2022 definitely will be remembered, and won’t be one of those when nothing major happened throughout the course of it. Just as the world started recovering from the effects of the pandemic, our lives were shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This brought a lot of uncertainty to people’s lives as inflation rates spiked, the cost of living went up, and the investment scene changed dramatically. Conservetiveness started to spread among investors, especially compared to the boom of deals we witnessed since H1 of 2020. Although very turbulent, for us 2022 was another successful year in supporting inspiring and determined entrepreneurs on turning their business ideas into successful companies. Through the course of it, we supported the growth of over 60 startups with mentorship, advice, and more than €5M of funding AND NEGOTIATED 3 EXITS!
Keeping up the momentum
For Innovation Capital that wasn’t the case. During 2022, we’ve been steadily working toward our goal of investing in 200+ startups through our mandate. After a solid start to the year, the war in Ukraine brought some uncertainty to startups and investors. Following these initial few weeks, we managed to keep our momentum and continued our efforts to support the development of early-stage companies and help founders on their entrepreneurial path.
Our goal is to help startups in all industries and business verticals. We base our investment decision on the founders' track record and the prospects of transforming their ideas into successful businesses. In 2022, our portfolio was joined by enterprises developing different products and solutions in 10+ different
Source: https://storage.googleapis.com/public_sd2/InovCapCharts.html (interactive charts provided by Storied Data)
Verticals on focus
Although sector-agnostic, we focus our efforts on scouting the right startups in a few industries we prioritize - FMCG/Future of Food, e-commerce, Transportation, Enterprise Software, Healthcare, and Financial services. Our focus is set on these verticals for two reasons. We see a lot of potential and great growth opportunities for startups developing solutions in these fields. And we also want to be helpful to startups not only with funds but also mentorship, advice, and everything they need to reach their potential. That’s the reason we focus on these industries, as our background, expertise, and network of mentors allow us to help startups streamline their growth. The top three industries for us this year are FMCG, Enterprise Software, and e-commerce. Almost 63% of all investments we made throughout the year were in these verticals.
E-commerce businesses and solutions were the stars of this year’s edition of our annual industry-focused accelerator program. With more than 30 applicants and 8 pitching their ideas in front of a jury of investors, 4 of them were granted investment term sheets from Innovation Capital.
Building an entrepreneurial mindset
With over €5M invested in more than 60 companies, we’re not only distributing money, but we’re helping entrepreneurs dive deep into their entrepreneurial adventure. More than 100 people with different backgrounds and experiences got a trusted partner who will help them in starting and growing their companies.
Together with all the listed services we provide to founders, they get an advisor, mentor, or just somebody to talk to or discuss their ideas, and how they can tackle different challenges they face. This is an aspect of being an entrepreneur that most people value.
Partnerships to provide more growth opportunities for startups
To provide more funding and development opportunities for startups, we’ve partnered with some of Bulgaria’s most successful IT companies - Sirma Group and Bosch.IO. Sirma Venture Lab aims to help startups with validating their business ideas and reach synergy between their products and markets. With dedicated tech teams from Sirma, founders get access to some of Bulgaria’s top IT talent. Innovation Capital’s team will help startups with developing sales and business growth strategies.
Joining forces with other investors and accelerator is also very important to us. Together with other 4 major European startup supporters, we’re joining the BEYOND Consortium. This will get access to additional funding and international mentors for Bulgarian early-stage companies. Startups from the country can also join BEYOND’s accelerator program to help inspiring entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Prospect for 2023
2023 is to continue supporting startups on their way to establishing a presence in the market. It may sound bold but our goal is to be even more active. With Innovation Capital, we aim to create an impact in our country through the number of companies we support and the number of jobs they create. Another important aspect is building a sustainable future for all the different ESG policies we implement. We try to provide a higher chance for success to our portfolio companies through mentorship programs, building a network of experts, and advice on business development.
With а global recession on the horizon and an expected economic downturn, 2023 won’t be an easy period for startups. However, we believe that businesses and founders who aim to develop efficiently and sustainably will become the hottest startups investors look at. Our approach to selecting companies has always been based on the “measurable value” formula.