February 16, 2023

Estonia’s Startup Wise Guys raises €25m to invest in ‘overlooked markets’ 

The accelerator aims to back at least 200 startups from across Europe and Africa in the next couple of years, and is aiming to raise €45m in total

Zosia Wanat

3 min read

Startup Wise Guys team

Tallinn-based accelerator and early-stage investor Startup Wise Guys (SWG) has closed the first €25m of a targeted €45m to strengthen the firm’s new strategy of investing in “overlooked” global markets — from southern Europe to Africa. 

“[These are] markets with some unfair limitations in terms of early-stage funding accessibility or lack of specific expertise in the ecosystem, but with high technical talent and eagerness to ‘catch up’ with the rest of the world,” says Cristobal Alonso, global CEO of SWG.

Where will the money go? 

The fresh money will be distributed across five funds with different regional or vertical coverage — one fund is focused specifically on Africa, for example, and another on the best-performing startups from SWG’s existing portfolio. 


SWG wants to back at least 200 startups from across Europe and Africa in the next couple of years. It will aim to intensify its investment and expansion in the markets it considers “underfunded” — in Europe, it’ll focus on Spain and Italy and will also intensify its investments outside of the continent, in Africa and Latin America. 

The firm focuses on B2B startups across SaaS, fintech, cybersecurity and sustainability. Alonso says the fund is also increasingly interested in industry 4.0 (introducing cloud-based and AI-powered tools to manufacturing) — and that it plans to invest in new verticals later this year. 

It will invest between €65k-100k depending on the fund, with the possibility of up to €300k in follow-on investments.

What’s SWG’s track record like? 

Founded in 2012, SWG has invested in more than 350 early-stage startups with founders from more than 60 countries. In 2022, it executed 120 early-stage investments — and it had already backed 12 startups by the end of January 2023.

Its first foreign offices were opened in 2019 in Lithuania and Latvia, and traditionally, the majority of its investments have been targeted at the Baltics region and wider central and eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Turkey. 

But recently SWG has been more active in targeting startups from outside the region — in 2022 most of the startups it backed were from Italy, followed by Ukraine, Estonia, Turkey and Kenya.

It has also opened new offices in Bilbao and Malaga in Spain and Milan in Italy. It’s also been running an online programme for Africa and is now looking to strengthen its physical presence on the continent. 

It was an early backer of startups such as Estonian metaverse avatar platform Ready Player Me, Lithuanian fintech kevin, Estonian platform for screenshot-based documentation StepShot (acquired by Romanian SaaS giant UiPath) and Lithuanian biometrics startup Ondato. 

The focus on new geographies meant that SWG had to close its offices in Vilnius and Riga — the Latvian team is still working remotely, while its Lithuanian staff set up a new VC fund, FIRSTPICK.  

Who has SWG raised money from? 

SWG’s funds are usually backed by startup founders and entrepreneurs — though lately the money has also come from angel investors, VCs, family offices and fund of funds. The fresh fund has been supported by:

  • Uniqa Ventures, a venture arm of the Austrian insurance group Uniqa 
  • Presto Ventures, a Czech VC
  • Multiple Capital Germany-based fund of funds
  • Founders from startups such as Lithuanian Vinted, Estonian Nortal, Britain's Fractory and Estonian Stebby (the latter two are SWG portfolio companies).

Zosia Wanat

Zosia Wanat is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers the CEE region and policy. Follow her on X and LinkedIn