Another day, another new VC fund closes in Europe. This time it’s the turn of Helsinki-headquartered Open Ocean, backer of startups such as Truecaller and EyeEm.
The firm has announced a new €100 million fund predominately targeting Series A investments, as well as some Series B, in software companies playing in “data-led, fast-growth sectors such as enterprise SaaS, market networks, cloud infrastructure, big data/machine learning and mobile solutions”.
It’s also recruited entrepreneur and investor, Richard Muirhead, as general partner where he’ll be leading and building Open Ocean’s London operation. The VC has existing investments in a number of London startups including Import.io, Tapdaq and LoopMe.
Also of note, Muirhead was one of the first investors in two notable success stories coming out of London in the form of Citymapper and Pusher.
Meanwhile, Firestartr, the seed investment platform that he co-founded and chairs, is an early investor in Adbrain, Cloud66, ClusterHQ, Tray.io, Urban Massage and Yoyo Wallet. So Muirhead should hit the ground running.
“The technology sector in the U.K. has experienced extraordinary growth in recent years, firmly establishing the country and London in particular as the digital home of Europe,” he tells me. “Although great companies are being built across Europe, great numbers of talented entrepreneurs and promising startups come to London to establish their commercial HQ.’
“In particular, the confluence of factors such as proximity to universities like UCL, Cambridge and Imperial; the strength of the fintech sector and global leadership of the local digital media & ad tech sectors means that the ‘hard tech’, data-driven software ventures targeted by the Open Ocean fund are in increasing abundance.”
Muirhead says that Open Ocean’s new fund will mainly invest in classic early-stage Series A deals in the low single digit millions and a select few Series B deals, with a cheque size possibly as great as the high single digits. “Naturally we are keeping large reserves for Series B and C follow-ons as appropriate,” he adds.
Specifically, Open Ocean has its eye on sectors including digital media, fintech, marketplaces, health tech, developer tools, and “major horizontals like CRM”. Muirhead in particular calls out the adoption of SaaS in both the enterprise and SMB markets, citing market networks, cloud infrastructure, and management & automation. He also sees opportunities in databases, big data and machine learning.
Adds Muirhead: “The team behind this new investment fund includes the founder and lead developer of MySQL, the open source database that secured a billion-dollar exit and the team has in the aggregate started and run six software businesses at scale. We see our role as providing a highly empathetic and sophisticated sounding board on strategy and then deploying our extensive network to support execution in the key areas of talent-sourcing; sales; business development and ultimately corporate development, also to secure additional world-class investors or perhaps towards an exit.”
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