Pre-seed startups are often too early for showtime, but not for deal-flow newsletters. Launching today, deal-flow newsletter PreSeed Now will present early-stage startups from around the U.K. to investors twice a week, with one in-depth company profile per issue.
"U.K. companies, and particularly the earliest-stage companies, don't necessarily get covered by the existing tech press," founder Martin SFP Bryant said. A former tech journalist himself, he understands why, but also long wished that something like PreSeed Now existed. "And then last year, I realized that other people kind of wanted it as well."
In addition to its geographic focus, the newsletter has a type. "The sweet spot for PreSeed Now is B2B and deep tech startups that have built, or are building, something and have founders with credible domain expertise," Bryant wrote in the newsletter's launch post.
A former editor-in-chief at The Next Web, Bryant has "run a newsletter in some form since 2016," he said. This time, he opted for a subscription-based approach, he told TechCrunch. "For something like this that is providing business value, there's a lot to be said for a paid subscription model … and it provides a sustainable way of running the newsletter."
While he only has nice words for Revue, Bryant chose Substack for its more advanced features and flexibility for paid newsletters. (More from TechCrunch+ on Substack here.) PreSeed Now will be available for free for the next two weeks. After that, the subscription model will kick in, with a price tag of £10 per month or £100 per year – some $125. In parallel, a free subscription tier will offer a monthly roundup of the startups covered in recent weeks.
PreSeed Now's first issue gives a good sense of the direction the newsletter is taking. Bryant's first pick is Untap, whose business isn't exactly glamorous: Its focus is sewage tech. "I never expected to launch this newsletter with an article that includes a quote that begins, ‘The joy of sewage is …’ but here we are," Bryant joked.
In 1,500 words, Bryant explained why Untap is worth untapping – its "almost real-time COVID monitoring could transform how we live with viruses." He doesn't omit mentions of challenges and competitors along the way, but this actually helps add context to an otherwise fairly technical business.
Bryant honed these skills as a consultant, "working with startups, helping them with the way they communicate and put themselves forward into the world. … I've always enjoyed helping make sense of companies that are emerging, maybe before they've even made sense of what they're doing themselves."
With PreSeed Now, Bryant is hoping to help both the startups and his readers looking for deal flow.
"It's sometimes a little harder for companies that have more of a niche focus to gain the interest of certain kinds of investors who maybe wouldn't consider them without seeing them in a context that frames them in a wider market and explains a bit more about them."
This niche focus is often found in deep tech ventures, where startups can have "a very scientific or engineering-focused view of the world and don't necessarily think about or prioritize how they sell what they do." As it happens, it is also a sector that is booming in Europe, and in which investors are very interested.
Diversified deal flow
For its own deal flow, PreSeed Now will rely on talking to universities, accelerators, and programs like Entrepreneur First, of which Untap was part; Conception X, which helps those with doctoral degrees become founders; and Ignite NI, which focuses on Northern Ireland.
Drawing in these connections will help Bryant make sure that the startups he curates are both credible and diverse. He expects founders to come from a large range of backgrounds, including underrepresented ones.
"There are all sorts of people you wouldn't expect to fit the traditional stereotype of a tech founder. It's important to reflect those people and their expertise and approach to building a company, because sometimes it's a bit different."
Backgrounds aside, PreSeed Now will also be diverse in its geographic scope. Bryant is based in Manchester, and his background includes time supporting emerging startups in the North of England at Tech North. With this in mind, he won't only feature startups from London and the Southeast, but also from Belfast, Edinburgh, and other places across the U.K.
Getting featured can be validating for entrepreneurs outside of the usual spotlight, Bryant said. "Sometimes they maybe don't feel as part of the tech scene, as welcomed by the whole of the tech scene as they should be, and representing them through a newsletter like this can be a positive thing."
But PreSeed Now's target customers are investors, not startups. Will the prospect of deal flow outside of their usual focus and pattern-matching convince them to subscribe? Only time will tell, but that's Bryant's bet.