Earlybird, best known as the Berlin-based VC which has backed myriad German and European startups such as SoundCloud and N26, is today expanding its reach in Europe with the creation of a team and adjunct fund based out of Paris, France.
The timing is decent. According to most annual European surveys, France regularly appears as the third biggest startup ecosystem in Europe, (behind first the U.K. and then Germany) and last year investment in French startups doubled.
Startups there raised more than €11 billion last year — more than double its 2020 number. Part of the growth has come from U.S. VCs making incursions into the previously under-valued and under-funded market. Some 76% of the money raised by French startups in 2021 came from foreign investors.
Earlybird’s “family of funds” structure meant that it backed a “cousin” fund in Turkey called Earlybird Digital East Fund. It’s now doing the same in France with the “Earlybird Digital West” fund.
Salomon Aiach, a former executive of Facebook in France and Goldman Sachs in New York, will be principal in the fund. He is joined by Cécile Treboit, who is an expert in crypto, web3 and gaming startups.
The fund’s core focus lies on early-stage companies — predominantly seed and Series A — and will be supporting French entrepreneurs with initial investments of between €1 million to €10 million.
Aiach said: “France has simply become the place to be for tech investors around the world; Earlybird understood that and decided to go all-in by building out a local team to be by the side of founders as early as the seed round. Combined with Brexit and the need for faster internationalization, Germany has become the first European country when it comes to international expansion for French entrepreneurs. Earlybird has the team, the network, and the playbook to help nearly anyone succeed there.”
Earlybird partner Tim Rehder said: “As a pan-European early-stage fund, we see that proximity to local founding teams is one of the most decisive points in ensuring that teams receive the wanted support from their investor. Next to Germany, we believe that France is one of the most dynamic, fast moving tech ecosystems in Europe. We aim to bring our collective 24 years of VC experience to France and partner up locally with young tech professionals.”
The background to this of course is that European VC is (finally!) becoming more competitive as it feels the heat both from U.S. VCs, and also other European VCs using remote working and deal-making to suck up deals well outside their territories.