Sophia Bendz, one of Europe’s best-known angel investors and venture capitalists, is leaving Europe’s largest VC firm, Atomico, to join Cherry Ventures.
Bendz, who is based in Stockholm, will be joining Cherry as partner in September, where she will focus on seed-stage and Nordic investments in particular.
Bendz first started working with Atomico in 2016, and became partner in 2018. She launched Atomico’s first 12-month angel programme — and has been leading the second iteration of the scheme this year. She has also been supporting the $820m fund’s portfolio companies with brand and communications strategy.
Her startup chops come from her time at Spotify, where she led marketing for almost eight years. “I’d like to think I am someone who can relate to and understands the ups and downs of the startup journey,” she told Sifted in February.
(Almost) every VC firm in Europe wants to hire female partners at the moment — so snapping up Bendz is a coup for Cherry.
In part, Bendz has been drawn in by the chance to do more early-stage investments than she was looking at at Atomico, which invests at Series A and beyond. In a statement, she said: “The Cherry team and I share the same passion for early-stage investing. Their proven track record and our shared values is something I truly appreciate, and I am looking forward to working with the Cherry team to expand its footprint in the Nordics as well continuing to support inspiring founders across Europe.”
Bendz remains an active angel investor, in femtech startups in particular. Her personal portfolio includes period tracking app Clue, tampon startup Daye, education platform Sana Labs, meal kit company Simple Feast and sexual wellness app Ferly. Some of her investments, such as personal training app Eastnine, insurance startup Hedvig and men’s health brand Manual, are also part of the Cherry portfolio.
The cherry on top
Cherry Ventures is headquartered in Berlin, but also has offices (read, coworking desks) in London and Paris. It invests at pre-seed and seed, between €300,000 and €3m, and is sector-agnostic. It closed its latest fund, of €175m, in June last year. Cherry makes around 12-15 investments per year, and does follow-on rounds.
Big portfolio companies include transport business FlixBus, car marketplace Auto1, indoor farming startup Infarm (which recently closed a new $140m Series C round with participation from both Cherry and Atomico) and travel business TourRadar.
“If you look at our top three criteria, they would be: team, team and team,” says Cherry’s website. “The founding team is by far the most important factor in our decision making process.”
As for Cherry’s team, Bendz will not be the first woman on the investment team — but she is its first female partner. She joins Katharina Wilhelm, a senior associate, Charlotte Bruce, a principal, and Marguerite De Tavernost, an associate.