VC spotlight with Samaipata

Louis Benoit
Mountside Ventures
Published in
8 min readApr 19, 2022


  • Samaipata launched a €110m fund last year, aimed at investing in early-stage digital platforms with network effects across Europe.
  • We spoke with Stephanie Chan, an investment associate at Samaipata based in London. The discussion centred on the fund’s Pan-European focus, building conviction using data as an early-stage fund and how tech can optimise portfolio management.

Let’s start with a quickfire round…

What sector and stage do you invest at?

We are a generalist fund, so we invest in all sectors but predominantly at the seed stage with some pre-seed investments in digital platforms. We’ve invested in fintech, proptech, healthtech and ecommerce amongst other verticals. We look for at least an MVP to be already out there, with a few months of traction.

What is the background of the partners?

We have two co-founding partners, both from Spain.

Jose is our general partner, he’s an ex-entrepreneur. He started what was the leading food delivery marketplace in Spain ‘back in the day’ called ‘The Red Fridge (La Nevera Roja)’, acquired by Rocket Internet in 2015, which was the catalyst for Samaipata’s inception. Before that, he was a strategy consultant at PwC.

Eduardo is our other founding partner. He’s like our godfather. He has many, many years of experience in financial services and investing. He was also an ex-entrepreneur and founded a 3D sound system called IMM Sound, eventually acquired by Dolby. He’s a former partner at Apax Partners and now the current chairman of MasMovil, a large telco in Spain that was acquired for over €5b in 2020.

We now have a third partner, who, at 31, is now the youngest french female partner! Aurore has been with us for 4 years now. She has a background in consulting and venture capital investing.

How big is the team?

Our team is 12 at the moment, about half of us in the investment team and the other half in the operations, growth and platform team. We’ve almost doubled in the last year which is incredibly exciting and we’re looking to grow a few more team members!

Where are you based?

I’m based in London, but our team is remote first. Our team is also based in Madrid and Paris and we’re looking to grow our team in Germany as well as in London. We have monthly in-person catch-ups which help maintain the sense of team spirit but having this remote model means that every member of the team has a lot of autonomy.

*Off-piste* I’m picking up an Ozzie accent — had you visited the U.K before deciding to work here?

No actually, I’d spent some time in Europe as a student but had never been before deciding to work at Samaipata. I’d heard great things about London, culturally it is pretty similar to Sydney and there are plenty of Australians who have made the move before, so it didn’t take long to settle in. So not as impressive as it might sound.

Still pretty impressive if you ask me. Back to business though — you worked for McKinsey before joining — what have been the main challenges in making the move to Samaipata?

There have been a few challenges:

The first was adopting an investor mindset, this was new to me. At McKinsey, it was about advising and supporting clients on their needs, whether that was top-line growth or cost-cutting. We would work with large and complex businesses but ultimately, it was rare to see things through to the end. After all, we’d only be around for the duration of projects. As an investor, the mindset was of ownership across a long-term investment horizon. It’s very forward-looking and there’s an added element of portfolio management.

Another challenge has been a very different working style. Not only the fact that we’ve been remote-first at Samaipata, but being a VC investor is incredibly autonomous. I spend a lot of time speaking to founders and various other external stakeholders.

Let’s dive deeper into your journey…

You’ve dedicated approximately 30% of the fund to Spanish startups; why is that?

Samaipata was born out of Spain, even though today we are a pan-European fund. We are strong believers in the Spanish ecosystem, which is growing very fast and quickly rivalling other leading European ecosystems. Well-known unicorns are emerging from the region including Glovo, Cabify, Travelperk. It’s also where our roots are — our co-founders are ex-entrepreneurs themselves from Spain and after a successful exit of their business, La Nevera Roja, Samaipata built a strong brand in the region and it became a great base for us to grow from. As we’ve grown our fund, we’ve expanded our team and our reach across Europe, specifically Southern Europe, France/Benelux, Germany/DACH and the UK&I.

Can you tell us more about “The Hive” and how it helps your portfolio companies?

The Hive is Samaipata’s very own dedicated platform to support our portfolio companies. It provides the right support and resources to help our portfolio founders and their teams so they can make better and faster business decisions, saving them time, money and minimising potential mistakes (or worse, future regrets!). The Hive helps our portfolio companies in 4 ways — improve and scale their product, attract and hire top talent, prepare for fundraising and support our Founders’ self-development and mental health. This is achieved through a few pillars. The first is our network of Operating Partners, who are experts in different verticals such as fintech or B2B sales, and who directly support our portfolio Founders through office hours. We have The Academy, which is a curated founder-first content created in-house covering top challenges in different verticals. Lastly, we have our Partnerships, Network and Community which we’ve built and nurtured just for our portfolio Founders.

Samaipata is known for its data-driven approach to investing. Do you have any tips for startups on how to stay on top of measuring these metrics?

Of course, every business is very different and so the metrics they should track will be different. As a side note, we always hope to see around 3–6 months of traction. It means we get a preview of how the product is doing post commercial launch. The most important tip to stay on top of measuring metrics is to understand and define your North Star metric, which is the overarching metric that ultimately drives your business. Simply put, your North Star metric is the one that best reflects the value your customers can gain from your product or service. It also reflects your “why”, bringing together the company’s mission, vision, values, and guiding beliefs. For example, Airbnb’s North Star metric would likely be the number of nights booked, while Spotify’s would likely be the number of minutes played.

Gearing everything you do in the business to grow this North Star will help you remain laser-focused and tracking it will give you a better picture of the health and growth of your business.

I’m sure Samaipata has invested in businesses that haven’t met these KPIs — the earlier the stage, the fewer metric proof points. How do you build conviction in your investment process when this is the case?

Where a startup might lack metric proof points, we turn to other sources that help to validate the business. First, and most critically, would be the Founders and their level of Founder-market fit. This is one of the key factors we consider alongside any metrics and it’s because in the early stages, the Founders are the intrinsic DNA of the business. Are they familiar with the industry or pain that they’re solving? Are they a second-time founder with experience scaling a business or tech product? Another factor we look to is whether there is a strong ‘Why Now’ to the business. These are the trends or tailwinds that support launching such a business now. For early-stage businesses, timing is crucial and it can make or break it, e.g. Zoom or Hopin rode extremely strong Why Now waves. Lastly, another factor we consider is whether the business is already validated in other markets and if so, whether there is a compelling ‘Why Here’. There may be structural market differences that support this and help us build conviction. For example, different financial regulations and licences required may support launching an existing business model, such as BNPL, but in another market.

Switching gears slightly to a more industry-wide discussion. What can members of the community do to rectify the gender equality problem which exists in the industry?

I believe gender inequality needs to improve but I also acknowledge that it is just part of the problem, the wider start-up and VC industry also suffers from racial and other forms of inequality. Members of the community are absolutely core to solving it, it’s not just large flashy statements that will create change but also the small actions and commitments that we each make that will slowly create change from the inside out. Role modelling from Founders will be critical to break the barriers, inspire and support other Founders but role modelling even from Funds can be an important contributor to this. By being more diverse ourselves, we can incorporate more perspectives in the way we communicate, assess and invest — giving more access and opportunities to Founders. Leading and participating in initiatives for both Founders and Funds, such as pitch events for female founders, are another important way to address it and actively give the access and exposure needed to underrepresented groups. Every small contribution from the community counts and is a step toward a more inclusive industry.

Some predictions about 2022?

Hybrid work will remain the talk of the town but we won’t (and may never) find the golden answer to balancing remote and office working

Consumers and businesses alike will rack up more debt, riding the rise of BNPL and revenue-based financing, but we may yet see the dark side of that this year when it becomes too much for some

EVs will make up 1 in 3 new car sales in Europe after representing around 1 in 5 last year

VR headsets will steadily climb in adoption but will not explode and won’t become ‘household’ yet

The number of crypto / digital asset holders will double what it is now globally (which is 10–20% according to various sources)

NFTs will evolve beyond just collectables and we will see more utility, such as governance or perks, built into them this year

Web3 and Metaverse will be the most (mis)used terms and we still won’t be able to fully define them in 2022

For more information on Samaipata, visit their homepage here or submit for funding here.

Are you a founder raising institutional funding? Head over to our fundraising resources page, list of active funds or get in touch with a team member here!

If you are a VC fundraising in Q2 this year, don’t hesitate to register your interest in attending our next conference later on in the year in Soho.

Read previous VC spotlights with Form Ventures here, Lunar Ventures here and World Fund here.