Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Startup Wise Guys Targets Europe’s Overlooked Ecosystems

Chris O'Brien
Chris O'Brien
Chris O'Brien is an American journalist based in Paris. Since moving to France in 2014, he has covered Europe's startup ecosystem as a correspondent for VentureBeat. Previously, he spent 15 years writing about Silicon Valley as a journalist at the San Jose Mercury news and The Los Angeles Times.
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Estonia’s Startup Wise Guys has raised the first €25 million of a new round to fuel the expansion of its accelerators and investment activities across Europe and Africa.

Cristobal Alonso, Global CEO at Startup Wise Guys, joined us on the SeriesE podcast to discuss the ambitious expansion plans of an organization that has developed a true European DNA. As such, Alonso sees big opportunities in corners of Europe that have been ignored.

He argues that the time is right to accelerate despite the broader global tech slowdown.

“We will be announcing the 400th investment this week,” Alonso said. “The growth has been phenomenal.”

Alonso eventually hopes to raise €45 million for an organization that has spread rapidly across Europe since its founding more than a decade ago. Startup Wise Guys establishes accelerators in regions that Alonso said are “underserved” by venture capital.

In particular, that means places like CEE countries, as well as Italy and Spain, where they have recently opened new offices.

“Italy and Spain have been mostly overlooked by the big VCs,” Alonso said. “When we look at the development of these markets, our opportunities and the impact that we can have on them is coaching the early stage to become the next generation in the right way.”

In 2022, Startup Wise Guys backed 120 companies. It plans to make 200 investments through the new fund. Those investments span just about every sector, including SaaS, fintech, security, and XR.

That expansion has gotten a boost coming out of Covid, Alonso said. The ability to work virtually and run boot camps and some accelerator programs in a hybrid form have allowed them to reach more entrepreneurs.

“You used to have to come to a boot camp before even being selected,” Alonso said. “Now everything is online. So the whole process has been globalized.”

Listen to the full interview with Alonso on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

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