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The most active investors at seed stage in Europe in 2022

Here are the 10 that pitched in to the most rounds last year

By Sadia Nowshin

Credit: Antler VC

Early-stage funding (pre-Series A) in Europe totalled €5.8bn across the whole of 2022, according to Sifted Intelligence data — a fall from 2021’s €7.3bn.

That’s not a huge surprise: over the last couple of months, the number of seed rounds taking place in Europe saw a steady decline, from 333 rounds in September to 202 in December. 

Despite the dip, some companies still enjoyed pretty hefty seed rounds over the year: car finance and loan company Carmoola raised a £27m round in April, and payments platform Super Payments raised $30m in the same month, with a follow on round in August bringing its total seed funding to around $57m. 

So, which investors got the cash book out and signed on the dotted line the most?   

Here are 2022’s most active investors at seed stage in Europe, according to Sifted Intelligence’s 2022 tech in review report data based on deals closed between January and November plus, what they’re advising portfolio founders ahead of a potentially bumpy 2023. 

The most active seed stage investors in Europe in 2022

1/ Y Combinator

A photo of an audience listening to members of the Y Combinator team

Latest fund: The accelerator invests $500k into every startup accepted into its biannual programme
Focus: Sector and geographically agnostic
Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 62
Gender split of investment team: YC doesn’t have partners, and there are lot of people involved in making funding decisions
Notable seed investments:

  • Airbnb
  • Stripe
  • GitLab

Advice to founders in the current market: 

In a leaked email to founders, YC warned portfolio companies that the “safe move is to plan for the worst” in the face of an economic downturn, adding that for those planning to raise in the near future, “your chances of success are extremely low even if your company is doing well. We recommend you change your plan.” 

Finding product market fit is key for fundraising success, the letter suggested: “if you are post Series A and pre-product market fit, don’t expect another round to happen at all until you have obviously hit product market fit.”

2/ Bpifrance

Latest fund: Has dozens of small funds covering everything from biotech to smart city startups
Focus: Mainly France-based companies
Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 59
Notable seed investments:

  • Fintech unicorn PayFit
  • Compensation benchmark HR tool Figures.hr

Advice to founders in the current market: Bpifrance didn’t respond to the request for comment

3/ Antler

An image of a group of founders and Antler VC employees on stage at the firm's demo day
Credit: Antler VC

Latest fund: 2022’s $13.5m fund to invest in early-stage startups in East Africa, and a £21.4m fund to invest in UK startups, raised in 2021. Antler also runs its own accelerator
Focus: Sector and geographically agnostic
Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 58
Gender split of investment team: 31% of the leadership team are women
Notable seed investments:

  • Crypto diversification service Flint
  • Expense management platform Pemo
  • Warehouse storage platform Wareflex

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market:

Magnus Grimeland, founder and CEO of Antler:

“Tech companies are laying off workers faster than at any point during the pandemic. Simultaneously, these tech layoffs are already spawning a new wave of startups. At Antler, we received about 65k applications in 2022, with a strong upwards trend: The application rate of Q4 was about 2x the rate of Q1. 

“My advice is not to wait if you want to be a founder — the companies that will rule our future are being created in these days, months and weeks all around the world.”

4/ Kima Ventures

Latest fund: The fund invests €150k in two startups a week, and completes up to 100 deals a year
Focus: Sector and stage agnostic
Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 43
Notable seed investments:

  • Flow Engineering, which develops realistic sound for virtual worlds
  • Digital asset fantasy football game Sorare
  • Local pick-up point app PickMe

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market: Kima Ventures didn’t respond to the request for comment

5/ Speedinvest

An image of the Speedinvest team.
The Speedinvest team. Credit: Klaus Vyhnalek

Latest fund: Speedinvest raised €500m in fresh cash in December 2022, €300m of which will go to its fourth fund dedicated to pre-seed and seed stage startups
Focus: Sector and geographically agnostic
Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 41
Gender split of investment team: 14 out of 37 investment managers and 4 out of 17 partners are women
Notable seed investments:

  • Insurtech unicorn wefox
  • Timber marketplace Timberhub
  • Irish fintech unicorn Wayflyer

Advice for your portfolio founders in the current market: 

Partner Andrea Zitna said:

“Despite the macroeconomic outlook, we believe 2023 represents a unique opportunity to invest in early-stage startups. From our VC viewpoint, a bear market can catalyse some of the most game-changing innovations. Founders raising in this environment have a high level of conviction, and their need for a big capital injection is still years away, likely taking place once the tables have turned.

“For pre-seed or seed founders fundraising in 2023, our advice would be to brace for a long(er) process and optimise for cash, not valuations. Plan for over two years of runway and solve the ‘must haves’, not ‘nice to haves’, for your target customers. Be sure you have true product market fit before aggressively scaling and burning cash in an uncertain environment.”

The best of the rest

=6/ High-Tech Gründerfonds

Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 36
High-Tech Gründerfonds invests in seed-stage companies across industrial tech, digital tech, life sciences and chemistry. It largely focuses on startups in Germany, with the occasional investment in the US and elsewhere in Europe.

=6/ Seedcamp

Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 36
London-based Seedcamp is sector-agnostic but favours software-first startups, focusing on teams based in Europe. It invests between £300k and £500k in what it expects will be a startup’s first institutional investment. 

=6/ Startup Wise Guys

Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 36
Startup Wise Guys is an accelerator with seven sector-specific programmes across Europe, including a pre-accelerator scheme and a founders development-focused offering. On average, it invests €90k for up to 9% of equity into accepted startups, which are all B2B companies across SaaS, fintech, cybersecurity, AR/VR, sustainability and industry 4.0.

=9/ APX Ventures

Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 26
APX gives early-stage startups an initial €50k investment, which can increase to up to €500k with follow on investments. It mainly invests in Germany, but has occasionally branched out into other areas of Europe. 

=9/ SFC Capital

Seed-stage deal count in Europe in 2022: 26
SFC Capital focuses on startups based in the UK that are eligible for the government’s tax relief Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which it combines with a network of angel investors. Minimum tickets stand at £100k.

Sadia Nowshin is editorial assistant at Sifted. She tweets from @sadianowshin_.

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