Former Frontline partner raising $20m for new fund

Finn Murphy wants to back pre-seed start-ups tapping into software trends

Former Frontline Ventures partner Finn Murphy is raising a $20 million (€18.7 million) fund to back start-ups in the US and Europe.

Nebular, which will be based in New York, will target pre-seed start-ups, aiming to back about 16 companies from the fund. It is looking to tap into software trends at an early stage, such as developer tools for non-developers, local AI – small models on portable devices – and “second order effects of demographic change”, including healthcare operations and manufacturing software.

The fund is pitching itself to founders as a lead partner at the earliest stage, providing support but allowing founders to focus on their area of expertise.

“I’ve been in their shoes and the shoes of the investors they’ll have to raise from on the journey. I don’t promise hundreds of intros or strategy sessions. I promise a trusted partner you can rely on to figure things out when it gets tricky,” Mr Murphy said. “If a founder wants someone who promises to build their business for them, I’m probably the wrong partner. I back founders and get out of the way until they need me.”


The investments are expected to be split evenly between the US and Ireland, with the limited partners backing the fund close to a 50/50 mix too. These include Workvivo chief executive John Goulding, Pointy’s Mark Cummins and Localyze chief executive Hanna Asmussen. Institutional investors Untitled, Ninja Capital, RSJ and K8 Capital are also believed to have backed the fund.

Nebular did an initial $15 million fundraise at the start of the year and made five investments. Among the initial round of companies are Trace. Space, which Nebular backed in February, Danish healthtech Teton, and Cohelm, alongside Sequoia. Two other investments have yet to be announced.

The fund is believed to be raising capital for a final close later this year.

Before setting up Nebular, Mr Murphy was a partner at Frontline Ventures, where he led more than 20 investments in four years. He also previously worked with consumer fintech Plynk, and founded a digital identity business while studying at Trinity College Dublin.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist