Sofia, Bulgaria-based early-stage VC firm LAUNCHub Ventures is on its way to raising a €70 million fund by the end of the first half of 2021; today the company is announcing a €44 million first close as its investment activities across the SEE and CEE regions pick up.

LAUNCHub Ventures was set up in 2012 to primarily back seed and Series A-stage startups in sectors like B2B SaaS, fintech, proptech, big data, AI, blockchain, marketplaces and digital health ventures. Back in December 2016, it raised a €18 million fund.

Its fresh fund is backed by the European Investment Fund, and a number of tech corporations as well as successful Bulgarian founders.
LAUNCHub says it will likely have a final close by the end of Q2 of this year.

When all is said and done, LAUNCHub Ventures will invest out of the largest-ever VC fund in Bulgaria, and one of the largest early-stage funds in the part of the world it operates in.

The investment firm intends to back 25 startups over the next 4 years; its current portfolio includes freshly funded GTMHub, FintechOS, Giraffe360, Office RnD and Ferryhopper.

The initial investment range is between €500,000 and €2 million per round, but LAUNCHub says more than half of the total fund size will be kept as reserves to support the funding needs of portfolio companies in follow-on rounds (something it learned from its 16 investments from the previous fund). It will also place more emphasis on preparing the founders in its early-stage company portfolio for fundraising down the line, with a veritable internal 'Series A academy' as well as regular 'office hours' for founders outside of its portfolio.

Some of the companies LAUNCHub has backed actually already came from the new fund prior to this announcement; in fact we understand €4.6 million or about 10% of the current fund has already been put to work.

LAUNCHub partner Stephane Gantchev tells me the firm will maintain its 'regional by default' investment strategy, co-invest with local VCs, but also scout for exceptional S/CEE-born founders that are building companies in Silicon Valley and other major hubs across the globe.

"Central and Eastern Europe's rapid economic growth has caught the attention of Western investors searching for the next unicorn. The region has huge and still untapped potential with more and more local success stories, paving the way for the next generation of CEE tech founders," added Todor Breshkov, a founding partner at LAUNCHub Ventures.

LAUNCHub Ventures is not only doubling down on supporting founders across the CEE and SEE regions, but also strengthening the team while maintaining focus on diversity.

"We're incredibly proud to announce that this year we've reached a 50:50 gender split in our team," said Irina Dimitrova, former CFO and now an operating partner at LAUNCHub Ventures.

On top of her recent promotion, the LAUNCHub team has been strengthened with the addition of Raya Yunakova, who joins as an investor after a triumphant role at PiLabs in London, and Mirela Yordanova, who joins the VC firm as an associate after leading the startup community at Google for Startups' Campus in London.