90+ VCs and investors backing SaaS founders through the COVID-19 crisis21 min read

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We know how essential it is for SaaS companies to have healthy access to capital – to continue to grow, innovate – and right now, survive.

To try and help our community of SaaS founders and execs in this challenging time, I reached out to the investor and VC community, to find out who’s still active at this time, how their investment strategy has changed, and what advice they can share with our founders – many of whom will be experiencing their first downturn in the market.

I was overwhelmed with responses – and I wish we could share them all here, but as you’ll see this article’s already pretty long! My three key takeaways from their responses, and all the conversations I’ve been having lately are:

  • Timing is everything. Game-changing startups are built or left standing during downturns, backing founders with staying-power could lead to outsized returns.
  • Meeting in person is so important for VCs, helping to build relationships with their founders. Right now this has all shifted to video calls, which works – but isn’t the same.
  • The most important thing VCs are looking at? Resilient business models. SaaS is in its nature a pretty resilient model, thanks to the power of recurring revenue – and now high quality recurring revenue is a must-have.

So have a read here to get insights from 30 VCs and investors who are still active right now – and at the end of the article make sure you check out the full list of 90+ incredible investors who replied to me.

A | B | C | D | F | H | I | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | See full list

Investor spotlight: Andrei Brasoveanu – Partner, Accel 

“It’ll probably be a few months before SaaS companies see the full impact of this slowdown. In the 2008-2009 recession, there was a 20-30% drop in funding rounds, which meant companies needed extra grit and creativity to survive. So I think the most important thing for founders right now is to get enough runway to survive. We’re mindful of our portfolio companies having at least 24 months’ runway – this can mean companies are reducing their burn rate, or they’re raising slightly larger rounds than they would normally. In a downturn, founders need to do more with less: you might need to bootstrap for longer, or keep your team lean and do more of the go-to-market yourself. We’re backing companies with staying power – not cyclical businesses, but ones with high-quality, recurring revenue. We have a long-term focus, so we’re used to investing across cycles. After all – we can’t control when we encounter those incredible founders.”

Adara Ventures

Adara Ventures is a venture capital firm managing over €170 million in capital, investing in the European Atlantic rim (Iberia, France, UK, & Ireland) in Early-Stage, Deep-Tech companies, with a particular focus on Cybersecurity, Big Data, AI, and other Digital Enterprise areas.

Investment stage: Seed, Early Stage

Typical investment size:€500K- €2M

Advice to founders:

“We’re entering a fundraising downturn with an uncertain end date. Whilst interesting projects with excellent teams will always find financing, the best founders assume the worst and enter survival mode early. Being financially agile is the key to turning a crisis into an opportunity.”

Angel Invest

Angel Invest is an Angel Fund based in Berlin. They are one of Europe’s most active angel investors, making 10-20 investments per year. Their initial check size is €50k, and can make follow on investments in later rounds.

Founded: 2018

Investment stage: Pre-Seed, Seed

Typical investment size: €50k

Advice to founders:

“Be smart. Are you a winner? Are you neutral? Are you a loser? Do you aggressively expand? Do you cautiously cut back? Do you cut back aggressively? Think it through. Don’t be a lemming. Don’t be afraid.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “We’re investing more. So many good companies and fewer investors willing to write checks.”

Balderton Capital

Balderton is Europe’s leading early-stage venture capital investor, focused exclusively on European founded technology companies. In the two decades since our founding in 2000, they have worked with hundreds of extraordinary European founders, and raised eight funds totalling more than $3bn.

Founded: 2000

Investment stage: Series A

Typical investment size: $5M-$10M

Advice to founders:

“The short term will be challenging but we remain very optimistic on the medium and long run, some of the best companies of today were built during the previous crisis.”

Bregal Milestone

Bregal Milestone is a private capital firm managing a €0.5bn fund dedicated to investing in fast-growing European companies. The firm provides flexible non-control capital under the form of equity and/or debt and strategic assistance to partner with owners across a wide variety of transaction situations. Targeted sectors include technology, healthcare, business services, consumer, high value manufacturing and specialty finance.

Founded: 2018

Investment stage: Growth capital

Typical investment size: €20-75m

Investment sectors: Technology and technology-enabled businesses

Advice to founders:

“Focusing on reducing cash burn will make you an even stronger business after this crisis.”

Cap Horn

Cap Horn is a French independent Venture Capital Firm. They invest in B2B digital companies bringing transformation to mature markets.They currently manage 180 million euros across two funds and have a portfolio of more than 25 companies. 

Founded: 2009

Investment stage: Series A, Series B

Typical investment size: €2M-€20M

Capnamic

Capnamic is a venture capital firm from Berlin/Cologne doing early-stage investments in outstanding teams in Germany/Austria/Switzerland. The team’s expertise includes 70+ investments, 30+ successful trade sales and 13+ IPOs as well as broad professional experience across various industries and functions. They invest in markets and industries characterised by high growth and technological innovation.

Founded: 2012

Investment stage: Early-stage (seed, late-seed, early series A)

Typical investment size: $0.5M-$3.5M

Investment sectors: B2B SaaS

Advice to founders:

“The startup ecosystem will not disappear and the crisis will also bring opportunities for startups. Make sure to quickly adapt to the “new normal” and demonstrate that you are well-positioned for future growth.”

Columbia Lake Partners

Columbia Lake Partners is an experienced team of investors providing growth loans to European technology companies. Their approach is to take a “light touch”​ with no board seats, light covenants and standard reporting.

Founded: 2014

Investment stage: Venture & Growth

Typical investment size: $5M-$10M

Advice to founders:

“We’re encouraging founders to have a plan that shows 18-24 months of cash runway. This ensures you can manage through a long term period of uncertainty, and sets you up to take advantage of opportunities as we come out of that period.”

Digital Horizon

Digital Horizon is an international investment company that combines a venture fund and a venture builder. The Digital Horizon venture fund invests in early-stage start-ups that have working products and promising solutions for the financial industry, e-commerce, education, and enterprise software. The venture builder creates breakthrough projects with corporate partners in finance, retail, marketing, and media. Digital Horizon’s team possesses unique expertise in its target industries and extensive network with strategic partners, funds, and developers.

Founded: 2018

Investment stage: Late Seed, Series A

Typical investment size: $0.5M-$2.5M

Investment sectors: Fintech, enterprise software, EduTech

Advice to founders:

“Crises are the best time for small and innovative teams. For startups, crises present a good chance to become the giants of the next era. To emerge victoriously, keep calm and remember: you are creating the future. Perhaps, you’ll see that the future for which you created the product has already come and you need to change the strategy and the road map. Adapt, change, but don’t give up! Overcome all obstacles that prevent you from moving forward to achieve your goal, simply keep going.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “The industries in which we invest have accelerated their development as a result of the current crisis. Therefore, we will continue to closely monitor the most breakthrough startups in our core areas, helping the best of them with investments and our expertise.”

DTCP

DTCP is an investment management group with $1.7 billion of assets under management and advisory from Deutsche Telekom and other institutional investors, and a portfolio of over 60 companies. The group is dedicated to providing venture and growth capital, private equity investments, and advisory services. DTCP operates and invests in Europe, the US and Asia. 

Founded: 2015

Investment stage: Growth stage

Typical investment size: $5M-$30M

Investment sectors: B2B SaaS

Advice to founders:

“Be strong even though these are tough times, think through this thoroughly and try to discover the little or big opportunities that this crisis might provide for you.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “Not much, we are a bit more price sensitive, but overall still very much open for business.”

Five Elms Capital

Five Elms Capital is a leading venture capital and private equity firm that invests in and acquires growth-stage companies outside of Silicon Valley. Five Elms partners with growing, bootstrapped software businesses, providing capital and resources to accelerate growth and help companies become industry leaders. 

Founded: 2007

Investment stage: B2B SaaS businesses doing $2-20M in ARR

Typical investment size: $5M-$50M

Investment sectors: B2B SaaS

Founders Factory

Founders Factory offers founders “the best platform to launch or scale their startup”. Their incubator creates 15 new startups every year, and their accelerator invests in 40 startups every year. Voted by their peers as the Hottest Startup Accelerator and Early Stage Investor at the Europas, for the past two years in a row. From the team behind Founders Forum: the top network of entrepreneurs and business leaders, giving startups unparalleled access to corporate partners, audiences and access to capital.

Founded: 2015

Investment stage: Pre-Seed and Seed

Typical investment size: Up to $250k

Advice to founders:

“Stay lean, find partners, stay positive. We’re actively making investments, reach out!”

Frog Capital

Frog Capital invests in European software scale-ups, working with teams that have built scalable and sustainable business models.

Founded: 2009

Investment stage: Scale-Up stage (typically Series B)

Typical investment size: $5-$15M

How has your investment strategy changed:“Appetite to make new investments, but evaluation is becoming more challenging without meeting teams face-to-face.”

Harbert European Growth Capital

Harbert European Growth Capital provides specialty debt financing to European growth businesses, predominantly in the technology, life sciences and environmental sectors. They look for investment opportunities in high growth businesses with proven management teams in need of capital to fuel organic growth, acquisitions, equipment purchases, bridge loans and various forms of recapitalization.

Founded: 1993

Investment stage: Growth stage

Typical investment size: €1-30M

ID4 Ventures

id4 was created in 2010 by Herve Cuviliez & Ivan Petrovic who have built digital companies. They finance and mentor young talented entrepreneurs in Europe. id4 are more than just Angel Investors: they invest their time, expertise and money in exchange for equity with the objective to explode growth and sell the companies for far more than the current worth.

Founded: 2010

Investment stage: Pre-seed, Seed

Advice to founders:

“Adapt your company culture to the current reality and try to use it for new opportunity.”

Marcus König

Marcus König is an angel investor, focused on early-stage investments in enterprise, emerging science and financial technologies. 

Investment stage: Angel

Investment sectors: Emerging science and B2B/enterprise technology

Advice to founders:

“This is your time to shine. Great founders will find a way to persevere and scale their companies.”

Market One Capital

Market One Capital is an early stage VC fund focused on European markets. We invest mainly in seed and series A rounds, with a focus on marketplaces, network effects platforms and SaaS.

Founded: 2017

Investment stage: Seed, occasional Pre-seed and Series A

Typical investment size: €200k-€1,5M

Investment sectors: Marketplaces, SaaS

Advice to founders:

“Focus on a core acquisition channel and revenue stream. Neglect all projects that are nice to have. Focus on product. Think of any product or go-to-market pivots which might make sense in the current situation. Optimize personnel cost. Trim tools and renegotiate every deal you signed (tools, office, cloud, lawyers etc.)”

Matthew Eisner

Matthew Eisner is an angel investor who helps startups and technology companies perform more efficiently and effectively in a broad array of areas. He has guided early-stage startups to gain traction, scale their marketing operations, and leverage data and technology to drive rapid growth.

Investment stage: Pre-seed, Seed

Typical investment size: $10k-$20k

Investment sectors: SaaS, Data, Healthcare, Consumer, B2B, MarTech, EdTech

Advice to founders:

“Crisis is a great stress test – if you can continue to grow your business in the face of COVID, you will have a very strong narrative to reach out to institutional investors once the panic subsides and wallets start to open again.”

Nauta Capital

Nauta Capital is a pan-European Venture Capital firm investing in early-stage technology companies. Their main areas of interest include B2B Software propositions and lean consumer plays. Nauta Capital has €365+ million under management and over 50 portfolio companies.

Founded: 2004

Investment stage: Late Seed, Series A

Typical investment size: €1M- €5M

Investment sectors: Enterprise Software, SaaS

Advice to founders:

“We are very keen to connect and back great SaaS founders across Europe. We believe great founders with outstanding products and capital-efficient mindset will become more apparent with this pandemic. Stay focused on growing your product and managing your cash runway.”

Northzone

Northzone is an early stage venture capital fund built on experience spanning multiple economic and disruptive technology cycles, focused on Europe and the East Coast US. They bring together independent thinkers and diverse characters, united in finding the businesses and innovative ideas that will define the global economy in the coming decades. Founded in 1996, their approach has withstood more than 20 years, over 130 investments, nine funds and taken them from the Nordics to the world. The majority of their investment team have previously founded companies, putting them into a unique position to support the next generation of founders with the ambition to think big and the conviction to build transformative businesses. They have backed in the early days Spotify, iZettle, Letgo, Klarna, Trustpilot among others.

Founded: 1996

Investment stage: Seed and Early Stage

Typical investment size: from 100k to 8M

Advice to founders:

“Challenging times shape leaders. Ask for termsheets and don’t rely on external support, everyone is very busy. Contingency planning is key to navigate to this crisis. We actively invest in SaaS companies.”

Notion

Notion is an early stage investor in European enterprise tech, SaaS and Cloud companies. They want to help European tech companies fulfil their potential and achieve massive scale. Notion invests early, when they can build strong relationships and help to shape the future success of companies.

Founded: 2009

Investment stage: Series A, occasional Series B

Typical investment size: $2M-$8M 

Advice to founders:

“Probably the most frequent message at the moment is that “cash is king” so companies should be working on extending their runway up to 18 months ideally. Founders need to assume that sales would be non-existent during this period and therefore they would need to cut costs to balance that. Most of the companies might need to let people go and frequent and honest communication with the employees (both the ones leaving and the ones staying) is critical.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “It hasn’t significantly changed. We are open for business and looking at B2B SaaS companies in which we can invest. Probably we would be very careful investing in sectors that are not operating at the moment (e.g. travel, offline retail, sales tools,…) but otherwise the same as usual.”

Openview

OpenView helps expansion stage software companies become market leaders. By only investing in software companies at the expansion stage, OpenView has built an Expansion Platform to maximize impact to founders by helping them hire the best talent, acquire and retain the right customers and partner with industry leaders so they can dominate their markets.

Founded: 2006

Investment stage: Expansion stage: demonstrated repeatable value proposition across diverse customer base and ready to scale go-to-market.

Typical investment size: $5M – $30M

Investment sectors: SaaS

Advice to founders: “Tons! Check out OpenView’s blog for all types of operational thought leadership.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “Because we only invest in a few companies each year, we have the bandwidth to continue making new investments (and have already done so). We’re looking for companies with solid underlying fundamentals prior to COVID-19, but given economic model and momentum now produces less signal to inform investment decisions, we’re weighting product-market dynamics and teams more heavily.”

Partech

Partech is a global venture capital firm with offices in San Francisco, Paris, Berlin and Dakar. It is an investment platform for tech and digital companies, bringing together capital and resources to support entrepreneurs at all stages. Partech invests in Internet and information technology startups at seed, venture and growth stages.

Founded: 1982

Investment stage: Seed to Growth stage

Typical investment size: From $200K to $50M

Investment sectors: Sector agnostic

How has your investment strategy changed: “We remain as active as before, still trying to back extraordinary teams despite challenging market conditions.”

Peak Capital

Peak Capital is a European venture capital firm which is 100% funded and run by entrepreneurs. It provides smart capital and proactive hands-on support to fast-growing highly-scalable marketplaces, SaaS or data startups.

Founded: 2007

Investment stage: Early stage (Seed/Series A)

Typical investment size: $300K-$3M

Investment sectors: Sector agnostic, model specific. We invest in marketplaces, platforms, and SaaS models.

Advice to founders:

“Without undercutting the severity and impact of this global pandemic, I would like to say: opportunity can be found in times of crisis.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “For most VCs, investing in teams without having met the founding team is unchartered territory. We’ve found that not meeting early on hasn’t been a massive problem, but in the later due diligence stages we’re missing that human connection. We’ve had to adapt the ways we build that relationship with the founders and build trust – for example we’ve increased our focus on referencing as one way of doing that.” – Jacqueline van den Ende, Partner, Peak Capital

Roel de Hoop

Roel de Hoop is an angel investor who specialises in creating, leading and coaching ICT startups and scale-ups. He was Partner at Prime Ventures from 2003 to 2019.

Investment stage: Early stage/Early growth

Typical investment size: €100K-€5M

Investment sectors: SaaS

Scottish Equity Partners

Scottish Equity Partners is a long-established, and consistently high performing, venture capital and growth equity firm with one of the most experienced teams in Europe. They have been building businesses for over 20 years, enabling founder led teams to achieve their ambitions. Technology focused, with particular expertise in SaaS, consumer internet, energy technology and tech enabled service businesses, they have been a supportive investor to more than 160 companies, including some of Europe’s most successful.

Investment stage: Growth equity

Typical investment size: $12M-$50M

Investment sectors: Enterprise software, consumer internet, tech enabled services

Advice to founders:

“Now more than ever it is important to partner with investors who really understand your business and take a long term view on scaling companies.  Someone you can work with at a personal level and who can help you address any challenges while supporting you to achieve your growth ambitions. Experience counts in a crisis.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “Despite the challenging economic backdrop, we continue to seek investment opportunities in software companies operating at scale (revenues >€10m) across the UK and in Europe who have ambitions to grow internationally.”

Senovo

Senovo is an early-stage venture capital firm based in Munich and Berlin that partners with exceptional founders building global B2B SaaS category-leaders from Europe. Their focus is primarily on supporting teams working in the areas of process optimization, industry 4.0 and data-enabled solutions.

Founded: 2011

Investment stage: Late Seed, Series A

Investment sectors: B2B SaaS

Typical investment size: $1M-$3M

Advice to founders:

“Focus on efficiency and increasing runway. Cash is king in a crisis.”

Storm Ventures

Storm Ventures is a Silicon Valley based VC firm focused on Building Enterprise Leaders – as the first or early investor. Their B2B enterprise software-focused fund has expertise in Sales & Marketing growth from product-market fit to category domination.

Founded: 2000

Investment stage: Series A

Typical investment size: $1M-$4M

Investment sectors: Vertical SaaS, Sales/Marketing automation, DevOps, Security, HR/future of work, digital health, govtech, robotics as a service.

Advice to founders:

“Some of the best businesses came during times like the one we’re going through.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “We like to see real PMF ($1M in ARR + acceleration)”

Stripes

Stripes is a leading growth equity firm that invests in branded consumer and software companies. For over a decade, Stripes has partnered with market-leading businesses, fueling the next generation of iconic companies with service and resources that make a critical difference.

Founded: 2008

Investment stage: Series B to Series D

Typical investment size: $10M-$60M

Investment sectors: Software and Consumer Products

Advice to founders:

“First of all, we understand this is a very stressful time. Most of us in the tech community are eager to support each other to make it through this stronger – so definitely don’t collapse inward if you are struggling. Second, though defense/survival is top of mind right now, it’s also important to think creatively about how you can play offense to keep some momentum or be in a stronger position when we emerge. At baseline, it’s a great time to double down on product development given investments in go-to-market may have a lower ROI for many companies in the near-term.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “We are still looking for opportunities in the EU and US where we are excited about the quality of product, long term market opportunity and potential for 2021 expansion. Because it’s so difficult for anyone to predict 2020 (and hence 2021) ARR at this point, we are seeing a lot of folks interested in smaller, possibly internally led rounds to bolster their cash position. Though we are still looking at traditional Series B-D rounds and $10-60M checks, we’re also potentially interested in participating in these smaller rounds (check could be $5M or even less), bringing the full force of our platform team to bear despite the smaller check sizes, and earning the right to participate in a more significant way as part of the next, larger round. We’re also open to secondary opportunities for founders or investors in bootstrapped or Series C and later companies that want near-term liquidity.”

Susquehanna Growth Equity

Susquehanna Growth Equity is a different kind of investor: a firm that itself is funded by entrepreneurs who understand the ups-and-downs of operating a business; a firm that has no fixed time horizons and is not subject to the vagaries of the private equity fundraising cycle; a firm that can be flexible in the types of deals it does, the securities it holds, and the risks it takes; and a firm which will help strategically without forcing its operational playbook on its operators.

Founded: 2006

Investment stage: Growth Equity – Companies that are a minimum of $5m ARR

Typical investment size: $10M-$100M

Investment sectors: Saas, Payments, Dataservices, Internet, Marketplaces

Talis Capital

Talis Capital is a unique Venture Capital investment firm funded by a group of ultra successful and strategic high net worth entrepreneurs. Focused on backing emerging software technologies, Talis concentrates on building long term partnerships and leverages their exclusive investor network to create opportunity. The team looks for innovative high growth companies with sector defining ventures and attractive business models.

Founded: 2009

Investment stage: Series A & B

Typical investment size: $5M

Advice to founders:

“We recommend founders to preserve cash as much as possible, and take the time to refocus on the business, allocating resources to those tasks that perhaps they were de-prioritising in the busy day-to-day (branding projects, improvements of conversion funnel, onboarding of supply, product development…) – now they have time to tackle these tasks to come back even stronger.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “Certainly there has been a significant shift to portfolio support, making sure they are well equipped for these challenging times. However, we certainly keep entertaining conversations with entrepreneurs as this is the time when solid start-ups will survive and re-emerge stronger than before.”

Triple Point Ventures

Triple Point Ventures has been investing in early stage businesses for over 15 years. Their focus is on investing in early stage, pre-series A B2B technology businesses, but they frequently co-invest in series A rounds, and have a seed and series A impact-focussed venture fund. Triple Point Ventures is part of the wider Triple Point Group which funds a wide range of businesses from the NHS and Local Authorities through to infrastructure developers and small and medium-sized businesses.

Founded: 2004

Investment stage: Post-revenue Seed (and some Series A)

Typical investment size: $1M

Advice to founders: 

“Stay strong and focus on your three Ts – tech, team and traction. People are still investing despite what you hear and we’ll get through the other side.”

How has your investment strategy changed: “Runway must be 18 months from funding now, regardless of circumstance. This is planned assuming no revenue (if current revenue is <£150k ARR) or flat revenue (if above).”


See the full list here:

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