By Uwe Horstmann
Just in time for our tenth birthday, we are proud to announce that we have raised a new $375M venture capital fund aimed at backing entrepreneurs all across the amazing European early-stage tech ecosystem. This brings our total available capital to one billion USD as of now. With offices in London and Berlin, we will continue to invest in startups in pre-seed, seed and Series A rounds. Additionally, we are introducing our private equity co-investment practice. All of this is built on two pillars:
- a conviction-driven investment team and
- the industry’s largest operational value-add team of 140 full-time experts.
As the past weeks have brought a lot of uncertainty into the technology markets worldwide, this new announcement shows our commitment to funding innovation. We’re long-term believers in what digital innovation can bring concerning value creation and quality of life improvement for all of us. If you are raising between 1m and 10m USD for your pre-seed, seed or Series A, we’d love to talk.
10 years of Project A: The journey from 0 to 1 billion
When we set out in 2012, the world didn’t need yet another undifferentiated venture capital fund. Backed by two awesome first investors, the Otto Group and Axel Springer, we were able to identify, realize and prove the operational venture capital model, combining early-stage capital with access to the know-how of 140 operational experts.
Ten years later, the need for differentiation among investors is even more important. We’re very proud that a world-class group of investors — ranging from big international institutional investors over family offices and value-add corporates to trusted key figures of the tech world — has spoken loudly. This validates our thesis. Looking at the performance of our past funds and listening to the qualitative feedback we are getting for our approach, they have put an immense amount of trust into us by investing in this fund. We’re humbled and ready to get to work.
What sets us apart: The operational VC model
140 operational experts work at Project A. To our knowledge, no one else is running such a large, full-time operational team in a VC fund in Europe. Whether it’s engineering, product, sales, marketing, data, brand, communications or recruiting, we probably have people available who have been working on high-stakes projects with some of the most exciting companies in Europe, like scaling the customer acquisition at Trade Republic, growing Kry’s patient base or supporting sennder’s tech base during hypergrowth phases.
All of this, we don’t do because we think founders are not capable of it. We do it, because we think the best teams will be able to extract massive value out of our offerings — because that’s what best teams do. To avoid any doubt: This is not a money-making business for us, quite the opposite. We are spending a lot of money on maintaining this team because we believe it is a true differentiator.
What does that mean in practice? Will a team that we back have to work with us? Absolutely not. It’s an option we provide, not an obligation. We’re very happy to provide deep insights into how we work and how we could collaborate post-investment, but the decision always remains with the team. Here is to illustrate what this team can do for you.
Apart from hands-on support, a VC should open the right doors for its portfolio. Which is why Project A is expanding its value creation for its portfolio by introducing a platform role led by Viola Stadler. The platform creates value by developing strategic partnerships with all stakeholders of the fund, from investors to angel networks to SMEs and the corporate world, with the goal of fueling corporate and startup interaction.
What we like to invest in
So how do we intend to operate over the coming years? Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Times have changed, 2021 is over and it is not coming again anytime soon. Valuations are coming down, fundraising is getting difficult, exits might be delayed — but quality will remain successful. Our core thesis is a long-term one: Building sustainable, healthy businesses that benefit many beyond pure hype and short-term market trends will ultimately lead to success. We fully expect to back our entrepreneurs for 10 years or longer, so we do factor in market changes.
Our investment focus spans the whole European continent. We’re interested in B2B and B2C opportunities alike. Fortunately, the times have changed for Europe. Our ecosystem is so strong now, that VC in Europe works differently now. Moving on from pure momentum-based investing, our industry can now focus on building portfolios based on actual expertise and conviction.
This is also how we structure our team: With 10 investment professionals all focusing on specific topics, we most likely have an expert available for the business you are building.
- Francesca Baillieu: Synthetic bio
- Sam Cash: B2B fintech, bottom-up SaaS, consumer
- Mila Cramer: Consumer FinTech, eCommerce enablement, education, future of work
- Mey Cezairli: Sustainability, digital health
- Sharanya Eswaran: Hardware, construction & PropTech
- Luc de Leyritz: Crypto & web3
- Leo Lerach: Digital infrastructure
- Jack Wang: DeepTech, gaming
- Philipp Werner: Procurement & supply chain, sales tech, energy
Our investment process is outlined here, together with answers to many typical questions, but the key facts are: We invest between 1 to 10 million USD in a round, we aim for ownership between 10% and 20% depending on the stage. We like to co-invest but build our own conviction in any case and we reserve big follow-on capacities, for example in the case of Trade Republic‘s Series C.
Upping our game: Our private equity co-investment practice
Over the past years, it became clear that the operational approach isn’t limited to the venture side of the technology market. Established companies could benefit from it as well, especially when facing digital transformation. Following that, we have done over 11 co-investments already in cooperation with well-established private equity firms. Not only is this a very interesting investment opportunity for the Project A fund itself, but also adds a new perspective to the whole platform, whether it’s on the operational side or when we exchange experiences among the portfolio. Success cases like Lampenwelt, Amann Girrbach and yoummday prove out this model nicely and with this fund generation, we are establishing it firmly as a second investment strategy.
What’s in it for you?
- We are hiring. A lot. For us and our portfolio companies. Check out our career page and grow in an inspiring team of bright minds.
- We believe in a “give first” approach. The Project A Knowledge Conference 2022 is an ideal opportunity to get to know us better. Experience a full day of knowledge sharing with more than 120 speakers — from every area of digital operations, entrepreneurship and venture capital — going beyond and sharing their insights and best practices. See here for more details.
- Building a startup and thinking about raising a round? Get in touch with our investment team here. In very selected cases, we work with entrepreneurs as early as during their idea generation period.