Change Ventures: Backing Ambitious Baltic Founders
Over the last decade, startups from the Baltic states have proven that Skype was not an anomaly. The next generation of successful startups — Transferwise, Pipedrive, Infogram, Vinted and many more, have firmly established the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as technology powerhouses that punch well above their size.
However, while smart angel investor and growth capital is becoming more available to Baltic startups, seed stage capital that is entrepreneur-friendly, flexible and value-added is still scarce. We are here to change that.
Change Ventures invests up to $500,000 in seed stage technology startups. The startups we work with may still be in the process of finding their product-market fit, but preferably already have a working prototype or early product and first set of customers. We aim to be the first institutional investor, usually investing alongside angel investors. Our core focus is on startups in the three Baltic states, but we will also back Baltic founders who have set up companies elsewhere — what we call ‘Baltic diaspora’ startups.
Our fund offers startups a different approach in several ways:
- Our fund and initial investors are US-based, but we can invest globally. So whether your startup is set up in the Baltic states or you choose to register in London or Delaware, we are free to invest in any of those locations.
- We offer hands-on help to grow your business. Our three investment partners have all spent time as founders, CEOs and senior executives in startups at a variety of growth stages. We have experienced both success and failure and we know the kind of guts and grit it takes to navigate the uncertain waters of building a business from scratch. We can help figure out how to hire your first salesperson in the US, how to best price your product, if and when to pivot as well as deal with many other challenges.
- We have an extensive contact network you can tap into. Especially in the US and Western Europe. Between the partners in our fund, we have access to major US and global corporate executives, Stanford University alumni, hundreds of top venture capitalists and angel investors. Additionally, we have built a unique database of Baltic diaspora members that has over 10,000 members in the US alone. No other fund in the Baltics can put a comparable network to work to accelerate your sales, fund-raising, business development or hiring.
- Our investment terms are flexible, entrepreneur-friendly and straightforward. Fast decisions, 1x liquidation preference, no milestone-based tranches and other unfriendly terms that we frequently see offered in this region. Our goal is to get startups to Series A with a clean cap table. We can lead, follow or syndicate as we see fit and are happy to co-invest with smart investors.
Who are we? Our Riga-based Managing Partner, Andris K. Berzins, was a C-level executive in two startups that exited above $100M, is a leader of the startup community in the Baltics and earned his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Yrjö and Rait Ojasaar, our Investment Partners from Tallinn, are experienced technology entrepreneurs who have successfully invested together as angels.
What do we look for? Disruptive ideas and large markets are important, but primarily we are looking for founders that have “grit”. This is a combination of passion and perseverance that we believe is critical for entrepreneurial success. It means not taking no for an answer, not stopping until a way forward is found, putting 300% effort and soul into the whole endeavour. For more details on why this is critical, check blog post on grit by out our managing partner Andris.
We are also excited to announce our investments in three world-class Baltic startups. Lithuania’s Interactio provides a simultaneous translation app that fully replaces interpretation hardware for live events. Timbeter (Estonia) offers a smart-device solution for accurate timber measurement and data management that will revolutionize the timber supply chain. Guaana (Estonia) reinvents the process of allocating scientific research grants with an online platform that is completely based on peer evaluation.
To recap — we back ambitious Baltic founders, be that in the Baltic states or elsewhere. Does this sound like you? Then be sure to get in touch with us. Change has no boundaries.
Change Ventures Investment Team