Who To Pitch At Dublin Web Summit

It’s every start-up’s dream. The person next to you in the lunch line or on the pub crawl turns out to be a prominent venture capitalist who buys into the vision: your company is going to become the next Facebook, Square or MySQL. The VC offers to invest on the spot. Only a lucky few of the some several hundred start-ups expected at this year’s Web Summit are likely to experience this kind of encounter. To help increase those odds Informilo’s Jennifer L. Schenker spoke to 10 of the early-stage investors who are planning to attend the event. We are printing their photos to help start-ups spot them in the crowd. And, we got them to dish about what they are seeking and the best ways to pitch them. The rest is up to you.

Earlybird Venture Capital

Representative at Web Summit: General Partner Jason Whitmire (pictured here)

Geographic Focus: Pan-European.In addition to several successful trade sales, Earlybird has led six companies to an IPO (Interhyp, Tipp24, Wilex, Esmertec, Entelos, and NoemaLife) on four different European exchanges.

Differentiator:The firm moved its headquarters to Berlin in December and is putting a big focus on this hot European tech hub.

Investment Focus: Digital media, mobile, software as a service, financial services, cloud, enterprise software, open source and big data.Its portfolio includes B2X Care Solutions, Carpooling, Crowdpark, Madvertise, Peak Games, Smava, Socialbakers and ubitricity.

How to pitch to Earlybird:“There is a lot to be done in B2B payments, a $500 billion market where nothing has changed for almost 200 years,” says Whitmire. “We are also definitely interested in predictive layers – solutions that show companies meaningful forward-looking prediction data.”

Index Ventures:

Representatives at Web Summit: Partner Jan Hammer and associates Leonard Picardo and Martin Mignot.

Geographic Focus: Offices in Geneva, London and San Francisco. Investing across all the key tech hubs – Berlin, London, New York City, San Francisco, Stockholm and Tel Aviv.

Differentiator:One team bridging Europe and US.

Investment focus: Early-stage, growth and life sciences funds.

Index is searching for: European and Israeli-born companies looking to build global category leaders. Its track record in this category includes: Lastfm, MySQL, Playfish and Skype.

Given Index’s long history in the U.S., the company is also looking to support innovative U.S. companies with breakout international potential. Its track record in this category includes: Assistly, Cloud.com, Facebook, Gluster and RPX.

Index is also looking to invest in companies capable of dominating large national and regional markets. Its track record in this category includes: Betfair and Lovefilm.

How to pitch to Index: “Articulate clearly the problem you are solving and why you are solving it or going to solve it better than anyone else,” says Leonard Picardo. “Follow that up with a justification that the problem/need is real and not nichey and demonstrate ability to engage, sell and upsell to smart customers – that will make my ears prick up even more.” Ditto for associate Martin Mignot. “I love words, and I love data; tell me a good story that uses both brilliantly and I’ll listen!,” he says.

Balderton Capital

Representative at Web Summit: Partner Roberto Bonanzinga

Geographic Focus: London-based Balderton was founded in 2000 by Silicon Valley VC firm Benchmark Capital. It was then known as Benchmark Europe. Balderton formally became an independent firm in 2007. Balderton, which maintains close ties with Benchmark Capital, makes investment across Europe, including Russia.

Differentiator:Partners are all former entrepreneurs or operational guys who like to roll up their sleeves. “It doesn’t matter whether we invest $300,000 or $10 million; we make the same commitment in the way we work with the entrepreneur,” says Bonanzinga.

Investment Focus: Seed and Series A.Sample portfolio companies: Wonga, Bebo, Betfair, Lovefilm, Yoox Group, KupiVIP.ru.

How to pitch to Balderton: Be enthusiastic if you bump into Bonanzinga. “We don’t focus on specific sectors, we invest in motivated entrepreneurs who have ideas that can have a large impact,” says Bonanzinga.

 

Atomico

Representative at Web Summit: Partner Mattias Ljungman

Geographic Focus: Global. Atomico has offices in London, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Istanbul and Tokyo.

Differentiator: Founded by Niklas Zennström, a co-founder of Skype, Atomico has a business-development network that stretches across Latin America, Asia and Europe through its international expansion team, and boasts that it has the ability to “super-charge growth across the world.” Atomico says it believes that capital is a commodity and what companies need is value add.

Investment Focus:“It is about attacking big markets —we like companies that identify big problems in big industries and aim to disrupt them,” says Ljungman. “What is really interesting is to transform pretty traditional industries and pretty quickly catapult them into the digital age.” Sample portfolio companies include Hailo, Rovio, Jawbone, Fab, Klarna and Wrapp.

How to pitch to Atomico: If you want to pique Ljungman’s interest mention mobile or big data. “Mobile is becoming super important and so is how you manipulate data,” he says. “We are only at the beginning of how people use and analyze data to give people a fabulous customer experience.”

DN Capital

Representatives at Web Summit: Managing Partner Nenad Marovac and Investment Manager Christina Chen

Geographic Focus: London-based DN Capital is a pan-European investor and looks to invest up to €10 million per company depending on investment stage. It also actively helps U.S. companies enter the European market.

Differentiator:Despite the tough economic climate it recently completed the first close of a new EU62.5 million early-stage fun (its third) and announced several successful exits, including the sale of Endeca to Oracle, the sale of Apsmart to Thomson Reuters and the sale of Datanomic to Oracle.

Investment Focus: Three quarters of the deals that it does are early stage. Sample portfolio companies include Shazam, Endeca, OLX (sold to South African media company Naspers) and Lagan.

How to pitch to DN Capital: “We are investing predominantly in software, digital media and mobile app companies,” says Marovac. “We like scalable businesses led by energetic entrepreneurs.”

 

Earlybird Venture Capital

Representative at Web Summit: General Partner Jason Whitmire

Geographic Focus: Pan-European.In addition to several successful trade sales, Earlybird has led six companies to an IPO (Interhyp, Tipp24, Wilex, Esmertec, Entelos, and NoemaLife) on four different European exchanges.

Differentiator:The firm moved its headquarters to Berlin in December and is putting a big focus on this hot European tech hub.

Investment Focus: Digital media, mobile, software as a service, financial services, cloud, enterprise software, open source and big data.Its portfolio includes B2X Care Solutions, Carpooling, Crowdpark, Madvertise, Peak Games, Smava, Socialbakers and ubitricity.

How to pitch to Earlybird:“There is a lot to be done in B2B payments, a $500 billion market where nothing has changed for almost 200 years,” says Whitmire. “We are also definitely interested in predictive layers – solutions that show companies meaningful forward-looking prediction data.”

 

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Representative at Web Summit: Investment Partner Megan Quinn

Geographic Focus: Global. KPCB has offices in Menlo Park, San Francisco, Shanghai and Beijing.

Differentiator:This venerable Valley VC has invested in more than 500 ventures, including Google, Amazon, Twitter, Square, One Kings Lane, Electronic Arts, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Symantec and VeriSign, leading to 150 IPOs. Partners include industry stars John Doerr, Bill Joy and Mary Meeker.

Investment Focus: Invests in all stages from seed to growth. The firm does not have offices in Europe but that doesn’t stop them from shopping around for good companies on this side of the pond: it has invested in Spotify, which originated in Sweden, Germany¹s Soundcloud and Turkey’s Trendyol.

How to pitch to KPCB: Things likely to appeal? “Products and services that are leveraging technology to re-imagine historically-neglected industries,” says Quinn. “The firm looks for companies that are riding the tectonic shift toward mobile, especially context-aware and personalized mobile services that meet real-time consumer demand, like Hotel Tonight.” Companies that bridge the digital and physical world for consumers and enterprise, like Square, which enables small merchants to accept credit cards with their phone, will also grab the firm’s attention, she says.

Wellington Partners

Representative at Web Summit: Partner Daniel Waterhouse

Geographic Focus: Pan-European, occasionally U.S. The firm is headquartered in Germany but has offices in London, Zurich and Palo Alto.

Differentiator: Wellington seeks to be a strong local partner to companies with global ambitions, helping them to expand across the Continent and into the U.S.

Investment Focus: Mainly seed and early stage – it does about 5-8 early stage deals a year and occasional growth investments. About two-thirds of its investments are in digital media; the rest is invested in the resource efficiency space. Wellington typically prefers to lead funding rounds and invests from 500,000 to 30 million euros. Sample digital media portfolio companies include Hailo, Spotify, Qype, Adconion, Readmill, EyeEm, Artfinder and Bonusbox.

How to pitch to Wellington:Start-ups like Hailo that use mobile to have a transforming effect on a business sector and its consumers will catch Wellington’s attention, says Waterhouse. The firm is also interested in next-generation e-commerce companies and start-ups that smartly leverage big data, shifting media consumption models, financial services and cloud computing models.

Accel Partners

Representatives at Web Summit: Vice President Max Niederhofer and Principal Michiel Kotting

Geographic Focus: Global. Accel has offices in Palo Alto, New York, London, India and China, and it has portfolio companies on six continents.

Differentiator:Accel pitches itself as the only West Coast venture capital firm with a London office and a global team to support international expansion for portfolio companies using its “deep understanding of technology through prepared mind initiatives.”

Investment Focus: Accel does early-stage rounds of $500,000 to $50 million. “We are looking for potential global winners, says Niederhofer. “We like to intercept them at a very early stage, help them get local traction and then accelerate their global growth.” Sample portfolio companies include Rovio (Angry Birds), Wonga, Hailo, Spotify, QlikTech and KupiVIP.

How to pitch to Accel Partners: The team is excited about anything with traction, a world-class team and great technology. If you don’t manage to connect at Web Summit send Neiderhofer a deck via email: mgn@accel.com.

Polaris Venture Partners

Representative at Web Summit: Venture Partner Noel Ruane

Geographic Focus: U.S. and Europe. Headquartered in Boston ,Polaris Venture Partners also has offices in Palo Alton and Dublin as well as its Dogpatch LAbs Communities in Dublin, NYC, Cambridge, MA and Palo Alto, California.

Differentiator: Leveraging almost 20 years of investment experience as a firm across all company lifecycle stages, as lead or co-lead investor in more than 240 diverse companies in the U.S., Polaris says it wants to share this experience, network and community with special European entrepeneurs. “We want to be that bridge for early-stage (Series A) European companies  into the U.S.,” says Ruane.

Investment focus: Invests in seed and early-stage (Series A) and high-growth middle market businesses. Sample portfolio companies include LogmeIn, Automattic (WordPRess),Markmonitor, Legalzoom, Localytics and Logentries.

How to Pitch to Dogpatch Labs Europe: “We are interested in data analytics, mobile, e-commerce, social – the common thread is large market opportunities,” says Ruane. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be glamorous but it does have to solve real-world problems.”

 

DFJ Esprit

Representative at the Web Summit: Partner Brian Caulfield

Geographic Focus:Global. DFJ Esprit invests on a pan-European basis but is also a member of the Draper Fisher Jurvetson Global Network, which includes 140 investment professionals across the world and over 600 portfolio companies.

Differentiator: The DFJ Esprit partners have collectively made several hundred investments and pride themselves on being pros at helping companies expand. DFJ won Venture Capital Fund of the Year at last year’s Investor All Stars Awards, the Oscars of the VC community. And Simon Cook, their CEO, won dealmaker of the year at the prestigious M&A Awards in 2011. “We are generally looking for companies that are planning to go global and planning to go to the U.S.; we can really help companies with that,” says Caulfield.

Investment Focus:About 5% of the capital in the current fund will go to seed investments, some 30% to early stage and 65% to later stage. Sample portfolio companies include Lovefilm (sold to Amazon), Zeus (sold to Riverbed), Achica, SportPursuit and StrikeAd.

How to pitch to DJF Esprit:DFJ Esprit is interested in companies with disruptive offerings and large global market opportunities. The firm invests in Internet, novel e-commerce models or verticals, and enterprise software. Caulfield particularly specializes in identifying companies that disrupt the payments space, those targeting digital health, and service offerings crafted to specifically meet the needs of developing markets.

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