APX Voices
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APX Voices

The APX deal flow stats behind investing in 50 new and 42 existing portfolio companies in 2021

Our mission at APX is to be the first investor in the European tech unicorns of the 2020s as Europe’s most active earliest-stage VC.

Looking back at our investments made in 2021, we can say with confidence that we were active — very active:

  • We invested in 50 new companies last year — that’s almost precisely one startup per week — and made 42 follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies.
  • We scanned over 4,000 earliest-stage companies from 30+ industries and analyzed over 2,200 companies in-depth.

The coming years will reveal how good our analysis of all these companies was. Today, we want to share some insights from our work in 2021, focussing on the bread and water of the VC industry: deal flow. Furthermore, we want to introduce some of the exciting newcomers in our portfolio. We hope that later-stage VCs, founders, and other participants in the ecosystem will find these insights exciting and thought-provoking and that they will prove helpful for some of you.

Our portfolio has grown by 50 companies during 2021

The APX portfolio family now consists of over 120 companies and is growing week by week. 50 new companies from 16 different countries were added to the portfolio in 2021, of which 33 are B2B(2C) companies and 17 are B2C. Staying true to our industry-agnostic approach, we funded entrepreneurs across 19 different industries. The majority of these deals emerged from our network’s efforts: We sourced 36 of these companies via a personal reference, 5 via (social) media, and a number via events and our student scouts. We can’t wait to see these carefully selected companies grow and thrive.

Our portfolio has now raised capital from more than 600 co-investors alongside APX. 360 co-investors invested in our portfolio in 2021 alone. We look forward to continuing investing with the best investors in Europe and the world in our portfolio companies in 2022!

We scanned over 4,000 earliest-stage companies last year

When we source leads, we do so through various unique channels. These include newly-developed projects that I cannot discuss yet, but which our investment scouts, mentors, and co-investors find very beneficial. Our investment team has seen and analyzed over 4,000 companies in 2021. More than half of them, 2.259 to be exact, progressed to our funnel stage, where our team carried out a detailed analysis of the company. Let’s dig further into the details of these numbers.

Geography: 84.7% of the companies we analyzed in-depth came from Europe, 36.9% from the DACH region. We have increased our deal flow and investment activity strongly, especially in CEE (16%) and Southern Europe (12.2%). Our deal flow in the UK is below 10%, and in the Nordics, it is around 5%. Taken together, we can say that we were a truly pan-European investor in 2021.

Industries: In 2021, we saw leads from 32 industry groups. Of course, some strongly represented industries like fintech (which actually seems to be eating VC), business software, and healthcare. But overall, our deal flow remains colorful and diverse. We have substantiated our claim to be industry-agnostic.

Product stage: When startups submit their information to APX, we ask for the current stage of their product between idea validation, working prototype, paying test customers, and market launch. In 2021, 15% validated their idea (up from 12% last year), over 60% of the companies had a working prototype (up from 55% last year), and only 20% had a fully operational product in place. Being an earliest-stage investor, we enjoy working with companies pre-’product-market fit’ and are proud to have further developed and expanded our focus on early-stage companies in 2021.

Business models: 63.6% of our deal flow in 2021 was B2B(2C) facing, a further increase compared to 2020. Although we invest across industries and business models, to get the most comprehensive picture of the startup landscape of tomorrow, B2B had the edge over B2C in our 2021 deal flow.

Gender: In 2021, we continued to push for the ecosystem to develop in a more inclusive direction with a range of activities particularly focused on female founders. And our deal flow data actually reveals a positive trend: 25.54% of the companies in the 2021 funnel were female-led — up from 15–20% in the previous years. Furthermore, 30% of the companies we invested in during 2021 had female founders. Obviously, this number is still too low, and we will continue to support female founders in the ecosystem in 2022.

From the 2,259 companies making it to our investment funnel in 2021, we initiated a detailed due diligence process in 383 companies, of which 158 were presented to our investment committee. Overall, we invested in 2.2% of the companies in our funnel and 1.2% of all companies we saw.

Investment driven by our values

What gives us particular pleasure and fills us with pride, is the fact that we live the APX values through our deal flow:

  • Originality: Innovative ideas, curiosity, and being contrarian can change the future

All companies we see have a unique approach, team, setup, or go-to-market strategy. But rather than just asking ourselves whether the company we talk to is unique, we ask whether this uniqueness can pay off in the long run. We at APX are grateful for the many unique individuals we have had the privilege of meeting in 2021, and especially for the individuals with whom we continue to have the opportunity to collaborate. We are convinced that lateral thinkers are needed to make the seemingly impossible possible in our search for the next unicorn.

  • Close Collaboration: Helps us learn from and support each other to reach goals

Our Venture Development team worked intensively with our portfolio companies in 2021. But on our way to scaling interactions and collaboration, we have especially expanded digital platforms. Over 580 members have become part of our newly created platform APX.network. Over 200,000 messages have been exchanged on our Founder Slack to date by more than 200 active members of the community/portfolio.

  • Enabling: Through trust, authenticity, respect, and straightforward communication

We offer under-networked founders a platform on which they can pursue their goals. About 60% of our 2021 investments are first-time founders. In addition, our team has given hard, honest and clear feedback in an infinite number of meetings with portfolio companies — always with one goal: progress on the way to a successful VC story.

  • Strong Teams: With complementary skills, diverse backgrounds, and the ambition to win

We have invested in only 1.2% of all companies we saw. Our ambition is to gather the best, most ambitious, and creative thinkers and doers in our community. In 2021, we invested in experienced managers, students, practitioners, journalists, consultants, politicians, and many scientists from 16 countries. Meet our Portfolio Companies here.

  • Sustainability: Profitability and positive impact for people and our planet go hand-in-hand

We have made a number of sustainability investments. In addition, we have signed two exciting deals that we can’t wait to announce. We see technology development as a relevant contribution on the way to an emission-free future and have therefore invested in companies like POOL, Bluedot, GerneOhne, Plan3t, and Positive Carbon. But technology can also help people learn from a young age (heytimi), age gracefully (ucura), put their health first (Heyvie, room4Physio & The New Health Club), and fight structural biases in our societies (KOSA).

  • Diversity: Working with the best people means actively pushing for diversity & inclusion

30% of our 2021 investments are companies led by female founders. We invested in everything from space tech to consumer fintech, from psychedelics to B2B software, and from the creator economy to inter-language communication solutions.

  • There’s no ‘too early’: If you have daring founders, a strong vision, and the right team

Our deal flow and investments keep getting earlier and earlier. 75% of the companies we invested into in 2021 were pre-product but have a clear vision of how they will be changing the world’s status quo.

If you have any questions about our 2021 deal flow or are a founder who wants to join Europe’s most active earliest-stage VC, please get in touch via our website or by email.

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Jakob

Jakob

Investor at APX (leading European earliest-stage VC)

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