The Folklore Journey


Alister Coleman

March 23, 2021

Since 2013, our firm has been known as Tempus Partners. We’re incredibly proud of what we have achieved, the people we have worked with, the founders we’ve supported, and the companies we’ve invested in.

Over time, it has become clear to us that our identity and brand do not reflect who we are as a firm, the experiences founders have working with us, or where we are going. Stuck with a historical decision, we were not sharing our values, ethos and culture with the world.

Introducing Folklore

And so, we are now Folklore Ventures. Yes, Folklore. 

Our new name and identity matches our values and beliefs, our strengths as investors and the journey we are on with our companies and as a firm. 

By embracing the name Folklore, our public identity catches up to our long held ambition: to be one of the great investment firms, and a partner to founders establishing legendary companies and legacies of their own.

Our mission is to become a long-range ambition machine for the great success stories of our time. 

What do we value and believe as a team?

  • We believe in long-range ambition
  • We believe diversity makes us whole
  • We believe in founder vision
  • We value the catalytic power of teams
  • We believe greatness is born from uncertainty
  • We are eyes wide open, not fingers crossed

Investments led by builders

We believe the best investors in startups are people who have built startups themselves - especially at an early stage. As former founders and operators, we have lived the ups and downs of the startup journey. We understand what it takes to move mountains, put out fires and do it day after day, year after year. Our ambition is to be the investors we wish we had, to be a tight-knit team for our founders, a coach in the corner and a long-term investor. That’s what we offer early-stage founders, and that’s why we invest first. 

However, for many founders who have been fortunate to scale their dream, a philosophical misalignment currently awaits them when looking for late stage investment. Some late stage investors believe they are permanently entitled to ‘deal flow’ because they have capital, and readily sit on their hands waiting for return delivered by talented founders who are shouldering all the effort and risk. 

We believe Australian and Kiwi founders deserve better than a suit, a cheque-book and request for financials every quarter. We believe they need long-term partners from the start. We don’t believe a monopoly exists for the skills to invest at later stages, and so Folklore’s ambition is to upset this status quo and build a capital base from the bottom up to fix this imbalance.  

Investing early

Lots of VCs say they invest ‘early’ - they rarely do. Ironically a lot of emphasis is placed on the value of words on a website that are not backed by action. The vast majority of our 20 investments have been at seed stage or earlier, right at the start - some have been pre-product, many pre-revenue and some even on company incorporation. None have failed. 

For us, 'early stage' doesn't mean we're 'land-locked'. We still have optionality to invest post-seed, but being early into a company is our ticket to working with the most talented founders, and a requirement for longtail outcomes and the true returns that comes from venture capital done well.

Investing with discipline

Whilst we invest first, we’re also known for getting right up close to the companies and founders we want to back; we call it being eyes wide open, not fingers crossed. We’re happy being known as a disciplined investor with an uncanny ability to invest in companies that survive the turbulent early stages, in a market that still gets an uneducated bad wrap for ‘spray and pray’ stereotypes. 

We’re not the fastest VC to write a cheque and we’ll never apologise for that. We believe in “fast no’s”, but also “considered yes’s”. However, every founder we work with knows that on day one, we get their business, we believe in their vision, and we are on their side - there is no disconnect between what they want to build and what we want them to achieve. 

Being disciplined, and having little portfolio failure is not a signal that we don’t take risks. In our second fund, over 90% of our investments were at seed (mostly pre-revenue), and 50% are now worth over $100M+. It’s a global top-decile fund, and that comes down to not just being lucky, but also being thoughtful and having a capital allocation mindset which anchors to the long game.

First Cheque to Forever

Today, we are taking the wraps off our ambition to invest first and to keep investing forever. 

Way back in 2013 when we started our firm, it didn’t make sense to us that VCs were designed as crusty partnerships centered around a select few. We wanted to build a technology investment firm, multigenerational in nature, as a company. 

This approach provided us the ability to build a firm that would be durable, that could attract the right talent, with the right incentives for the right outcomes for our investors and founders. And so from day one, we wanted to share the carry on our funds with our team, and to this day, no matter what you do and where you start at Folklore, you receive carry on what we achieve as a collective.

We always had the ambition of building a firm with a permanent capital mindset, investing at every stage, as a stable long term partner for founders. This ambition was in our original blueprint for Tempus, and it remains today as the essence of what we want to achieve - to back founders and companies on their full journey.

We are proud to be taking the wraps off Folklore and Fund 3, which will grow Folklore’s capital ten-fold, and from which we are already investing. More on that to come...

Some History: Why Rename?

We chose the name "Tempus Partners" in 2013, when we believed it was the time and the moment for the new generation of Australian startup builders to become VCs. The great challenge back then was actually raising an Australian VC fund, when the VC industry was so maligned.

Our aim was to build an investment firm that shed the old ways of putting capital’s priorities ahead of the very people creating value - the founders. Our first investment was in global talent marketplace Freelancer. Since then we’ve backed over 20 companies across two funds, with top-decile performance against US VC benchmarks, and IRRs exceeding 50%. Not bad for a ‘small’ Aussie VC.

But when we started Tempus, our blind-spot was forming our identity to the world to match our mission and values. We didn’t consider the impact our name and a brand might have on people’s perception of us - we were more concerned about helping our companies. And as we met more founders we started to hear the same thing - the impression they had from the outside, didn’t match their experience of our culture from the inside, or our core belief in founder vision.   

The great challenge now is not raising a VC fund, but building the right VC firm for ANZ founders for the next 50 years. A new identity — Folklore — speaks to the journey we wish for every founder’s vision, to establish a company and legacy that outlasts their involvement. It is a name that stamps our belief and ambition firmly on the door. Our vision is to be one of the world’s great investment firms, and to make folklore ourselves.

New Identity and some new people

While we have evolved our identity, we have also been building our team to over 15, and promoted Hannah Field to a Partner.

Lastly… we’re growing to 20+ people this coming year. If you dream of a role in VC helping hundreds of companies and building your own Folklore, we’d love you to get in touch. 

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