Omers Ventures outs €300M european fund — Q&A with managing companion Harry Briggs

Omers Ventures, the project capital arm of Canadian pension fund Omers, is officially launching a brand new €300 million fund aimed at eu era startups.

Headed up by Harry Briggs, who was formerly at BGF Ventures, Omers Europe will lower back companies at series A to B degree. the brand new fund will generally invest between €5m-€10m in step with round, whilst additionally having the potential to follow on in future rounds for the maximum promising portfolio organizations.

prior to his time at BGF — which ended instead due to “strategic adjustments” on the U.okay. firm — Briggs turned into previously at Balderton Capital. His investments are stated to consist of uk unicorn The Hut organization, Magic Pony (acquired by means of Twitter in 2016), GoCardless, Paddle, touch surgical treatment, appear here and Revolut.

He also has first rate entrepreneur stripes, having based and exited Firefly Tonics, a health liquids organization, which he accelerated to 35 international locations, before selling to private equity firm Langholm Capital.

meanwhile, in line with my resources, Briggs joined Omers some months in the past and has been busy recruiting a small group for Omers in Europe.

becoming a member of him at release is Tara Reeves, who turned into maximum currently a companion at LocalGlobe and is stated to have led investments in Bricklane, Cleo, Cuvva, Floodflash, Tide and Trussle, imparting her with coverage tech and finntech knowledge. Tara additionally co-based Turo, a automobile-sharing marketplace that has raised over $two hundred million.

additionally becoming a member of Omers in Europe is Henry Gladwyn, who previously controlled seed investments for the founders of DeepMind.

beneath follows an electronic mail Q&A with Omers Europe managing companion Harry Briggs in which we talk the brand new fund’s remit, why Omers is distinctive to other finances in terms of ways it’s miles financed, the influx of U.S. capital into Europe, and Briggs’ advise for coping with VC (and journalist) egos.
TC: Omers Ventures in Europe plans to do series A and B investments, normally writing cheques between €5m-€10m consistent with spherical, as well as following on. are you able to be extra precise concerning the varieties of companies, technologies, enterprise models or sectors you’re focussing on?

HB: I’d summarise it as “consequential businesses with a purpose to have significant effect on society”: we’re uncommon in that our funds don’t come from wealthy circle of relatives trusts – they’re the retirement financial savings of 500,000 municipal workers – folks that make Ontario society characteristic. OMERS’ different property follow a similar subject matter – OMERS builds and owns the airports, utilities, railways, hospitals and industrial and home buildings that make up the material of important global cities. So in OMERS Ventures Europe we want to make investments inside the corporations reshaping how we stay and paintings: for example, health-tech, FinTech, PropTech, Mobility – obviously due to the fact we suppose there could be large eu successes in the ones regions to make terrific industrial returns for the retirement plans of the OMERS members; but also because they’re areas we’re captivated with, that OMERS individuals care approximately, and in which there are apparent synergies with the other parts of OMERS.

TC: You’ve recruited Tara Reeves from LocalGlobe and Henry Gladwyn, who previously managed seed investments for the founders of DeepMind, however I accumulate you’re now not executed yet. What other recruitment plans does Omers Ventures have in Europe, either within the investment group or operations?

HB: We plan to construct gradually to a team of seven or 8 investors – from dealing with accomplice to companion degree. We’re in particular looking proper now at traders and operators with robust Continental ecu connections, and people with fitness-tech and deep-tech experience. however we’re in no rush. Toronto already has a wonderful operations group assisting portfolio groups on talent and advertising and marketing, who’re available to assist our organizations right here – but in due direction as our portfolio grows we are able to add operations aid right here too.

TC: What can we assume Omers Ventures to deliver to Europe that doesn’t exist already, apart from every other €three hundred million of challenge capital?

HB: First, what number of eu project funds can faucet into colleagues on every continent, and connections to massive assets below the identical roof like Thames Water, associated British Ports, US healthcare chains or a $50B property portfolio:- in case you’re a health-tech, FinTech, Mobility or Prop-tech organisation, OMERS Ventures can provide a specific stage of experience and connections.

second, I see founders and purchasers as an increasing number of ethics-aware: and in that environment it subjects where your finances come from, and what else you’re investing in. Founders can recognize that in the event that they construct a large business with OMERS Ventures money, they won’t be making billionaires even richer – they’ll be enhancing 500,000 Canadian people’ retirement plans.

era will always have positive and negative effect, however in recent years we’ve seen tech giants become units of mass surveillance and mass-manipulation, undermining democracy and societal cohesion in the reckless pursuit of electricity and income. The tech backlash is, eventually, coming, and that i suppose being a fund that questions the longer-time period societal impact of our investments may want to help set us aside for the subsequent technology of founders. less difficult stated than completed, of route.

finally, our set-up manner we’re a hundred% aligned with lengthy-term cost creation – OMERS desires to fund pensions 50+ years out – so founders can believe that we’ll continually be pushing for the lengthy-time period excellent final results, now not quick-term income.

TC: to your declaration weblog submit you write that more and more VC firms are the usage of data and era to supply deal-go with the flow and attain beyond vicinity and funding crew length. How is Omers Ventures in Europe making plans to apply technology?

HB: We’re already operating on building this with a super crew: Europe is a simply unusual environment, because skills is spread across so many special cities with so many one of a kind languages and cultures. That poses a big task to finances looking for the largest opportunities across the continents through network on my own. however an increasing number of the facts is there to flag most of the maximum exciting companies at an early stage, even if they’re outdoor the principal hubs. this will be an advantage for us within the short-term, but we trust this could be table stakes inside the destiny of VC.

TC: associated with this, you assert that despite the fact that the “massive four” series A companies in Europe — Index, Accel, Balderton and Atomico — have controlled to remain dominant over the last ten years, U.S. funds like Sequoia, Benchmark, Bessemer, and A16Z are threatening this dominance. is that this a terrific or horrific factor for the european ecosystem?

HB: Undeniably that is a brilliant factor for founders: extra cash for true corporations, greater opposition among funds to offer the maximum fee to founders, and greater high-quality price range to coinvest with. There may be some truthful-climate tourists some of the US price range, who disappear while times get difficult – but normally we have tons to analyze from the pinnacle US funds and it ought to improve our sport.

TC: you furthermore mght write that switching VC jobs is “complex” and then ambiguously consult with “half of-truths” and “soul searching,” amongst different matters. It’s hard no longer to interpret this as a connection with your abrupt departure from BGF after the firm had a change in method. possibly you may clarify?

HB: I’m usually a quite frank / candid man or woman – however all through a job-trade you constantly ought to maintain that tendency in take a look at: looking to keep my plans from reporters has been a particular challenge, as Steve 🙂 also, life is short, the pace of VC makes it first-rate-suitable to the younger, and VC works pleasant in long stints (it takes years to look investments via, and deliver usually vests over many years), to be able to’t make too many mis-steps… What mattered most to me turned into being capable of have noticeable impact, running with notable-clever, high-integrity people: and i experience I’ve landed in the right place.

TC: inside the identical weblog submit you write that “The ego’s of VCs nevertheless largely exceed our fee,” that is something this is sure to resonate with some of our readers. How lots is VC ego a trouble and what advice could you deliver to founders on the subject of dealing with a VC’s ego?

HB: most of the VCs I realize are staggering, considerate human beings whom I appearance as much as. but we’re all liable to pleasure and lack of confidence and ego – it’s human nature to provide ourselves an excessive amount of credit when matters go properly, and solid about for someone else responsible after they don’t. VC egos most effective in reality get tested inside the difficult times – so we’ll learn a whole lot extra if and whilst the correction comes. My recommendation to founders could be, test VCs for how open they’re approximately their mistakes, how plenty they searching for to learn and grow from them in preference to divert blame for them; ask once they’ve changed their minds about something essential. and spot how they speak about founders:- to cite Anton Ego in Ratatouille, “We threat little or no but revel in a position over folks that offer up their paintings and their selves to our judgment.” – proper VCs need to have the humility to confess that while this job is in such a lot of approaches a huge privilege, we remain mere parasites compared to the human beings doing the actual work of constructing the organizations.

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