Just ahead of the Slush tech confab in Helsinki this week, 500 Startups has revealed plans for its latest regional fund: the startup investment group is raising $15 million for 500 Nordics, which it will use for its accelerator program, seed investing and distribution and marketing programs.
The target is to fund 100 or more startups across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
A Form D filed with the SEC today lists 500’s Dave McClure, Christine Tsai and Sean Percival as executive officers, but it will be Percival who has been and will continue to run the operation day-to-day, initially out of Norway.
This is not the first we have heard of 500 Nordics.
There were a few reports that mentioned the operation in passing as evidence of 500 Startups’ increasing interest in developing regional operations globally. That has also included microfunds across Asia, most recently a $30 million fund in Japan.
A profile of 500 Nordics on AngelList describes it as a pre-accelerator, “an intensive 1 month program hosted in Oslo, Norway.”
Given that 500 Startups’ recent $85 million fund that it closed in September apparently fell short of the $100 million the group hoped to raise, it’s interesting to see 500 Startups continue to expand to areas that have maybe had less overheated attention than Silicon Valley has, and to a wider range of functions. But this is more of an expansion and change of direction: the group is also working on raising its fourth fund of $200 million, as well as a growth fund.
The AngelList profile notes that 500 Nordics is currently accepting applications for the first program starting in January 2016. 500 Nordics proposes to invest $10,000 in exchange for a 2% equity stake a startup and it charges a $3,000 program fee in addition to that, netting a startup in the program a $7,000 investment.
The program at 500 Nordics sounds similar to what 500 Startups offers at home base and further afield, with participating startups receiving “a number of awesome talks, office hours, events, and hands-on mentorship in customer acquisition, international expansion, analytics, design and UX, fundraising, business development, and much much more.”
From what we understand, the idea behind putting 500 Nordics first in Oslo was to build an accelerator in another city to balance — or complement, depending on how you look at it — the technology centres that already exist in Stockholm and Helsinki.
These were originally built around legacy giants like Nokia and Ericsson, with a new wave of startup innovation coming from a windfall of startups that were either founded and/or staffed by talent coming out of those companies and the institutions built to train people to work for them. Companies coming out of these two cities include a fair number of game-changing startups, including Skype, Spotify, Rovio and Supercell.