Venture Capital/Analysis/

Europe’s top VCs — according to founder-led review site Landscape

With a little help from our friends at VC review platform Landscape, Sifted finds out who the best investors are — as rated by the startup founders they invest (or don’t invest) in.

By Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Closed lock
Member

We at Sifted often ask VCs what startups they are excited about, but today we are flipping the format on its head, turning to VC review platform Landscape to get the lowdown on the top investors to work with as a founder.

Landscape collects anonymous ratings from portfolio and non-portfolio founders who have worked with a VC — on a variety of factors such as diversity, due diligence and approachability — and then aggregates the scores.

The site only launched in October last year so it’s still early days — many of Europe’s best known VCs such as Accel and Index Ventures have only a handful of reviews — so don’t take this as gospel just yet. Nonetheless, the scores and the reviews are a window into founders’ experience of working with some VCs. 

We selected the top 10 VCs with at least 10 reviews on the site. So, who are the best VCs to get funded (or not funded) by, according to Landscape ratings? 

Talis Capital

Talis team. Credit: Talis Capital.

Founded in 2009, the London-based VC firm has a focus on early-stage tech companies and has made over $600m worth of transactions since its launch. Its portfolio includes unicorns Darktrace and Carta, as well as biotech B Corp Ynsect and KYC startup Onfido. 

Landscape VC rating: 4.6 out of 5 from 32 reviews (18 portfolio, 14 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 35, with a total valuation of $6.4bn

Gender split of partners: 4 men, 1 woman

Deal count in 2020: 8

Deal count so far in 2021:

Geographical focus: UK, US and Europe

Sectors interested in: Generalist

Typical investment size: $1m to $10m

 Size of latest fund: Invests $100m each year

What the founders say:

“Talis has been a very interesting investor to work with, hands down they were the fastest investor, from first meeting to money in the bank in just five weeks. The team is excellent and tries to add real value to the company. With any investment and business there are ups and downs, but I’m pleased to have worked with them through all of these.” (Portfolio company)

byFounders

Team byFounders (pre-Covid). Credit: byFounders.

Setup in 2017, the Nordics and Baltics-focused VC firm recently took part in Denmark’s biggest ever seed round for virtual events platform Tame. Its portfolio also includes online cookbook Simple Feast, contract management platform Contractbook and app security startup Cobalt.

Landscape VC rating: 4.6 out of 5 from 30 reviews (28 portfolio, 2 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 31 

Gender split of partners: 2 men

Deal count in 2020:

Deal count so far in 2021:

Geographical focus: Nordics and Baltics

Sectors interested in: Generalist

Typical investment size: Pre-seed to seed, with some Series A

Size of latest fund: €100m

What the founders say:

“Great people. They were introduced to us by an advisor. They didn’t choose to fund us, but gave us clear feedback on what we need to solve in three to four months.” (Non-portfolio)

“They are to the point, understand the value in our business plan, and are simply awesome people.” (Portfolio)

Change Ventures

Change Ventures investment team: Yrjo Ojasaar, Andris K. Berzins and Rait Ojasaar. Credit: Change Ventures.

Seed-stage VC Change Ventures was founded in 2016 in Tallinn, Estonia and says it’s the first, and largest, pan-Baltic seed fund. The firm counts KYC startup Veriff, multilingual meeting solution Interactio and virtual tour tech Giraffe360 among its portfolio.

Landscape VC rating: 4.7 out of 5 from 26 reviews (6 portfolio, 20 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 20 companies

Gender split of partners: 3 men 

Deal count in 2020: 6

Deal count so far in 2021: 3

Geographical focus: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Sectors interested in: Sector-agnostic, but avoids medtech, biotech and gaming

Typical investment size: €400k to €1.5m

Size of latest fund: €31m

What the founders say:

“Definitely the most experienced VC team in the Baltic region! Go ahead and talk to them.” (Portfolio)

“Even though Change Ventures did not invest in us, the quick and honest feedback has helped us a lot to move forward and improve our startup further. We still keep in touch with the partners of the firm on a regular basis, and they are very approachable for feedback. So I always recommend reaching out to them, because from each meeting, conversation or call you’ll come out with some valuable insight or feedback.” (Non-portfolio)

Episode 1

Episode 1 team photo. Credit: Episode 1.

Founded in 2013, the London-based VC counts unicorn property marketplace Zoopla and online bookie Betfair among the companies it’s backed and exited. Episode 1’s current portfolio includes car marketplace Carwow and ecommerce logistics startup Huboo.

Landscape VC rating: 4.5 out of 5 from 25 reviews (19 portfolio, 6 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 73 

Gender split of partners: 4 men, 1 woman

Deal count in 2020: 9

Deal count so far in 2021: 6

Geographical focus: UK 

Sectors interested in: Deeptech, B2B software, AI, big data and software infrastructure

Typical investment size: £500k to £2m 

Size of latest fund: £60m

What the founders say:

“Even though the fit wasn’t right for us at the time, Episode 1 went above and beyond to make introductions for us.” (Non-portfolio)

Octopus Ventures

Octopus Ventures partners and principals. Credit: Octopus Ventures.

One of the largest VC firms in Europe, Octopus Ventures have backed some of the biggest startups in the continent, including unicorn marketplaces Zoopla and Cazoo, and secondhand fashion app Depop — recently acquired by Etsy for $1.6bn.

Landscape VC rating: 4.2 out of 5 from 22 reviews (19 portfolio, 3 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 84, with a total valuation of £10.4bn

Gender split of partners: 7 men, 2 women

Deal count in 2020: 15 

Deal count so far in 2021: 10 

Geographical focus: Europe, with a specific focus on UK

Sectors interested in: Health, fintech, deeptech, consumer and B2B software

Typical investment size: £1m to £10m

Size of latest fund: Invests between £100m and £200m each year

What the founders say:

“Very knowledgeable, thoughtful and approachable.” (Non-portfolio)

“They are on the founder’s side. In it for the long haul, but also always honest and transparent. They are not the big idea types — but they leave that to founders and teams, and we know that going in and love that. I would highly recommend them.” (Portfolio)

Connect Ventures

Connect Ventures team photo. Credit: Connect Ventures.

The pan-European VC was founded in 2012, and counts the likes of fintech Curve and Citymapper among its portfolio.

Landscape VC rating: 4.4 out of 5 from 19 reviews (17 portfolio, 2 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 67

Gender split of partners: 2 men, 1 woman

Deal count in 2020: 8

Deal count so far in 2021: 4

Geographical focus: Europe

Sectors interested in: Fintech, B2B SaaS, consumer and healthtech

Typical investment size: $450k to $2.6m

Size of latest fund: $80m

What the founders say:

“The humans that built Connect are A+. I’m an advocate, and I’ve yet to hear anything bad about Connect on the circuit. The fund, its partnership, its reputation and its reach have grown since I raised from them and I’m convinced working with them now is more valuable still.” (Portfolio)

“This is a fund that understands the journey of an early-stage business and are on your side all the time.” (Portfolio)

Backed VC

Backed VC team photo, 2019. Credit: Backed VC.

Founded in 2015, the London-based VC were early investors in banking SaaS Thought Machine and lab-grown meat startup Meatable. 

Landscape VC rating: 4.3 out of 5 from 15 reviews (11 portfolio, 4 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 47, with a total valuation of $3.21bn

Gender split of partners: 2 men

Deal count in 2020: 9

Deal count so far in 2021: 9

Geographical focus: Europe, but opportunistically open to North America

Sectors interested in: Generalist, with a special interest in biotech, foodtech and cryptocurrency

Typical investment size: €750k to €2.5m

Size of latest fund: €75m

What the founders say:

“Backed are easily our best investor — they have invested in my growth, my team’s growth and they’ve gone beyond the normal to help the business become stronger…Founders will be pleased with how much personal support they give.” (Portfolio)

Dynamo Ventures

Dynamo team photo, 2021. Credit: Dynamo Ventures.

The US-based VC first set foot on the European investment scene in 2017, backing now-unicorn logistics scaleup Sennder. It has since invested in five startups in the continent including bus-sharing startup Zeelo and Irish drone delivery company Manna.

Landscape VC rating: 4.4 out of 5 from 23 reviews (14 portfolio, 9 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio:

Gender split of partners: 3 men

Deal count in 2020: 6 (includes non-EU)

Deal count so far in 2021: 3 (includes non-EU)

Geographical focus: International (30% of fund is invested outside of North America with a focus on EU and UK)

Sectors interested in: Supply chain and mobility

Typical investment size: $250k to $1.2m

Size of latest fund: Not disclosed publicly

What the founders say:

“They reached out to us and we quickly got a meeting with one of their associates. The associate provided us with useful information to help us understand what the process was like for them. We are now getting ready to talk to one of the partners and he was quick to respond to our meeting request. Overall, great and painless experience.” (Non-portfolio)

Kindred Capital

Kindred team photo (pre-Covid). Credit: Kindred Capital.

The London-based VC fund was launched in 2015, and is noteworthy for its practice of equitable venture — where every founder it invests in becomes a co-owner of the fund.

Landscape VC rating: 4.4 out of 5 from 12 reviews (8 portfolio, 4 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 40 companies, with a total valuation of £1.2bn

Gender split of partners: 3 men, 2 women

Deal count in 2020: 8

Deal count in 2021: 4

Geographic focus: Europe and Israel

Sectors: No specific focus, everything from frontier technologies to direct-to-consumer

Typical investment size: £1.2m

Size of latest fund: £80m

What the founders say:

“We approached Kindred and gave an initial Zoom pitch, where we were asked great questions. A week later we got a ‘no’ that was accompanied by very helpful feedback. Would recommend talking to [them].” (Non-portfolio)

Ascension Ventures

Ascension Ventures team photo. Credit: Ascension Ventures.

Founded in 2012 by exited entrepreneurs, the London-based VC firm is one of the most active seed investors in the UK, and has backed north of 100 tech startups to date.

Landscape VC rating: 4.4 out of 5 from 11 reviews (9 portfolio, 2 non-portfolio)

Size of European portfolio: 130, with a valuation of £500m+

Gender split of partners: 2 men

Deal count in 2020: 28

Deal count in 2021: 21

Geographic focus: UK

Sectors: Sustainability, new work, impact, fintech, ecommerce, media, deeptech, healthtech and life sciences

Typical investment size: £100k to £500k

Size of latest fund: £15m

What the founders say:

“Incredibly useful throughout the [fundraising] process — providing advice and making introductions to relevant angels. The wider partners were also very professional and asked all the right questions to ultimately get to a decision — which unfortunately was a ‘no’ for us. Despite the ‘no’ though, we came out of the process better off, having a stronger business case ready and many learnings we’re now ready to action as a result. Would highly recommend them as a VC and would have no questions in future about pursuing them as part of a deal.” (Non-portfolio)

“I am super impressed with Ascension. I love their desire for social impact. I love the humanity behind their interactions: they are considerate, available and fair.” (Portfolio)

*VCs featured in top 10 shared by Landscape, correct as of May 27.

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He tweets from @NicolSchwarzK

Join the conversation

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of