Heaven knows there are few enough institutional investment funds focusing specifically on Eastern Europe, but today followers of the scene there have reason to celebrate.
LAUNCHub Ventures, the seed-stage venture capital firm based in Sofia, Bulgaria, has now closed its second fund at €18 million. Existing portfolio companies will benefit, as will new early-stage startups in Bulgaria and the wider Southeastern Europe region.
It’s already announced its first investment into HiCharlie, a text message robot that “simplifies personal finance.” The startup based out of San Francisco is co-founded by two Bulgarians. Co-investors in that round include Norwest Venture Partners and Softech.
Founded in 2012, the first LAUNCHub fund of €9M was deployed as pre-seed tickets up to €200,000. However, with this new fund, the venture will be able to expand into the seed space with investments in the €300,000 to €700,000 range, expandable to €2M per company.
Lyuben Belov, the serial entrepreneur who co-founded LAUNCHub Ventures four years ago, says: “We believe there is a fantastic opportunity in the currently underserved, but quickly growing South Eastern Europe region. Our strategy is to become the obvious first choice for entrepreneurs in our region.” He co-founded the firm alongside Todor Breshkov, who forms the team with three other experienced partners — Rumen Iliev, Stanislav Sirakov and Stephane Gantchev.
Investors in the latest fund include EIF (the European Investment Fund) and private individuals, including Bulgarian entrepreneurs in the digital space, such as the founders of Telerik, the company that achieved the largest exit for a Bulgarian software company in 2014.
Svetozar Georgiev, Telerik co-founder, says: “LAUNCHub largely contributed to the growth of the Bulgarian and regional startup ecosystems. We are happy to participate in this growth, standing just right to LAUNCHub in a desire to support, inspire and grow this community.”
LAUNCHub Ventures portfolio includes Fite, a video distribution platform that brings professional ring sports to your TV; Cloudpipes, a workflow automation service connecting hundreds of cloud applications; Doctrina, an online platform connecting pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies; and Coherent Labs, a UI middleware tool used by large number of top gaming studios.