The Swede Ruben Rausing revolutionised the global food industry back in the 1950s with the Tetra Pak packaging technology, creating a vast fortune and a powerful family dynasty in the process. Today, his great-grandson Magnus Rausing has started investing in European startups through his investment company Mahr Projects.
I have tried to be as discreet as possible. But with Zaver, I just happened to get more attention than I expected.
Having previously invested mainly in American companies, the heir to a multi-billion euro fortune’s recent investment in the Swedish fintech company Zaver created headlines in Swedish tech media.
“The Mahr project doesn’t have my name anywhere on the website or in the documents. I have tried to be as discreet as possible. But with Zaver, I just happened to get more attention than I expected,” Rausing says.
Magnus is the son of Jörn Rausing, who runs the packaging company Tetra Laval (of which Tetra Pak is a part), together with his two brothers. Jörn Rausing is said to be worth $9.4bn, according to Forbes’ 2019 rich list.
Magnus Rausing says he is fine with being in the limelight as long as it helps the companies he has invested in. For an early stage startup such as Zaver, it at least wins the company some media attention.
The fintech company, which was founded by Amir Marandi, Linus Malmén and Filip Gauffin in 2017, has already managed to attract a wide array of Swedish angel investors, including Tom Dinkelspiel, Lars Wingefors and Joen Bonnier, media veteran and partner at the London-based VC firm Atomico.
“I found out about Zaver through Joen Bonnier and when I sat down with Amir Marandi, it was hard to say no to him. He is a superstar in his own right. I really liked his vision and his story and I think the story is as important as the vision,” Rausing says.
From lemon drinks to fintech
Zaver has a payment platform designed to increase the security of peer-to-peer trades and also help with financing. A typical user might be a student trying to sell an iPhone on a classified site safely. Zaver has also created a payment service for businesses, such as home repair contractors, that allows them to get paid straight away while customers still can wait for the invoice date to pay.
For Rausing, this investment is an unusual move. Since he started investing about a year ago he has put money into around 20 companies, many of them in the drinks space. These include Matchabar, a plant-based energy drink and Dirty Lemon, one of Rausing’s first investments.
“As it says on my website, the focus is on that intersection between consumer and technology, because I believe technology will differentiate the consumer product. I also wanted to find companies that are trying to create a better world somehow, whether it's reducing sugars, offering cleaner energy, helping with the payment process, or making auto insurance cheaper and more transparent.”
Amir Marandi, the chief executive of Zaver, tells Sifted that Rausing’s lack of previous investments in fintech may be to an advantage.
“Not having experience in fintech can be a good complement for us, as he may have a different perspective on things,” Marandi says.
There is really no limitation other than, I need to be able to get there, I need to have a network and I need to have a value add.
The reason most of the portfolio companies are American is that Rausing until recently lived in New York. The last few months he has been back in London.
“I'm definitely looking more into European companies now. The reason why I've invested in the US was that I was based there. It's important to be close to your investments,” Rausing says.
Value add – not easy capital
“Stockholm is close enough in London, and I'm in Sweden enough for Zaver to make sense. But in the same way, France is just a two-hour train journey from London. So there is really no limitation to where I am looking other than, I need to be able to get there, I need to have a network and I need to have a value add”, Rausing says.
With international expansion in mind for Zaver in the future, Marandi is hopeful that Rausing’s network will prove useful.
”We have tried to choose investors who can support us in the short and long term. We have great Swedish investors but we also see a value with an investor like Magnus Rausing, based outside of Sweden with an international network,” Marandi says.
I don’t want to be seen as easy capital and I don’t invest in anything that I don’t think I can add value to.
Adding value is important for Rausing and he says he wants to get away from the focus on his money and therefore never shares how big his investments are.
“I am very rarely the biggest ticket out there. It is more the value add that I can bring whether it's access to my network or to the rest of my portfolio. I don’t want to be seen as easy capital and I don’t invest in anything that I don’t think I can add value to.”
The investment in startups is not new to the heirs of the packaging success Tetra Laval. Jörn Rausing, who also lives in the UK, invested £15m in the online grocery company Ocado as early as 2003.
Magnus Rausing says that his interest in investing has certainly come from his father:
“Undoubtedly, he's taught me a lot. So, yes, a lot of it comes from him.”