Initially targeting €20 million, Amsterdam-based VC firm Acrobator seen an oversubscription rate that’s well on its way to hitting a self-imposed hard cap at €30 million to fund startups in the CEE, CIS, and Baltics regions that have already or are preparing to make the leap to Western markets.
With a typical ticket size ranging between €150,000 to €1.25 million, Acrobator is hunting pre-seed and seed-stage startups across a wide range of industries but places a strong preference on B2B(2C) data-focused startups that are employing a heavy dose of machine learning technologies.
Now if you’re like me, you might be thinking, “ah another one of these East meets West” VC firms. And you’d be right. To a point. Sitting down with Acrobator general partners Mike Reiner and Joachim Laqueur there’s a lot more going on here than just meets the eye.
With the average consumer who knows names such as Picsart, Miro, Affirm, Revolut, Gitlab, Transferwise/Wise, and the list goes on and on (Whatsapp, Skype, etc. etc. etc.) associates these unicorns and decacorns as US or UK-based companies, but the truth is, each and every one of these companies originated in CEE, CIS, and/or Baltics regions.
Once these companies hit critical mass, Top Series A and later stage funds (meow) step in with big tickets and generally tend to make a killing. But who’s stepping in with the pre-seed and seed stage tickets and has some pretty strong connections and introductions power in Western markets? If you guessed Acrobator, Johnny, tell our contestants what they’ve won.
When pressed on the differentiator, both Mike and Joachim were more than happy to fill me in on their pre-seed to IPO plans. Yes, you read that right, this boutique firm coming out of Amsterdam with a mere €30 million fund has plans to support its portfolio companies from soup to nuts. And how? The secret sauce lies in the special purpose vehicle.
“We’ve devised a structure where our investors can continuously opt-in and out and in again to invest in later rounds long after the fund has invested all of its capital,” explains Reiner. “All investors in Acrobator, no matter their size, have equal rights i.e. access to later rounds in any or all of the portfolio companies. We’ve eschewed any exclusion clauses, meaning there’s no pay-to-play, or other methods forcing an investor to participate in each subsequent round or otherwise risk losing their position.”
“Acrobator has a very diverse and wide investor base in terms of capital, industry, region, and interests,” added Laqueur. “The advantage of this strategy is that it better aligns LP, GP, and founder interests. Founders know they can count on Acrobator to keep backing them as they grow. LPs have ample opportunity to double and triple down as risk decreases but aren’t punished for missing a round. The GP, the managers of the fund, focus solely on making high-conviction pre/seed stage decisions as later rounds are led by other VCs, yet are not tempted to have ever-increasing fund sizes and move upmarket, that is, losing focus.”
Acrobator has made 9 investments with the new fund including:
“Acrobator has accompanied Respeecher's journey as investor from a while ago. They followed on their investment a few times in the next rounds of funding. The team is reliable. They stick to their word,” commented Respeecher’s CEO and Kyiv native Alex Serdiuk. “Always close and responsive if help is needed and very proactive with helping us grow.”
Behind the wheel at Acrobator Mike Reiner focuses on data strategy and networks; Bas Godska is a growth marketing specialist; Ramon Vigdor can translate the most technical AI/ML to commercial language; Joachim Laqueur guides founders on finance and fundraising strategies; last but not least, Oleg Shardin - co-founder and former COO of Miro.com - has a wealth of experience in hyperscaling.
The fund is backed by over 60 LPs ranging from DJs (because, the Netherlands, where else?) to multiple unicorn and decacorn tech founders, captains of industry, sector experts, family offices, and institutional investors including Isomer Capital, RussMedia Equity Partners, Lukasz Gadowski's TeamGlobal, a number of known Dutch venture investors, and (former) partners of other venture capital firms including OneWay Ventures and Speedinvest.