Raising money for Spanish VC Seaya Ventures’ new fund during a pandemic was an uphill struggle, says partner Antonio Giménez de Córdoba. “The timing hasn’t helped,” he says. “People were just focused on crisis management and not focused on opening new relationships.”
But today, nearly two years into the pandemic, Seaya is closing its third fund at €165m — €40m more than the firm was targeting. So what changed?
The first factor, according to Giménez de Córdoba, is the widespread understanding that Covid-19 has sped up digitisation, playing into the hands of tech companies and investors (“The appetite for tech assets has increased,” he says).
But the second and more specific reason comes from one Barcelona-based startup in Seaya’s portfolio, which has changed expectations of what Spanish tech companies can achieve.
“We’ve had some very good news in recent months with the portfolio. The clear example of that being Wallbox’s merger with a SPAC,” he says. “Being one of the main backers of the first Spanish company to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, that’s something that’s helped our fundraising efforts.”
Wallbox sells electric vehicle chargers and started trading in October. Its share price is up over 50% since listing.
Sorry Spain, we’re looking elsewhere now
Seaya doesn’t have a bad track record when it comes to investing in Spain’s biggest hitters in the tech sector, with unicorns Cabify and Glovo also in its portfolio. But now the firm is increasingly looking for opportunities outside the country, which can already be seen in the makeup of Seaya III’s 10 investments to date.
They include Portuguese checkout-less retail startup Sensei, Greek car-as-a-service platform Flexcar, French buy now, pay later startup Alma and Hamburg-based fintech Receeve.
“The main change that we’ve done with Seaya III is that we’re now betting on Europe,” says Giménez de Córdoba. “Our previous funds were Spain and LatAm focused. Now we’re betting on Europe and around 40% of our investments will be outside of Spain.”
Seaya’s LatAm interest isn’t strictly over — last month they launched a new fund in partnership with Cathay Innovation based out of Mexico City, which will solely focus on the region.
“The Latin American ecosystem has exploded in the last few years. We felt that we needed to have a team on the ground, and a specific vehicle dedicated to LatAm,” explains Giménez de Córdoba.
What we see with fintech companies is that Spain could be their way into LatAm. They establish a big office here from where they launch into the LatAm region
Seaya’s global expertise is one of the reasons it believes it can compete for deal flow in northern Europe, as it hopes to serve as a partner for startups expanding both to southern Europe and to Latin America.
“Alma has recently launched in Spain and we’ve supported their launch with key hires and making introductions to potential clients, and we’ve done similar for Receeve, based out of Hamburg,” says Giménez de Córdoba. “What we see with fintech companies like these is that Spain could be their way into LatAm. They establish a big office here from where they launch into the LatAm region.”
Seaya will still be reserving 60% of its fund for Spanish startups, and Giménez de Córdoba believes that it’s easier than ever to raise capital in the country: “International funds are spending more and more time in Spain.”
Seaya III will continue the firm’s strategy of investing in Series A and B stage companies, with initial tickets ranging from €2m-8m, with the potential to go up to €20m via follow-ons.
And even if the fund is starting to look further afield in Europe, if its strategy is successful it could mean even more international startups setting up shop in Spain.