In an exclusive interview with Tech.eu, leading Estonian tech investor Specialist VC (formerly United Angels VC) has announced the first close of a new €50 million fund at €42 million. The Specialist VC Fund II has an expanded geographical and strategic reach and is the first-of-its-kind in the Baltic region to implement a dual strategy of integrating secondary transactions into a traditional venture capital fund.
Founded in 2017 by Riivo Anton and Gerri Kodres, the VC has had a great show until now. It is often the first institutional investor to its portfolio companies, investing alongside top local angel investors and unicorn founders. Now, expanding its geographical reach, the company is set on continuing its success in the Baltics and beyond.
The new fund will make over 40 investments in startups from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland, including founders from these countries who are building their startup elsewhere in the world.
The fund will also invest in founders from Ukraine and Belarus who are building their businesses in the Baltics and Finland. It will focus on, but is not limited to, investing in tech startups raising pre-seed and seed rounds in B2B, SaaS, fintech, platforms, software-enabled hardware, Web3, and deep tech verticals. A third of the fund volume is reserved for opportunity investing in secondary transactions into companies beyond Series A – the sale of stakes in a startup by one shareholder to a new or existing investor.
The combined portfolio of its founders and the previous fund (United Angels Fund I, launched in 2018) is comprised of over 45 investments, and includes the unicorns Bolt and Veriff, as well as other notable startups such as Starship, COMODULE, Monese, and NFTPort.
Talking about the new fund and how this will help the flourishing startup scene in the Baltics, Riivo Anton, Founding Partner of Specialist VC said: “Our investor base consists of many select tech entrepreneurs who are willing to invest their experience in supporting other founders on their journey. The region has been outstandingly successful in producing internationally recognised tech leaders, with Estonian startups alone raising close to €1 billion of funding in 2021. This year is going to be another record one with more than €0.8 billion of funding announced in just six weeks. We see that Latvia and Lithuania are following the same route.”
Gerri Kodres, Founding Partner of Specialist VC, added: “Secondary transactions often become available only through personal relationships with founders and early stage investors. As we have been investing in this region for over 10 years, our network gives us access to a wealth of proprietary deal flow. With more and more companies maturing into Series A+ and nearly 80% of capital in the Baltics raised in post-A rounds, we can also see an increasing inbound demand for secondary transactions by founders and investors. The proceeds from such transactions are often reinvested in early-phase startups that benefit the whole ecosystem.”
Specialist VC expects to see the final close of Fund II by the end of May 2022. The new fund's LPs (Limited Partners) include tech entrepreneurs – many of them exclusive to this fund – such as founders and early employees of Bolt, Vinted, Veriff, Wise, Pipedrive, Slack, and F-Secure.
The investor list also includes several institutions, such as LHV Pension Funds, and is anchored by the European Investment Fund through the Pan-European Guarantee Fund and the Baltic Innovation Fund 2.