November 17, 2021

Dispatches from a new VC: Europe’s eight hottest under-the-radar startups

High-now-pay-later, complicated Romanian SaaS and the French Zillow

Rosie Wood

4 min read


Rosie Wood is a (fictional) associate at the VC firm Mild Conviction. It’s a generalist, multistage fund with offices in London, Paris and Verbier. They’re not like normal VCs — they don’t need to do a ton of due diligence to decide on an investment. Instead, they’re simply looking for companies and founders that are pretty good. Because pretty good is usually good enough. Catch up on her other dispatches here. 

I’m officially two months into my first job in VC! It’s been such an amazing journey so far, not least of all because of the connections that my first three columns in Sifted have helped me make. I’ve met inspiring founders, helped LPs to their seats at my first AGM and spent £1,500 on Pokemon cards as part of some due diligence. 

But on to the meat of this week’s column. I wanted to do a bit of a special edition. Sifted asked the entire Mild Conviction investment team to share the names of some non-portfolio, under-the-radar companies in Europe that we think are somewhat interesting. We hope it will give everyone a better understanding of what we get mildly excited about. 



There’s no doubt that the “future of work” is an exciting space, especially when it comes to recruitment. Companies want to hire people faster than ever amid the ongoing “war on talent” (a phrase our managing partner Rupert Nickerson coined in a recent Medium piece). Enter Indenture. This London-based startup makes it easy for talent to get a job fast and companies to hire almost instantaneously. Jobseekers pay £5k to get a job without any interview. They work until they pay the fee back or the company decides it isn't a fit. To protect companies from risk, Indenture-hired employees pay for their own equipment such as laptops. The coffee costs £7. 


Europe’s first-ever “high now, pay later” (HNPL) startup, Amsterdam-based JustPuff lets users order weed and pay over time, interest-free. The team claims that they deliver faster than most speedy grocery services. They plan next to expand their product offering to cookies and pizza slices, targeting repeat customers. 


Guyd, which stands for "give us your data", is one of a new generation of “data partnership” companies offering individuals (who they call partners) groundbreaking insights powered by their personal data. “Partners” share different data, giving them access to special prizes and discounts. Sharing cell phone data gives up to £300 in Pret coupons; sharing your 23andme results gets users additional votes at the Eurovision contest. Finally, personal data mining that’s win-win! 


Founded by a group of four white, prematurely balding Romanian developers who met at a Meetup in Cluj-Napoca, this SaaS startup is building an embedded collaborative automated workflow process platform for global enterprises. Our investment team has very little idea what this means in practice, but the 300% ARR growth and impressive client list (Salesforce, Uber, the Russian Ministry of Culture) point to this being a winner. 


We’ve seen tons of carbon accounting and carbon offsetting startups in Europe, but this Berlin-based startup is an interesting twist on this genre. Every time someone from your company flies in an aeroplane, greenfuture will name a tree after them. At the end of the year, you can see which employees have the most trees and write it in your annual report! 


Janne Hämäläkëläträinen is the most successful entrepreneur you’ve never heard of, probably because he’s Finnish and isn’t very good at PR. He’s passionate about putting Finland back on the global mobile tech map, and says he’s building the country’s next Nokia. Poro’s phones are made out of all sustainable materials harvested from reindeer and recycled Finnish timber. But the real differentiator is the powerful battery; they’re keeping the tech a secret but supposedly can last long enough to power five continuous days of playing Snake. 


This Nice-based startup is blowing up the real estate game. What started as a sleepy home listing company on the French Riviera has recently expanded its home-buying business, acquiring and selling high-quality vacation homes in the region. Lily-Rose Depp has bought a house from them, a fact that our IR partner and frequent SoF (South of France) vacationer Mauricio has verified through reputable sources. Zillow may have given up, but we’re betting on the French to get this right. 


Don’t have urfa chili flakes or freshly-harvested pistachios from Bronte, Sicily for that Ottolenghi recipe you’re trying to make? Don’t worry, Shelf can get it to you in 15 minutes or less. One of a growing number of specialist speedy groceries serving London’s patrician households, Shelf currently operates in Notting Hill and Kensington. We especially like their creative discount scheme; customers get 30% off when they sign up with their nanny. 

That’s it for the list this time! 

And just a note to say that I will be at Slush in a few weeks. Feeling a little bit nervous as the other associate James has started Peloton-ing twice a day to get “sauna bod” ready for founder meetings. Guess I need to get to the gym tonight too...

Would love to meet up with some readers in Helsinki, so please reach out at Rosie@sifted.eu

Until then, let me know how I can be helpful!