Thanks for having us! Knock, knock 2017!
A short while ago, nobody would have dreamed that the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southern Europe was going to progress so fast. But there is great potential in this region, and this year we have definitely seen that it is emerging. There is a lot of technical and entrepreneurial talent available willing to develop its own ideas, while empowerment of people through the access to latest technology and internet is greater than ever.
And amidst this fascinating landscape, Samaipata Ventures has come to existence and reached cruising speed in only 12 months. With passion and hard work we have fostered our project, and we aim at fueling innovation and evolution through injecting capital and knowledge to this sector. Today we are about to close a first chapter, full of excitement and illusion.
It seems like only yesterday when I co-founded La Nevera Roja with my former colleague Íñigo Juantegui. After 4 years of intensive work, I came up with the idea of creating a venture capital dedicated 24/7 to a new entrepreneur profile within this thrilling new startup ecosystem.
Entrepreneurship is becoming an aspirational career among a growing number of talented professionals in Europe (48% between 18 and 24 years old), and this revolutionary context has called the VC industry to go beyond. More and more professionals with successful careers ahead, are willing to say ‘No’ to a comfortable life in order to start their own business. For instance, the number of graduates launching their own startup had grown by 5% between 2014 and 2015 among the most prestigious Business Schools in Europe. Professionals, have wider ambition and an international perspective, encouraged by the vast access to IT advancements, evidenced by a large Internet penetration (for more information on the opportunity of Southern Europe, you can read our post.)
Europe counts with 1.1M people graduating annually in STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), doubling USA figures and revealing the immense technical potential we still have to explode. We have all the ingredients to build top quality startup teams (talent, education, technology, etc.), and it is actually affordable. Whereas the average salary in startups in Sillicon Valley is $87.000, in London it is $64.000, and the gap is wider if we look at Southern Europe. Europe seems a fertile ground for innovative and technological startups! Indeed, the ecosystem of enterprises accelerators and incubators has proliferated, in response to this new trend (please check these figures in Atomico’s report “The State of European Tech 2016”).
We are witnessing a new era of startup funding where the entrepreneurs already have the key to choose which funds suits their company better thanks to a multifaceted investors’ ecosystem with different investment methodologies and startup focus. Hence the importance of specialized venture capital funds. This is why we created Samaipata Ventures, a hands-on and founder-fund early stage venture capital specialized in marketplaces and disruptive e-commerce startups across Southern Europe.
“I see great talent among entrepreneurs who have found out that their aspirational career is to pursue their own ideas and dreams instead of working for others”
Our vision after our first year of life
Here and now, in Southern Europe, there is a momentum for entrepreneurship. This year we have witnessed how fascinating this context is and we are eager to continue taking part of it!
The number of startups being born is simply a never-ending figure, growing at an incredibly fast speed week over week. In Samaipata we want to help boosting this trend. During our first year we have had the chance to analyze >2000 projects (increasing 10% MoM), besides we are still far away from comprising a significant share of the Southern European startup ecosystem. We analyze each project, listen to entrepreneurs, learn from their ideas and, if they match our focus, we try to support them.
“We’re meeting incredible entrepreneurial warriors every day, fighting for technological innovation, bursting with leadership and willing to change the world. This is, without a doubt, the most enriching experience of being part of the VC industry”
During this year, we have been optimizing our Deal Flow analysis methodology continuously. We realized from the very beginning the importance of being rigorous and data-driven with regard to decision-making, as a way of respecting our investment criteria (exclusively analyzing companies in which we could play a value-adding role as investors) and the times of the entrepreneur, who’s looking for transparence and fast feedback.
Our team, with different backgrounds, has built a personalized CRM and pipeline, to ensure efficiency and accuracy. We follow a step by step process with each project, and it has proven to be very useful.
Our methodology has also allowed us to identify patterns and dynamics in our field of expertise — marketplaces and disruptive e-commerce across Southern Europe. We are committed with sharing our methodology with the ecosystem and so far we have published some of our key internal tools of analysis (take a look at our cohort template in this article). We are currently working on many more interesting posts to be launched, such as our internal framework for marketplaces, where we highlight the main KPIs and growth levers to be implemented when building a platform like such.
We believe in the importance of understanding the investment sector as a collaborative industry, with VC funds strengthening co-investing networks, sharing their market intelligence with founders, and collaborating with all the players in the ecosystem (startups, accelerators, incubators, venture builders, business angels, etc), always at the service of entrepreneurship.
“Founders are our heroes and the essence of our business. They have taught us the most fundamental rules of our industry (to be decent, to play hard and to go beyond), and thanks to their generosity when sharing with us their experiences, we are able to gather countless sources of wisdom”.
From the very beginning, we have embraced an international identity. We have always wanted to scout talent and startups across Europe, since we believe that entrepreneurs should have the ambition of becoming European leaders, subsequent to succeeding in their first country of operations.
This initial approach has thus shaped our activity. We’re currently receiving >40% of international deal flow, mainly from our investment geographical footprint (France, Portugal, Italy and UK). Our objective is to keep expanding these figures next year. By opening to other countries, we learn and find out new opportunities, and we bring back home incredibly enriching investors’ know-how.
“Visiting vibrant European ecosystems such as London, Milano, Paris, and Lisbon on a monthly basis, has made us aware of the importance of thinking in European terms. Entrepreneurs have to aspire to become European market leaders, and at Samaipata we’re building a network of VCs to help them scale fast internationally”.
Following a European roadshow, we are meeting accelerators, incubators and business angels on a monthly basis, to stay close to the newest projects coming up that may take a next step and look for a first institutional investment (AKA, Seed Stage, our preferred investment stage) from a VC. European ecosystem can only grow if it’s interconnected and keeps generating synergies. Like in the VC industry, we believe that accelerators and incubators should count on international networks and programs open to entrepreneurs across the continent. This idea is part of our philosophy and we want to give a helping hand in this approach.
In our trips we have met VC funds across Europe and expanded our co-investors network. We feel very privileged for all the learnings collected from all our co-investors, being some of them top tier VC funds like Northzone, Eventures, Point Nine, Local Globe, 360 Capital Partners, P101, or Breega, among others. We have had the pleasure to collaborate in interesting initiatives with leading founder funds, like Atomico, that are paving the way for a new generation of VCs led by entrepreneurs.
For the time being, we have invested in 6 startups [one of them yet to be made public], founded in 4 different countries across Europe. We have supported innovative business models, led by bright teams with a global vision and a great funding and talent traction. We are very grateful to our portfolio companies for trusting and choosing us as companions in their ad-venture.
“Eventually, all our effort is focused on finding TALENT. We have met amazing mission-driven and hard working teams during these first months, and this is the fuel to start 2017 full of motivation.”
This year in Samaipata we have learnt a lot, but there is still a lot of work ahead. By working together and generating synergies from our team, we have launched our own “startup”, with the mission to help entrepreneurs to fund their dreams, and the determination to close the gap between Europe and the rest of the world.
We are excited to start a new chapter and see how innovation may shape Europe in the coming months! Thanks for welcoming us. We look forward to meeting you in 2017.
Happy New Year,