Zero-Day investor Antler launched its second Nordic fund last week. With a target size of €150 million, the fund is backed by many of its predecessor fund’s investors, like The Export and Investment Fund of Denmark and Investinor, while new investors include Formue, Ferd Impact and Nysnø Climate Investments.
With €50 million already raised in the first close, Nordic Fund II is on course to be five times larger than the first fund. TFN asked Livia Moore, Associate Partner at Antler, to tell us more about the fund and Antler’s hopes for what it will achieve.
Backing founders before they have even founded a startup
Antler’s zero-day strategy makes them stand around. “We back founders from the very start of their growth journey. We support founders before they’ve even created their startup,” Moore told us. “Then we have the expertise to keep on supporting them as they meet co-founders, build the team, develop the product and start to scale. And the capital to continue investing in them until Series C.”
The strategy has been a successful one. Antler’s portfolio includes more than 300 startups in Europe, with over 100 investments just in 2022. In the Nordic region, they have invested in 144 early-stage businesses, creating a portfolio that’s now worth $490 million. However, the approach also helps startups that might otherwise struggle because they lack the initial capital or contacts to gain traction. And the fund is intended to back a diverse set of tech founders.
“A third of Antler’s founders are women, which is higher than the industry average,” Moore told us. However, she still believes more can be done. “Antler has a comprehensive scouting programme where we actively engage diverse founders from under-represented backgrounds.” They even scout interesting profiles on LinkedIn to identify potential founders.
Essentially, Antler is helping to fix a model in which only people already inside investment networks become founders. “Too often, investors back the entrepreneurs who come from their own privileged networks,” says Moore. “We are removing the barriers to entrepreneurship by creating an application process that is truly meritocratic.”
The growing recognition of the importance of diversity also helped to attract investment in Nordic Fund II. Jan Nylund, Head of Private Equity at Formue, said that they had specifically, “been looking for an opportunity to invest in a diverse group of curated Founders and fast-growing early stage tech companies.”
Supporting a rising trend of impact tech startups
As well as making the founding scene more diverse, Antler wants the Nordic Fund II to help fight global challenges like climate change. Already, 40% of Antler-backed startups are classified as planet positive.
“We are seeing an increasing number of highly skilled tech professionals deciding to become founders specifically because they want to build something that has a post impact on the planet,” Moore told us. It meant that Antler averaged two climatetech investments a week last year. And in a year that is likely to see temperature records set, again, it means that Antler may see that proportion of planet positive startups increase further. “Capital, political will and talent are all gravitating towards solutions that address climate change, and we have seen a significant increase in founders building climatetech startups,” says Moore.
Antler’s recent successes highlight how central the environment is becoming. Battery storage startup, Evyon, who create battery storage systems from repurposed EV batteries, raised $7 million. Circulate, a marketplace for sustainable packaging, raised $1.5 million. And PerPlant, a startup using AI to support sustainable farming, secured $670 thousand pre-seed funding.
Antler’s website always accepts applications, and Moore says Antler, “expect to continue seeing innovation in verticals such as climate tech, alternative energy, health tech and fintech.” However, that does not preclude application from any other startups, “Antler is sector-agnostic, so we will back a wide range of sectors from our Nordic Fund II,” she adds.
However, Moore is sure that whatever the sector, they will see — and back — plenty of planet positive startups. Although Nordic Fund II will be five times bigger than the first fund, it might have much more than five times the impact. “We share the ambitions of our founders to have a positive impact on the planet and to address the world’s biggest challenges,” she says. “There is every chance that the founders starting companies now could be developing solutions that can change the world.