Portuguese VC firm Shilling launches €50M opportunity fund to back growth-stage startups


Shilling team
Image Credits: Shilling

It seems like it was only yesterday (well, seven years ago!) that I was honing in on the rapid development of Portugal’s growing startup and investment scene. I updated my article in 2021, only to find an explosion of new companies and investors.

Today comes further proof that Portugal is stretching its wings as one of Europe’s freshest and hungriest tech ecosystems: Venture firm Shilling has launched a €50 million fund to support growth-stage startups in its own portfolio and also — crucially — to invest in startups everywhere else. 

The VC arm of Portuguese private equity firm Draycott SCR, Shilling is best known for being an early-stage investor in startups like Talka, Unbabel, Bizay, Uniplaces and Best Tables (acquired by TripAdvisor in 2015).

Shilling’s newest fund, labeled “Opportunity Fund,” will give it extra firepower to support early-stage startups for longer, with investments of up to €5 million for Series A and beyond. According to the firm, over 90% of the fund target was raised at the first close, and the fund has already invested in Shilling portfolio company Coverflex.

Despite having a vibrant startup ecosystem, Portugal has one of the lowest VC investment-to-GDP ratios in Europe — five times lower than the European average, according to Atomico.

This has created a gap in funding for growth-stage startups. Shilling’s Opportunity Fund will be a welcome bridge in that gap.

“We want to be one of the players following our startups over their entire journey, hence this new fund,” Ricardo Jacinto, managing partner at Shilling, told me. “Obviously, we want to keep an eye on new opportunities. That’s the thesis of this fund. […] We don’t want to limit ourselves to only portfolio companies.”

“As the market recovers from post-pandemic stabilization, our new fund will support growth-stage companies as they scale,” Hugo Gonçalves Pereira, a founding partner at Shilling, said in a statement.

Norberto Guimarães, co-founder and CEO at Talka, added, “Shilling is unavoidable in the Portuguese early-stage startup scene. They quickly supported Talka, plugging me into the community after my journey of 12 years in the Bay Area.”

Backing tech founders early has been key to Shilling’s growth as a firm. In 2021, it launched a €55 million ($35.6 million) early-stage fund called Shilling Founders Fund that was backed by just over 35 successful tech founders, as well as European VC, Atomico.

Shilling was founded in 2011 by Pereira, a real estate investor and proptech founder; António Casanova, CEO of Unilever FIMA; Diogo da Silveira, chair & NED in listed and fund-backed European companies; João Coelho Borges, a top PE investor and founding partner at Draycott; and executives Juan Alvarez and Pedro Rutkowski.

Later, the team was joined by entrepreneurs and founders including Miguel Santo Amaro (co-founder of Uniplaces and Coverflex), Ricardo Jacinto, Pedro Ramalho Carlos and Maria Villas-Boas.

Shilling isn’t the only Portuguese venture firm to scale up in recent years. In 2022, Lisbon-based venture firm Indico Capital Partners launched a €50 million climate tech fund, dubbed the Indico Blue Fund. Other leading VC firms in the country include FaberArmilar Venture Partners, Tocha and Portugal Ventures.

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