Meet the team

Getting to know the Folklore team – Meet Toby

Meet Toby Coleman, Head of Investor Relations at Folkore

By

Folklore Ventures

October 20, 2021

Our team Q&As give you an inside look at the people behind Folklore.

As Head of Investor Relations, Toby oversees our cherished relationships with potential and existing LPs and other key stakeholders in the firm, while also helping us realise our vision of becoming a generational investor in the best global success stories to come out of Australia and New Zealand.

Tell us about your journey to Folklore. 

Prior to joining Folklore, I had spent 17 years working in distribution roles in large, listed Asset Management firms including Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas and Perpetual in London, Melbourne and Sydney.  Most of my experience was in listed assets, but I had always found private markets much more intriguing.

It wasn’t until 2015 that VC really caught my eye – when Aware Super (then known as First State), HostPlus and Australian Super made meaningful allocations to a handful of local VCs.  Given their long-standing conservatism, and the (mostly) dreadful performance of Australian VC in the early 2000s, I was intrigued as to why a Super Fund would be willing to allocate. What had they seen in the local startup ecosystem that others hadn’t?       

The more I learnt the more excited I got, and after completing the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Programme in 2017 – which gave me a much more technical understanding of the asset class and the role it could play in portfolios – I started exploring opportunities. 

At that point in time, dedicated Investor Relations roles were almost non-existent, with most local VCs instead sharing the key responsibilities across existing team members.  But in late 2019, in recognition of the specialised skill set and ongoing importance of the role, Folklore created an IR role.  And the rest is history!

What does your day-to-day look like as the Head of IR?

Put simply, the core responsibility of the IR team is to work with our existing investors and to develop relationships with new investors that believe venture capital can be both a catalyst for change and a source of outsized returns. Practically, it can involve anything from hosting sessions with investors, developing and sharing research and insights with new investors, working with our lawyers to establish innovative investment and compliance solutions, or building the best LP onboarding experience possible. I also oversee how our firm shares and reports its performance so that everyone is well-informed.

What does Folklore look for in an LP? 

Typical VC funds have a 10-year term, so finding the right partners is really important.   

At a baseline, we look for investors who have a clear understanding of their risk tolerance, share a passion for technology and have patient capital.  When you’re investing at the very earliest stages, you need to be aware that (some) failure is inevitable, growth is rarely linear, and that returns are maximised by holding onto your very best companies for as long as possible.

Whilst we don’t expect our LPs to contribute to the activities of the firm, we greatly value their involvement – particularly when they can offer guidance to our portfolio companies, insights into investments we are exploring, or technical advice around transactions.

What excites you about our startup ecosystem? 

We are starting to see more and more global success stories emerge from Australia and New Zealand at greater speed and scale, and Folklore is at the centre of this with its unique and outstanding portfolio. It is next-generation companies like Swoop Aero (autonomous aeromedical logistics) and HealthMatch (clinical trial automation) that are going to continue to cement Australia’s position as a launchpad for globally successful companies. 

With this, we’ve seen investor literacy and access to VC grow significantly over the years in line with a strong appetite to be part of the journeys of these ambitious companies. There are also world-class educational programmes available locally, such as the Wade Institute’s VC Catalyst program, and numerous angel investment groups – all of which signal that the ecosystem is well and truly taking off.


Where can we find you outside of work?

Either lying on a play mat trying to persuade my son Archie, 8 months old, to crawl, or engaged in some sort of totally humiliating dress up game with my three-year-old daughter, Zahli!

Outside of that, I’m a bit of a cricket tragic and whilst I’m no longer playing grade cricket, I still play a handful of ‘friendly’ fixtures each year so I’m excited for community sport to re-start once COVID permits.


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