IMPETUS Capital, the fund behind high-growth companies like Shelly Group, Discordia, Storied Data, and Transmetrics recently launched the Kármán Line program, an initiative focused on startups in the sectors of space, mobility, and commerce. The program aims to support startups that show potential for sector leadership, providing them with financial support, industry insights, and opportunities for international market expansion. Three selected companies will receive €300,000 each in exchange for a 10% stake.
Targeted towards startups that have begun sales or have validated their business models, and are based in or have founders from Romania, Bulgaria, or Greece, the Kármán Line program focuses on companies less than seven years old or those that have recently pivoted. The goal is to utilize the Eastern European market as a launch point for broader European and US market entry. The application period is open until January 15, 2024.
The name of the competition is inspired by the Kármán Line – the boundary 100 km above sea level where Earth meets space. “We are looking for startups and innovators who, as astronauts crossing that line, are on the precipice of groundbreaking change and have the ambition to transform the industry and the world as we know it. Kármán Line by IMPETUS supports innovation in the movement and interaction of people, goods, and services. Our mission is to help founders overcome limitations and realize all of their potential, becoming market leaders,” says Viktor Manev, co-founder and managing partner of IMPETUS Capital.
Industry expertise for sustainable growth
The Kármán Line program strategically targets the interconnected sectors of space, mobility, and commerce, recognizing their integral role in the sustainable evolution of Europe. Viktor Manev articulates this perspective: “Commerce has been leading the region’s development for the last 2-3 thousand years. Mobility has been the solution for moving goods. Today, in the context of a free market of goods, services, and people, it is of great significance to our lives. And now, space is closer to innovators than ever. The birth and growth of companies like Uber, Bliq, and Quantum Exchange were based on the opening of global positioning and SatCom markets, for example, to both innovators and early-stage investors”.
The jury of the Kármán Line is led by IMPETUS Capital partners Viktor Manev, Stefan Juhls, and Walé Adepoju as well as Angel Hadjiev, a regional manager at Seedblink. The team combines knowledge and operational expertise of more than 90 years in investments in retail tech, mobility tech, and space tech. Other jury members, both investors and industry operators, will be announced shortly. This diversity in expertise aims to provide a wealth of network opportunities for the participants as well as to ensure that the selected startups will receive practical guidance.
Program Objectives and Structure: Beyond Capital Investment
Manev elaborates on the program’s deeper objectives: “The program aims to create value for founders beyond the reward of equity financing. The competition is conducted in several stages, where about 10 selected companies (the so-called shortlist) will participate in 3-4 intensive online sessions during February 2024. These sessions will cover topics relevant to the verticals, early-stage financing, and tactics of global companies from the personal experience of the jury. The sessions also include significant time dedicated to questions, answers, and discussions.”
Manev further highlights the culmination of the program in March 2024: “A live event with the shortlisted companies will be held in Sofia, where the jury will select the three winners. This event provides an opportunity for direct contact with the specially invited team of industrial professionals and investors.
IMPETUS Capital: A Track Record of Fostering Global Industry Leaders
IMPETUS Capital blends financing from both private and public markets, effectively assisting its portfolio companies in overcoming the funding gap. The firm has already established a notable presence in the startup ecosystem, with their investment funds, ImVenture I and II, and the listed platform Impulse Growth (IMP), cultivating a diverse portfolio of 16 companies. This portfolio stands as evidence of their ability to identify and nurture potential, with a collective revenue growth of 4.6 times over the last five years.
Notable successes include the Frankfurt Stock Exchange double-listed Shelly Group (formerly Allterco, ticker SLYG), a home-automation producer of smart home IoT solutions used by more than 2 million households worldwide, Discordia, the largest transport and logistics company in Bulgaria, Transmetrics, an innovator in AI and big data analytics for logistics planning, trusted by DHL, DB Schenker, Kuehne+Nagel and other industry leaders, and the US-based Storied Data, a platform for unified interactive documents, data publishing, and intelligent information distribution.
With their proven expertise in scaling startups and a keen eye for disruptive innovations, IMPETUS Capital is now looking to discover and support startups that have the potential to follow in the footsteps of Shelly Group, Discordia, Storied Data, and Transmetrics. The Kármán Line program represents a continuation of their commitment to driving progress and innovation, opening doors for startups ready to make a significant impact on a global scale.