Joining White Star Capital

Nick Stocks

Let’s get started

After two years and leading or being involved in over 30 investments across four continents, I have recently left Global Founders Capital, the stage-agnostic global VC fund, and joined White Star Capital as a Principal. In a short period of time White Star Capital has established itself as visible early-stage investor on both sides of the Atlantic. The White Star portfolio includes the likes of Dollar Shave Club in LA (recently sold to Unilever), Salesfloor in Montreal, Keyme and Freshly in New York, AIRE in London, and Hole19 in my native Portugal. I was attracted by their vision and ambition and look forward to being a part of their continued success.

About White Star Capital

At most VCs, partners seem to fit a single prescribed profile with a singular value add to portfolio companies beyond their direct core experience — a group of investment bankers, or early stage entrepreneurs, or operators. White Star Capital has been specifically designed to leverage a complimentary skill set, from Christian’s experience at the likes of Google and Facebook, to Eric’s background as an M&A banker on both sides of the Atlantic, and JF’s operational experience as the Founder of mobile gaming studio, Ludia. This concept extends itself to the rest of the team, and guarantees that companies in the portfolio always have an experienced point of contact regardless of the challenge at hand. The ethos of White Star is that the team is the “platform” that serves our entrepreneurs.

Additionally, internationalization is on the forefront of most startups’ minds, whether it be from Europe to the North America in order to tap into a market of >350m customers as HelloFresh, Funding Circle or Adyen have done, or from North America to Europe. As a new startup expanding into any country, the number 1 challenge is usually the lack of a network, particularly with hiring (who wants to work for a lesser known European startup in NY vs well known NY startup?) and building a client base. With offices across London, New York and Montreal and an active network in Europe and North America, White Star is perfectly placed to be an invaluable partner to these startups. The team is also emblematic of this international focus, with a combination of 8 nationalities and our own experiences working across continents in prior careers.

About me…

Born in Iraq, having grown up in Portugal and educated in the UK, I started my career in investment banking. As happens to many of us, I got a severe case of the “startup bug” during my MBA at LBS, and joined Skyscape working closely with the CEO. There, I experienced a rocket ship first hand, seeing it go from an idea on a slide to a profitable business of significant scale. I then moved to Brazil, as the only man on the ground to launch a national mobile broadband provider on behalf of Access Industries’ AINMT, working across business development, finance, and operations.

Returning to the UK, I joined GFC in 2014, where I led or was directly involved in over 30 investments from seed stage to Series C across all continents, focused on consumer internet and marketing-driven organisations. These include investments in Travel (Yamsafer), Fintech (Loot, Brickvest), Proptech (Goodlord, Nested) and Marketplaces (HomeTouch, Craftsvilla, Grover, Bridestory, Qlapa, Cartisan), and many more that hopefully will be announced in the months to come.

Areas of interest

White Star Capital’s areas of focus mean I shall continue to be focused primarily on disruptive commerce and fintech, and adding White Star Capital’s focus on sensors and algorithms, working with the Partners to build out White Star Capital’s portfolio in Europe mainly at Series A stage. In time I will be detailing in another blog post my areas of special interest, but a sample of these include:

  • Vertical brands: companies that control the end to end experience, cutting out middlemen which often allows for better prices vs incumbents, and using tech not only as a distribution channels but as its core asset. Examples include Dollar Shave Club, Freshly, and Away Travel.
  • Fintech: Anyone that has recently opened a bank account, tried their hand at investing or signed up for insurance knows the experience is broken, and this extends itself to most of the financial services world, which has some of the worst NPS scores out of any industry. Many of the startups tackling these are starting with the user experience (FinanceFox, Digit) but where this gets really interesting is when they are able to go deeper into the value chain through the use of data and algorithms (AIRE, Avant).
  • Proptech: The UK has been a leader in Europe, with online estate agents now accounting for 5% of the estate agency market as the market responds to the asymmetry between value and price of offline estate agents, however the opportunity does not stop there. With millennials’ struggle to get onto the housing ladder and equity tied up in real estate (Point), a largely broken rental experience (Goodlord, Fixflo), and a mortgage market dominated by offline brokers (Habito), there continue to be plenty of exciting opportunities throughout Europe. Again, data and algorithms have the potential to transform this industry (Nested, Opendoor).

If any of the above match your startup, please reach out!

I strongly believe there has never been a better time to be a founder, not only globally given macro trends, but particularly in Europe, as the ecosystem is maturing and the gap in both talent and availability of funding between the US and Europe is being bridged.

Last but not least…

I would like to thank Dan Jones, Julien Bek, Oliver Samwer and the rest of the team at GFC for an incredible couple of years. They are building something special at GFC and I wish them the best of luck.

PS — Christian and I are looking to add an Analyst to our team in Europe, and in the spirit of the complimentary skill sets, are looking for a business-savy techie who speaks an additional European language. If this is you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch — and if this is a friend of yours, please share this with them!

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