Startup Wise Guys raises €25m to invest in underserved markets including Africa
Estonian accelerator Startup Wise Guys has secured €25-million in funding to invest in more than 200 early-stage start-ups across Europe and Africa, following its partial closing of a €45-million target.
The early-stage investor aims to focus on markets that remain underserved by capital investment, including Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Italy, Spain and Africa, where it has previously been successful, despite a 35% global drop in venture investment in 2022.
Last year the global economy faced challenges that resulted in the drop in investment compared to the previous year. Europe experienced a 25% decline in start-up funding, particularly impacting early-stage start-ups. However, Central and Eastern Europe defied the trend and achieved another record year for investment, raising $3.2 billion despite the uncertainty caused by the invasion of Ukraine.
Similarly, data from Africa indicates that the continent managed to maintain funding levels similar to those of 2021.
Startup Wise Guys also plans to expand its presence in Southern and Western Europe, as well as Latin America and North Africa. It recently opened offices in Bilbao, Spain, and Italy.
According to the company, the new funds will not only support acceleration investments and follow-ons, but also direct investment into growth-stage companies. Startup Wise Guys has invested directly in mobility unicorn Bolt, car subscription service Planet42, and Katana, a manufacturer's ERP solution.
The company’s 11th anniversary has prompted a rebranding, reflecting its global traction and inclusiveness for founders.
Zane Bojāre, head of brand at the firm, said the new logo reflected a "human and approachable" personality. "We are bringing the focus back to the human founders by transitioning to a funky, welcoming, smiley face.”
Cristobal Alonso, global CEO at Startup Wise Guys, said the firm was "ready to help digital entrepreneurs with brave ideas, especially at times of crisis".
He added: "We proved that during COVID, and we were active after the Ukraine war started. We are determined to help entrepreneurs turn crises into new opportunities, and we have a strong track record helping purpose-driven founders become global entrepreneurs."
In 2022, Startup Wise Guys executed 120 early-stage investments, managed 12 full-time programmes, and introduced its first B2B digital software-as-a-service programme exclusively for African start-ups.
The firm also launched an accelerator programme focused on XR in Malaga, Spain. The accelerator fund also operates programmes based out of Europe in the areas of software-as-a-service, Fintech, cyber security, and sustainability.
Startup Wise Guys' portfolio includes Ready Player Me, kevin., StepShot, and Ondato, and has drawn investments from A16Z, Accel, Lead ventures, Northzone and AV8.