While Europe attracted 18 percent of all global investment in 2021, Germany's capital and main tech hub, only received 1.5 percent of worldwide venture capital.
Not that the city is a slouch on the tech front: it pulled in nearly 60 percent of all the capital invested in Germany in 2020. In 2021, the EY Startup Barometer found that the number of financing rounds in Berlin rose 74 percent to 263, and investment volume shot from €1.2 billion to €4.1 billion from the year before.
According to Travis Todd, head of Berlin's newly-launched Skytrain investor network, Berlin's 1.5 percent of the global investment pie is a little low for such an active tech city and could easily be increased.
He told Tech.eu that they have been talking to a lot of non-traditional LPs in the US, and while they see Berlin as a sexy investment opportunity, they face barriers with understanding and accessing the investment opportunities.
“I am very focused on really early-stage funds and emerging managers,” Todd said. “I think being able to connect some of this new money in the US with the European market is really interesting.”
The overall aim of Skytrain—the name comes from the Douglas C-47 Skytrain plane used by the Allies in the West Berlin Airlift during the Cold War—is to match US-based LPs with venture capital funds in Berlin.
He notes that there is a lack of “quality, realistically-valued funding opportunities for early-stage investors in the US, so attracting this investment to Berlin is timely, desired, and a largely unrealised opportunity.”
As well as organising events, the founders will create a platform that explains and demystifies the processes of how to invest in notoriously-bureaucratic Germany, and share knowledge for both LPs and funds to help them navigate the landscape.
US investor appetite for Europe is certainly strong—they are now active in over 25 percent of all investment rounds in Europe. Four German startups (Berlin-based Gorillas, N26, Trade Republic, and Munich’s Celonis) made up four of the ten largest funding rounds in Europe last year. More data here in the Skytrain deck.
The program will be run through Silicon Allee, which Todd set up some 10 years ago to build tech-world links between Berlin and the US, and support startup founders in the capital. His Skytrain co-founder, Schuyler Deerman, is based in LA.
"We've been running networking events in Berlin for over a decade and know that by creating these events for US LPs and Berlin's fund managers, we will catalyse the connectivity of the whole transatlantic ecosystem," Todd commented.
Skytrain is backed by German government’s Berlin Business Office, USA and the Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft, Energie und Betriebe von Berlin.