SixThirty Ventures in Europe/ EMEA- gathering momentum across the pond
A “travelogue” of twenty months since we setup a physical presence in the region.
As a global investor from inception, SixThirty has traveled (and looks forward to the day we can again) the world cultivating relationships with founders, investors, corporates, and others in startup ecosystems on every continent (sans Antartica, for now!).
Doubling down on our approach to scouring the world for the best enterprise fintech, insurtech, digital health and cyber security entrepreneurs, SixThirty Ventures established a permanent presence in EMEA in early 2019. Samarth Shekhar, a longtime and well-known entity in the European fintech scene, took the reins of SixThirty’s EMEA presence and began building out the pipeline, portfolio, and relationships in the region.
Based on our prior investments in the region, we did expect to find startups born in the crucible of European mega-trends: Open Banking/ PSD2, GDPR, Privacy, RegTech etc.
A year-and-a-half later, we have seen way more in the region- and have gone on to invest in founders building a global payments orchestrator out of Zurich, a “Moody’s for Financial Crime Risk” out of Berlin, a global fixed income trading platform out of London & Magdeburg, and an insurance distribution solution for the digital era out of Cape Town.
The focus has remained the same: invest in world-class enterprise tech startups and help them scale via our signature Go-to-Market Program, working closely with leading financial institutions.
Without further ado — meet our newest portfolio companies in EMEA!
Co-founded in 2018 by Oliver Werneyer, Carl Strempel, David Scott Turner and Mark Jerome, Zurich-based Imburse is a “payments orchestrator” offering insurers and other corporates integration-free access to the global payment ecosystem. It won the “Finance IT Innovation Award 2019 — Ecosystem” award, was named to the DIA Top100 Insurtech 2019 and the “Ones to Watch” in the FinTech Power 50 report in 2019. We believe that in a pay-as-you-go, pay-where-you-are world, corporates are in need of a single point of integration to meet consumer payment expectations, and Imburse provides that for all their payment needs. We invested in a Series A financing round alongside leading global tech investors to further fuel their growth, taking them through our signature Go-to-Market program. Learn more in our interview with Imburse — Digital Transformation, the Time is Now.
Berlin-based Shane Riedel (who started his career in the AML team at the United Nations) and Filipe Garcia launched Elucidate in 2018 to build the Elucidate FinCrime Index (EFI) — a risk quantification and rating tool — to help financial institutions measure, anticipate and prevent financial crime. In June 2020 SixThirty Ventures joined a Seed financing round led by 11.2 Capital, along with SeedX Lichtenstein, APEX Ventures, and BiG Start Ventures .Nearly $1.28 trillion is spent combating financial crime- banks in the US alone spending approx. $25 billion annually, and regulators have issued nearly $26 billion in associated fines globally since 2008. We believe Elucidate has the potential to move market players from a currently reactive and subjective assessment of FinCrime risk to a proactive and objective one — ultimately allowing e.g. correspondent banks and counterparties to price and mitigate that risk.
AxeTrading is an award-winning scale-up headquartered in London (with a tech innovation centre in Magdeburg, Germany) helping banks, buy-side firms, agency brokers and trading venues maximize their fixed income trading strategies with aggregated liquidity and strong pricing, client servicing and execution capabilities across voice and electronic trading. Founded by capital markets veterans Ralf Henke, Dinos Daborn and Mark Watters in 2009, they received strategic investment from Illuminate Finanical in 2017. In July 2020 they announced a Series A-2 financing round led by the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group), with Sumscope and SixThirty Ventures joining the round to power their next stage of growth and market expansion. Cutting edge bond trading technology has traditionally been the domain of a handful of power players — mostly banks with tech budgets upwards of half a billion. We believe AxeTrading is well-positioned to power the electronification and democratisation of fixed income trading globally, and are excited to support their growth in the US — especially among Tier-2 banks, brokerages and buy-side firms — with our investment and our Go-to-Market Program.
Cape Town-based Daniel Guasco, who grew GroupOn South Africa into the region’s market leader, launched Click2Sure in 2017. A digital insurance platform which can easily plug into traditional retailers and service providers both online and offline, Click2Sure brokers specialized annex insurances for high-value products. SixThirty Ventures joined their Series A financing round alongside Greenlight Re Innovations and Vunani Capital. Insurance distribution is still stuck in stone age, with expensive and manual processes that still require filling out paper forms in most countries. With their understanding of the e-commerce and retail world and the use of consumer data already available elsewhere, Click2Sure is re-imagining annex insurance distribution and personalization, and can enable insurers to price new markets and risk classes.
How did we go about it?
There is no dearth of entrepreneurial activity in Europe, and while we are gung-ho and happy to see the enthusiasm, B2C players tend to dominate much of the buzz. We had to figure out our own “go-to-market” approach if we were to zero in on what we do best: Enterprise Technology focused on financial services, insurance, and information security.
We were on the road, rail, air — even water: NDSM, the shipyard-turned creative hub and the venue for The Next Web 2019 was, as per the organizers, “easily reached by a short, scenic, and free ferry ride from Amsterdam’s Central Station”!
We were at InsurTech Insights’ Showcase Stage in London, partnering with the Money2020 Europe Startup Academy in Amsterdam, discussing the biggest opportunities in European FinTech at the South Summit in Madrid, speaking about scaling up InsurTechs at InsurTech Rising in Paris, diving deep into Life & Health InsurTech with InsTech London, maxing out Startup-Investor matchmaking sessions at the Paris FinTech Forum, judging the startup competition at the Israel/ Europe bridge event FinTech Junction as well as the Virtual South Summit e-Challenge Africa, and supporting the Startup Booster Program at Finovate Europe in Berlin.
We launched the Moving FinTech Forward series of talks with our friends at Holland FinTech at TNW City — our Amsterdam base station overlooking the Bloemenmarkt, and the Scaling Enterprise FinTech interview series — featuring lessons from European scale-ups, investors and FIs who have been there and done it— together with FinTech Forum in Frankfurt am Main.
However, none of what we achieved in just over 18 months would have been possible without our partners: LPs who supported our global expansion; co-investors and corporates in the region with whom we exchange deals and ideas; and events and regional networks that gave us a platform to bounce off our views on Enterprise FinTech at the convergence of wealth, health and privacy and connected us with world-class founders, investors and financial institutions.
We are working closely with selected initiatives and networks — e.g. on the selection panel at the FinTechCity FinTech50, InsurTech Hub Munich, EY Startup Academy, and as part of the investor network at F10 FinTech and Deutsche Börse Venture Network— that keep us close to the region’s burgeoning FinTech startup ecosystem.
Watch this space — and connect to us!
SixThirty is built on a simple principle: revenue is the best form of capital for a start-up. Corollary: Collaboration and co-creation are key to accelerating speed-to-market and speed-to-scale in enterprise tech.
In our conversations so far, founders in the region looking to build out Enterprise FinTech companies to global scale, as well as the investors backing them, have bought into the above proposition — our ability to help them with funding but more importantly with their go-to-market and US market expansion.
We continue to be impressed by the breadth and depth of talent coming out of Europe. We are looking forward to working with our new portfolio companies to take them to the next stage of growth, while we look for the next big thing in Enterprise FinTech and announce some more deals in the coming months- so watch this space!
If you are a startup, investor or financial institution who shares our passion for Enterprise FinTech, we should talk and — hopefully soon — meet up! Reach out via LinkedIn to Samarth Shekhar.