June 22, 2024
Funds

Founder-led deep tech investor Plural launches €400M fund


European early-stage investment firm Plural Platform has launched a new €400mn fund as it seeks to turn budding startups into “world-changing” global companies. 

Plural was founded in 2021 by Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and Songkick founder Ian Hogarth, alongside former Skype executive Sten Tamkivi and Khaled Helioui, previously chief executive at Bigpoint Games.

The firm focuses on early-stage investments in deep tech startups tackling seriously difficult problems. Since raising its first €250mn fund 18 months ago, Plural has financed over 26 startups working in climate and energy, AI, fintech, healthcare, and frontier technologies. 

Unlike traditional early-stage VCs, Plural is solely run by experienced founders.

Partner Sten Tamkivi believes this gives them an edge. “In the very early stages of building a company, having an investor who has this empathy toward what you’re going through is very useful. That category of investors is greatly underrepresented in Europe,” he said on a recent TNW podcast episode.   

A big advantage of this model, said Tamkivi, is that young founders get direct mentoring from some of the most influential people in European tech. 

Among others, this includes Ian Hogarth, who, in addition to founding concert discovery app Songkick in 2007, also serves on the UK’s £100mn AI task force. Carina Namih, co-founder of Silicon Valley-based biotech company HelixNano, also joined the firm last year.

According to Tamkivi, in Europe, 90% of early-stage investors have never actually built and operated their own companies. In contrast, in the US that figure stands at around 40%.

“The fact that Plural is 100% operator- and founder-led fits the pattern recognition of the model that turned out to be the most compelling and competitive in Silicon Valley, as Europe matures,” Hogarth told the Financial Times.

Over the past decades, the most significant and globally influential technology companies have mostly come from the US and China. Plural wants to shift the trend by building European companies that will have a “GDP-level impact” and “be transformative for economies and society.”

Among the firm’s recent investments is Germany’s Proxima Fusion, which is building a bizarre twisted-looking nuclear fusion machine, and London-based Conjecture, a startup dedicated to applied and scalable AI Alignment research. This week Plural also announced a $11.4mn investment into UK-headquartered Sano Genetics, which has designed a software platform to accelerate precision medicine research.



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