Emblem is the latest European seed fund in a new wave of venture capital funds

    If you are planning to launch a new startup in France, Denmark or Sweden, a new startup fund is looking for your pitch. Emblem announces today that it has raised nearly $54 million (€50 million) for a new European seed capital fund. And this is just the first close – the company expects to raise a whopping $80 million (€75 million) by the end of the year.

    Emblem was founded by Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan and Guillaume Durao. This isn’t the first time Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan’s name has appeared on, as she was an entrepreneur herself. I first reported on her startup Clustree in 2014.

    Clustree was a talent management and HR platform acquired by Cornerstone OnDemand. Some business angels like Frédéric Montagnon and Florian Douetteau played a big role in Clustree’s trajectory, so she started investing in startups herself after selling Clustree.

    Guillaume Durao has been an investor for several years. He worked for Mangrove Capital Partners and Idinvest (the VC firm that is now part of Eurazeo). While both partners are of French descent, Durao has worked in Denmark and has been quite active in the Scandinavian tech ecosystem. He has also invested some of his own money as a business angel.

    Before the launch of Emblem, Durao and de Raphélis Soissan have already built up an interesting portfolio of angel investments. They invested in crypto trading card game So rarestart up pet insurance Dalma and cultured meat company Gourmey. In addition to those French startups, they also invested in Growth Blocks And All gravy in Denmark, Arc Capital And Goals in Sweden, and more.

    The next logical step is a good starting fund with more capital. Emblem aims to lead or co-lead seed investments with a typical investment between €500,000 and €3 million. In total, the company wants to invest in 25 to 30 technology companies with its initial fund.

    While Emblem lists a number of industries such as AI, B2B SaaS, fintech, the future of work, and digital health, the company has no specific focus on some industries. It is a generalist tech seed fund.

    As for the company’s backers, Emblem managed to raise funds from the Danish state fund Vaekstfonden, institutional investors such as Edenred, several French and Scandinavian family offices, as well as tech entrepreneurs looking for investment opportunities. Some of the entrepreneurs who have invested in Emblem include the founders of 3shape, Dixa, Falcon, Kantox, Peakon, PeopleDoc, Planday, Pleo, Qonto, Silae, Spendesk, Swile, and Zendesk.

    There are two things that set Emblem apart from other French VC firms. First it focuses on French startups, but also on Swedish and Danish startups. “Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm are the three most interesting startup hubs after London and Berlin,” Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan told me.

    Secondly, Emblem does not want to become an early stage fund that also invests in Series A rounds or even later. Of course, the company will allocate part of its fund for follow-up investments in existing portfolio companies – but that’s it.

    “We will focus exclusively on seed. The idea is that we are not going to raise a bigger fund and start investing in Serie A rounds,” said de Raphélis Soissan.

    A new wave of microfunds in Europe

    It is difficult to define what a microfund is. With many VC firms starting to raise bigger and bigger funds, everything else is starting to look like a micro-fund.

    Emblem is bigger than a microfund. But there are a handful of individuals raising new funds with €5 million, €10 million or €15 million under management. Just as many successful investors started VC investing with their own micro-funds in the US a few years ago, the same trend is now emerging in Europe as well.

    During my conversation with Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan, we talked about some of these new funds. For example, Anthony Danon and Carmen Alfonso Rico have been quite active with Cacao. Gloria Bauerlein is behind a new fund called Beyond Capital. Pietro Invernizzi is currently raising its own fund.

    I’ve also covered some of the larger funds that have popped up over the past year, such as Resonance, Ovni Capital, and Galion.exe. And then there are Team Pact Ventures And Origin.

    While we are currently going through a technical downturn, it’s interesting to see that there are more options when it comes to early stage financing in Europe. And each fund has its own investment thesis. These emerging partners can also tap into their own network, which should create more opportunities for the tech ecosystem as a whole.

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