APEX Ventures launches €50 million fund for early-stage digital health startups

Today APEX Ventures has announced launching its second fund, focusing on digital health startups. The fund will back seed stage deep-tech companies with defendable IP. APEX Ventures invests in exceptional talented teams who are committed to improving patient outcomes and lives, and firmly believes that diversity and inclusion are key to building a strong community of entrepreneurs. 

The announcement follows a successful few weeks for APEX Ventures, which saw an exit for portfolio company ‘contextflow’ and the completion of four new investments in the areas of digital pathology, radiology and neurology. 

The fund will be headed by partner Gordon Euller, a qualified doctor and radiologist who has previously worked at AKH, Vienna’s General Hospital, as well as at McKinsey in London. “COVID-19 demonstrates to us worldwide how vulnerable our medical systems and processes are, particularly regarding capacity. These issues can only be solved by new innovative technologies as well as generous and wise investments in this asset category,” said Euller.

Founded in 2017, to date most of APEX Ventures’ investments have been made in the DACH region, through its Austrian base. With APEX Digital Health, the focus area will expand from DACH-based companies, to those based in the rest of Europe, Israel and the US. 

Venture partner Kelly Klein has recently joined the Fund to head up the firm’s activities in Israel. “Digital health is really prospering in Israel,” says Klein, “and one way this is done is by leveraging its medical data; Israel has 25 years of data and 90% of this is digitalised. One of the most important things once an Israeli startup gets funding is to internationalise it, and APEX can help to expand in the US, Europe and Asia.” 

In addition, APEX Ventures will shortly issue a call (along with the Herman Hauser Investment Group) for the best European startups in the strategic areas of In-silico trials and AI supported healthcare data marketplaces.


3 Types of Design Your Early-Stage Company Should Focus on

We’ve learned a lot at Aesthetic about how early stage companies can best leverage design to become more valuable, and we’re excited to share our learnings from working with more than 100 companies over the last 18 months. We hope this will be helpful to the entire startup community, especially founders that are just getting started on their journey who are new to design.

Design: One size does not fit all

Design is a highly diverse discipline, with dozens of different fields and specialties. Similar to software product development, the scope and scale of design teams is highly variant and meant to reflect the needs of the organization.

For early stage startups, design needs tend to follow a similar pattern, then vary based on the specific business model.

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The three most important types of design for early-stage companies

At the highest level, founders of early stage companies should focus on:

  1. Product design
  2. Web design
  3. Brand design

Here’s a breakdown of what each of these types of design means:

Product design is the user experience of your service or product. This doesn’t just include software that you build yourself, but also includes every other touchpoint you have with your customers or prospects. Product design isn’t just about creating user interfaces, but also developing wireframes, user research and user experience testing.

Web design is a company’s front door to the world. In 2020, your website is the most basic currency of reputation for every company and needs to make clear what you do and what people should care about. For most companies, a website is the first step to start getting customers.

Brand design is the “why” behind your company’s “what.” It’s how you explain who you are to people, by codifying the way you represent yourself across every surface.

As Paul Rand says, brand design is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

This isn’t just your logo, fonts, colors, aesthetic and tone, but also the slide decks, emails, ads and one pagers that you put out into the world.

Related: 5 Essentials of User Testing to Ensure a Successful Product

What kind of design should my early-stage company focus on?

How much effort should companies apply to each of these three types of design? It of course depends, but there are some easy rules-of-thumb you can follow:

Pre-product-market fit companies should focus almost entirely on product design, with less effort on web design and brand design. This means spending as much time as you possibly can working on your product, and then bookmarking a few hours each week to make copy edits to your website. Don’t focus too much on the visuals at this stage, but rather your messaging and information architecture.

Early-market-traction companies should maintain focus on product design while beginning to ramp up web and brand design. These companies should develop more website content and begin developing their first marketing channel(s) and content roadmap(s) to activate their audience.

Strong-product-market-fit companies should focus across the board. Spend time clarifying your brand identity and take the time to review your entire user experience. Then, up the ante on production across all channels by turning brand design into a service center that can be consumed by your cross-functional teams (i.e., marketing and sales).

I don’t have a designer on my team. What should I do?

The answer depends on the current phase your company is in: 

Pre-product-market fit companies should focus on talking to customers. You should be spending most of your time talking to users to understand their problems. You can read “Don’t Make Me Think,” “Design of Everyday Things,” and “Just Enough Research,” or watch Gary Tan’s YouTube lectures as good primers on the subject if you’re interested.

Early-market-traction companies should consider hiring contractors to help with web and brand design. At this stage, it’d be hard to justify staffing for product design unless the founding team still maintained all user research, and just needed support with UI/UX. It might also make sense to staff web design if you have proof it’s a really useful channel.

Strong-product-market-fit companies should start hiring staff designers. Think of the trade-offs for hiring full-time versus working with outside support. Think of how you’d invest into these three areas of design, and what the top goals would be from anyone you worked with to get help. Then, start staffing by hiring full-time design, freelancers, and/or working with an agency.

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How do I get started?

If you’re new to design, here are a few concrete actions and tools we recommend:

  • User research: The Aesthetic team recommends scheduling two to three user research interviews each week, ideally at the end of the week so you can also do usability testing on new features from the week.
  • Take notes and record sessions: Make sure to take notes and record any user research interview sessions. Do an affinity mapping exercise to formalize your learnings. We recommend Fullstory for recording app and website user sessions.
  • Design your website: We love Webflow for this phase.
  • Iterate on your brand design: Aesthetic uses Figma for all of our marketing template designs, and the Adobe suite for developing our (vector based) brand identities. Depending on the specific tech stack, there’s a wide variety of solutions for helping deploy design systems to enable reusability and consistency across your product teams. Figma’s collaboration and animation support is second to none.

At this point, you should have a better understanding of the three major types of design your early-stage startup should focus on.

The post 3 Types of Design Your Early-Stage Company Should Focus on appeared first on StartupNation.


Neo’s Ali Partovi on best practices for hiring early-stage startup engineers

On day one of TechCrunch’s Early Stage virtual conference, Ali Partovi joined us to discuss best practices for startups looking to hire engineers.

It’s a subject that’s near and dear to his heart: Partovi is co-founder and CEO of Neo, a venture aimed at including young engineers in a community alongside seasoned industry vets. The fund includes top executives from a slew of different industry titans, including Amazon, Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Stripe.

Partovi is probably best known in the Valley for co-founding Code.org with twin brother, Hadi. The nonprofit launched in 2013 with a high-profile video featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Jack Dorsey, along with a mission to make coding education more accessible to the masses.

It was a two-summer internship at Microsoft while studying at Harvard that gave Partovi an entrée into the world of tech. And while it was clearly a formative experience for the college student, he advises against prospective startup founders looking to large corporations as career launch pads.

“I spend a lot of time mentoring college students, that’s a big part of what I do at Neo,” Partovi said.

“And for anyone who wants to be a founder of a company, there’s a spectrum, from giant companies like Microsoft or Google to early-stage startups. And I would say, find the smallest point on that spectrum that you’re comfortable with, and start your career there. Maybe that’s a 100-person company or maybe for you, it’s a 500-person company. But if you start at Microsoft, it’ll be a long time before you feel comfortable doing your own startup. The skills you gain at a giant company are very valuable for getting promoted and succeeding in giant companies. They’re not often as translatable to being your own founder.”

Startups – TechCrunch

From early-stage startups to billion euros exits: Amsterdam is now 3rd fastest-growing European city in global tech ecosystem

The startup ecosystem is highly dynamic with frequent changes. Since multiple cities serve as startup hotspots around the globe, it can be difficult to understand what separates one from another. Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem 2020 report was released recently to better understand the ever-changing landscape of the startup ecosystem. 

The report features a treasure trove of information on the changing landscape of startups due to COVID-19 and other factors. In addition, it also ranks the best startup ecosystems around the globe. In the list, Amsterdam has bagged the third rank in terms of European startup ecosystem in the list with an overall rank of 12.  

Amsterdam’s startup ecosystem on a growing trajectory

Back in 2015, Amsterdam ranked 19th in the best startup ecosystem ranking. Since then, it climbed up to the 15th spot in 2019 and now it stands at 12th position globally and 3rd best startup ecosystem in Europe, after London and Stockholm. There are multiple key factors basis which the Startup Genome’s report ranks a startup ecosystem. 

One of the key factors contributing to the tremendous improvement is Amsterdam’s ranking is Connectedness. Amsterdam gains from Netherlands’ logistical and social connectedness to the world, which was ranked number 1 in DHL’s Global Connectedness Index. Other factors such as good funding rounds, high knowledge and great talent also contribute to the betterment of Amsterdam’s bustling startup ecosystem. 

“In the current crisis, the world is increasingly dependent on digital and technological solutions from startups and scaleups. In the Netherlands, we understand it is more important than ever to empower our leaders in tech to futureproof the world.” says Nils Beers, CEO at Teachleap.nl. 

Lucrative opportunities in Amsterdam

Be it an investor looking to invest in startups or an entrepreneur who needs to establish base, Amsterdam has something for everyone. There are multiple reasons why one should set-up a base for their startup in Amsterdam. The Startup Genome report reveals that the median seed round for startups in the Amsterdam-Delta is $ 500,000 (€441,000 approx), which is above the global average of $ 494,000 or €435,000. Median series A round for startups stands at $ 2.4 million or €2.16 million and the average salary for a software engineer is around €54,000. 

As per the Startup Genome report, the total early stage funding in Amsterdam is $ 960 million (€846.3 million approx) and the overall ecosystem value is $ 22 billion (€19.39 billion approx). The city ranks in the top 20 Global Ecosystem for Funding and Talent. On a scale of 10, Amsterdam has a Funding Growth Index of 4, Exit Growth Index of 9 and Investor Activity Index of 10. 

While the numbers do say it all, Amsterdam welcomes international talent. Highly skilled immigrants can qualify for 30% tax reimbursement and international graduates get one year to find a job or start a business post graduation. Entrepreneur visas available as well and startups benefit from access to corporations across every sector. Headquarters of about 200 MNCs are based in Amsterdam. 

In light of the recent COVID-19 scenario, the Dutch government also announced some support packages such as tax deferrals, temporary employment bridging schemes, and more. 

Amsterdam based companies that made it big

Amsterdam is home to thousands of startups and it’s no surprise that many of them rise to new heights. The online payment processing firm Adyen is one such example. Launched in 2006, the startup went through multiple funding rounds to raise a notable amount. In June 2018, it was listed as one of Europe’s largest tech IPOs with a value of €7 billion. On the first day of trading, the company’s shares shot up 90 percent and the market value of the firm was well over €26.45 billion in June 2020.

Booking.com is another great example of how promising startups can set new benchmarks. The company was launched back in 1996 and was later acquired by Priceline Group (now called Booking Holdings) in 2005. The company set an example for the digital travel market since it recovered from financial position from a loss of €16.7 million in 2002 to €960 million in profit in 2011. 

This article is produced in collaboration with StartupAmsterdam. Read more about our partnering opportunities.

The post From early-stage startups to billion euros exits: Amsterdam is now 3rd fastest-growing European city in global tech ecosystem appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

K Fund’s Jaime Novoa discusses early-stage firm’s focus on Spanish startups

Earlier this month, Spanish early-stage venture capital firm K Fund officially launched its second fund, which sits at €70 million, up from €50 million the first time around.

Targeting Spanish startups with an international outlook, the seed-stage firm plans to invest from €200,000 to €2 million, writing first checks in 25-30 companies. Meanwhile, a portion of the fund will also be set aside for follow-on funding for the most promising of its portfolio.

Described as business model- and sector-agnostic, K Fund currently has a mix of B2B and B2C companies in its portfolio across a wide variety of sectors, such as travel, fintech, insurtech and others. They include online travel agency Exoticca, HR software Factorial, insurtech startup Bdeo and Hubtype, a conversational messaging tech provider.

I caught up with K Fund’s Jaime Novoa to delve deeper into the firm’s investment remit, how the Spanish startup and tech ecosystem has developed over the last few years and to learn more about “K Founders,” the VC’s new pre-seed funding program.

TechCrunch: K Fund’s first fund was announced in late 2016 to back startups in Spain with an international outlook at seed and Series A. At €70 million, this second fund is €20 million larger but I gather the remit remains broadly the same. Can you be more specific with regards to cheque size, geography, sector and the types of startups you look for?

Jaime Novoa: We’re both agnostic in terms of business models and industries. Since our focus is, for the most part, Spain, we do not believe that the Spanish market is big enough to build a vertically focused fund, either in terms of business model or sector.

With our first fund we invested in 28 companies, with a slightly larger number of B2B SaaS companies than B2C ones, and across a wide variety of sectors. We do have a bit of exposure to travel and fintech/insurtech, but that’s because we’ve found several interesting companies in those spaces, not because we proactively said, “let’s invest in fintech/travel.”

In terms of check sizes, the core of the fund will be to make the same type of investments as in our first fund: first cheques from €200k to €2m and then sufficient capital for follow-on rounds. We’ll probably do a similar number of deals compared to the previous fund, but we want to have additional capital for follow-on purposes.

Startups – TechCrunch

Nauta Capital launches fifth fund with €120M to back early-stage European B2B startups

Nauta Capital, the pan-European venture capital firm that invests in B2B technology startups at seed and Series A, is launching its fifth fund.

The new vehicle has an initial close of €120 million and is expected to surpass the VC’s 2016 fund, which topped out at €155 million.

With offices in London, Barcelona and Munich, Nauta Capital has over half a billion under management and is supported by a team of 24 people, making it one of Europe’s largest B2B-focused VCs. The firm invests in companies mainly based in the U.K., Spain and Germany, as well as those based in other continental European countries with plans to significantly increase their presence in one of its key geographical hubs.

Describing itself as “sector-agnostic,” Nauta Capital’s main areas of interest include B2B SaaS solutions with “strong network effects,” vertically focused enterprise tech that is attempting to transform large industries, and deep tech applications that solve an array of challenges faced by large enterprises. More broadly, it says it targets “capital-efficient” B2B software companies.

In total, Nauta has led investments in more than 50 companies. They include Brandwatch, a U.K. digital consumer intelligence company with $ 100 million ARR; Onna, a knowledge integration platform that unifies workplace knowledge platforms for the likes of Facebook and Dropbox; PromoteIQ, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2019; zenloop, a Berlin-based experience management platform; and MishiPay, a mobile self-checkout technology.

LPs in this fifth fund’s first close include both existing and new investors from continental Europe and America. They span fund of funds, financial institutions, insurance companies and large family offices that lead large corporates with “strong synergies” with Nauta’s portfolio.

“We have doubled the first close compared to our 2016 fund in record time against a backdrop of a global pandemic,” says Carles Ferrer, Nauta’s London-based general partner, in a statement. “With more than 80% of the contributions received from existing LPs, we are humbled to see that our thesis has resonated with so many of our current LPs who have joined us again.”

That thesis has seen Nauta have the discipline to back companies that take a leaner approach, including during fundraising or leveraging cash efficiently to achieve growth, according to Ferrer. “At a time when we are navigating a global pandemic, where the global economy has taken a severe hit, it’s more apparent than ever that our conviction in capital-efficiency maximises sustainability and leads to greater long-term outcomes for entrepreneurs, regardless of their stage,” he says.

Meanwhile, Nauta is disclosing that the first company to be backed from its new fund is NumberEight, which has raised a $ 2.3 million seed round led by the VC. Based in the U.K., NumberEight offers a “contextual intelligence” platform for mobile devices that predicts consumer context to “enable the delivery of the right content at the right time,” while claiming to preserve user privacy by not sending or storing sensor data beyond the user’s device.

“The startup leverages advanced context recognition and on-device AI techniques to predict more than 100 contextual signals, such as “travelling to work on a bicycle,” thus providing mobile apps with real-time behavioural and situational consumer insights,” explains Nauta.

Startups – TechCrunch

Suggestion for early-stage SaaS product marketing efforts

Hey Community Members

I have early-stage product and fairly confident on its readiness with few early adopters. Have few iteration as well, based on experts & early users feedback.

Now I want to start with marketing efforts and looking for suggestions on the same.

It’s SaaS and OKRs ( Objective Key Result ) tool for teams, to give you bit of context.

Thanks Yash

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How to handle testing early-stage ideas in a partnership

I have a product that I am working on and want to get it out there to see if the idea resonates before investing too much time and energy. I am thinking about bringing on a partner. I worked through some founder calculators and they come in at about a 60-40 split.

Is there a pathway to start working together without a founders agreement and setting up an LLC?

My thinking is setting a goal of 500 customers after a year and either party can walk away during this time and keep their IP. If the target is met, then sign a founders agreement and start the company.

The problem I see here is the joint IP developed on top of the foundation I have already established.

Is there a path forward for this kind of arrangement, or do you need to sign a founders agreement and set up a company to test early-stage ideas?

Any help is much appreciated.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Can you share your best reading for early-stage startups?

Last week, our little pet project was treated to an informal call w/ an early employee from a business you'd recognize – and while we learned a few things about their experiences and thought of a few new angles to approach our business, by the far the *best* thing to come out of it was seeing the team energized by having someone with legit credibility in the startup world.

I'd like to capitalize and encourage that energy, and I'm wondering if you guys have any great reading you would share that really struck a chord with you in the early 'GSD' days!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!