Flip Early, Flip Hard!

Legal and governance details founders must know if they wish to enter the US market!

• Legal setup
• Supervisory board
• Learn Silicon Valley best practice as early as possible!

I’ve done a little writing and speaking on the burgeoning EU tech scene, and the benefits and challenges of being a European founder moving to the US: TechCrunch Things Happen Fast Pioneers Festival 2014 ‘How to do Everything Perfect…’ A lot of this information has become standard knowledge among European entrepreneurs, but there are some specifics concerning company formation and investment agreements that you, as a European founder, need to take into consideration as early as possible if you have any hope of moving to Silicon Valley, scaling fast, raising money from a top Sand Hill Road fund, or being accepted to YCombinator and enjoying the kind of massive exit that happens disproportionately here in California.

European entrepreneurs have quite a few well known advantages when it comes to building companies: great educational foundations in tech subjects, low-cost development, governmental support in the form of grants and subsidies, and a fast growing community of early stage funds and ‘super angel’ investors. But there are also serious disadvantages: very few serial entrepreneurs on the ground in Europe, modest scaling opportunities, sometimes inexperienced or highly ‘local’ investors, a culture that punishes risk taking, and did I already mention local investors? I want to concentrate on just one of these points, because it is incredibly important, and almost always overlooked.

If you have a company that has a shot at making it big in the US, you need to start planning early, and one thing you absolutely must consider is your choice of early investor (and especially the legal details of your first investment agreements). There is no point in lingering too long in Europe if the market and the capital you need are in the US, and you should start the transition well before you buy your first plane tickets.

First time European founders are almost universally ignorant of Silicon Valley legal ‘best practice’ when it comes to company formation and investment. What seems like a good idea in Germany is sometimes a terrible idea in California. Founders often discover far too late, after they have put a deposit down on an apartment in Palo Alto, rented a Regus office and started booking VC meetings to capitalize on their early customer traction, that some decisions they made 24 months earlier with their pre-seed investors have pretty much destroyed their dreams. And in many cases they may not discover the very specific reason their YC application was rejected or why Accel never called back. But I’m about to tell you.

I would advise European founders to seek some basic US legal advice, at the very least on Silicon Valley best practice, as early as possible. You don’t need to hire an expensive lawyer, but please consult with one of us, or talk to someone who has been through the process of flipping to a Delaware corp, moving to the US and acquiring customers and raising capital there. Founders in our portfolio who have been through YCombinator are great sources of information, and are often test cases in overcoming early EU legal hurdles. Find them here: www.bitmovin.com & www.flaviar.com.

When you begin discussion with your very first angel investors, consider the following points very carefully, take US legal advice, and by any means possible incorporate Silicon Valley standards into your earliest contracts. As a general rule, US investors hate EU corporate law, they hate foreign language board minutes, they hate foreign accounting standards and anything else that raises the risk profile of their investment. Silicon Valley is a gold mine. Why should they take any unnecessary risks, even if your tech is amazing and the team is filled with genius?

European early stage investors tend to be risk averse, but in a very different sense: legal specifics in their investment contracts generally contain control and permission and transfer provisions that are indicative of a deep-rooted, cultural aversion to risk. Founders will often unwittingly agree to things that are an absolute ‘no go’ for US investors, and then find themselves having to renegotiate shareholding and investment agreements with EU seed investors at a terrible disadvantage when trying to raise a series A. In these situations, founders almost always suffer.

Here are key areas to be on the lookout:

Permission and control – it is not uncommon to find EU investors demand that founders seek permission for simple things that should be under the mandate of a company board. Information sharing, term sheets, onboarding customers, all of these things can later find themselves under the micromanagement of distant, early investors who are far removed from the later-stage, operational needs of a company. While EU investors are in many cases willing to give permissions, and even if they are perfectly aligned with founders, the communication requirements and lag time this introduces into US discussions are deadly. I’ve had US lawyers tearing their hair out with frustration over this exact sort of arrangement (and these are very high profile lawyers who later share with colleagues the EU legal horror stories, and further handicap your chances). One solution is to form a supervisory board as early as possible. Much earlier than you would normally consider appropriate for a seed-stage European company. Empower the board, and roll with it. Insist that your investors support this, and if they don’t, consider new investors.

An even better move is to set up a Delaware corporation early, and assemble a US-based board. This gives you greater freedom to act, and much more speed when you will most need it. Like I said, flip early, flip hard!

Transfer – EU contracts often have a wide array of transfer provisions that are non-standard for Silicon Valley. EU early stage investors sometimes insist on cumbersome drag-along clauses that they feel compensate for their considerable early stage risk. In the Valley, early stage risk is a well understood commodity, and there are standards that later stage investors will expect. There is no way that Sequoia will put their upside at risk because a small law firm in Switzerland requires minority drag along rights for their 100,000 euros. Again, you if you agree to this sort of thing early without consulting US support, you will find yourself in a position to re-negotiate at a tremendous disadvantage with early stage investors, or kiss your dreams goodbye. And at the very least, agreements will require full re-writes with additional legal costs and lost time.

In both of these situations, bridging the gap is time consuming and costly, and rather than adapting legacy EU contracts, new US-based agreements are often the best move. In some cases, US investors are wary of even considering EU investments based on their experience. Very recently, high profile investors in the US have expressed their growing fatigue with EU legal headaches. If we all work to fix this now, it’s better for everyone.

One other piece of advice is to use US-based support to help educate your early stage investors before you sign anything. We are more than happy to help, and you can of course use our transfer and control provisions as an example of what works.

More about Erik Bovee.

The VC who wants to work for his money

As CEO of Speedinvest, Oliver Holle not only helps building startups, but also has to grow his own company. After being an early startup entrepreneur in Austria, he now sees his role in troubleshooting and dealmaking and wants to foster international relationships beyond the US.

Oliver is the face of venture capital in Austria. Not only did he appear as a judge and investor on the TV show “2 Minuten 2 Millionen” (the Austrian version of Shark Tank), most importantly he is the the founder and CEO of Speedinvest. Still, Oliver is far too humble to see himself as the representative of a community, mainly because he knows of the entrepreneurial struggles and is grateful for the opportunities he got. And no matter how busy he might be, he doesn’t seem to be distracted but genuinely involved in any conversation he finds himself in. Oliver’s partners praise his appearance: “Oliver is a genius when it comes to trouble-solving. When all others would give up, he will present a creative approach as way out. His respectful attitude is doing the rest”, Marie-Helene Ametsreiter says about her colleague.

The VC was part of the Austrian startup scene before it even existed. In 1998, Oliver founded Sysis, a provider of interactive simulations. As CEO, he pivoted the business in the early 2000’s to what would later become 3United, one of the earliest mobile startups in Austria. Oliver served as a CFO at 3United before it got acquired by Verisign in 2006. Following the acquisition, the founder moved to Silicon Valley to oversee the company’s integration. It was then that Oliver took a closer look at the local venture capital system. “There wasn’t really a VC community back in Austria. It was a white space and I discovered a market opportunity”, Oliver recalls. So when he returned in 2008, he decided to help build one. He founded “The Merger”, a predecessor of Speedinvest that focussed on M&A consulting.

Doing lots of research and talking to experienced venture capitalists in the US and Europe, Oliver tried to find a business model for venture that was more inline with his personal experience as a founder in a fringe market as Austria. “In our region at seed stage, the common VC model is not working, because what startups are lacking is not only money but experienced operators that can quickly take a company to the next level”, he says and eventually came up with the concept of “Work for Equity”, which is now what Speedinvest is well-known for in the tech industry. Rather than only investing money, Oliver and his team join the founders in fully operational roles to help startups grow and expand internationally. Founders pay for this not with cash but with incremental equity for the fund – an innovative model that proved to be a win-win-win for investors, early stage entrepreneurs and the Speedinvest team.

With that in mind and and the help of his team, including from day one, US partner Erik Bovee, Oliver founded Speedinvest and started raising money for his first fund. A quite challenging, as he says: “There weren’t really any angel investors in 2009 and 2010. One of the first investors Speedinvest got on board was Austrian publisher Eugen Russ. Having a big name subsequently helped the VCs to convince more and more investors with the “Work for Equity” approach. “250 meetings and creating a feeling of inevitability” led Oliver to the first fund with EUR 10 million.

Five years into the business, fundraising is still one of Oliver’s main responsibilities at Speedinvest, while still being highly involved with his portfolio companies and their founders. He describes his role as “troubleshooter”, who’s there to solve conflicts within startup teams and get back on track or find new product strategies. One of the early Speedinvest companies is Finderly, which pivoted from an electronics platform to a marketplace app called “Shpock”: “They went from a dead end to finding the sweet spot and creating a service people love. It’s exciting to experience all these transformations that new startups go through”, Oliver remarks while also talking about the challenging parts, one of them being the international expansion of Kochabo, a food subscription service. Right now, Oliver is very hands-on with Hitbox, a livestreaming service that’s competing with Amazon-owned Twitch. Apart from helping with strategy and team setup, he refers to himself as “deal maker” who is supporting his startups through finding new investors and partnerships with other companies.

Reflecting on his work, Oliver describes Speedinvest itself as a startup: “We’ve grown from 7 to 18 team-members in the past year. And we have a lot of responsibility, not only on the startup side but also towards our investors.” This should also explain Oliver’s empathy for young entrepreneurs. Right now, Oliver has no interest to transform Speedinvest into a later-stage-fund: “Our main expertise is seed stage”. Of course, he does think about new opportunities for his very own startup: “I firmly believe that our model could be a blueprint of how seed stage investment can work in a number of emerging markets such as Asia or Africa. There’s a lot of potential to build further bridges.”

Video Game Livestream Platform Hitbox.tv closes USD 4M Growth Round

Hitbox, home to millions of PC game live streamers and esports enthusiasts, revealed it successfully closed a $4 million growth round of investment to expand its North American operations and worldwide reach, as well as explore additional software innovations to expand their technological lead. The round was led by Vienna-based VC-firm Speedinvest and also includes leading free-to-play MMO developer and publisher, Wargaming; North Base Media; as well as angel investors. Sean Lee, Chief Strategy Officer at Wargaming will join the board of directors. This investment follows a seed round of $1 million from angel investors, which closed in 2014.

“Supporting live streaming for our games and fans has always been a key pillar in our strategy for growing our online presence,” said Sean Lee, Chief Strategy Officer at Wargaming. “Hitbox allows us to truly make live streaming an extension of Wargaming and our titles through the ability to integrate game data into the broadcast. Gamers will be able to share their experiences easier than ever before and our channels will have the robust infrastructure AAA gaming demands.”
Oliver Holle, CEO Speedinvest adds: “Esports is an exploding market and Hitbox is the top contender to win market share from previous monopolist Twitch and others. With Hitbox’s laser focus on the gaming community and its superior technology, we see nothing but growth.”

Martin Klimscha, CEO and co-founder of Hitbox adds: “While many of our peers thought there was no room for a new competitor next to the industry giants in this space, we were right to focus on technological innovation and foster a friendly and dynamic community of gamers, which has helped us to grow to more than 6 million dedicated fans in less than two years. We are huge fans of Wargaming, and we welcome them as an investor and partner who share our vision of taking video game livestreaming to the next level. Speedinvest has been an extraordinary partner since our initial seed round and this investment strengthens our relationship as we prepare to expand our operations and visibility.”

With the new round of funding, Hitbox is focused on continuing to deliver innovation in both technology and community-building efforts. This autumn, as the only live-streaming platform with 4K technical capabilities, Hitbox will be the first to begin broadcasting esports events in 4K at 60 fps. On the community front, Hitbox recently announced a new revenue-for-all model, which is driving broadcaster growth across all games and genres. Now all Hitbox broadcasters, no matter the size of their viewing audience, can participate in revenue sharing through video advertisements and viewer subscriptions.

Speedinvest Partner: Erik Bovee

Why would a serial entrepreneur from California join a bunch of Europeans to invest in tech companies from places like Bulgaria and Slovenia?

Erik Bovee, one of the US-based partners of Speedinvest, explains why he cofounded an investment fund in Austria and how he, together with Oliver Holle and his team, has built a bridge between the burgeoning European technology scene and Silicon Valley.

6am Skype calls are in Erik´s general routine. Being based in Silicon Valley, managing different time zones is a way of life, especially as most of the ventures he is involved in through Speedinvest are European. He started life as an academic, with plans to teach at university, but in his last year of a PhD at Oxford he met an engineering professor who had other ideas. A few months later they had raised $7 million, which seemed like a very modest amount in early 2000, and Erik has been helping to build technology companies ever since. His career developed quickly as he found passion in helping talented engineers and product people navigate the early years, finding product market fit, finding their first, cornerstone customers, and raising their first funding.

Erik’s expertise is what he describes as ‘knowing a little bit about a lot of things’. His academic background gives him the skills to navigate large, often complex subjects and to do a great deal of high quality research quickly. His preferences as an investor and collaborator are straight forward: European startups with deep technical products that are able to move to Silicon Valley and compete on an international scale. Europe has high quality undergraduate technical education, and produces more engineers per capita than the US, but European entrepreneurs often benefit from hands-on assistance and an investor who can play the role of co-founder. Erik describes Silicon Valley as a great consumer of European talent and a perfect place to select and fund the genius ideas in deep tech that he comes across and strongly believes in. And working with technical founders is a role that is familiar and enjoyable.

With the exodus of European “techies”, and many Startups adopted by Silicon Valley, Erik is in a privileged position, meeting and mingling with entrepreneurs that arrive looking for funding and customers. His advice when he is approached is: “know your investor” and by that he highlights how important it is for startups to do their research and find partners who fit a number of criteria that are not always apparent to the public: is the fund in an investing cycle, have they invested in a competitor, are any partners experts in your subject area? In many cases, in order to secure top-tier funding in the US, founders need to form a US entity, and build a solid track record in the Valley. In many cases it makes more sense to look for your first funding closer to home. Ideally it should be a fund that offers a bridge for startups and can assist in the transition from EU to US markets.

Selecting startups to invest in is largely about understanding people. Being an entrepreneur is all about being comfortable with uncertainty. First and foremost, when talking to founders, Erik looks for the imagination and skills required to make something out of nothing, in addition to the confidence and honesty to look reality in the face. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work, and a good founder needs to be able face the daunting possibility of starting from scratch with humor and newfound energy.

Success stories occur every day in the startup world and Erik has a personal favorite since becoming a venture capitalist. He describes how he worked with an Austrian/Italian founder over a year on a product called Wikidocs, a framework that turns HTML applications into real-time collaboration tools, much like Google docs. The founder was smart, technical and very good at selling, a key combination for entrepreneurs. This self-taught expert in HTML had solved a number of deep technical problems relating to real-time collaboration on the Web. Speedinvest invested in the idea and the founder when product-market-fit (and even what the final product would look like) were still unclear. Both of them worked side-by-side, gathering market feedback and product requirements, and iterating the business until it was obvious that Wikidocs could be built into a foundational service that would change the way online collaboration works. The technology was strong, the founder was strong and now they had a plan to change the Web. The vision for Wikidocs was so compelling that in a month of launching, business development meetings became acquisition offers. The market timing and product vision had been just right, and Wikidocs was a key piece of foundational technology for a number of large players in enterprise collaboration. Wikidocs was acquired 6 months later by Atlassian.

Apart from this particular success story, you can tell he is passionate about each and every other startup he has taken under his wing: indoo.rs (positioning and navigation software indoors especially for the visually impaired), sip:wise (the next generation Voice-over-IP and telecommunications system), Usersnap (a visual bug tracker for web projects)…and these are just to name a few! He has been there “hands-on” for all of them.

When Erik speaks about how he has become the venture capitalist he is today, he makes it seem like there wasn’t much choice: “It was just a natural career progression from working with talented founders and building strong relationships with really excellent people!” he said. When he started he had no intention of going into Venture Capital, he was just ”really lucky” to have met some good founders along the way, and built great businesses”. His future plans and aims, are clear: continue to grow Speedinvest worldwide and have fun doing it:

‘It’s a familiar environment, and the work is really enjoyable. I love working with technical founders. These were my friends growing up, the same people who as kids were getting dragged out of bed early Saturday morning to go to math competitions, or staying up late on a Friday playing D&D or writing games for the Apple IIe when everyone else was going out on dates. It’s exactly what I want to be doing.’

Zagreb Entrepreneurship Incubator, Pioneers Ventures & Speedinvest

Zagreb, 22.9.2015. – As the leading southeastern startup accelerator, Zagreb Entrepreneurship Incubator signed a strategic partnership with Speedinvest and Pioneers Ventures the leading Venture Capital funds for digital Startups in the CEE region.

Zagreb Entrepreneurship Incubator (ZIP) is the first startup accelerator in Croatia, founded in 2012. with the goal of helping aspiring entrepreneurs from the region of Southeastern Europe to build their companies. Awarded as the best entrepreneurship support institution in Croatia in 2014 by the Ministry of entrepreneurship and crafts, ZIP has established itself as the strongest startup accelerator in the region.

Pioneers Ventures is a pre-seed investor empowering outstanding startups with it’s global network of corporates, industry experts and entrepreneurs. Besides the cash investment it provides startups with an extensive support program.
Speedinvest is the leading venture capital fund for early-stage technology companies in Central & Eastern Europe. They contribute seed- and growth-stage capital to the best European startups, and also provide hands-on, entrepreneurial support from its team of seasoned, successful startup founders. Through its operations in Vienna and Silicon Valley, Speedinvest is able to create global companies from the top regional talent.

In March of this years, Pioneers Ventures and Speedinvest raised €58 million in their first closing of the “Speedinvest 2” fund, in which Pioneers is a stakeholder and partner.  Mr. Mihovil Barancic (ZIP), Mr. Marius Starcke (Pioneers) and Mrs. Marie-Helene Ametsreiter (Speedinvest) signed the strategic contract which will bring the three entities into partnership motivated by empowering the startups of the Southeastern European region.

This partnership will enable Croatian startups coming from ZIP accelerator a broader exposure to much needed capital in the pre-seed (up to €125k), early stage and growth stages (up to €3 million). Together with potential financial benefit this agreement will also bring support from successful startup founders from the Pioneers and Speedinvest network to startups of the Southeastern Europe. Applications for the ZIP Startup program are open for regional startups until September 25th at zipzg.com.

Optimize for value, not for valuation

Speedinvest has completed over 25 seed investments in a little less than 5 years, and that means a lot of deal negotiations. Termsheets are essentially a sales process, where founders try to sell their product (the Startup) as well as possible, and the buyer (the Investor) tries to assess the real value to his or her business, which is, in this case, future returns. The price for the product is the valuation. Naturally, during the negotiation process price is one of the main topics. But the analogy with selling a product clearly ends there. Unlike the price tag on a washing machine or used car, where the future value is subject to simple and well accepted formulae, the future value or returns of a startup is subject to more complex interpretation. It’s a figure so highly individual and incomparable, that there is no golden rule for setting the price.

“Investors are greedy, they want all of my startup!”

We always try to tell founders (during seed-stage deals and also in later rounds): don’t optimize for valuation. Now you could say „Of course, you’re an investor, you want to get as much as possible from my precious company, lower valuations make more sense for you“. Wrong. We want to have a fair share in a successful startup. We don’t look for the lowest valuation, we look for the right valuation. Why? Because the wrong valuation can make or break a startup. What is a fair share? Big enough to make us take good care, small enough that the founders are motivated.

Let’s get into a bit of background. Chances are high that we as a Seed Investor are not the last investor you might have. We’ll invest up to 500k, but you will most likely need more money, depending on your product and the industry you are in. Investors come in clusters or “rings”, much like an onion skin. There is the right investor for every phase, and that means every investor has a different sweet spot and a different valuation range. So getting the right valuation for your startup is an options game, where you have to try to keep as many options open as possible, and then close just the right one.

If your valuation in the Seed phase is too high, you automatically exclude a certain cluster of investors. This is because your current valuation plus the near-term increase based on your traction or progress, will lead to a new minimum valuation for future rounds, and that new valuation might put good investors out of range. And conversely, if your valuation is too low, investors that want to put in a certain sum (because of their business model or investment strategy) will get too many shares (yes, there is such a thing for investors as ‘too many shares’). If founders are heavily diluted in early rounds, future fundraising can be impossible. Investors might decline if the valuation is too low, or worse, just keep you waiting until you “get more traction”. If you fall below that critical sweet spot, you could face the ‘Long NO’.

So valuation is much more a signaling and a targeting exercise than about maximizing a number. A professional investor will want a certain stake in the company to devote the necessary attention, so it’s not only about the ownership, it is also about focus.

But valuation shows how awesome we are

For many founders valuation seems to be a sign of success instead of a means to an end. Focusing too much on valuation is an easy trap: valuations seem comparable at first sight; and everyone talks about valuation. But the very important value brought by the right investors is not so easily assessed. Let’s look at a common example that might show the difference between value and valuation: at Speedinvest, we frequently come across startups that have managed to get Business Angels on board early on. Often they pay enormous valuations in early stages, because a) they are happy whatever the result may be (Roulette), b) they don’t care about the next round (Inexperienced) and c) they will be a minority shareholder going forward anyway, not putting a lot of focus or effort in (Distracted). Would you play Roulette with someone who is inexperienced about the game and easily distracted?

Many founders then wake up in the next funding round, finding out the hard way that no professional investor will pay the valuation increase they expected. The story that “so much has happened since our last round” doesn’t work if you are too expensive for the investor. Down rounds are bad. Very bad. They create the signal that “something didn’t go as planned” and they need a lot of explanation. In this case it is far better to have a nice, easy, upward trajectory. You might show slow growth and get by on bridge rounds for a little while, but at least you are moving consistently in the right direction.

Using valuation as a measure of success is a trap. Paul Graham puts it this way:

„Not only is fundraising not the test that matters, valuation is not even the thing to optimize about fundraising. The number one thing you want from phase 2 fundraising is to get the money you need, so you can get back to focusing on the real test, the success of your company. Number two is good investors. Valuation is at best third.“

So optimizing for higher valuation will

  1. Take you longer, defocusing you from what actually matters, your business
  2. Get you lower quality investors, that will not contribute much
  3. Hurt you in later phases, because of inflated expectations and limited options
  4. Not make you rich.

Looking for the right investor, that helps you get to the next phase, is much more important than anything else. Focusing on raising your round quickly also matters. 2 % more of your startup won’t make a change.

PS: Some words on convertibles.

Convertibles are growing increasingly popular among founders because you can “close the round quickly” and, probably the strongest argument, you don’t need to set the valuation (yet). Both assumptions are wrong.

In fact, no decent investor will forego the process of defining how you want to work together or fail to put that in writing (e.g. investment agreements). So you’ll end up drawing up the same list of terms as you would in a priced round. It looks quicker, but in truth it isn’t.

The benefit of setting a higher valuation, because it’s a cap (upper limits) and has a discount, creates the same signaling problem as above. If your cap is too high, you end up with a down round, with the serious risk of giving away more than you wanted, just because some things don’t go as planned. Floors (lower limits) are pretty uncommon in Europe still, and those would limit the potential damage.

Additionally, if you happen to raise a lot of money with Convertibles with different caps, the math quickly gets ugly and it becomes really hard to tell a potential new investor how big the round actually is and what the valuation will be. All the convertibles add up, thus increasing the round and all of a sudden you are raising a seed round in the millions, with most of the money already spent in the past.

Convertibles are good in two cases only: 1) if you think that you can scale the business substantially in the next months and need some money to get there from your existing investors or potential investors to reach the next financing round or 2) if you are raising some small tickets from casual investors, that don’t want to negotiate terms heavily, are insensitive of valuation and are fine with the instrument. In all other cases, do an equity round. It will save time, work and trouble.

Good reads:







Speedinvest verstärkt Präsenz in Deutschland

Speedinvest, der Risikokapitalgeber mit Büros in Wien und im Silicon Valley, der im März dieses Jahres seinen mit 58 Millionen Euro dotierten 2. Fonds präsentierte, verstärkt seine Präsenz in Deutschland. Mit Helmar Hipp und Marie-Helene Ametsreiter werden zukünftig zwei erfahrene Entrepreneure in Deutschland zukunftsträchtige Startups scouten.

Speedinvest ist bereits seit seiner Gründung in Deutschland aktiv und investierte dort bisher in das Fintech Startup Payworks, sowie Joblocal, einen Anbieter regionaler Jobplattformen, der 2014 von der Funke Gruppe übernommen wurde. Darüber hinaus sind mehrere Startups des Speedinvest Portfolios in Deutschland äußerst erfolgreich unterwegs – allen voran Shpock (erfolgreiches Mobile-Classifieds Portal), Wikifolio (führende deutschsprachige Social Trading Plattform) und Flaviar (kuratiertes Kennenlernen von Spirituosen).

Der Schwerpunktliegt auf Seed Investitionen, allerdings verfügt Speedinvest mit einem erwarteten endgültigen Fondsvolumen von ca. 75 Millionen nun auch über ausreichende Mittel, um Startups in späteren Finanzierungsrunden zu begleiten. Der inhaltliche Fokus liegt auf digitalen Geschäftsmodellen, wobei sich Speedinvest, neben ein Reihe sehr erfolgreicher B2C Beteiligungen vor allem in den Bereichen Fintech und disruptive Kerntechnologien (“Deep Tech”) einen internationalen Namen aufbauen konnte. Insbesondere für Technologie – getriebene Startups hat Speedinvest mit seinem eigenen Büro und Sales Team im Sillicon Valley ein einzigartiges Angebot für europäische GründerInnen geschnürt.

Zukünftig wird der Fonds seine Aktivitäten in Deutschland verstärken. Neben Direktinvestments in deutsche Startups wird Speedinvest seine Portfoliounternehmen im Markteintritt in der größten Volkswirtschaft Europas unterstützen. Aus diesem Grund freut sich das Team Helmar Hipp als neuen Venture Partner bekanntzugeben.

Hipp verfügt über mehr als 20 Jahre Erfahrung in der Internet- und Medienindustrie und ist ein Experte für digitale Geschäftmodelle und dazugehörige Wachstumsstrategien. Zuletzt war er als CEO der Ifolor Gruppe tätig und ist darüber hinaus Business Angel und Beiratsmitglied verschiedener Startups. Bei Speedinvest wird er als Venture Partner sein umfassendes Know-How im eCommerce und B2C Segment in die Auswahl und Betreuung der besten deutschen GründerInnen einbringen.

Darüber hinaus wird Marie-Helene Ametsreiter, Topmanagerin aus der Telekommunikationsbranche und ehemalige CMO der Telekom Austria Group, in der Münchner Startup Szene aktiv werden. Ametsreiter ist bereits seit 2014 Partnerin bei Speedinvest und unterstützt Portfoliounternehmen in den Bereichen Marketing und Business Development. Per Anfang 2016 wird Marie-Helene Ametsreiter nach München übersiedeln und dort verstärkt in im lokalen Ökosystem präsent sein.

Oliver Holle, CEO von Speedinvest zum verstärkten Deutschland Engagement: “Speedinvest setzt auf globale Modelle, in die wir sehr frühphasig einsteigen und diese dann gemeinsam entwickeln. Deutschland hat mehr zu bieten als eCommerce Copycats, hier wollen wir unseren Fokus setzen.”

The Flaviar App – your IMDb for spirits!

Starting today, you’ll always know what drink to order in a bar or which bottle to buy. The Flaviar App is your go-to resource for Whisky and other fine spirits – your IMDb for spirits! With a database of 10,000 bottles it provides all essential information and ratings at a glance. But the real kicker is the ability to visualize flavours with the Flavour Spiral, a way to taste what’s inside the bottle, before you actually try it. The Flaviar App is available as a free download in the App Store.

Stop Guessing What’s Inside the Bottle

“We all hate that feeling of insecurity when looking at shelves full of bottles, trying to decide what to get. Prices, labels and bottle shapes can’t tell me if I’m going to like the drink or not.” says Flaviar co-founder Grisa Soba. “That’s why we made the Flaviar App – to give people the best insights possible on what to expect. It’s the closest to tasting a drink before actually tasting it!” For every drink, Flaviar serves up its rating and information about the distillery and production methods, tasting notes and its Flavour Spiral. As Soba puts it: “We want this App to be your IMDb for liquor!”


The Flavour Spiral Lets You See Flavours in a Drink

The Flavour Spiral is Flaviar’s innovative way to visualize flavours that can be found in a drink – a fresh take on the traditional Nose-Taste-Finish approach that can come off a little flat. “After having worked for almost three years on finding the perfect way to visualise a drink’s flavours, their dynamics and gathering data, we are convinced that the Flavour Spiral is what drinkers of fine spirits have been missing,” says Soba.

Flaviar commissioned an artist to draw 252 flavour components for the Flavour Spiral. These art pieces are a great inspiration when looking for food pairings to go with a drink, too.

With the Flavour Spiral adding the visual component, you can now experience a drink with all your senses. “Seeing the Flavour Spiral is much more intuitive than just reading a written description. It also shows the balancing of flavours, so I find it meaningful and useful,” one user review states.

User tests of the Flaviar App also proved that with the Flavour Spiral it’s much easier to detect and recognize flavours in your drink, previously indiscernible. Great news for those that are just getting into spirits and mixology!

Build Your Home Bar – Virtual and Real

The Flaviar App lets you manage your personal collection of drinks in the My Bar section. Once you are ready to take your flavour explorations into the real world, you are only a few taps away. Although Flaviar is not a liquor store (at least not a typical one), you can submit an order for many bottles right through the App, or choose one of Flaviar’s curated Tasting Packs with samples of fine spirits. Either way, your home bar will become the best bar in town in no time.

payworks provides NFC payments on 50,000 Digitax cabs

payworks and The Payment House to provide NFC payments on up to 50,000 Digitax cabs across Europe

The Payment House, provider of eeZee Taxi, a mobile application suite for cab drivers and their passengers, has chosen payworks to launch an NFC payment solution to cabs in the UK, the Nordics and Central Europe. The solution will be rolled out by Digitax, the leading provider of taximeters and other taxi solutions equipping more than 50,000 taxis in total in Europe. The joint solution will support both contact and contactless payments via credit and debit card and will be tightly integrated with Digitax’ taxi products.

The initial UK launch of the joint solution took place with some of the London Black Cabs in the beginning of July and was closely followed by EastCoast Taxis in Newcastle two weeks later. The solution will be gradually expanded across the country from the beginning of August with Belgium following a week later. The fully integrated taxi solution for the Nordic taxi market (booking, dispatch, fleet management, payments & invoicing) will be rolled out later this year. In addition to EMV Chip & PIN acceptance in the cabs, The Payment House allows passengers to pay with a passenger app called eeZee Pay, removing the need of a credit card being present.

payworks runs a payment platform for developers, enabling providers of integrated POS applications to easily integrate payment terminals and Card Not Present payment functionality into their apps via the payworks mPOS software development kit (SDK). By relying on the payworks Software as a Service infrastructure, The Payment House is able to process transactions with local Acquirers, making it possible to rollout to different countries without the need to change the integration.

“We are very impressed with the flexibility of the payworks platform, which enabled us to get to our launch much quicker than we expected. The speed we gained since we started working with payworks will be instrumental for our future success”, says Staale Reiersen, Group CEO at The Payment House.

Christian Deger, co-founder and CEO of payworks adds: “We are seeing an increasing number of companies using the payworks platform to deliver solutions to the taxi vertical. It is exciting to see how The Payment House uses our technology to deliver an innovative payment solution to this space on a European scale.”

New Enterprise Associates (NEA) collaborates with Speedinvest – 55M USD for European Startups

New Enterprise Associates Collaborates with Austrian VC Speedinvest – $55 million for EU Startups

New Enterprise Associates, the world’s largest venture fund by assets under management, invests $5M in Speedinvest’s second fund and reserves $50 million to drive global growth in Speedinvest’s portfolio of top EU startups

Global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) and Speedinvest GmbH today announced a collaboration that could see $55 million in early-stage and growth capital reserved for the best global companies to emerge from Europe’s burgeoning startup scene.

While European countries such as Germany and Austria have produced global brands like SAP and Red Bull, European entrepreneurs traditionally face a shortage of venture capital and small, fragmented local markets. Speedinvest was designed to provide not only the necessary seed-stage capital, but also the hands-on support of its founders, all successful serial entrepreneurs, in addition to a strong EU-USA bridge program.

The Speedinvest formula has yielded excellent results in a short time, and New Enterprise Associates announces today that it will be focusing some of its capital and resources in an effort to help provide a global platform for the best European startups. NEA will invest $5 million directly into Speedinvest’s newly launched second fund, and anticipates reserving $50 million for follow-on investment in Speedinvest portfolio companies.

NEA is one of the largest venture capital firms in the world with over $17 billion cumulative committed capital since inception, having recently closed its fifteenth fund with $2.8 billion dollars in committed capital. The firm has invested in companies such as Salesforce, Groupon, Box, Silicon Graphics and Macromedia that have defined the technology and economics of Silicon Valley. NEA executes a diversified venture strategy across geographies, with offices in China, India and across the US, in addition to having a broad portfolio, investing in companies at all stages of growth and across a diverse range of sectors including healthcare, consumer technology, and enterprise software and services.

‘We see tremendous opportunity in the European startup ecosystem, and have invested in some very promising companies like GoEuro. By collaborating with Speedinvest, we can create a platform that helps ensure the very best EU startups have sufficient access to capital to achieve global scale,’ said Scott Sandell, NEA Co-Managing General Partner. ‘Like NEA, Speedinvest is a team of company builders. We believe that supporting Speedinvest’s innovative model is a great way to expand our focus in this key market.’

In addition to providing capital, Speedinvest’s general partners also take operational roles with portfolio companies to accelerate growth, particularly in business and corporate development. Speedinvest’s Silicon Valley operations shorten the steep learning curve, and provide seasoned entrepreneurial talent for fundraising and customer acquisition that are often out of reach of European startups. This ‘hands-on’ formula addresses the primary challenges facing European founders, and has been validated with strong results. Speedinvest has produced 4 exits in the past 12 months.

‘NEA and Speedinvest are well aligned in their view of the opportunities offered by the European startup market, and for Speedinvest this collaboration represents the best possible opportunity for our companies,’ said Oliver Holle, founder and CEO of Speedinvest. ‘It gives them the ability to achieve a global scale that only a handful of funds can provide. NEA also represents the very top-tier of the Sand Hill Road funds, a firm that has written the history of venture capital, and their support is a great show of appreciation for what we have built here in Europe.’

About NEA
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $17 billion in cumulative committed capital since inception NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm’s long track record of successful investing includes more than 200 portfolio company IPOs and more than 320 acquisitions. www.nea.com.

iyzico Closes $ 6.2 Million Series B

iyzico Closes $ 6.2 million Series B Investment Round with the IFC, 212, Endeavor Catalyst and Speedinvest

iyzico, the Istanbul based payment solutions company, closed a $6.2 million Series B investment round with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s investing arm, Istanbul based venture capital firm 212, New York based investor Endeavor Catalyst, and Speedinvest from Austria. The IFC led the investment round.

The investment, which brings iyzico’s financing to date to $ 9.4 million, will allow iyzico to expand its research and development team, and scale its payment technology globally.

“We’re thrilled to work with the IFC, 212, Speedinvest and Endeavor Catalyst,” said iyzico CEO Barbaros Ozbugutu. “It is particularly exciting to work with the IFC – a body with tremendous knowledge and experience in financial tech sector worldwide. Having become the leading payment solution for online businesses and enterprises in Turkey, iyzico is enthusiastic to take its technology global.”

As it looks beyond Turkey, iyzico plans to target the markets of the Middle East. “Our goal is to become the Stripe of the region,” Ozbugutu said. “We’re eager to bring our easy to use and effective payment solution to the many online companies sprouting and scaling up from Lebanon to Jordan and beyond.”

“Iyzico provides comprehensive online payment solutions for ecommerce merchants and marketplaces.  Iyzico-enabled merchants can offer consumers a broader choice of local payment options at lower cost and with improved security.  We believe the company will be an important part of the infrastructure for Turkey’s fast growing ecommerce sector” said Andi Dervishi, Head of IFC’s FinTech Investment Group.

Speedinvest raises 58M EUR for Second Fund

Leading EU Early Stage Venture Fund Speedinvest raises 58M EUR for Second Fund, Proposes New Model for Early Stage Investing

Speedinvest has just announced the launch of its second fund with 58M EUR this week., the largest ever raised in Austria. The European tech ecosystem has traditionally been undercapitalized, but recently there is increasing overall interest in tech startups. A competitive, global environment is developing where money is chasing premium returns outside hotspots like Silicon Valley. Oliver Holle, Speedinvest founder and managing partner, explains Speedinvest’s new model: ‘Europe has a few great fundamentals for venture investment, but in order to make seed stage VC work in our region, we really had to re-invent the model.’

Speedinvest brings significant innovation to venture capital, in terms of LP structure and incentive model for GPs. Specifically, the Speedinvest model offers a unique growth platform for its portfolio companies by engaging members of the fund in full-time operational roles such as marketing, business and corporate development, thereby significantly extending the value chain typically covered by venture investors. This model not only raises the success rate of Speedinvest’s seed investments, but also contributes significantly to the equity pool for its investors.

This “work for equity” model is also the basis for Speedinvest’s incentive model for its general partners, as Holle explains, ‘We charge very low management fees and we don’t charge carried interest. In exchange for our extensive, hands-on work, the general partners take an equity stake in the fund. It’s an incentive model that nicely aligns general partners, investors and founders. We succeed when everyone succeeds. Rather than live on management fees and hope for the next unicorn, we create a lot of value out of consistent, strong base hits. Of course, we don’t exclude the unicorns, but our model significantly raises the floor on traditional VC and that is essential for Europe.’ Erik Bovee, Speedinvest founder and US managing partner underlines the importance of this entrepreneurial approach to VC, ‘All of the Speedinvest founders are serial entrepreneurs. We have been through the cycle a few times, and we take very active roles with our portfolio companies, much more than just board seats and networking. We help them address specific challenges. One key goal is to build business in the US. With our offices and partners in both Europe and Silicon Valley we are designed to do just that. So far, the formula works very well.’

Speedinvest’s investors align well with this approach. Speedinvest is supported by 80 entrepreneurs and private investors who actively co-invest and in some cases collaborate with Speedinvest’s portfolio. Apart from AWS, an Austrian government agency that invested 7M EUR, Speedinvest´s funds are 100% private – in stark contrast to the typical Central European fund where often more than 50% comes from taxpayers. Speedinvest enjoyed 3 highly profitable exits in 2014 and has plenty of proof points for its model from its 1st fund: startups like Wikidocs, acquired by Atlassian in 2014, or indoo.rs, an indoor navigation startup that just launched its innovative solution for San Francisco International Airport and is partnering with Marvell in Silicon Valley. Speedinvest counts another half dozen European success stories including Shpock, Wikifolio, Holvi, Hitbox and Crate.io that attest to the success of their ‘hands on’ investing model.

The Future of Speedinvest: Pan European Focus, Pioneers partnership

Speedinvest is expanding its traditional Central European focus and will source deals from across Europe. For this purpose, Speedinvest has built a strategic partnership with Pioneers (http://pioneers.io), the organization behind the Pioneer’s Festival, one of the world’s premier technology events, as well as more than 60 smaller startup events across the globe. Pioneers holds an annual startup competition with over 800 applicants and provides a platform of events and media support for startups. Pioneers provides Speedinvest with a source of dealflow, and a platform for exposure that are unrivalled in Europe. Speedinvest 2 will also provide later-stage, growth capital, in addition to writing pre-seed tickets for the best, nascent companies.

Speedinvest has also bolstered its core team with new partners from the upper reaches of the European startup and corporate technology world. Michael Breidenbrücker, founder of Last.fm (acquired by CBS $240 million), Marie-Helene Ametsreiter, telecom executive and ex-CEO of Croatia’s leading mobile carrier VIP.net, and Stefan Klestil, angel investor and financial technology expert, have all joined the Speedinvest team as general partners. Last, but not least, Johann ‘Hansi’ Hansmann, one of the most prolific and successful regional angel investors, has joined Speedinvest as chairman of the board.

‘Speedinvest has really gone from strength to strength,’ concluded Holle. ‘We had originally targeted 25 million Euros for our first close in February of this year, but have raised nearly 60 million to-date. Our second, and final close will take place in autumn of 2015, and I won’t be surprised if we end up nearly doubling our original fund size of 50 million. Speedinvest is strongly positioned to make Vienna a center of gravity not only for Central Europe, but for the entire EU tech ecosystem.’


Speedinvest hebt die österreichische Venture Capital Industrie auf das nächste Level: Mit 58 Mio EUR an Investitionszusagen innerhalb weniger Monate liegt Speedinvest 2 weit über den Erwartungen. Österreichs somit größter Venture Capital Fonds stellt neue Partner und Strategie vor.

Wien, 3.3.2015 – Nach einer intensiven Fundraisingphase von nur fünf Monaten gibt Speedinvest das First Closing seines neuen Fonds mit einer Dotierung von 58 Mio Euro bekannt. Damit wurde das ursprünglich kommunizierte Ziel von 25 Mio für das First Closing deutlich übertroffen. Speedinvest ist mit diesem Fondsvolumen einer der größten Frühphasenfonds in Europa und positioniert sich klar als Nr.1 Venture Fonds für digitale Startups im Raum CEE. Das Closing steht unter dem Vorbehalt der gesetzmäßigen Registrierung der Speedinvest GmbH als „EuVECA Manager“ und der Speedinvest 2 KG als „EuVECA Fonds“ bei der FMA.

Venture Capital ist ein wesentlicher Wachstumsfaktor für jede moderne Volkswirtschaft. Dies steht im krassen Widerspruch zur Entwicklung der letzten Jahre in Österreich. Laut der Branchenorganisation AVCO wurde 2013 (und, soweit bisher bekannt, auch 2014) weniger als 5 Mio EUR an privatem Kapital (und 15 Mio EUR öffentliche Mittel) für die Bereiche Private Equity und Venture Capital eingeworben .

Nun setzt Speedinvest einen neuen Standard. Dem Team rund um Oliver Holle, das seit 2011 mit seinem ersten Fonds 10 Mio EUR in Startups aus der Region investierte und bereits 3 internationale Exits erzielte, gelang es nun, innerhalb von nur 5 Monaten Investitionszusagen von 58 Mio EUR für den Venture Capital Fonds Speedinvest 2 einzusammeln, davon 51 Mio EUR (87%) aus privaten Mitteln. Speedinvest ist somit nicht nur in Österreich eine Ausnahmeerscheinung, sondern auch im europäischen Vergleich. Laut EVCA stammen nahezu 40% der Mittel für Venture Fonds aus öffentlichen Quellen, private InvestorInnen und Stiftungen tragen im Schnitt nicht einmal 25% der Mittel bei.

Oliver Holle sieht diese Zusammensetzung als große Stärke: “Bei Speedinvest erhält Risikokapital ein menschliches Gesicht. Mehr als 90 InvestorInnen und Business Angels stellen einen Teil ihres hart verdienten Vermögens Startups hier in der Region zur Verfügung. Diese InvestorInnen sind selbst zu einem guten Teil erfolgreiche UnternehmerInnen und viele davon wollen sich auch aktiv einbringen. Dieses Netzwerk ist ein einzigartiger Vorteil für Speedinvest und unsere Startups.”

Es ist beabsichtigt, Speedinvest 2 als Europäischen Risikokapitalfonds nach den einschlägigen Vorschriften aufzulegen. Das dafür erforderliche Registrierungsverfahren bei der FMA wurde bereits eingeleitet. Der erfolgreiche Abschluss dieses Registrierungsverfahren ist Voraussetzung für das rechtswirksame Closing von Speedinvest 2.

Wer sind die InvestorInnen hinter Speedinvest?

Eine Vielzahl der InvestorInnen des ersten Fonds finden sich wieder, darunter etwa Russmedia, Hansi Hansmann, Eva Dichand und Gerhard und Michael Ströck. Ebenfalls wie im ersten Fonds setzt auch die Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (AWS), die Förderbank des Bundes, ihr Vertrauen einmal mehr in das Team und sprach Speedinvest im Rahmen einer Ausschreibung 7 Mio EUR aus Mitteln der Nationalstiftung für Forschung, Technologie und Entwicklung zu.

Besonders stolz ist Speedinvest, auch erfolgreiche österreichische Startup UnternehmerInnen als InvestorInnen gewonnen zu haben, so etwa Gründer von Paysafecard, Gentics, Wikidocs, Blue Tomato, Dynatrace oder Runtastic. Des Weiteren stoßen das deutsche IT Unternehmen Allgeier Gruppe, die Püspök Gruppe, die Heinzel Group und die Gebrüder Weiss dazu, die seit einigen Jahren an Corporate Innovation im digitalen Bereich arbeiten und dadurch noch näher an das Startup Geschehen heranrücken. Weitere prominente UnternehmerInnen bzw. Top ManagerInnen, die sich in der InvestorInnenliste wiederfinden, sind Andreas Bierwirth, Niko Alm, Clemens Drexel, Günther Kerbler oder Rudi Semrad.

Johann “Hansi” Hansmann, der wohl bekannteste Business Angel Österreichs und wesentlicher Mitinitiator von Speedinvest 2, bringt den Erfolg auf den Punkt: “Speedinvest hat durch seine erfolgreiche Tätigkeit in den letzten vier Jahren, auch in der Kooperation mit Pioneers, das Interesse von vielen InvestorInnen, die sonst niemals in Private Equity Fonds investieren würden, erweckt. Diese Plattform des Vertrauens wird uns auch weiterhin enorm helfen, nicht zuletzt für das Second Closing. Die Türen sind ja – noch – für einige Monate offen!”

Bis spätestens September 2015 sollen weitere InvestorInnen noch die Möglichkeit erhalten, bei Speedinvest 2 mitzumachen. Ziel ist ein Gesamtvolumen von 70 Mio EUR, wobei auch hier mehr möglich erscheint.

“Open for Business”, mit neuem, erweiterten Team

Speedinvest 2 wird nach Erfüllung der regulatorischen Voraussetzungen mit vollem Schwung starten. Insgesamt wird sich bei den Investments die Schlagzahl im Vergleich zum ersten Fonds noch einmal deutlich erhöhen. Geplant sind zumindest 10 Neuinvestments / Jahr, davon mehr als die Hälfte außerhalb Österreichs.

Um diese Vielzahl an Projekten auch weiterhin mit außergewöhnlichen, unternehmerischen Ressourcen zu unterstützen, hat sich Speedinvest bereits vor einigen Monaten mit durchaus prominenten Persönlichkeiten aus der Startup und Technologie-Welt verstärkt:

• Marie-Helene Ametsreiter, Topmanagerin aus der Telekommunikationsbranche und ehemalige CMO der Telekom Austria Group,
• Michael Breidenbrücker, Serial Entrepreneur und Co-Gründer von Last.fm, einem der weltweit erfolgreichsten Online Musik Dienste,
• Stefan Klestil, einer der im DACH-Raum bekanntesten Business Angels im Bereich Finanztechnologie (FinTech), ehemalige Führungsfunktionen bei First Data und Wirecard,
• Klaus Matzka, als Mitgründer von Gamma Capital Partners einer der Pioniere der österreichischen Venture Landschaft und zuletzt bei Pioneers aktiv,
• Lucanus Polagnoli, Co-Geschäftsführer von Whatchado und Private Equity Insider,
• Johann “Hansi” Hansmann, aktivster Business Angel Österreichs, er übernimmt als nicht operativer Partner den Vorsitz des Investment Committees.

Das bestehende Erfolgsteam rund um Oliver Holle mit den Gründungspartnern Daniel Keiper-Knorr, Michael Schuster, Werner Zahnt sowie den beiden US Partnern Erik Bovee und Marcel van der Heijden bleibt selbstverständlich erhalten.

Fokus auf Zentraleuropa, weiterhin 100% digital

Speedinvest 2 soll seinen Fokus weiterhin konsequent fortsetzen. Der Schwerpunkt wird auf Seedfinanzierungen in der Höhe von durchschnittlich 500.000 EUR je Initialinvestment gelegt. Mit dem neuen Fonds soll nun eine Möglichkeit geschaffen werden, die oft diskutierte Finanzierungslücke bei Startups in späteren Phase zu schließen. Bis zu 3 Mio EUR kann Speedinvest hier je Investment Case investieren.

In der Auswahl der Startups liegt der Fokus weiterhin auf digitalen Geschäftsmodellen, wie etwa E-Commerce und Medien, Finanztechnologie (“FinTech”) sowie Gründungen im Kerntechnologiebereich (“Deep Tech”). Vor allem der Finanztechnologiesektor wird im Jahr 2015 als eines der dynamischsten und spannendsten Investmentthemen gehandelt.

Erik Bovee, US Partner bei Speedinvest, sieht jedoch auch völlig neue Trends die auf den Fonds zukommen: “Wir sehen uns zur Zeit eine Anzahl an hoch interessanten Hardware oder Robotics Startups an. Gerade die Verknüpfung dieser Technologien mit dem mobilen Internet birgt enormes Potential.”

Der regionale Fokus wird sich deutlich ausdehnen, so plant Speedinvest grundsätzlich, pan-europäisch die besten Deals zu sourcen. Hier soll auch die Partnerschaft mit Pioneers einen signifikanten Vorteil im Dealflow bringen.

“Mit Pioneers verfügen wir nicht nur über einen Partner, der quer durch Europa in den Startup Communities vernetzt ist, sondern auch über eine Plattform, um rasch und unkompliziert kleinere Investments (20.000 bis 100.000 EUR) umzusetzen.” betont Michael Schuster, bei Speedinvest für die Pioneers Partnerschaft verantwortlich, die Wichtigkeit dieser Kooperation.

Selbstverständlich bleibt Speedinvest weiterhin ein österreichischer Investor. “Wir alle kommen aus der österreichischen Startup Szene und sehen und als ein integraler Teil dieser Bewegung. Viele Technologie-Insider wissen bereits, dass wir in Österreich über Weltklasse Technologie verfügen. Nun liegt es auch an uns zu zeigen, dass wir Weltklasse Unternehmen bauen können!”, meint Oliver Holle.
Wichtige Hinweise für die Presse:

Es ist beabsichtigt, Speedinvest 2 als Europäischen Risikokapitalfonds gemäß der Verordnung Nr. 345/2013 vom 17. April 2013 über Europäische Risikokapitalfonds (“EuVECA-Verordnung”) aufzulegen. Gemäß dieser Verordnung können Anteile des qualifizierten Risikokapitalfonds an andere Anleger als professionelle Kunden vertrieben werden, sofern diese sich verpflichten, mindestens 100 000 EUR zu investieren und schriftlich in einem vom Vertrag über die Investitionsverpflichtung getrennten Dokument angeben, dass sie sich der Risiken im Zusammenhang mit der beabsichtigten Verpflichtung oder Investition bewusst sind.

Nach der EuVECA-Verordnung ist es notwendig, sowohl den Verwalter als auch den Fonds zu registrieren. Dieses Registrierungsverfahren bei der FMA wurde von der Speedinvest GmbH bereits eingeleitet. Sein erfolgreicher Abschluss ist Voraussetzung für die Wirksamkeit des Closing und die Aufnahme der Investitionstätigkeit des Fonds.

Es wird aus regulatorischen Gründen dringend darum gebeten, in der Berichterstattung über Speedinvest 2 stets darauf hinzuweisen, dass das Closing und die Investitionstätigkeit von Speedinvest 2 unter dem Vorbehalt der gesetzmäßigen Registrierung der Speedinvest GmbH als „EuVECA Manager“ und der Speedinvest 2 KG als „EuVECA Fonds“ bei der FMA stehen.


Wake up and smell the esports

A recent South Park episode aired in North America, ‘#REHASH’, and probably had most viewers over the age of seventeen, and who don’t devote at least 20 hours per week to playing Minecraft or League of Legends, a little mystified. In the episode, pre-school children taunted the show’s main characters, who are assumed to be about ten years old, because they didn’t understand the culture of video games as a spectator sport. The older children had only a vague understanding of who PewDiePie is, and no understanding whatsoever why their four year old siblings would rather watch video of people playing Minecraft than actually play the game themselves on the family Xbox. The living room is dead and a new entertainment industry has sprung up while you old people were sleeping.

Sure, new industries spring up all the time in recent years, but I was struck while giving a talk at a telecommunications conference in Silicon Valley the other day that 40-year-old executives had precisely the same lack of clues as cartoon ten-year-olds. PewDiePie? Who? DotA2? World championships ten million dollar prize purse? And suddenly I had everyone’s attention.

What kind of fast growing cultural phenomenon separates not only the middle-aged from the adolescent, but also slices finely through adolescent demographics with a resolution of months, not decades? One that grows so large, so quickly that unless you were in precisely the right place at the right time (playing League of Legends obsessively in 2012) you probably missed it.

esports, or the spectator sport of video games, has gone from almost nothing to a bona fide professional sports industry within two and a half years. In 2011 the Season 1 League of Legends World Championships was held at a small festival in Sweden, with 1.6 million global viewers, and a total prize pool of 100,000 USD. In 2014 the Season 4 League of Legends World Championships occurred live at the 45,000 seat Seoul World Cup Stadium in South Korea. 27 million viewers tuned in from around the world, and the prize pool was 2.13 million USD.

To put that into perspective, Major League Baseball’s World Series recently drew 14.9 million global viewers.
Here is a nice illustration of what that evolution looked like (stolen from Reddit):

esportsThe world championships for a similar video game, DotA2 (short for Defense of the Ancients 2) had a total prize pool in 2014 of 10 million USD. And the story is the same for Call of Duty Black Ops, with over 1 million USD in prize money, and a host of other popular titles.

The rapidity of esport’s growth has had some interesting side effects. esports has had to professionalize very quickly, and traditional media companies and sports agencies have begun to pay attention, but in the interim years there was tremendous opportunity for new players. Most people know about Twitch, and its acquisition by Amazon for just under 1 billion dollars. A few new entrants into this market have appeared, including SpeedInvest portfolio company hitbox.tv, who leads the pack of contenders for Twitch’s crown. But this won’t be a ‘winner take all’ market. Early investors have wondered if Twitch will suck all the oxygen out of the room, and create a service like YouTube, that dominates one sector of online video. But esports is growing in a number of directions, and esports video will resemble traditional sports far more closely than the vast monopolies enjoyed by internet companies that provide a best-in-class, narrow feature set, such as ‘search’ or ‘video self-publishing’ to a massive audience. There will be an esports ESPN (and, in fact, that might be a direction in which ESPN evolves, although the culture of traditional sports is not entirely compatible with esports); there will be a Tennis Channel of esports; Fox Sports; Eurosport; the Golf Channel, and on and on. This market can be sliced in many different ways for an online service, not just in terms of content programming, but also in terms of features and viewer requirements. Live viewers of professional esports might want high quality, stutter free video with professional production quality and professional announcers, but people watching celebrity gamers such as PewDiePie (the largest YouTube channel by subscribers), and others in the ‘Let’s Play’ movement who offer casual, and often comedic, video game play to millions of spectators, require features that engage an audience personally: chat, sweepstakes, voting and polling and loyalty programs. In the future, esports services in certain segments will provide unique features and interactivity.

esports is at the end of the very beginning of its commercial evolution. Justin Kan, founder of Twitch, was very clear in a recent interview at TechCrunch Disrupt: he believes that esports will be as large, if not larger, than professional sports. And I agree. The global video game market is already larger in dollar terms than cinema. Everyone plays video games. And live broadcast for video games isn’t just for elite cyber-athletes. PewDiePie and hundreds of others prove this. The esports market is at the very beginning of its growth, and it will have plenty of room for the professional gamers, in addition to the speed runners, ‘Let’s Players’, modders, hackers, the critically unskilled (and often unwittingly hilarious), and even the trolls and griefers.

On that note I’ll leave you with an old video of two young geniuses exploiting bugs and their opponents’ naivete in Team Fortress 2. ‘Team Roomba’ don’t have skills. They don’t have a coaching staff or a private bus or team jerseys. In fact, they are terrible and probably live with their parents. But they are hilarious, and 2 million people have watched them making their teammates lives an utter misery.