White Star Capital on Friday announced a new $US70 million (£46 million) fund for investing in early stage startups in Europe and the East Coast.
It’s White Star’s first institutional fund and has been raised from backers including the Canadian government, the chair of auction house Christie’s, and the founder of Cirque du Soleil, among others.
White Star will invest between $US500,000 (£428,500) and $US5 million (£3.3 million) in tech startups on the east coast of America and across Europe. This puts it at the early stage of investing, backing businesses when they’re little more than an idea or a rough version of the final product.
White Star partner and co-founder Christian Hernandez Gallardo told BI: “I really like working with early stage companies and white-boarding product plans and go to market plants. Our thesis there is you can be an entrepreneur anywhere but there’s less competition for [investment in] these companies [in the east coast and Europe].”
White Star was set up back in 2013 by Christian Hernandez Gallardo, a former Facebook executive who has also worked at Google and Microsoft, and Eric Martineau-Fortin, a former technology M&A banker.
The fund has made so-called “seed” stage investments (early stage) in companies like news app Summly, which was bought by Yahoo for $US30 million (£19.7 million), and Dollar Shave Club in the US. Hernandez Gallardo is based in London, while Martineau-Fortin is in New York.
Up until now White Star has been self-funded by friends and family, with $US6 million (£3.9 million) raised and invested. But the pair decided to transform the vehicle into a fully-fledged institutional venture capital fund.
Hernandez Gallardo says the fund will look to invest in companies that can add value to the vast amounts of data currently being generated and collected by devices.
He says: “I don’t want to call ourselves a data fund, but a lot of the stuff we end up getting excited about has data as a core element.
“Let me give you an example, Hole 19 a Portuguese golf app. Like many other apps in the app store it gives you access to 35,000 golf courses around the world with the distance from the tee to the hole. It tracks your swings, it gives you analytics over time. That’s beautiful, Apple features it all the time. It’s got iWatch integration.
“But what we invested in is not the app — what we invested in is a business that is building a very large, very deep database of golfers around the world. Once you have the insight that I’m a German golfer who flies to the Algarve every year to golf — that’s highly monetizable.”
While the $US70 million pot was officially closed in summer, White Star has been raising since March 2014 and investing the money as it comes in. The company has already invested $US25 million (£16.4 million) into companies such as mobile locksmith KeyMe and Swedish financial exchange Cryex.
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