Ash is leaving us. But like a cut lotus root, the connections remain

by Adrian Lloyd

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Ash Puri, our inimitable and much loved Investment Manager has taken an exciting new role as Investment Partner at Tempo Capital.  Ash has known Olav Ostin, the founding partner, since his days at Partech and is excited to help this new secondaries fund grow in the UK and on the Continent.  The senior role proved attractive and Ash moves on with our support.

There is a Chinese proverb – 藕断丝连 (Oǔ-duàn-sī-liánclick to hear the pronunciation).  Which translates as “The lotus root may be severed, but its fibered threads are still connected.”  This is how we feel about our relationship with Ash – he will continue to be closely related to Episode 1 as a Venture Partner and looks forward to sending us deal flow and helping us grow the Firm’s reputation in the UK and beyond as the leading Seed to Series A investor in UK based software businesses.

I caught up with Ash today to ask him about his time at Episode 1 and his new role at Tempo.

Adrian: Explain your new role and what the business does exactly

Ash: So, I am an Investment Partner and Tempo Capital, or as we call it TempoCap.  Our core business is in the Secondaries market for GP portfolios.  We are focused on technology (software and hardware) and have a pan-European mandate.  We particularly like SaaS, B2C and eCommerce, telcos, banking and fintech.  We will typically buy portfolios at the end of a fund’s life and can buy the whole portfolio or individual companies in that portfolio.  We also do some primary investing at Series B/C when companies are at £10m+ revenue.  I have known Olav since 2007 and worked with him at Partech when I led the sale of some of the Partech portfolio.

Adrian: Tell us your highlights from your time at Episode 1

Ash: Episode 1 has been very good to me.  You taught me how to invest in early stage Seed companies – a new skill for me.  I learned great investment discipline whilst also being entrepreneur friendly.  Episode 1 is made up of a collection of strong individuals who work very well together.  Despite the differences, the team worked very well together and was very “flat”.  No single personality drove the decisions.  This was a big learning for me – that such a dynamic was possible.  And I liked it!

Adrian: What skills or learnings will you take to TempoCap from Episode 1

Ash:  Well, I’ve learned a lot about software at Episode 1.   You guys get amazing deal flow, both in quality and quantity and that has given me a great understanding of the software landscape in the UK and to a degree in Europe. I have learned a lot about  the discipline of DD from you, Adrian, which will be very helpful at TempoCap.  I will also take the philosophy and attitude of helping entrepreneurs above and beyond the simple duty of care we have as investors.  That has been a powerful learning for me and one that I think sets Episode 1 apart from the crowd.

Adrian: Thanks!  I of course agree that we are great at many things, but we also know we aren’t perfect.  What could we do better going forward?

Ash: I mentioned the flat hierarchy earlier being a positive.  One downside of that is that feedback doesn’t naturally take place in such an environment and I think more internal feedback would be great for the team going forward.  You are all frank and open people so feedback happens informally in an ad hoc kind of way, but I think that formal feedback would be helpful for the team.

Adrian:  I do agree with that and we’re already putting in place the structure for formal feedback.  Penultimate question: what will your relationship be with Episode 1 going forward?

Ash:  Episode 1 will always be very close to my heart.  I honestly believe it’s one of the best early stage VCs in the UK, and in Europe.  I believe you can select and help grow world class businesses and I want to help in whatever way I can to help you become the biggest name in the early stage landscape.  I’ll be a Venture Partner for the firm and of course send you any exciting deals I come across on my journey at TempoCap.

Adrian: We look forward to that of course.  One of your great strengths is your network and ability to be on top of so much of the new deal flow in the market.  On that note, what is your great prediction for the software market in the UK for 2017?

Ash:  That’s a tough question!  I have been looking at machine learning over the course of 2015 to 16 and I think as software becomes more intelligent I think that it will become built directly into hardware.  I think the trend in the Internet of Things of sensors and devices becoming independently smarter will continue.  Amazon Echo is just the start.  You guys have invested in CloudNC which plays on this theme.  It’s a big trend that’s just beginning and I think we will see huge growth in that market next year.

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