Fort Ross Ventures raises late-stage fund, expands European activity

Seven-year-old venture firm Fort Ross Ventures just raised its fourth fund. The firm focuses on fintech, cloud technologies, AI/machine learning, business process automation services, edtech, foodtech and tech enabled businesses. The firm has also made a number of SaaS enterprise investments. To date, the firm has mostly invested in Israeli and U.S. companies, but that is about to change.

Victor Orlovski, founder and managing partner at Fort Ross Ventures, told me the fund has closed the first $100 million of the $200 million fundraise. “We keep raising, and we aim to raise at least 300 [million], which is absolutely doable. Our typical check size is between 10 and 30 million; I think the average is around 20. We haven’t yet made any investments in Europe. We have just started building our European presence, and that is the reason I moved to Europe for a short while.”

The firm is planning to continue its core investment strategy with around 60% of its deals in the U.S., 20-30% of investments in Israel, and the remaining in the U.K. and broader Europe. Orlovski told me the firm leads about a third of the deals it participates in, and partners with other venture firms on the remaining investments. The fund’s ongoing investment priorities include fintech, cloud technologies, AI/machine learning, business process automation services, edtech, food tech and tech-enabled businesses. As a general rule, the company focuses on backing companies that have raised at least $50 million in equity capital and are valued at $500 million or more.

“We are operating four funds. Our first fund got some really exciting results — something like 50% IRR cash to cash — $7 on each dollar invested. The company that brought the entire return on that fund is eToro,” Orlovski said, referring to the $10 billion SPAC merger we covered earlier this year. “We raised our second fund in 2018, which was a $250 million fund. We subsequently closed two more funds. One fund we are operating from is an early-stage fund for SEA founders.”

As part of the first close for the fourth fund, Fort Ross Ventures’ Late-Stage Fund has deployed its first check, investing in Ladder, the digital life insurance company. The company offers flexible term coverage in minutes. As Ingrid covered here on TechCrunch, the company recently announced its $100 million Series D. At the time, it didn’t disclose the other investors in the round.

“I think that Ladder is a great company, and we are bullish on them. They are one of the leaders in a life insurance business,” said Orlovski. “We have chosen this company out of many companies we looked at in fintech worlds — we are quite bullish on the insurance sector overall. We are targeting companies which want to go global early in their lifetime. We are helping companies to build their relationship and presence in the SEA region, and also helping companies to grab a lot of talent out of the SEA region. I think that that’s our biggest area of expertise and help.”

Updated: Mr Orlovski misspoke in the interview with us, stating that Fort Ross had closed $200m. The correct number is $100m, and his quote has been amended in this article.