May 16, 2024

Wise founder and Plural partner Taavet Hinrikus on scaling European deeptech

Plural has raised an extra €100m to invest in its top performers — and this is how the Wise founder sees it

Tim Smith

4 min read

The Plural team.

There are few VCs this side of the Atlantic that move with such swagger as Plural.

The London-based firm — which is staffed by the leaders of success stories like Wise, Songkick, Skype, HelixNano and Bigpoint — is never shy to point out that “only 8% of European VCs have built a company before,” as it tries to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

That effort seems to be going well though as, today, Plural is announcing it’s added a further €100m to its latest fund, bringing the final total to €500m. 

Partner and Wise cofounder Taavet Hinrikus tells Sifted that, while there are more venture firms than ever on the continent, this oversubscribed fundraise is a sign that Plural, founded in 2022, is offering something compelling for European tech.


“I think what's different now is that they [LPs] have a lot more choice,” he says. “We are still relative newcomers in this game — in the sense of having Plural around — but we're helping to push Europe forward.”

Hinrikus adds that the extra money won’t go towards making more investments, but will give the team “more capital to deploy in the best ones.”

“We're pretty happy with it. Given that, when we started, we actually had a goal of raising €350m, it's pretty good to end up with €500m,” he says.

Building European deeptech

Hinrikus has strong views on the kind of tech that’s worth building (and investing in) — and that which isn’t. Last year he told the Sifted Podcast that he’s hopeful we’ll see more founders launch companies with “positive impacts” — and gave buy now, pay later companies as an example of those that aren’t quite so “world improving”. 

Plural’s portfolio includes a mix of hardware-intensive companies like nuclear fusion developer Proxima Fusion, robot delivery company Starship and automatic bricklaying startup Monumental, and AI software solutions like nursing platform TetonAI, insurtech Feather and legaltech Robin AI.

When it comes to making a case for insurtech and legaltech companies being “world improving”, Hinrikus says he is “drawn to” ideas that provide solutions for “the big things that are broken”.

“Insurance is just such an amazing example of something humongous that is just utterly broken,” he tells Sifted. “The starting point for Feather was something very simple. If you were an expat moving to Germany, you could not get [online] insurance full stop. You could go to a kiosk and haggle with somebody there, but if you wanted to do it online, it just didn't work.”

“In a way it’s very similar to Wise. 15 years ago you had to go to a bank branch and stand in line to make a foreign payment,” he adds.

When it comes to RobinAI, which speeds up the process of reviewing legal contracts using generative AI, Hinrikus replies with a wry smile: “Maybe in the future we’ll need less lawyers in the world.”

Apart from companies that are addressing large and inefficient legacy industries, Plural is also backing several companies that are using tech to address big labour shortages in the economy.


Teton AI, for example, uses hardware and software to help nurses monitor patients’ wellbeing, taking the strain off understaffed workforces, while Monumental uses robots to do bricklaying jobs.

“Bricklaying is a bloody hard job: breaks your back, breaks your knees. No one is dying to do it,” says Hinrikus, adding that the technology fits seamlessly into the construction industry’s legacy workflows.

“I think the most beautiful thing about Monumental to me is that they actually go and compete in regular bricklaying contracts. They just submit the tender and they can do it faster and cheaper than humans and they show up with robots and get the job done and leave.”

Getting the basics right

Plural believes these kinds of companies, fixing problems in big industries like healthcare and construction, fit into its mission to create “GDP-level impact on Europe”.

Plural’s team is 16 people, including its five partners, and the firm is clear that it will only hire former operators into its wider team to support the portfolio — “people that you would hire at a scaleup,” says Hinrikus.

Another way in which the firm sets itself apart from some of its competitors is that all of its partners are required to make personal co-investments in the deals they lead.

“We are in general, huge believers in having skin in the game,” says Hinrikus. “We think there’s something good in your mind, about thinking: 'I'm actually going to have to wire from my own account as well.' It just makes you think twice.”

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is news editor at Sifted. He covers deeptech and AI, and produces Startup Europe — The Sifted Podcast . Follow him on X and LinkedIn