The venture market is in the middle of a downturn, but there are still plenty of emerging fund managers. Seedstars announced today it has launched a platform called Seedstars Capital with Swiss-based investment holding company xMultiplied to help new fund managers around the world launch funds and develop their investment firms.
Seedstars Group co-founder and Seedstars Capital managing partner Michael Weber and Seedstars Capital partner Benjamin Langer told TechCrunch in an email that “Seedstars’ mission is to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship.” Over the past decade, it has supported various stakeholders, mostly tech entrepreneurs, through entrepreneurial programs.
“We’ve seen so many talented entrepreneurs grow their companies very fast, to the standard of the U.S. or Europe, but unfortunately too many struggle to raise capital to grow even faster. To continue our mission to support them, Seedstars is now supporting the next generation of VC fund managers in emerging markets that will then back those promising entrepreneurs.”
Seedstars Capital will look for sector and industry-specific strategies in regions and countries like Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia and India. It is looking for funds that target pre-seed to Series A companies, because that is where they see the biggest funding gaps and potential.
“Ideally, we want to support gender-diverse teams as we know we need a more inclusive industry,” said Weber and Langer. “We are convinced this will have a tremendous impact at the portfolio level and we will be able to empower more women entrepreneurs.”
The platform will incubate, accelerate and invest in new venture capital funds in emerging markets like Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Managers have usually raised a micro fund, already have experience as angel investors or worked at larger investment firms, and are in the process of launching their first institutional funds of between $15 million to $50 million.
Many fund managers are ones that Seedstars has known for a long time “and despite having relatively little track record on their own we knew they had the necessary skills to become top performing managers,” Weber and Langer said.
In fact, this is how Seedstars International Ventures began. Weber and Langer had worked with co-founder Charlie Graham-Brown since 2014, and in 2019 launched its first global fund for emerging markets, focusing on pre-seed stage. Last year, it launched Fund II with Patricia Sosrodjojo, which is now backed by the IFC, the Rockefeller Foundation, Visa Foundation and Symbiotics, among other investors.
Seedstars Africa Ventures, which invests across the continent, was also formed in a similar way. Seedstars had known Tamim El Zein and Maxime Bouan since they worked at Blue Orchard, focusing on Africa. They hired a third partner, Bruce Nsereko-Lule, and now the fund has LBO France as an anchor investor.
“Over the last year, we have meet with many exceptionally talented teams working very hard building their ecosystems and investing in outstanding entrepreneurs across emerging markets,” Weber and Langer said. “We want to partner with them and allow them to develop their strategies and have a powerful and positive impact.”
Seedstars Capital is committed to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and plans to use ESG and impact considerations as it selects a diverse group of fund managers. It also plans to serve as an investment catalyst with the goal of getting fund managers over $500 million of new funding in total. Seedstars Capital says this will create more than 10,000 new jobs and generate over $20 billion of additional GDP in emerging markets over the next 10 years.
Challenges Seedstars Capital will help emerging VC managers solve include ones like access to international funding. Since most of them typically have assets under management below $50 million and focus on a specific country or sector, they often rely on local individual investors, family offices and development finance institutions (DFIs), which can make fundraising periods stretch as long as 18 to 24 months.
Many emerging managers also lack access to infrastructure, even though they are good at investing in high-growth startups. That means they don’t have the resources to build the right support infrastructure for their portfolio companies and firms, including marketing budgets, tech stacks to manage deal flow and investors, tools and framework to measure the positive impact of portfolio companies or a network of mentors to support their founders.
They also lack access to a community of people, including mentors, investors and other managers, that can help them share best practices, deal flow, market trends or informal events, Weber and Langer said. “These are critical components of building a brand that will allow managers to select the best opportunities and attract the best talent.”
Weber and Langer said Seedstars can help solve these issues because it has over 10 years of experience in emerging markets, and has accelerated or incubated more than 2,000 ventures. It also has a network of more than 1,000 experts and mentors and is therefore “in a prime position to become that partner who can support emerging managers thrive in the industry and develop their investment firms in an institutional manner.”
In terms of investment, Weber and Langer said Seedstars Capital has tested several models, including investing in the management company, providing warehousing facilities or serving as an LP.
In the future, it will work with managers throughout the fundraising stage, providing access to Seedstars network and relationships to help funds hit their first or final close more quickly. It will also be an LP in all funds, and plans to invest between 3% to 5% of the fund size, with the goal of increasing that allocation to up to 10% in the future.
“Having said that, we do not intend to become an investor and our goal will always remain the same, working alongside the most talented emerging managers as partners in the development of their investment firms,” Weber and Langer said.