Vinay Solanki

Vinay Solanki photo

Head of Channel 4 Ventures

Vinay joined Channel 4 to set up Channel 4 Ventures (then known as the Commercial Growth Fund) in 2015. He is a digital and early stage company expert, with deep experience gained working for global media companies in investments and strategic business development prior to Channel 4.


Why is brand marketing important to you? 

  • I am fascinated why humans, all of whom are consumers, make decisions or choices. I think the greatest consumer companies not only deliver products and services at great prices, but also make their consumers “feel good” too. Great brands occupy a space in people’s minds, and TV can help that too. 

How is the Channel 4 Ventures model different to other investment models? 

  • Our investment model is truly unique. We provide capital in premium awareness-led marketing channels, that very few cash investors in Europe are willing to support today. 

What advice would you give for successful media-led investments

  • There are four things that are really important to get right:  
    • Timing sometimes this is done either too early, or it isn’t linked to other marketing strategies. Its really important to time the investment well and to be operationally ready for higher traffic than normal, and to track longer term impacts generally.  
    • Creative a strong impactful creative can make a lot of difference. You need to get under the skin of the category.
    • Volume to truly see the impacts of awareness channels, you need to spend higher volumes than traditional digital or acquisition budgets; this is contrarian but my experience supports this. 
    • Data and tracking  it is very easy to track short-term revenue KPIs, but companies should also look at the broader impacts of a TV campaign. For example, higher awareness drives higher levels of trust, results in higher branded traffic, resulting in lower cost-per-click costs.   

What was the first tech product you bought?

  • A Commodore 64.  Classic.

What is something that digital disintermediation can’t touch? 

  • A good artisan sausage.
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Isabella Thomas

Isabella photo

Principal

Isabella joined the team in 2020. Prior to this, she had ten years experience in corporate development and investments at online and traditional media companies, most recently with Rocket Internet, Delivery Hero & foodpanda. Isabella graduated with First Class Honours from Edinburgh University.

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Hannah Redgewell

Hannah image

Investment Manager

Hannah joined the team in 2019. She has seven years of experience in investing and strategy consulting; prior to joining Channel 4 Ventures, she specialised in due diligence and corporate strategy work for technology, media and education companies. Hannah holds a BA from the University of Cambridge.


What you do you ideally look in an investment?

  • In addition to a strong management team and great product, I like to see two things: a strong brand that really reflects the company’s values and that resonates with consumers; and brands that offer products or services that have mass appeal throughout the UK. Both help to ensure that a TV campaign is successful.

What is your favourite consumer company you currently use?

  • I’ve been an Oddbox subscriber for a year and really love it. They deliver surplus vegetables and fruit to subscribers every week that would have otherwise gone to waste. Other than that, I also use Stitch Fix, a personal styling service, which is great because I don’t really like shopping!

What is the best TV advert you’ve seen recently?

  • The best advert I’ve seen recently (excluding our portfolio) is from Chilly’s, a water bottle producer. It tells a brilliant story, is really funny, and has a conclusion that really drives home the message of the advertising campaign: “Don’t overthink it this Christmas”.
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Lara Ismen

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Investment Associate

Lara joined the team in 2018, and has four years of experience in investing. As an investment banker, she specialised in working with technology and business services companies. Prior to that, she studied Engineering Management Systems at Columbia University.


What you do you ideally look in an investment?

  • Product market fit, a large addressable market and a strong brand with a clear vision and mission.

What is your favourite TV show?

  • I love Homeland, but I also really enjoyed the incredible Channel 4 film For Sama and recent series Baghdad Central.

What is the best consumer experience you have recently had?

  • The grocery delivery startup Getir, while I was back home in Istanbul. A thousand everyday items delivered almost instantly. It’s not laziness, it’s efficiency.

What are you most curious about?

  • What is a Commodore 64 @Vinay Solanki?

What is your favourite consumer company that you currently use?

  • Classpass, Spotify and Farmdrop.

What was the first tech product you bought?

  • An MP3 player, which I can’t remember the brand of (this was before iPods and iPhones, obviously).

What are five attributes / characteristics that you look for in great founders?

  • Passion, resilience, EQ, adaptability, vision.

Plan B - what would you be doing if you were not an investor?

  • Professional Equestrian.
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