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The international investors behind the best-funded startups in Southeast Europe

Unicorn money box and coins stacked
Image credit: Photo by Annie Spratt

During the past few years, Europe has quickly established itself as the “fastest growing region for VC investment”, with Southeast Europe hitting the spotlight by attracting bigger ticket sizes and funding rounds for the startups in the ecosystem. In 2022 only, the region has already produced three unicorn companies – thus, growing the total number to six. This signals an underlying structural trend showcasing an ever-expanding waterfront of opportunity for technology companies in Southeast Europe that significantly differs from the short-term valuation fluctuations, Sequoia Capital Partner Bogomil Balkansky says.

The year of 2021 has proven to be the strongest one in the history of startup growth in Southeast Europe so far – the Recursive listed more than 210 deals of total value of over $2.55B (€2.25B). Moreover, more than 15 startups exited to international players.The number of businesses reaching later growth stages is escalating with enterprise software, martech, and fintech remaining the leading sectors. All these make the region all the more interesting for global investors.

In this article, we take a look at the top 13 international investors (divided by regions) funding the fastest growing startup companies in Southeast Europe:

United States

Accel is a California-based venture capital firm, working with startups in seed, early and growth-stage investments and focusing on the consumer, infrastructure, media, and mobile technology sectors. It invested $172 million in Romanian unicorn UiPath and led the Series A round for Serbia-based Tenderly.

Crosspoint Capital Partners is a Boston-based private equity investment firm focused on the cybersecurity, privacy, and infrastructure software markets. It led a €48M Series B investment in the Croatian security solutions company ReversingLabs.

Lightspeed Venture Partners is a multi-stage venture capital firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the enterprise, consumer and health sectors. Over the past two decades, it has backed hundreds of entrepreneurs and helped build more than 400 companies globally. It led the round of $100 million, which turned Payhawk into the first Bulgarian unicorn.

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One Equity Partners is a middle market private equity firm based in New York with over $8 billion in assets under management focused on innovations within the industrial, healthcare and technology sectors in North America and Europe. It invested over $200 million in Croatian unicorn company Infobip.

Sequoia Capital is an American VC firm that mainly focuses on the technology industry, seeking to invest in information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, mobile, nanotechnology, financial service, internet, energy, media, and retail sectors. It backed Romanian UiPath on its way to becoming a unicorn. It also invested in Turkish online grocery startup Getir.

WestCap Group is a US-based growth equity firm that invests in product-centric, market-leading businesses. It utilises technology in disruptive and sustainably advantaged ways. It led the $140 million round for Greek proptech company Blueground, paving its way to becoming a unicorn.

Europe

Index Ventures is an European venture capital firm with headquarters in London and San Francisco, investing in technology-enabled companies focused on e-commerce, gaming, fintech, infrastructure/AI, mobility, and security. Together with Visionaries Club (below), it led a $120-million funding round for the Bulgarian OKRs management software Gtmhub, making it the largest round in the OKRs software industry to date.

Molten Ventures, previously Draper Esprit, is a London-based venture capital firm that invests in Europe’s tech leaders at Series A and beyond to foster innovations in hardware, software,  healthcare for consumers. It is the first European tech-focused VC not tied to five-year cycles. Last year, it led a $60-million investment round in Series B, helping FintechOS continue its international expansion.

Porsche Ventures, with a base in Stuttgart, Germany, partners and invests in companies from early stage through growth, helping their founders accelerate by identifying and executing on relevant opportunities. In 2021, it started the Bugatti Rimac joint venture with Croatian electric performance car manufacturer Rimac.

Visionaries Club is a Berlin-based VC fund backed by leading digital founders and family business entrepreneurs who provide support to entrepreneurs in their seed and early growth stages to bring their companies to the next stage.

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Asia

Global Brain is a Japanese fund investing in and supporting startups that are looking to expand the business overseas by facilitating partnerships with major corporations in the region and providing support in every aspect of growing the business. Its portfolio includes Greek fintech startup Plum, as it helped them secure €12 million, together with Ventura Capital (below).

Ventura Capital is a Dubai-based firm investing in the most elusive private companies which are on a clear trajectory to IPO. It provides institutional investors with exposure to disruptive consumer technology and enterprise technology.

Canada

OMERS Ventures is a Canadian Series A-C transatlantic investor in high-growth, disruptive tech companies. It helped Croatian fintech company Fonoa raise $25 million.

 

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