Global investors from China, Russia, Europe and the Valley join forces to back ‘Seedcamp 2.0’ – a more extensive and ambitious approach to accelerating startups that will back 100 ventures over the next four years, with the aim of creating $1B businesses from across Europe.
An Experienced Fund
Seven years ago, we set up Seedcamp to invest cash into a handful of startups each year, and to bring European founders and mentors into a cohesive ecosystem where we could all meet online and offline. Our mission was to accelerate European startups and to build a European ecosystem.
At the time, people laughed at the idea of world class European startups, and the word ‘ecosystem’ was reserved for biology courses.
Now, with the same Seedcamp team having run more than 60 events involving 10,000 startups, 5,000 mentors, and helping scale 120 Seedcamp companies, it is time for us to lead Europe into the next stage. The standard approach to acceleration made sense when we started. Now the accelerator model needs evolution.
An Acceleration Fund
Put simply, the game has changed. The problems that early accelerators, including Seedcamp, set out to address have either been resolved, or changed so much that a new solution is required. The ‘Art of the Start’ is now well honed in Europe. The challenge now is to master the ‘Art of Scale’, not least because European entrepreneurs’ ambitions have outgrown traditional forms of acceleration.
In our experience, providing the first $75,000 investment and a three-month program to support the growth of a $10m business is not good enough anymore. Breakout success is all about scale and getting the $200,000, $2M, and $20M of investment that will help build a $1B business.
That’s why Seedcamp is building an evolution of our acceleration model fit for the next decade. We have raised a new fund, worth more than $30m, that allows us to be much more ambitious about the way we support startups. We will now back companies from ‘start to scale’ because we’re bigger and better, allowing as to back more entrepreneurs, and at a faster pace.
A Networked Fund
And we won’t be doing this alone, our network is truly global. As one of our startups says, “there isn’t a senior person across the globe in a FTSE 100 or Fortune 500, or in the most dynamic startup, that we can’t reach”. This network of mentors and their playbooks prove transformative for our startups.
Our access to capital remains unmatched. Over 500 investors from the Sand Hill to Hong Kong have backed Seedcamp companies. Their quality and number keeps growing.
Our investor base is totally different to the one found in traditional venture. Every single LP we have is a key player in building multi-billion dollar businesses. Our angels have built companies including AVG, Skyscanner, Skype and Spotify. Our VCs (Index, Fidelity, Octopus and others) are backers of the likes of Spotify, JustEat, King, Zoopla and Dropbox. Our corporate backers are themselves huge successes – Yandex, DC Thomson, and Hays. The biggest LP in all of Europe, EIF, is also now an investor in Seedcamp. This is important because it will affect our founders profoundly. Having this kind of group backing Seedcamp means our companies have clear access to all stages of capital, from seed to IPO and M&A.
It is through these relationships that we’ve been able to transform the capital needs of our founders’ businesses.
A Transformative Fund
Seedcamp was the first accelerator outside the US to back start-ups at scale, often supporting completely unproven founders operating in unproven markets, from Slovenia to Romania, Portugal and Estonia. Of course, we also worked with those right in our backyards, in London, Paris and Berlin.
When we started, many first time founders in Europe had little opportunity for breakout success. But now there’s Zemanta (Bostjan and the new fund), Ubervu (sale to Hootsuite), myBuilder, and RMO. We also have category definers like Transferwise ($30M raised), GrabCAD ($15m raised), Profitero ($8m raised), Traity ($6M raised), EDITD ($6M raised), and Basekit ($25M raised).
We still fully believe in the first-time founder and the importance of backing them, and we will continue to accelerate these startups with pre-seed capital ($0-$75K) and access to the Seedcamp platform. With our larger fund now, our ability to deploy capital is four times as big. As a result, we will also be backing our alumni, mentors, investors, and a network of founders who want to accelerate their seed stage startups with next stage capital ($75K-$250K) and the Seedcamp platform.
A Lifetime-membership Fund
And capital is not all a founder receives, we do not believe a “three months and you’re out” programme works anymore; Seedcamp provides a lifetime of support, not just for founders but for their senior team as well.
We operate across three pillars: Network, Learning, Capital – which we offer to Seedcampers from startup to IPO. Over the course of seven years of building Seedcamp , these three pillars have gone from strength-to-strength and continue to be used by startups that began with us in 2007 as well as those that joined us yesterday.
We’ve built our Network with the mindset towards connect Learning and Capital. With over 15K mentoring sessions held over the course of our last 7 years, we’ve facilitated over 60K connections between founders, corporates, product gurus, professional service providers, investors, and experienced serial entrepreneurs across the world. Access to our network is expansive and covers the global footprint from China through Europe across the US. Seedcamp has always been an immensely effective bridge to the US for European startups. As part of our efforts to continue to strengthen the US network therefore, Seedcamp will be opening a presence there in the Valley/San Francisco. The stronger US footprint comes as a result of seeing how the network has clearly had a material impact to the success of companies joining Seedcamp.
Learning is a continuous process… we know that half the battle early on in a company’s development is just having the right mindset and access to key learnings. With Seedcamp Academy, functioning similar to an MBA for Entrepreneurs, we provide just-in-time advice to all aspects of company development. Ranging from product to fundraising strategies, we’ve been able to help our founders hit product-market-fit faster and raise the necessary money to reach traction, growth, and scale. Accessing the Mentors through Academy means our Founders have access to the strategic and tactical playbook of the billion dollar club.
This combined access to key learnings and our network has resulted in outsize capital being raised by Seedcamp companies. 85% of our 120 companies raise the necessary funding from top tier investors across Europe and the US to scale their companies to the next stage. Along with the IPO and Exit track record of the Seedcamp LPs that are following-on in our companies, our startups continue to raise money from the best investors from Sand Hill Road and Manhattan to the West End and beyond! And with an average of $1.6M raised per company, there is no better place for the next 100 startups in Europe to raise the right amount of capital for their startups.
We’re often the only investor in startups’ pre-seed round who is also the first investor by the time they reach Series C or beyond. We stay close and advise as entrepreneurs’ needs change.
A New Kind of Fund
With our new fund, we’ll be in a position to provide more money, and at an earlier stage, because we are now four times bigger. We’re better because we have a higher quality of investors – both in our LP base and among our startups investors. We’ll be getting deals done more quickly thanks to a standardised approach to legal documents and the streamlined process we have developed over the last seven years. And we’ll be supporting many more ventures: 100 startups in three years compared to 100 in six years under the old model.
We hope we’ll be a part of a movement that will completely change the venture acceleration business in Europe – from the kinds of entrepreneurs who get backing, to what a venture support platform means, down to who the LPs are.