Exceptional Ventures joins Europe’s health and wellness gold rush with a new $24M fund

With the after-effect of the pandemic set to play out for years, VCs specializing in health, wellness and general ‘joy’ would appear to have rising fortunes. Funds such as Able Partners and Joyance have appeared in recent years to invest in startups that make people’s lives healthier, or at least more fun. In Europe this sector has taken off with Nina Capital in Barcelona, Heal Capital in Berlin, InHealth Ventures London, and Apollo Health Ventures in Germany, among others.

Into this space is launching a new fund out of Europe to take advantage of the continent’s prodigious health tech and wellness talent.

Exceptional Ventures is a new Venture Capital firm based out of London, investing in technologies that give people “happier, healthier, and longer lives, while supporting planetary health,” they say.

Exceptional Ventures Fund 1 will be a £20M/$24M vehicle mainly focused on the UK and Europe, with some investments made further afield, focusing on early-stage startups, primarily at pre-seed and seed stage.

Co-founder Paolo Pio was previously MD Europe at Joyance Partners, where he invested in 25 startups across 9 countries. He’s also the co-founder and trainer of Urban Tribe, a London and Dubai fitness bootcamp. Matt Cooper, the other co-founder, was part of the founding team at Capital One Bank in the U.S. and later founded CapitalOne Bank (Europe). He was also the cofounder of Tandem Bank, Chairman of Octopus Capital Group, and has invested in more than 130 companies as an angel. The team also includes investment associate Michella Botto Andrade, a trained engineer and formerly with L’Oreal.

Uniting to form Exceptional Ventures at the beginning of 2021, the team has so far invested in Mental Health (Clerkenwell Health), alcohol-free drinks alternatives and future of food (Bar.On, Planetary, and REAL) and sustainable feminine hygiene and personal care products (Here We Flo).

Speaking to me over a call, Pio said the fund was aiming to build a portfolio of 40 companies.

Cooper aded: “Our fund will include health tech and we will also work around the edges of that. So, in the future of foods, non-alcoholic beverages. So we’re a bit broader than normal ‘wellness’. But my sense is that this whole area is dramatically picking up and attracting the best entrepreneurs and attracting a lot of new fund managers. I think the challenge is a lot of them don’t have the history and the connections that we have. So they’re not able to access the deals that we can.”

Pio added: “I lived and worked in San Francisco at Cisco. The next event we’re going to be doing is going to be in London, and another one is going to be San Francisco. So it’s it’s great to have the connection to that ecosystem. Sometimes, for example, we invest in companies in Europe that might want to speak with companies in the US, and we can do that.”