The Samwer brothers’ Global Founders Capital fund is announcing its first three investments today, a few short months after making its public debut. The initial round of investment isn’t earth-shattering, totaling just over $5 million, but it’s just the start for the nearly $200 million fund from Oliver and Marc Samwer, as well as third partner Fabian Siegel, the founder and architect of global food ordering startup giant Delivery Hero.
Three companies are included in this round of initial funding, including language learning platform Lingoda (previously scooped by Deutsche Startups), and online fashion startups GirlMeetsDress and Videdressing.com. GFC‘s Siegel says that the fund’s partners see big opportunities in the online fashion space, hence the presence of two such companies on this list of investments.
“I can’t speak for [Rocket Internet's] specific strategy, but I think they’re covering very well the traditional, demand fulfillment ecommerce space for fashion,” he said in an interview. “But there are tons of other models adjacent to that. The secondary market, with Videdressing, where you start to resell and build an eBay is a good example of a natural, logical model adjacent to the ecommerce model. GirlMeetsDress, being on the other end, where you basically make high-end dresses available to those who are unable or unwilling to own them, basically with a shared ownership model, you have another different approach.”
Samwers Marc and Oliver are the famed duo behind Rocket Internet, the startup incubator responsible for launching a thousand clones of successful North American early stage companies. GFC is designed to give the Samwers a vehicle to invest in businesses that wouldn’t necessarily have a place at Rocket, with a particular focus on consumer-facing ecommerce companies. that offer complimentary models to what Rocket-incubated companies are creating.
GirlMeetsDress is a particularly strong example of a startup that’s replicating a model working well in the North American market, too. RentTheRunway offers essentially the same service to U.S. customers, and Siegel didn’t shy away from the fact that that startup’s success has had influence in GFC’s decision to back GirlMeetsDress and explore the fashion space, even though GirlMeetsDress technically debuted prior to its North American counterpart.
“Generally I believe if there’s a certain behavior that works in one market, then there’s a high likelihood that the same behavior will work in other market,” he said. “From my own experience with the last business I built I saw user behavior being very similar across multiple markets, from Asia right across to Europe, and there’s only a few markets where a model doesn’t work, and that’s the exception rather than the rule. I think RentTheRunWay is a great example of a company that has a model that scaled successfully, and the UK being very close to the US in fashion practices, I think GirlMeetsDress has a lot of potential.”
Asked whether future GFC investments will be thematically similar to these three, Siegel said that while they probably can do most to help consumer-facing companies as investors, we’ll probably see them go further afield and put money into B2B, big data and software-as-a-service companies, too. Consumer transactional remains the core focus however, and these first three investments are right up that alley.