For the past three years, Paris-based VC Singular has been flying largely under the radar. Yet since it launched in 2020, the firm has raised north of €600m, placing it up there with some of France’s biggest investors.
Singular has just closed a new €400m early-stage fund, which follows its first €225m fund launched in early 2020. This means it’s competing with funds raised by some of France’s most established investors — despite having a team of just over 10.
Its secret sauce? Singular was founded by former Alven investors Jeremy Uzan and Raffi Kamber. The pair are behind high-profile investments such as SaaS giant Algolia, business bank unicorn Qonto and global fintech Stripe.
“When you’re a good team working together for 10 years with a good track record, and you say you’re going to start your own thing, LPs see the potential,” says Uzan.
“It’s a bit like being a seed-stage startup. If you’re repeat founders who have done good things, everyone wants to shoot a term sheet.”
Tough climate but easy fundraising
Uzan and Kamber started raising their second fund with a €350m target at the end of 2022. Despite a tough fundraising context, Uzan says they had no difficulty closing a higher amount than planned.
“When we said we wanted to raise the second fund, our historical investors instantly re-upped,” says Uzan.
All of the first fund’s LPs invested in the second fund, often with a bigger ticket. Singular also expanded its LP base to include an (undisclosed) US foundation and family offices from the US and Europe. The hard cap was reached in the second half of 2023.
As with its first fund, Singular plans to back European companies across all sectors from seed to Series B — with a strong focus on Series A — and will write tickets between €1-25m.
The VC has already backed four companies with the new fund, including French new materials startup Osium AI, hospitality CRM Thynk and Scottish AI company Continuum Industries.
A new European player
When Uzan and Kamber left Alven at the end of 2019, their objective was to create a new major player in European VC — and to do so they wanted to secure an LP base that would not tie them to investing in a specific geography.
Singular is backed, among others, by Canadian pension fund Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, UAE asset management firm Mubadala Capital, French public bank Bpifrance and Israeli fund-of-funds Vintage Investment Partners.
As a result, the VC has been able to invest in startups across 10 European countries to date. Just under half of Singular's 23 portfolio companies are French.
“We’re competing for deals against large European investors every day, as well as some US funds,” says Uzan. “And our conversion rate — from term sheet to deal — is very good.”
Raising fund three
Singular’s first fund has been deployed in 19 companies, including French gaming technology startup Homa, Spanish data analytics platform Tinybird and German healthtech Formel Skin.
Uzan and Kamber, therefore, had a fully fledged portfolio, a team and a brand to show for themselves when they raised their second fund — unlike in 2019, which Uzan remembers as “Raffi and I with a slide deck in a small meeting room in Algolia’s basement”.
But the investor is aware that the real test of Singular’s success will come in a few years.
“LPs are aware that when the second fund comes along, they won’t yet know how well the first fund has performed,” says Uzan. “In a way, they already knew that they would back fund one and fund two.”
“It’ll be with fund three that the cleaver will come down.”