Nov 3, 2015 Stefanie Sirén
After over two decades of friendship, Simon Levene, Toby Coppel and Mike Chalfen finally decided it was time to take the step. The three co-founders and partners have during the years followed different paths that have led them from funding successful early stage start-ups, investing in upcoming commercial behemoths, to founding their own investment firm.
“As long time friends we knew that we shared a vision and would be happiest in a small equal partnership based on trust, intellectual honesty, and integrity”, says Toby Coppel, who met Levene and Chalfen during his graduate studies in the US in the 1990’s. “It soon became clear that to realize our vision, it was better to create our own firm rather than reshape the legacy of others.”
The decision to head to Europe, after years spent in the Bay Area, was based on a desire to be part of a bustling startup ecosystem with an available talent-pool of world-class founders. “With the Cambrian explosion of entrepreneurial activity underway in Europe, we knew that now was the time and we had an amazing opportunity to build something great”, says Simon Levene.
The partners believe their Silicon Valley-style investment model is an approach worth exporting to Europe. “The attitude brings a higher tolerance for risk, a willingness to only swing for the fences, and for weathering the inevitable ups and downs there will be along the way”, says Levene and points out that the firm is looking to partner with companies that dream global. Another reason for exploring Europe was the lack of experienced early stage venture investors.
While there is plenty of seed and angel financing available, those focused on Series A are scarce. That is precisely the void that Mosaic Ventures aims to map. “We have all invested across multiple venture stages and this is what we love and have had the most success at”, says Levene.
Founded in 2014, Mosaic Ventures has until now invested in next generation finance and payments, in companies such as Blockchain and Blockstream, and firms that focus on providing solutions for small businesses. “Fintech is one of our investment themes because we believe that consumers and small businesses are being failed by the banks in many core service areas”, says Mike Chalfen. “A hidden but seismic shift is underway with a new generation of best-of-breed services taking on the banks”, says Toby Coppel, who during his time at Virgin invested in Transferwise.
“Customers are willing to be tempted by new products and trust is low, so people more willing to give upstart services such as Funding Circle and Zopa a try”, says Coppel, and points to other start-ups that successfully have entered the banking world, such as Crowdcube and Nutmeg.
Mosaic Ventures also sees great potential in consumer marketplaces and SaaS, as well as narrow artificial intelligence and deep learning. “We are looking forward to seeing all the smart ways that entrepreneurs will find of exploiting its potential”, says Mike Chalfen. Their most recent investment is the Berlin-based Clue app, which enables women to manage their reproductive health.
One area that Mosaic Ventures has not yet delved into is the world of wearables, a sector that is heating up in the Nordics. “We are still scratching our heads a bit to develop a thesis about how the whole ‘Internet of Things’ space will play out”, says Chalfen.
Apart from Transferwise, Toby Coppel has previously picked out companies such as Alibaba, Criteo and Pinterest. Simon Levene invested early on in Etsy and Squarespace, and Mike Chalfen was the lead investor for King. The decision to pick up King, led by CEO Riccardo Zacconi, was based on a strong belief in the team.
“I love people who can recruit and lead a great team. Although investors often focus on the CEO, to scale the CEO has to be the leader of a great team. When the company scaled, Zacconi was the right guy rapidly to elevate the best of the founders, hire world-class talent where needed, and create a fantastic working culture to a suddenly large company.”
“The first thing I look for is a great founder”, says Toby Coppel about his experience in investing in Alibaba, where founder and CEO Jack Ma impressed with his passion for both reaching his goal and building a team culture. “These are rare but some of the traits they tend to share are courage of conviction – a true believer in what they’re building; commitment – mission driven and determined; hustle – they go a long way on limited capital and make their own luck.”
This search for founders and talent with long-term thinking, that are willing to go all in, is the Northern Star for the investment decisions at Mosaic Ventures. “We’re not looking for founders seeking to make incremental improvements”, says Simon Levene, “but true believers who want to ‘make a dent in the universe’”.
How to build a highly functional hiring funnel for top engineers? What can design thinking do when deployed right at the beginning of the product development phase? How to best prepare your product for local adaptability when you’re expanding globally? These are questions that many product-driven firms will have to answer, most likely during the […]
It all began when Justin started investing his personal time in creating a product, which would stop teams from spending up to 60% of their time “doing work about doing work.” Here are four main points Justin has learned along the way. 1. Make it easy for people to keep their eyes on the company […]
Modern Meadow has been pushing the traditional leather industry to the edge by creating biofabricated materials from growing cells into a new type of material inspired by leather. We had an opportunity to have a chat with Andras Forgacs, the co-founder and CEO of Modern Meadow and get a sneak peek into some topics what he […]
Meeting the talent gap in software engineer recruitment is a global challenge. It is a problem that Christina Sass and the team at Andela are trying to solve. Andela recruits top software engineers and developers from the African continent and connects them with the global tech company network. Christina Sass is the co-founder and President […]
If you got here via Facebook, make sure you give this one a big “Like”. If not for the penmanship of this article, then for the fact that Justin is the creator of the Facebook Like button. According to weRSM, the like button was pressed on average 4,166,667 times per minute, in 2015. A figure […]
Time to step out with new speakers! The lineup is filling up nicely for #slush18, with many more exciting names to come. Today, we’re talking gamers, investors, inclusion, and anti-harassment action with Kathy Gong, Jillian Manus, and Christof Wittig. To see them live, get your tickets here! Kathy Gong She is the Co-founder and CEO […]
Welcome to Slush Anisha Singh, Managing Director of She Capital, a gender focused fund with a goal to enable high growth women focused businesses to achieve their maximum potential. Anisha is also the Founder and former CEO of Mydala.com. We had the chance to catch up with Anisha before her Slush debut: let’s hear what […]
If you listened to Al Gore when he gave his Opening Keynote Speech at Slush 2017, this shouldn’t be news to you, as he let the secret out while congratulating Andreas Saari on his new position… Don’t remember? That’s fine. As long as you’ll listen more carefully when he talks about climate change, we’re all […]
Slush Tokyo 2018 is back. Speakers have been announced one after another. Today we are announcing the arrival of the CTO of Ripple, Co-Founder of IOTA and the Director of Operations at ConsenSys. These three keynote speakers will share their views on blockchain technology, global cryptocurrency markets, and their explosive growth in Japan. We expect […]
Read the most comprehensive data-driven analysis of European technology
We collect cookies to make your experience here smoother.