Specialist VC launches a €50M dual strategy fund to back startups in the Baltics and beyond

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Specialist VC – formerly United Angels VC – announces the first close of a new €50M fund at €42M.

While the main focus of Specialist VC Fund II  is on pre-seed and seed-stage startups, the fund is distinguished as being the first of its kind in the Baltic region to implement a dual strategy of integrating secondary transactions into a traditional venture capital fund. 

Specialist VC, founded and managed by Riivo Anton and Gerri Kodres, is one of the top tech investors in Estonia. Specialist VC is often the first institutional investor to its portfolio companies, investing alongside top local angel investors and unicorn founders.

The combined portfolio of its founders and the previous fund (United Angels Fund I, launched in 2018) includes over 45 investments in unicorns, such as Bolt and Veriff, and other notable startups, such as Starship, COMODULE, Monese, and NFTPort. 

We are continuing our mission to help the founders of this region build impactful global companies.

The region has been a remarkably successful breeding ground for startups, with Estonian startups alone raising close to a billion euros of funding in 2021. We see Latvia and Lithuania following the same path.

said Specialist VC Founding Partner Riivo Anton

The new fund will invest in over 40 startups from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland, including founders from these countries who are building their startup elsewhere in the world, and founders from Ukraine and Belarus who are building their businesses in the European  Union.

The fund will focus on but is not limited to, investing in tech startups raising pre-seed and seed rounds in B2B, SaaS, fintech, platforms, software-enabled hardware, Web3, and deep tech verticals. A third of the fund volume is reserved for opportunity investing in secondary transactions into companies beyond Series A. 

Our more than 10 years of investment experience and extensive network in the region gives us access to a wealth of proprietary deal flow.

We can see an increasing inbound demand for secondary transactions by founders and investors, with more and more companies maturing into Series A+ and nearly 80% of capital in the Baltics is raised in post-A rounds.

Secondary transactions benefit the ecosystem as they provide liquidity for founders and early investors and employees. Besides, the proceeds from such transactions are often reinvested in new early-phase startups.

commented Gerri Kodres, Founding Partner of Specialist VC

The final close of Fund II is scheduled for the end of May 2022.  The new fund is already backed by founders and early employees of Bolt, Vinted, Veriff, Wise, Pipedrive, Slack and F-Secure, and institutions, such as LHV Pension Funds and Avaron Asset Management. The fund is anchored by the European Investment Fund through the Pan-European Guarantee Fund (EGF) and the Baltic Innovation Fund 2 (BIF2).

Left to right_Gerri Kodres (Founding Partner), Samela Kivilo (Associate), Karina Univer (Investment Manager), Riivo Anton (Founding Partner)
(Left to right) Gerri Kodres (Founding Partner), Samela Kivilo (Associate), Karina Univer (Investment Manager), Riivo Anton (Founding Partner)

Specialist VC team

Riivo Anton – a serial entrepreneur who has never worked anywhere else apart of his own companies. In his long history of investing as an angel investor and venture capitalist, he’s made over fifty investments. He is one of the founders of Civitta, the largest management consulting company in Emerging Europe. Riivo sources deals, analyses opportunities, and manages the fund and investments at Specialist. He helps founders and their teams with strategy, fundraising and more.

Karina Univer has spent over a decade supporting the tech community in CEE hands-on. She started her career in banking but missed the human side of finance and wanted to contribute to tangible change. This led her to the startup world. Meeting founders daily, she also started investing in startups, joined Atomico’s Angel Programme, and now doing it at scale with Specialist. Karina covers the whole workflow from the pre-and post-investment process, from finding investment opportunities to supporting founders along their journey.

Gerri Kodres – being one of the region’s most experienced early-stage tech investors, Gerri has invested in over forty startups within the last ten years. He helped grow Fortumo into one of the global leaders in mobile payments. In 2019, he was honoured as “Investor of the Year” by Estonian startup founders. Gerri works daily with the portfolio founders, sources the deals, and manages the fund. He believes investing is a two-way process which is what makes it so exciting and emotionally rewarding.

Samela Kivilo has handled analytics and deal sourcing since Specialist was still United Angels. She also makes sure our portfolio companies meet our ESG policy. Before joining the team, she studied at Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, as well as gained experience in investment banking. She currently studies Business IT at Taltech. She loves hearing about startups applying data science and blockchain.