Money continues to pour into Central and Eastern European startups, as the world increasingly notes Technical talent and ambition Coming out of the area. Investors around the world are getting in on the action, but it is still leading local venture capital firms when it comes to early-stage funding.
Using dealroom data, CIFTED has compiled a list of the top early stage funds in the sector. interesting, Dealroom found that all the top firms based in the region are currently focusing on early-stage funding – which perhaps highlights the gap in mid- and late-stage funding in the sector.
You can find the full functionality of Dealroom HereBut the rankings are based on the following data points:
- Number of Unicorns in the Portfolio
- Number of “Future” Unicorns in the Portfolio
- Number of rounds in the last 12 months
Dealroom also weighted the rankings by a “dilution score,” with firms that made early investments in unicorns scoring more highly than those that joined at a later stage.
So, without further delay, here are some of the prominent VCs in this field.
1. Market One Capital
With offices in Poland, Spain and Luxembourg, Market One Capital has a continent-wide focus, although approximately 40–50% of its portfolio comes from CEE.
Market One’s main focus is to invest in Digital platforms and marketplaces, primarily in seed and pre-seed stages, About 30% of its investments fit into other business models, mostly software companies. Most of the investment team has an entrepreneurial background, with five marketplaces established between them. Over the past 10 years firn has invested in over 40 marketplaces, and in total has over 70 startups.
It is launching a new fund, MOC II, later this year, but is currently investing from its €45m MOC I fund that was launched in 2018 (writing an early cheque) among 500k-1.5m,
Deal count in Europe in 2021: Seven Startups.
Gender Segmentation of the Investment Team: Eight people, including two women, added to their team for MOC II with increasing diversity.
- TierCurrently the largest micromobility operator in the world
- instant grocery delivery retail platform jokerwhich reached unicorn status eight months after its seed cycle.
2. Credo Ventures
Czech-based Credo Ventures was a former supporter of UiPath, which landed on the ground in 2015 by backing Romanian Unicorns. It continues to invest in regional champions and recently closed its fourth fund. €75m.
Credo focuses on early-stage investments in companies located in the CEE or the region’s diaspora, with tickets up to €1m and €3-5m for pre-seed and seed rounds, respectively.
The team recently added a talent partner to assist startups with direct hiring, which is one of the major challenges faced by early stage startups in a systematic manner.
2021 Deal Count: nineall over Europe
gender division: Four general partners, all men.
- Romanian RPA Giants UiPath (Hippopotamus)
- ProductBoard, recently launched in San Francisco-based Unicorn and Prague
- Czech-American unified data lineage platform provider Manta
- German-headquartered pricing software provider Pricefx
Prague-based Kaya, formerly called Enern, has been around for over a decade and has invested in some of the biggest companies to come out of the region, including companies such as Buxi, Dockplanner and Rohlik.
Kaya specializes in early-stage startups from CEE and also elsewhere in Europe, with a strong focus on healthcare, fintech and new energy. It closed its fourth fund, Price 90m, in January and writes checks ranging from a few million euros 2m for the Series A round.
2021 Deal Count: 12 new investments, two of which were outside Europe.
Gender Division: six male and five female members of the comprehensive team. When it comes to investors: four male partners and one female investment manager.
- Polish-founded beauty and wellness appointment booking app Booksy
- Polish healthcare forum dock planner
- Check Online Grocery Startups Rohlik (Hippopotamus)
- Prague-based BNPL Startup twisto
Super Angel Bolt, a seed fund founded and backed by some of Estonia’s top tech entrepreneurs, was an early investor in Verif, Starship and Pipedrive, to name but a few.
Superangel invests in pre-seed and seed rounds, primarily in the Baltics and Nordics, with a specific focus on AI and robotics, fintech, SaaS, mobility and logistics. Collectively, the SuperAngel team has invested in more than 100 startups around the world, including four companies that have reached a billion dollar valuation, and many startups are rapidly progressing toward that position.
SuperAngel’s first fund, valued at €16m, was launched in 2018, with a follow-up fund expected to be announced soon. It writes checks of between €100k-€1m.
2021 Deal Count: 19 (13 new, 6 follow-ons)
Gender Division: TThree male partners, two investment managers (one male, one female), and three operational team members (two female, one male)
- Estonian Mobility SuperApp screw (Hippopotamus)
- identity verification startup Veriff Became Estonia’s sixth unicorn in January 2022
- Sales-First CRM and Intelligent Revenue Platform Pipedrive (Unicorn)
I Read more: Top Early Stage Investors in Spain
5. Practica Capital
Lithuanian early-stage VC Practica Capital focuses on the sector it knows best; Namely the founders of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Baltic origin throughout Europe.
Despite being a generalist fund, Practica has built a strong portfolio in those areas, with most deal flow coming from the Baltics related to the SaaS and marketplace verticals. Its latest fund, Practica Venture Capital II, valued at €28.5m, was launched in 2019 and is focused on seed and Series A rounds (check writing of €100k-3m).
2021 Deal Count: 18 (11 new, 7 follow-on rounds)
Gender Division: Advisory Committee: 60% female, 40% male, investment team (partners): 100% male, broad team: 85% male, 15% female.
- Lithuania-founded, UK-headquartered money transfer platform TransferGo
- ConversationA live translation platform used by the United Nations and the European Parliament
- Montonio, a Klarna competitor that developed a one-stop checkout solution for e-commerce merchants
- transportationA mobility-as-a-service startup from Lithuania
6. Gapminder Venture Partners
Bucharest-based Gapminder Venture Partners focuses on early-stage startups in the CEE sector, particularly business-to-business startups operating in the Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Process Automation, Interfacing, Cyber Security, Fintech and Digital Transformation sectors . Its latest fund, €50m, was launched in 2018. It writes checks for the first round of between €300k–1.8m, with a follow-on of up to €2.5m (total investment in the company does not exceed €8m).
2021 Deal Count: 13 (seed and pre-seed), including follow-on to rounds led by other European VCs
Gender Division: Partners Level: 100% Male; Comprehensive investment team: 30% female, 70% male
7. Contrarian Ventures
Lithuania-headquartered Contrarian Ventures claims to be Europe’s largest and first seed fund for climate technology, with a strong focus on crossover technologies such as energy, mobility, built environment, industry and hydrogen. It also has a pan-European outlook, both in terms of the location of its investment team and the makeup of its portfolio.
Contrarian’s first fund, launched in 2018, cost €12.5m, with a follow-up fund to be announced later this year. This Writes checks of up to €500k-2m for pre-seed and seed rounds and €4m for Series A, and has led 60% of participants in seed rounds.
2021 Deal Count: four, except follow-on (the wants to team up Six or seven deals a year).
Gender Division: Five team members, all male (they plan to more than double the team size, with seven new roles available in the short to mid-term, with the goal of achieving gender equality in the long run)
- Israeli startup H2Pro focused on developing cheaper hydrogen fuel
- Last-mile-delivery ebike supplier Zumo
- PVCase, a Lithuanian SaaS provider for solar power plants
8. Launchhub Ventures
Bulgarian VC firm LAUNCHub Ventures focuses on early-stage startups in Southeast Europe and its diaspora, and has invested in some of the region’s most notable early-stage startups, including Romanian fintech startups. FinTechOS and Bulgarian OKR startup Gtmhub. It is sector agnostic, but with a prevailing interest in AI, fintech, blockchain, healthtech and the future of work. The VC firm tries to nurture the founders of the sector, and claims that 50% of the portfolio’s alumni return to LAUNCHub Ventures as private investors.
LAUNCHub’s latest fund, valued at €74m, was launched in December 2021 with a check size in the region of €300k-2.5m.
2021 Deal Count: Seven
Gender Division: The male/female split is 5:1 for partners and 4:1 for the broad investment team.
- Bulgarian OKR Startup Gtmhub
- Bucharest based fintech FinTechOS
- Giraffe360, a subscription-based, robotic camera for real estate startup
- OfficeRnD, a SaaS platform for managing hybrid workplaces
Kit Gillette is Sifted’s Eastern Europe correspondent. He . tweets from @ Kitgillette