"We love tech."

Emphasized in yellow text, this is the first line that greets you upon arrival at Dawn's website, and it is an outlook that permeates the firm's entire business philosophy. Dawn was founded by Norman Fiore and Haakon Overli in 2007. In the years since the firm has sought to identify and support the innovators of tomorrow. Their portfolio includes exciting finds such as infrastructure as a service leader Bitmovin, and Collibra Corporation, one of the world's most impactful data governance providers, as well as successful exits from iZettle, FirstCare and mimecast. Dawn is headquartered in London, UK and invests exclusively across Europe.

Most recently, Dawn announced its co-lead Series B investment in Eigen Technologies, a company working to make sense of data chaos using natural language processing. Dawn makes a point to share their investment perspective regularly through their blogs, providing a unique window into their funding decisions (see Eigen Technologies: why we invested). It is clear from their approach, previous investments and frequent appearances at the leading European technology conferences and events, that Dawn is a firm that loves tech, and B2B tech most of all. This love of tech, and their portfolio companies extends beyond their initial investment. Last summer, Dawn closed their most recent Opportunities Fund at $125 million. This fund will focus on Series C and later rounds of their existing portfolio and other European companies.

The Dawn Capital team is no stranger to taking a "Reverse Pitch". Partner Evgenia Plotnikova's pitch for Dawn was crowned the winner at last year's SaaStock in Dublin. It was only fitting to connect with Dawn's investment team to have them kick off the 2020 series of the "Reverse Pitch" on Tech.eu.

Thank you Dawn for taking part in the Reverse Pitch! Can you summarize your investment thesis in three sentences?

We partner with innovative B2B software startups that can harness exceptional teams, products and business models to become category-defining, global titans. The latest wave of B2B software innovation, SaaS and cloud computing, has catalysed further replacement of massive, monolithic software incumbents in favour of focused companies driven by ambitious entrepreneurs, creating a multitude of investment opportunities. As the SaaS/cloud revolution continues, alongside the emergence of AI to deliver data analytics, we believe a new 20-year investment cycle has kicked off squarely within our core areas of expertise.

What industries and business models are you most interested in investing in?

Within B2B software, we focus on four areas: data & analytics, cybersecurity, fintech and the future of work.

Which technologies do you find most exciting right now, and why?

We love anything B2B software. We believe the best B2B software enables businesses to stop thinking about the mundane and instead focus on the magic. It might not always grab headlines, but these are the companies revolutionising the way we work, creating huge efficiencies and underpinning greater productivity. 

Across our four themes – the future of work, cybersecurity, data & analytics and fintech – we believe that 2020 will be the breakthrough year for low-code/no-code. As technology becomes an increasingly horizontal function within organisations, knowledge workers will start using tools that enable them to circumvent IT, producing technical products and workflows themselves. 

We also think that this is the year in which we will see broader open finance, with more transparency being built into every sector of financial interactions, from pensions to insurance. We recently published our 2020 predictions and are excited to see what this year will bring.

How much do you typically invest?

Our current fund, Dawn III, invests $5-15m as a first cheque, but we are able to deploy north of $70m in a business over time.

Beyond funding, where does Dawn provide the most “value-add” for founders?

We’re a very active team—we become a trusted partner to our founders and their businesses and work with them every step of the way to creating global category leaders. Our focus spans six functional areas: product & tech, sales, marketing, customer success, people and finance. We also work very closely with management teams to support them through important milestones such as subsequent fundraisings and, eventually, an exit. 

European founders today are more experienced, more ambitious, and better prepared to scale their businesses than ever before. In the past, founders in Europe needed relatively basic advice. Today, that knowledge is open source, and they need support from their investors on far more complex matters,like how to take on and dominate the US market, build or revamp customer success function, or run a dual-track exit process.

Because we only invest in B2B software, we have the team—a mix of serial entrepreneurs to expert financial and operational practitioners—and hands-on experience to equip businesses for their next stage of growth. Our network is first and foremost our exceptional founders. With 38 active investments in B2B software businesses, we have partnered with some of the best entrepreneurs and have lived the scaling journey many times over alongside them. But the Dawn family stretches far further. We help founders access the right partners across the globe, from specialised B2B search firms, bankers, debt providers, board members, advisers and mentors. And, given the firm’s B2B focus, many customers and channel partners can be cross-fertilised. 

Do you have any geographic restrictions on investments?

We are committed to exclusively backing European-based companies, although many of the companies we back are international in nature, and all have the capability to be category-defining businesses. Part of what we do is to support rapid international growth, meaning that we often end up supporting overseas organic and acquisitive growth.

What is your commitment to diversity and inclusion?

We are committed to deriving the benefits of diversity. Our team is 50/50 gender balanced, from broad socio-economic backgrounds, and has strong minority participation.

We frequently co-host women in enterprise tech events as we want to support and connect more women in the B2B world. Sarah, a member of the investment team, is the founder of Femstreet, the leading platform for women in tech and venture. This allows us to access and support founders and operators with diverse backgrounds. We have more initiatives lined up in 2020; stay tuned!

2019 Investments

Company Name
Headquarters
Industry
Business Model
Stage
Onna
New York and Barcelona
Knowledge management
SaaS
Series A
Showpad
Ghent and Chicago
Sales enablement
SaaS
Series D
Follow on investment into our existing portfolio
Soldo
London, Rome and Dublin
Spend management
SaaS and transactional
Series B
Sonovate
London
Invoice financing and back-office software
SaaS and transactional
Venture round
Follow on investment into our existing portfolio
New Vector
London
Decentralised communication
SaaS
Series A
Eigen
London
Applied AI and NLP
SaaS
Series B
Minute Media
London
Media and entertainment
SaaS and transactional
Series G
Follow on investment into our existing portfolio
Open Gamma
London
Capital markets and analytics
SaaS
Venture round
Dataiku
Paris and New York
Enterprise AI
SaaS
Venture round
Follow on investment into our existing portfolio 
ReachFive
Paris
Customer identity and access management
SaaS
Series A

What’s one investment from your Anti Portfolio that you wish you hadn’t passed up?

UiPath. We are extraordinarily impressed with everything the business has achieved to date and are proud to see the management building another European champion.

If you could invest in any type of business or technology right now (real or imagined) what would that be?

A workplace tool—a ‘Superhuman for everything’— that automates most repetitive tasks, from transcription of meeting notes to data entry, allowing us to focus on what really matters.

What is the best way for founders to get in touch?

Whatever channel suits the founder best—whether that's emailing us, getting an introduction, tweeting or approaching us on LinkedIn. We move quickly on new investments and work closely together as a team. Our whole team gets involved in deals before, during and after investments. This means we always work together, operating as a single unit, and that founders get the benefit of a wide range of expertise and access to a wide network. We’re also a friendly and fun bunch!

Thank you Dawn!