Crowberry Capital, an Icelandic and Danish all-female headed venture firm, has raised $90 million for its second fund. The fund will invest in Nordic startups.
Thursday 9th September (Iceland) – Reykjavik and Copenhagen-headquartered all-female headed venture firm, Crowberry Capital (www.crowberrycapital.com), today announces the launch of Crowberry II: a $90 million seed and early-stage fund powered by a mission to support the most promising startups in the Nordics, as well as the untapped business opportunities in inclusivity and diversity. A second close – bringing in an additional $40 million – is planned for July 2022.
The EIF (European Investment Fund) is the lead LP having signed a €20 million participation in Crowberry Fund II, with backing from the EU’s “InnovFin Equity” programme. This is InnovFin Equity’s first VC fund in Iceland (one of the first non-EU countries to access Horizon 2020 back in 2014). Other investors include Icelandic Pension funds, several family offices, and angels including David Helgason, founder of Unity Technologies.
Crowberry II, which will be the largest VC fund operating out of Iceland, is designed to reflect the collaborative natures, attitudes, and global mindsets of Crowberry Capital founders, Hekla Arnardottir, Helga Valfells, and Jenny Ruth Hrafnsdottir, and their avowed mission of ‘wanting to find people that are good for companies and build companies that are good for people’.
Crowberry II will support early stage tech entrepreneurs in the Nordics and maintain a focus on a broad range of B2B and B2C seed stage companies. A precedent for this variety of investment was set by Crowberry I (a $40m fund launched in 2017), which supported companies from multiple sectors including Gaming, SaaS, Healthtech, and Fintech. As with its previous fund, Crowberry Capital focuses on supporting and enhancing businesses in emerging tech sectors, rather than pursuing short term exits from seemingly safe bets.
Since its launch in 2017, Crowberry Capital has invested in, and intends to continue to support, every configuration of team: female-only, male-only, or mixed. However, Crowberry Capital intends Crowberry II to enhance its mission to support different voices, correspondingly bringing new opportunities and strengths to the Nordic startup ecosystem.
As Hekla Arnardottir comments, “An incorrect assumption is that because we are women, we are only interested in supporting female founders. As our investment record shows, we support companies because they are game changers, irrespective of the gender of their senior team members. However, we also benefit, as an all-female team, from a circumspection which means that we can see potential in businesses and sectors which are typically overlooked by others in our space. Inclusivity is good for business, and through being open and approachable, your dealflow multiplies in parallel to your talent pool, and businesses are built with a broader potential user base. It’s crazy that in 2020, female-led startups received just 2.3% of VC Funding, yet Crowberry considers this to be an opportunity: where the Nordics lead in gender equality on a societal level, we want to show that the region can also show the way in terms of inventive venture support.” Crowberry’s previous fund (Crowberry I) featured 15 companies, of which 33% had female CEOs.
With its new fund, Crowberry Capital is happy to commit early either as a lead investor or as part of a syndicate. According to Jenny Ruth Hrafnsdottir, “Crowberry is focused on seed stage tech companies and monitors trends and innovation emerging from the Nordics. We have the courage to commit early, and a track record demonstrating our ability to find value before market validation, proving that when companies are backed early – like our portfolio company, Icelandic fintech, Monerium, which became the first to issue the Euro on blockchain in a regulated and redeemable way – they can really thrive. Our door is open as much to future investment partners as it is to startups seeking support and by placing the team element at the core of our culture from the start, we have built-up an extensive network which we will activate through Crowberry II”. In Crowberry Capital’s first fund, Crowberry I, syndications around investments involved Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Menlo Ventures, Tencent, Fly Ventures, Inreach, and Norrsken.
As the only major Nordic venture fund headed by an all-female team, Crowberry Capital has achieved recognition for providing alternative perspectives and voices in an industry and sector that offers cutting-edge technology, yet remains unprogressive in many respects. In interviews and international news articles, Crowberry Capital senior team members have highlighted that the lack of female investors is the conclusion of a self-perpetuating cycle that starts with too few female founders, as well as called out the exclusionary culture of sauna events at Nordic tech meet-ups which reinforces deal-making between all-male partygoers.
Helga Valfells from Crowberry Capital comments: “In 2017, we saw that there was a gap in the market when it came to early-stage funding in the Nordics. We realised that we could have greater impact – and make real change – by founding our own fund. So we resigned from our very comfortable roles with a large team and started out like true entrepreneurs with nothing and raised our first fund, Crowberry I, in six months. We remain grateful to our shareholders who invested in our vision then and we continue to work hard to make sure that they receive great returns, alongside new investors like the EIF joining our latest fund to support Nordic category-definers and game changers.”
The Crowberry Capital team has backed 60 technology start-ups, negotiated over 15 exits and made over 30 seed investments. Significant Crowberry Capital investments include the backing of AI-powered fintech company, Lucinity (https://lucinity.com/), a co-investment with Inventure and Norrsken VC in digital health company, Elsa Science (https://www.elsa.science), Garden.io (www.garden.io), the first company to make the framework for developers to develop, test, and deploy Kubernetes applications (founded by serial entrepreneurs with co-investment from Danish VC, byFounders, and Berlin-based Fly Ventures), and the joint backing – alongside Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) – of next generation mobile games developer, Mainframe (www.themainframe.com). In addition to its participation in the health-tech, fintech, and gaming industries, Crowberry’s investments cover a range of other sectors including those in the B2B SaaS and sustainability tech sectors, such as female-lead devtool, Avo (https://www.avo.app/), a product and alumni of the YCombinator accelerator, and Danish sales software Dreamdata (https://dreamdata.io/), a co-investment with venture capital firm, Inreach.
Crowberry Capital backs one of the few other Nordic investment outfits run by an all-female team, Unconventional Ventures (www.unconventional.vc), a micro-fund based in Copenhagen sharing Crowberry’s mission to unlock the potential of underrepresented founders in the Nordics and beyond.