The Debut Sessions

For UK Startups Raising Their 1st Round

If you’re a UK based startup formed in the last 18 months and raising your first round of funding, pitch to a group of active investors, from the comfort of your study or sofa.

The Investor Group

The Criteria

  • The company has been formed within the past 18 months and has a UK registered office
  • Raising up to a maximum of £750,000
  • Raised less than £100,000 to date
  • Focused on building the next generation of platforms and products improving work, life and health
  • Product Demo (optional)

The Format

  • The Sessions will run once a month, where (up to) 4 companies will be selected to pitch to the group of investors via Zoom
  • The selections will be made and the companies notified 7 days in advance of the Session
  • Investors will follow up with founders they want to progress within 48 hours of the session end
  • Ascension Ventures has committed to backing at least two companies that make it through the Sessions over the next 6 months

The Open-Source Initiative

  • Applicants can select whether they want their application to be kept confidential, or to be available for the wider ecosystem to access
  • For applicants that opt-in, an Airtable document will be published on Twitter and Linkedin, updated on a weekly basis and be accessible to anyone
  • Inclusivity is not something always prevalent across the investor ecosystem, so we are enabling every fund, VC or angel investor to gain access to the applications to give more exposure for the companies

How to Apply

  • Required
    Complete a short Typeform
  • Optional
    Record a product demo using Loom (<1 min) with an audio explainer
    and / or
  • Optional
    Record an elevator pitch (<1 min) explaining the background of the team, what you're building and what your big vision for the business is
Apply Now!


Finding investors when raising that first round of funding is challenging for founders that don’t have a pre-existing network of contacts to make a warm introduction. And finding active investors that are willing to back pre-revenue / very early-stage companies in the UK can be even harder. This is why we’ve created the Debut Sessions, to bring together some of the most recognised investors in the UK who can provide advice, support and ultimately that first cheque for founders.

We believe the Debut Sessions can help break down the barriers to access and give every founder / founding team seeking that first cheque, an opportunity to showcase their new startup to the Debut Sessions investors and the wider community via its open-source initiative. The Debut Sessions investors are friends, share similar values and opinions, and can add unique insights to founders at the beginning of their journey. And of course, we’re constantly looking for the outlier startups, and think this initiative is a differentiated way of doing it!

Applicants can decide to keep their applications confidential or make the data and video available for the wider UK investment ecosystem to access. If choosing the latter option, the Debut Sessions will be creating an open-source Airtable document that anyone can access, which includes everyone outside of the Debut Sessions investor group. It will be published across Twitter, Linkedin and the Debut Sessions site.

All participating investors have been actively investing at the pre-Seed stage in the UK for a number of years now. This is where the majority of our expertise lie and where we can be of most value to founders who have just formed new companies, hence the laser focus on companies formed in the last 12 months in the UK.

We also believe there are a new breed of startups being formed right now that will be tackling key themes around improving work, life and health, with distributed teams, new business models and differentiated go-to-market strategies. We’re here to support this new wave and provide that first cheque.

The Sessions will run once a month. Up to 4 companies will be selected for each Session, which will run on the last Thursday of each month. The first Session took place on Thursday 25th June 2020 at 5pm, with each company selected getting 5 minutes to pitch their business followed with a 10 minute Q&A (all via Zoom).

We believe a product demo is the best way to showcase how a founder / founding team thinks about their users and market and new platforms such as Loom enable the quick production of this content. We also believe that the barriers to building a minimum viable product (MVP) have drastically decreased over the past 10 years, so building something, however simple, before raising that first round of funding is generally expected.

Ascension Ventures has committed to backing at least two companies that make it through to the Sessions over the next 6 months, so there is a guarantee that the creation of the Debut Sessions will result in at least two companies being funded.

However, there is no guarantee of investment for the Founders that get the opportunity to pitch and each investor will make their own investment decision.

Please email if you have any questions.