TLDR: In the dynamic landscape of venture capital, where innovation and risk-taking are paramount, Start Ventures stands out with its unique and nurturing approach. At Start Ventures, we believe in fostering a sense of unity and collaboration among founders and investors, creating a tight-knit community that resembles a close family. This philosophy drives our investment strategies, decision-making processes, and overall ethos.
How was Start Ventures born, and why we have such a laser-focused investment thesis?
Although a number of factors contributed to the decisions made, there was a full alignment between our first anchor-LP and myself on two very important things: one was that the Financial Sector had the ability to spillover its effects to every other industry thus being paramount for economic growth, and the second was that innovation and technology were the key to elevate the Financial Sector to become a more fair and efficient one.
Having started my journey of entrepreneurship at University, I participated in a local project called MOVE which led me to Mozambique where I had the mission to support local businesses in their hardships – most of them needed financial literacy, others needed tools that could simplify what seems complex but is as plain as a business bank account that can provide automatic analytics or mobile payments. I saw how enormous the potential for improvement was, and realized that it wasn’t only in developing economies, it was everywhere. The experience with BET (Bring Entrepreneurs Together) supporting Portuguese founders igniting the local tech ecosystem, combined with the investment experience working at Banco de Investimento Global (BiG) confirmed this reality and led me to take this quest as my own, and continue with this pursuit for new solutions that, leveraging on technology, can feed the engine that transforms the world. Here I play my part: select the companies that gather a set of factors that lead me to believe they are the ones which are going to achieve change, and contribute with all I can for their success – not only capital, but also network, knowledge, and mentorship.
Family has always been very important to me. When you think about it, families are made up of individuals, and at Start Ventures we center our approach around the founder as the heart, the bedrock, and the leader of the startup. We draw inspiration from the dozens of founders of our portfolio admiring their unwavering vision, technological capabilities, resilience, and audacity to take risks. This holds particular importance in the early stages, exactly where we invest. Each founder faces different challenges depending on their capabilities, team dynamics, and evolving market landscape. Consequently, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a craft, an artistry in itself. Just as families are committed to the long run and genuinely care about each other’s well-being, we, too, are deeply invested in the journey and outcomes of the founders we support.
Navigating the Ups and Downs
Aiming for the long run is the only way to create a bold and relevant advancement within the industry you are addressing. Much like any arduous journey, there will inevitably be moments of exhilaration and trials of endurance. At Start Ventures, we walk this path in close companionship with our founders, celebrating great achievements on product, sales, rounds, and exits. Equally vital to our partnership is the willingness to confront challenges head-on, proactively addressing potential roadblocks such as go-to-market hurdles, co-founders disputes, or difficult liquidity positions. Through this symbiotic collaboration with our founders, we place our trust in their exceptional execution abilities, ensuring they lead the way towards achieving a stronger, more advantageous position in the market.
A Focused Approach to Investments
Every family has its own DNA. At Start Ventures, our distinction relates to a resolute focus on driving transformation within the Financial Sector by leveraging technology. We invest in founders who are crafting solutions that are not just scalable and sustainable but which in their own vision and ambition also possess the potential for global impact. These startups will be the driving force poised to challenge the status quo of the industry.
Our bet is primarily in the Business-to-Business (B2B) sphere, which demands patience due to the long sales cycles. Moreover, in a landscape where regulatory intricacies are omnipresent, our expertise in navigating this terrain proves to be crucial. In fact, it was through my experience with other founders that I felt the urge to start Portugal Fintech, which has developed several projects such as Portugal’s local regulatory innovation hub (FinLab), the Portugal Fintech industry report and, most recently, the Fintech House, home and heart of the local Fintech scene.
Having embarked on this transformative journey alongside numerous founders, we’ve gathered insights and actionable learnings. As such, I extend an invitation for you to join this collective endeavor, becoming part of this extended family and community of founders navigating similar waters. Together, we can learn from one another, propelling innovation to greater heights.
By: João Freire de Andrade, Executive Director