OpenseedVC Launches $10m Fund for Seasoned Operators’ Startups

May 20, 2024

By Adedapo Adesanya

OpenseedVC, a new operator-led fund seeking to be the first investors in seasoned operators starting their technology companies across Africa and Europe, has officially launched, announcing the first close of its $10 million angel-style early-stage fund.

According to a statement, OpenseedVC will also invest mainly in the Future of Commerce i.e., B2B Software, AI and Fintech, Future of Health & Work to align the inherent impact of the portfolio with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The fund, backed by LPs such as founders, operators and HNIs across Africa, Europe and the US, will offer up to $150,000 starter cheques, along with access to its robust network of over 50+ seasoned experts, to support the operators just starting their technology companies from zero to one.

With global early-stage equity funding experiencing a significant contraction of as much as 54 per cent year-on-year (-33 per cent YoY in Africa), the OpenseedVC fund offers a much-needed opportunity for operator talent to access the support they need in an ecosystem which has a 45 per cent failure rate for VC investments.

The fund will primarily invest in founders in Africa and Europe and aims to invest in at least sixty start-ups over the next five years and operates an open application process so founders can apply without an introduction.

The fund has made its first two investments in the Future of Commerce and Health themes; the first is an AI-enabled supplier dispute resolution software in the United Kingdom and the second is a foundational speech-to-text transcription model for underserved accents, starting with Africa.

Founded by Ms Maria Rotilu, whose vision is to invest early in the growing number of experienced operators who aspire to launch their technology companies. She believes that OpenseedVC founders at the earliest stages get much-needed capital and conviction, but also the added benefit of a community of experienced operators to support from start to launch.

Ms Rotilu, an experienced operator turned investor herself, has gained extensive market expertise across both Africa and Europe through scaling multinational technology start-ups like Uber and Branch to millions of users, as Country Manager, and General Manager respectively, as well as investing in global companies as a Principal & Fund Manager of the Octopus Ventures First Cheque Fund. She also served as Managing Director at the Oxford Seed Fund of Oxford University, one of the leading producers of unicorns in Europe.

Speaking on the launch of OpenseedVC Fund, she said, “As an operator, and investor, I have encountered incredibly talented and experienced operators, and the challenges faced as they try to launch their startups. Operators have the advantage of domain expertise and unique insight into large problems that can be tackled with innovative technology. Those who are visionaries coupled with the ability to execute, scale, build teams and have the grit required to solve difficult problems — these skills, especially in the current market, are highly relevant to building technology start-ups that solve real problems and creating scalable value for the global economy and our investors. The experience seasoned operators bring in terms of business building, combined with the dynamism and hustle that founders possess, is the focus for OpenseedVC”

“The current difficult fundraising climate is especially harsh for early-stage founders, but we believe incredible companies are born in the most difficult macroeconomic climates. We want to be first believers in these experienced operators to give a great head start, with capital and an extensive operator network that support from start to launch of their technology companies,” she said.

Adding her input, Ms Maria Zubeldia, Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, added, “We are proud to have played a role in Maria’s journey through her time as Managing Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre’s Oxford Seed Fund, which provides MBA students at Saïd Business School the opportunity to gain investment experience.

“Our goal is to foster a supportive ecosystem for exciting early-stage start-ups in which to develop and scale, and it is gratifying to see Maria carry this ethos forward with the launch of OpenseedVC. I look forward to following the development of the fund.’’

All applications to OpenseedVC will undergo the same evaluation process, and investments will be made on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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