are more cautious than ever. 

With down valuations and extensive tech layoffs, VCs have been evermore vigilant as to where investments should be made, focusing on profitability, strong market positioning and strategic growth. As reported by the British Business Bank, for every £1 of venture capital (VC) investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p, all-male founder teams get 89p, and mixed-gender teams 10p. As a mixed-gender founder team which is currently 43% neurodiverse and 86% female identifying, FuturePlus is one of the few female-led businesses that has successfully raised in the current market. 

Sustainability management and ESG reporting platform FuturePlus closed an up-round of £750,000 with further investments from Two Magnolias, Vala Capital and HNW individuals and family offices. Funds raised will secure FuturePlus’ position as one of the hottest sustainability management and ESG reporting platforms since its launch in February 2022.

A platform that will revolutionise sustainability and ESG goals

Hailed by investors as the platform that will revolutionise how sustainability and ESG goals are managed and reported to meet increasingly tight regulations, FuturePlus is growing at pace, having attracted over £1.6 million in venture capital investments to date and growing its workforce by 133% in the past year. It currently boasts over 150 clients from a wide variety of industries, including finance, hospitality, technology, the built environment and retail, all of whom are actively managing their sustainability ambitions in the mission to become better organisations across five themes: Climate, Economic, Diversity & Inclusion, Social and Environment. Customers include Soho House, Grind Coffee, numerous VC and PE funds, Atlas FM and The Project Management Institute, and partners include International Real Estate Partners (IREP), Diode, Sustainable Spa Association and Expect.ai.

200 impact startups founded by women with 8,000+ employees

Whilst women in technology remain at the forefront for VCs, the tech ecosystem has also become a highly challenging environment to raise funds. FuturePlus lies firmly in the impact tech category and, according to Dealroom data analysed by the Department of Science and Technology Innovation, women founders are leading the way when it comes to creating and leading impact tech companies – these are startups that are focused on using technology to solve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. There are almost 200 impact startups founded by women in the UK, and together these companies employ an estimated 8,000+ people.

Alexandra Smith, Co-Founder and Partner at FuturePlus, comments: “This fundraise has been conducted in a very challenging economy, but our merits and successes are firmly rooted in the fact that we have an incredibly strong team that is tackling sustainability in a way that’s never been done before. We’re proud that the VCs we’re working with can see that we are breaking new ground in a global business challenge that is not going away. We believe that approaching sustainability as an ongoing process creates a perpetual space for continual improvement, resilience building and prosperity for all organisations, including our own.”

The latest investment round is testament to the potential of FuturePlus’ platform and the business acumen of its senior team – as well as representing an impressive achievement in an environment where the cost of living crisis is impacting the risk appetites of funds and VCs, and Q1 of this year being the slowest fundraising quarter in Europe in over six years. The newly-secured funds will take the business to profitability and enable it to invest in staff capacity, the development of the platform, and client acquisition through marketing and PR.

Seeing a way forward for sustainability and ESG

As the world becomes more familiar with sustainability practices, businesses can’t see the wood for the trees, thanks to the ever-changing interpretations of ESG and the ratings platforms on offer.  FuturePlus’ mission is to make sustainability management accessible, affordable, achievable and trackable for every business – not just the 1% that are able to jump through expensive, laborious hoops to win a coveted badge. The FuturePlus sustainability management and ESG reporting platform deconstructs typical ESG measurement processes to focus on practical and realistic action plans that every business can follow successfully across the five themes. Its indicators are made up of 200-300 questions, and are designed to educate companies and business leaders to take incremental steps towards a more sustainable future. 

FuturePlus’ strengths lie in onboarding companies from all sectors and of any size, whilst constantly encouraging and educating clients on not only how to be sustainable, but what to do to get there in a timely fashion. This approach, where sustainability ambitions are tracked, qualified and then quantified into a score, helps organisations to continuously achieve and improve their sustainability and ESG goals and report them back to stakeholders (from consumers, to regulators and investors) in an easy and professional manner, commanding their respect and ultimately gaining their trust. Furthermore, the platform gives clients the confidence to engage their suppliers and partners to join them in meeting their sustainability ambitions across the five themes. It is why FuturePlus continues to successfully grow because it removes the overwhelming confusion around how to start this process as well as how to measure and communicate success.

FuturePlus measures its own sustainability using its platform, and can demonstrate that it is currently making a positive impact in 16 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Mike Penrose, Co-Founder and Partner at FuturePlus, adds: “This fundraise is a milestone achievement for us at FuturePlus as we are determined to keep building an empathetic company that makes achieving and embedding sustainability accessible for every business, across every sector. Our experience with investors has been that because FuturePlus meets a very real need within their own organisations, they buy into it, and we’re especially pleased to be helping numerous VCs and PE houses to monitor and manage the sustainability of their portfolios really simply and easily.”

As access to capital becomes increasingly conditional on Environmental, Social and Governance standards, finance professionals are required to demonstrate and continuously improve the impact of their investments and portfolios. Created with the finance industry in mind, FuturePlus’ Portfolio Management Dashboard allows financial organisations, family offices, and portfolio managers to monitor the sustainability profile of companies in their portfolio. This allows for sustainability and ESG conditions to be applied to investments and debt instruments, and for progress to be monitored.

Jessica Rasmussen, Co-Founder and CEO at Two Magnolias, says: “As one of our most recent investments, the Sustainability Group is showing great momentum, growing quickly and actively seeking new opportunities to help businesses around the world manage and track their ESG sustainability goals via its powerful platform, FuturePlus. Two Magnolias has a clear focus on maintaining a balanced portfolio of founders, which means we were especially keen to work with Alex and Mike who bring different, yet complementary skills to the table. They are a powerful, dynamic force, highly motivated to bring about real, tangible change in the world, which aligns perfectly with our own values.

“Earlier this year, Two Magnolias decided that FuturePlus would formally become its in-house ESG validation platform with all portfolio companies working through the assessment criteria, such that we can formally publish an holistic view of our investments. FuturePlus allows its clients to highlight the gaps in their approach to sustainability whilst setting clear ambitions for future success. It is essential for all of us to be held accountable as to how we manage and position our businesses, and we are excited to see the changes we’re able to effect using FuturePlus.”

Ashish Devi-King, Director, Ridgeback Partners, concludes: “Having advised and invested across the Sustainability Tech landscape for years, I have witnessed first-hand the deep value that lies in data sourced directly from companies looking to address their own sustainability profile. FuturePlus leverages this data to enrich its platform and enable its growing client base to meet its goals.

“With the vast majority of solutions being carbon-heavy in their focus, the FuturePlus founders cleverly have taken a comprehensive ESG approach with their scalable data-driven platform, which today is successfully solving multiple sustainability issues for small and large companies alike. It was a pleasure to advise on, and indeed invest in, this funding round alongside an international field of institutional funds, family offices and super angels.”

Further information about FuturePlus can be found here.