Introducing Heartcore Capital: Europe’s Consumer-Only VC

Heartcore Capital
Feb 20 · 5 min read

For 12 years now, we have operated as Sunstone Technology Ventures under the joint brand Sunstone Capital with our friends from Sunstone Life Science Ventures.

Over the last decade, we have poured our heart and soul into helping founders build European technology businesses from the ground up. We’ve gone from seed to NASDAQ IPO (Boozt), from small Hungarian software team to Silicon Valley-based SaaS leader (Prezi), from Series A to fastest-growing travel marketplace in Europe (GetYourGuide). And we’ve had our share of f̶a̶i̶l̶u̶r̶e̶s̶ opportunities to learn.

Since launch in 2007, we’ve raised four funds totalling €350 million in assets under management. And we’ve helped create over €3.8 billion in enterprise value for our founders, co-shareholders, and limited partners.

Over the last decade, the European tech industry has come of age, and so have we at Sunstone Technology Ventures. It became time for us to sharpen our positioning, narrow our focus, and be clear about what we stand for.

And so, after operating for 12 years as Sunstone Technology Ventures, we are rebranding to Heartcore Capital. We are also announcing the addition of three partners: Yacine Ghalim, Levin Bunz, and Signe Marie Sveinbjørnsson, based in our Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen offices, respectively. And perhaps most importantly, we are narrowing our focus to consumer-only venture capital.

Building Category-Defining Consumer Internet Brands

Over the last few years, our investments have naturally gravitated towards the consumer segment. We were early backers of outstanding teams in Boozt, Prezi, GetYourGuide, Natural Cycles, Lillydoo, Exporo, Seriously, and many others.

Technology, and in particular the internet, is changing the way we live, work, and play. Billions of us carry a computer in our pocket. Half of humanity is always on, always connected. And yet, less than 5% of consumer spend has moved online — so far.

Entrepreneurs have begun rethinking every value chain from the point of view of the tech-enabled consumer. How can we make services more efficient and effective? How do we remove intermediaries and let more value accrue to the end customer? How do we give people “super-powers”? How can we make what we want more accessible, more convenient, more delightful?

Technology is thus creating unprecedented opportunity to build new category-defining consumer brands. In verticals that range from retail to healthcare, with business models as distinct as subscriptions or marketplaces, these are brands that will shape the way we live for decades to come. It is this ingenuity, this audacity, this enterprising spirit to strive and to create which Heartcore is devoted to supporting. You can read more about our investment thesis here.

By Putting Founders First

But Heartcore stands for more than just “consumer-only venture capital.”

We’ve long believed that entrepreneurs are our customer and that ours isn’t a business of mere “investment management.” By definition, startups are companies set up for rapid growth. And so venture-backed entrepreneurship is a crash course in personal development: from founder of a fledgling business with a handful of early employees to world-class executive of a rapidly-growing enterprise with possibly hundreds of staff — all in a matter of a few short years.

Historically the venture industry has focused on “functional” value-add in this equation: how to hire, how to sell, how to fundraise. We believe that a narrow focus on consumer-only startups lets us provide superior functional value-add to European founders.

But perhaps more importantly, we believe that helping founders with the very personal challenges of growing into their full potential as leaders by focusing early and with intent on management skills, culture, organization, and self-care is key to their — and our — success.

Hence, Heartcore meets founders from an authentic place of empathy and humility: respect for their journey, a coaching mindset, and a set of guiding, foundational principles that begin with “founders first, always.”

We believe that early-stage venture capital is not predicated primarily on rational calculations of “risk-adjusted returns” or veiled allusions to “fiduciary prudence.” Our role is to back the dreams that break rules, that defy gravity, that create greatness from nothing.

The mind’s response to such audacity is always skepticism; the heart’s response is excitement and admiration. True to the Saint-Exupery quote on which we base our name: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Three New Partners, One New Office, Pan-European Consumer Coverage

Heartcore’s partners

With the new name and focus, we are doubling our partnership in size. In addition to Jimmy Fussing and Christian Jepsen in Copenhagen and Max Niederhofer in Berlin, we are announcing as new partners:

  • Yacine Ghalim, who joined us in 2013 from Goldman Sachs and heads our new Paris office;
  • Levin Bunz, who joined us this year from Global Founders Capital, the $1 billion investment arm of Rocket Internet, and who will further strengthen our Berlin office;
  • Signe Marie Sveinbjørnsson, who as Partner and Chief Operating Officer will head operations from our Copenhagen HQ.

You can read about Yacine’s promotion and Levin’s addition here, and about Signe’s role here.We now have a total of 10 investment professionals across three locations covering Europe. Our latest fund generation, Heartcore III and Heartcore Progression Alpha, is a combined €160 million in capital. With over 50 active portfolio companies, we are proud to be one of Europe’s most active Seed and Series A investors of the past decade.

If you’ve made it to this point and are a founder running a consumer-focused startup in Europe, we’d love to hear from you. The easiest way is to get in touch at team@heartcore.com or by filling out this Typeform.

And if you’d like to learn even more about Heartcore’s mission, team or portfolio companies, our new website is now live at https://www.heartcore.com.

We are delighted to continue our joint journey in European technology with you.

Much love,

Team Heartcore
Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin
February 2019

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