Partner Spotlight: FundsUp

Partner Spotlight: FundsUp

This week we talk to Pieter Bas, Head of Startups, Community & Events at FundsUp, a community platform that brings together investors with early-stage founders, about what it takes to create the best opportunities for serendipity to happen between investors and founders.

How did FundsUp come about?

FundsUp emerged from a realisation during a physical event in 2019, where founders and investors came together and recognized the need for a tech-driven solution to facilitate the connections and propel their community forward. The initial platform operated as an app, matchmaking investors to founders based on specific criteria and filters aligned with investor interests. By 2022, we successfully converted 36 investments, a great result and based on the value of the connections we had nurtured through our platform.

2023 was a tough year for many startups. How did you meet that challenge?

Because of what was happening around the world with interest rates going up and the geopolitical crisis, investors became more weary of new venture investments. As a consequence appetite for risk decreased and many startups were adversely affected.

We’ve seen this picking up now thankfully, but it was actually during this challenging year that we launched our latest concept The Investor Table. Apart from the platform connections between founders and investors, we also wanted to connect investors with each other, so that investors that specialise in say energy, medtech, circular economy and so forth, were getting an opportunity to get together. This would mean they could collaborate on ideas where the risk would not be placed on a single investor, but shared among the group. It would effectively be like an angel club, a syndicate. But the great thing about this syndicate is that whatever amount they invest up to €250K, FundsUp would match with our own seed fund, creating low risk for the angel investors but maximum impact for the startup. We’re very excited about getting this up and running in the coming months.

What’s a big focus for FundsUp this year?

We love organising events and have seen a lot of successful connections being made between our community of startups and investors. Last year we organised 3 large events, for impact investors, founders and for International Women’s Day.

Both at the Impact Investing event and Our People Our Planet event last year, we saw approximately 60 founders and 60 investors attend, seeing most attendees making at least 2-3 meaningful connections within a domain that matters. These were all super rewarding experiences. At our International Women’s Day event this year we saw some very business-critical discussions take place between panels and with our audience on the collaboration needed to overcome the current challenges around female inclusion. It’s certainly a space where FundsUp can make a great impact and we’re working hard to stimulate more opportunities between female founders and investors. This is also why we joined the Code-V Female Entrepreneurship covenant, where we’ll be tracking data so that we’re working in line with what the research is telling us.

A big focus for this year will be organising more of these events to help founders and investors make the connections they need, to grow their businesses and portfolios in a meaningful way. We’ll also be co-organising with incubators and universities to help support more research-backed startups.

Our goal now is to make sure to lock in the value of these events by circling back to the platform and ensure they can build momentum on their in-person connections and track success. This circular process of reinforced connection from the real to the virtual world we believe will be a lot more meaningful for both founders and investors and add more value to each connection they make.

And of course, we're excited to partner with WE.VESTR this year and similarly create more value for founders and investors by making their cap tables and fundraising process as seamless as possible:)

What’s been a memorable success story for you where you impacted a startup’s journey or an investor’s portfolio?

FundsUp played a pivotal role in Springlab's growth trajectory by connecting them with Netsam Participaties. This led to a very important funding process that in turn enabled them to expand their team and execute their growth strategy with CEO Marloes van Gasteren emphasising the importance of reaching out to a wide range of investors, while staying true to their vision, positioning, and decision-making autonomy.

Another example that comes to mind is when FundsUp facilitated Omnimap's successful external financing of €3M within 4 months, which allowed them to meet the growing demands for their innovative, low-code platform and scale their business. A lot of work goes into getting these right. If you speak to Omnimap's CFO Marjolein van Hage, she’ll tell you how important it is to have a good level of preparation, strategic positioning, and finding the right investor match. You can see the results of this from their partnership with Secondstage Ventures, who have gone on to offer them practical expertise and hands-on support.

Can you talk about the role of data and analytics in how FundsUp operates?

Sure, we use sophisticated keyword filters to bridge the gap between investors and founders and ensure seamless and relevant matches. We also leverage a diverse range of data points and optimise the matchmaking process by aligning the unique needs and preferences of investors with the sectors, technologies or SDGs of founders, which is great for investors.

On the flip side, we also track investor activity and provide founders with comprehensive analytics, giving them insights into investor engagement and interest levels. With this data, founders can get an overview of their own performance, and consequently refine their pitches and strategies for future fundraising, which is of course extremely useful for founders.

What we’re seeing are more investors putting their money into startups that do good for the world alongside turning a profit. Startups using cool tech like AI and automation to work smarter, not harder, are obviously catching investors' eyes and there's a shift toward alternative support systems like smart capital through angel syndicates and venture builders which is equally very exciting to see as it’s giving startups a new network for the right commercial introductions & expertise besides mere cash.

For us, looking ahead is all about providing founders, whether first time or experienced, the right amount of support, staying flexible, thinking outside the box, and making a positive impact while chasing success.

And finally, what would be your biggest piece of advice for an early-stage founder who is fundraising? And likewise for an angel investor looking to strengthen their portfolio?

For early-stage founders fundraising, our advice would be to start early. Fundraising takes on average 6 months, so be prepared that it might take longer. Fill your pipeline with 30-50 qualified investors, build genuine relationships with them by keeping them informed and showing interest in them but also make sure to understand their goals and how your startup aligns with them. Make sure they believe in your vision and can add the right value beyond capital and finally, make sure you get along and can trust each other.

Find out more about FundsUp or connect directly with Pieter!

Subscribe to our newsletter!