KAYA VC, a new venture firm launched by Central and Eastern European investment firm Enern, has raised $80 million for its new fund. The fund will focus on backing “high-potential” founders in Prague, Warsaw and the wider CEE region. Its limited partners include LPs in the fund include the EIF and enterpreneurs from the region.
Prague, 30th March: Central and Eastern European investment firm Enern today announces the launch of KAYA VC – a new €72 million ($80m) fund that will focus on backing high-potential founders in Prague, Warsaw and the wider CEE region.
KAYA will draw on the team’s decade-long experience investing and supporting promising startups coming out of the region as well as backing the CEE diaspora across the continent and beyond. Previous key investments include appointment booking platform Booksy, which raised $70 million in January 2021, BNPL leader for CEE Twisto, which raised €16 million (also in January), healthcare booking platform DocPlanner which raised €80m in 2019, and on-demand delivery startup Rohlik, which raised $230m earlier this month to expand across Europe.
KAYA will continue to support these entrepreneurs as well as find the next generation of rising stars – in cities such as Prague and Warsaw, where KAYA (formerly Enern) have been early partners and active ecosystem enablers over the last decade, as well as in the rest of Europe.
Over the past 10 years since the KAYA team began investing in startups, foreign and local interest in CEE tech firms has surged. High-profile unicorns and exits such as Skype, Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Bolt, not to mention Romanian firm UiPath which recently raised $750 million at a $35 billion valuation ahead of an IPO, means there is now 5x more foreign investment across the region than in 2015, according to Dealroom.
A new name for an established team
When Enern launched in Prague in 2010, the term venture capital was hardly used in the CEE region. Ten years later, it’s a different story. The new fund represents a step for the company to publicise its mark in the ecosystem it has helped to nurture in the past decade.
The name KAYA was chosen as it is one of the few words that has a universally positive meaning across different cultures. For example: in Turkish it means ‘rock’, in Japanese, it’s ‘sanctuary’, and in Hopi, a Uto-Aztecan language, it means ‘elder sister’, to name a few. These meanings reflect the values that KAYA aspires to offer the founders it backs: open, inclusive, supportive.
With KAYA, founders can expect to partner with experienced investors who match their passion and drive to ensure they succeed, and create new role models in the wider CEE ecosystem.
A cross-domain and versatile partnership
KAYA is sector agnostic, however each partner has a core passion. Tomas Obrtac aims to focus on agri-tech; Pavel Mucha looks to invest in next-generation consumer experiences; Tomas Pacinda covers fintech, and Martin Rajcan focuses on energy transition. Aside from these passions, the team is comfortable committing to other areas of tech from prop-tech, healthtech, to new media or enterprise software. By not being pigeon-holed into specific sectors or over-indexing their past experiences, KAYA can ensure it is nimble and won’t pass up a unique opportunity just because it doesn’t happen to fit a familiar pattern.
As well, KAYA can back startups at any stage. KAYA isn’t just about funding growing startups at seed and Series A, but it can also help create new ventures from the ground up. The new €72 million fund can write the first cheque on day one of an entrepreneur’s journey, as the company did when it backed Rohlik in 2014, along with six other studio projects which have gone on to raise subsequent funding rounds and continue to develop.
Similar to funds such as Point Nine in Berlin and Benchmark in California, KAYA is led by an equal partnership, so that each partner has equal authority to make decisions and founders have clarity on how responsibility and accountability is distributed. To avoid group-think and encourage taking steps into the unknown, smaller checks only need one affirmative vote, while larger checks still only need the support of two investment partners. This design optimises for conviction – rather than consensus-driven investing and is based on mutual trust and partner autonomy. The results speak for themselves, as KAYA’s first funds’ distributions to paid in capital (DPIs) being already 3x and counting, and total value to paid-in capital (TVPIs) outgrowing 6x.
Tapped into the CEE ecosystem, across Europe
KAYA’s roots began in the Czech Republic but since its inception, it has supported businesses across the entire Central and Eastern European region and expanded its footprint by investing in founders in the CEE diaspora that are now residing outside of the region.
In recent years, there have been a number of exciting companies operating outside of CEE, founded by members of the diaspora, such as Robinhood, Pex, or Around. Groundbreaking startups aren’t restricted to certain areas or cities and KAYA will use its experience and knowledge to support new ventures across Europe.
Pavel Mucha, Partner at KAYA VC, commented: “When I initially started investing in local startups in Prague and Warsaw, it was because there was a need to work with people to build something valuable that didn’t exist already. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen this sector grow and mature, and with that our strategy of backing intrepid founders who are making a difference from Booksy’s Stefan Batory to Rohlik’s Tomáš Čupr. It’s been thrilling to guide and be a part of these companies’ stories and with KAYA, this is our opportunity to support the next-generation of businesses across the region that are building products that will make lasting changes on our lives. Whether it’s the first cheque or Series A investment, we will be there at every stage of an entrepreneur’s journey, offering support and guidance to help them go from ideation to leading star in the region.”
Martin Rajcan, Partner at KAYA VC, commented: “Founders coming out of Central and Eastern Europe are globally-orientated, have strong technical skills, and an unmatched hunger for success. It’s these strong fundamentals paired with a next-level intensity that makes them so exciting to work with and we want to support such talent in any way we can. With partners, venture partners, advisors, and scouts across Europe, we’re in a unique position to support founders in the diaspora outside of core cities such as Prague and Warsaw.”
LPs in the fund include the EIF and a number of successful entrepreneurs from the region.
A multi-stage venture capital firm, KAYA backs high-potential founders that are building lasting businesses across Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the CEE diaspora in Western Europe. Portfolio companies include some of the region’s leading tech companies including Booksy, DocPlanner, Twisto, and Rohlik. With a sector-agnostic approach, KAYA is the open-minded, reliable and supportive investor to help startups in the region succeed. kaya.vc