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    HomeEcosystem NewsEuropean VC Openseed Wants to Invest up to $150K in African Startups

    European VC Openseed Wants to Invest up to $150K in African Startups

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    Maria Rotilu, a former investor with Octopus Ventures and Oxford Seed Fund, is launching her own venture capital firm, Openseed. The firm will focus on investing in early-stage, operator-led startups across Europe and Africa.

    Openseed has already secured its first round of funding, reaching 30% of its minimum target. The goal is to raise a total of $10 million to invest in promising startups. Notably, Rotilu is believed to be the first Black solo general partner (GP) of a VC firm in Europe, and among the first female solo GPs in the region.

    Focus on Pre-Seed Stage Founders

    Openseed differentiates itself by targeting startups at a very early stage, even before the traditional pre-seed funding round. This means the founders may still have other jobs but are ready to dedicate themselves fully to building their ventures.

    “There’s a significant gap in funding for such founders,” says Rotilu, “especially those with previous experience working in startups.” She highlights the growing trend of “startup mafias” in both Europe and Africa. This refers to former employees of successful startups, like Nigeria’s Andela and Paystack, leaving to launch their own ventures. Similar trends are seen in Europe with companies like Monzo, Spotify, and Revolut.

    Team Over Idea: Backing the Right People

    While Openseed invests in broad areas like future commerce, health, and work, the primary focus is on the founding team. Rotilu believes successful founders have a clear vision for the future, often extending eight to ten years down the line. Even if the vision appears unconventional, strong underlying principles are crucial.

    “Compelling storytelling” and the ability to attract other talented individuals are also key factors. “When sharp, driven, and passionate people are willing to work for a founder, not just for the salary, it’s a very positive sign,” explains Rotilu. Domain expertise and experience as a second-time founder are additional advantages, as these founders tend to have more efficient go-to-market strategies.

    Openseed plans to invest up to $150,000 in exchange for a roughly 5% stake in a startup. The firm typically co-invests alongside angel investors or founders’ family and friends. Openseed aims to invest in around 60 companies over five years and generally won’t participate in subsequent funding rounds.

    European VC Attention on Africa

    While uncommon, European VC firms investing in Africa are becoming more numerous. Partech, with a dedicated Dakar-based team, manages a €280 million fund for African startups. Norrsken Foundation, a Swedish impact investor, has a presence in Kigali and runs Africa-focused seed and growth funds. Similarly, Luxembourg’s Satgana and investors like Speedinvest (Austria) and LocalGlobe (London) have backed African ventures.

    Rotilu acknowledges that a combined Europe-Africa investment strategy is not yet widespread. However, it has attracted interest from limited partners (LPs) looking for exposure to both regions. Openseed’s initial backers include founders, operators, and high-net-worth individuals from the US, Europe, and Africa.

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