Notion Capital leads $12m Series A funding into Acin, the Operational Risk Platform.

Risky Business - Why I invested in Acin, by Stephen Chandler

Notion Capital leads $12m Series A funding into Acin, the Operational Risk Platform.

We are pleased to announce that Notion Capital has led a $12 million Series A funding into Acin, a UK headquartered Operational Risk Management platform. Also investing are: Fitch Ventures, the venture arm of Fitch Group, one of the biggest risk measurement businesses in the world; plus a number of leading angel investors, who are true luminaries in their respective fields. These include Cris Conde, the former President and CEO of SunGard (a multiple billion $ risk management business in itself) and a Top50 FinTech investor globally; Christopher Carter, Chairman of Artorius Wealth and former Vice Chairman - Institutional Securities at Morgan Stanley; and my friend and colleague at GoCardless, Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas, the ex Chief Product Officer at SkyScanner and one of the best operators and smartest investors in the field. Additional, strategic investors will join this round in a second closing.

As VCs, we are always looking for the elusive alchemy of factors that come together to create a great and enduring business; one capable of genuine category-leadership. Acin ticked all the boxes for me.

First, addressing a real ‘pain’, which in this case I experienced first hand back in my investment banking days and have seen worsen in the 20 years since I left. Worsen because the pre-existing tooling remains largely unchanged (static data, spreadsheets, manual reporting) while the issue has grown out of all proportion. Huge data sets and complexity, massive regulatory scrutiny, a senior management regime which means executives are potentially personally liable for control failures and capital requirements to mitigate risk mandated at stratospheric levels with seemingly very simplistic and irrational means to calculate this imposed by the regulators (one well-known investment bank holds over $40 billion reserves against this risk).

Second, a massive market opportunity. Numerous billion dollar tech companies have been created in Market and Credit Risk but Operational Risk remains underserved, with static data and antiquated processes and systems. As such, Acin is addressing one of the largest ‘white space’ opportunities in the overall risk landscape.

Third, an exceptional team that fits the job in hand. The depth of the Acin team’s domain experience is truly phenomenal. They definitely really ‘know their onions’ and it’s this insight (more than the early iterations of the product) that has helped them win their first customers. Paul Ford, Founder and CEO, is a very natural leader as one might expect from an ex Army officer. Whilst thoughtful and quietly spoken, there’s never any doubt who is in charge and he has assembled some amazing talent around him.

Fourth, the evidence. Name a tier 1 investment bank and the chances are they are already an Acin customer but the opportunity for departmental and geographical expansion remains huge. Overlay new verticals and other monetisation opportunities and this can be a very big business indeed. The client referencing we did was glowing because the value proposition is so compelling. And the team has done all this largely bootstrapped, without raising much capital.

And finally fifth, the X factor - that indefinable itch you get under your skin that this could potentially be something special. I don’t know where this one comes from but I had it in spades.

As with any early stage investment, it's work-in-progress with lots still to do. Moving into new markets will be challenging especially for a product which requires collaboration of several parties to drive full value and where the knowledge of the team is mainly focussed on investment banking, but they have a clear and credible strategy in place. And as is always the case there are keys roles in the team that need filling.

We at Notion are delighted to be supporting Paul and his team on their journey to define and lead this category and we can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in.

Why I chose Notion, by Paul Ford

In our search for the right investor we received the very best advice; this was to seek an “investing partner”- not just an investor who understood the commercial opportunity, but smart money that would help in our growth and accompany us on the learning curve, by reference to their own experience, their portfolio companies and their ability to deliver .

Notion appeared from our earliest conversations to be the perfect partner for Acin. The personal chemistry felt right, and we quickly moved to an understanding that they shared our belief and excitement in the market opportunity. Beyond this, Notion grasped early on the potential for our approach and our solution to be applied to other verticals beyond financial services – into other regulated sectors – accelerating our ambition.

Acin had already achieved an enviable client roster and built an experienced and capable team, well able to manage a business. But to fulfil the potential, to really grow the Acin business, and the ambition we had set for the firm, we knew we needed a partner steeped in the complexities and subtleties of B2B SaaS business. Notion is that investor.

Notion is founded and staffed by experienced SaaS people that have personally experienced the highs and lows of growing a company from start-up to something that is highly desirable, but difficult to find or obtain… in short, a Unicorn! And, from engagement with Notion we have immediately felt the benefit of dealing with confident and experienced investors, who without seeking to set Acin in a mould are able to identify where we need to be original and where we can go fast by taking the paths others have trod; the community and Notion Platform offer limitless operational and strategic benefits.

Acin is making its market and the importance of knowing where to focus and how to pace our growth as we scale is critical to making this a reality.

Notion is possessed of a wealth of experience and connections, and we’re extremely excited about working with Notion to realise Acin’s potential and to discover the potential we have not yet realised.

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