Five years after it launched, venture capital firm Wingman Ventures has today rebranded as Founderful and is announcing it has quickly raised $85m for its new fund, aiming to reach a final close at $120m in the months to come.
The firm was founded in 2019 by Swiss unicorn GetYourGuide co-founder Pascal Mathis, former Switzerland Lead at Creathor Ventures Alex Stckl, and EAT.ch co-founder Lukas Weder. The teams driving force has always been helping ambitious Swiss tech startups to become international market leaders. The firm was established with the singular goal of backing local, pre-seed startups in their first financing round with hands-on, founder-focused funding.
Bucking the venture trend of keeping dry powder on hand, Founderful has made nearly 50 investments in the last 4 years alone, having made eight Swiss investments in 2023.
From Fund I, Founderful has deployed $60m into 40 startups. This represents 109 founders who scaled to create 1,093 jobs and went on to raise almost 6x additional funding of over $350m in just 3 years, some of which from leading international venture firms. Notably, Wingtra (survey drones) has scaled to 200 employees and an annual revenue of over $20m. DePoly has been recognized globally for its revolutionary plastics recycling technology and raised a $15m seed round, while Corintis (sustainable computing) is working with tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia.
Founderful has already started deploying the capital raised in Fund II, backing the founders of Chiral Nano (alternative silicon chips), Nala Earth (ESG reporting), Ascento (security robotics), SAEKI (manufacturing robotics), Anthropos (workplace skills), Isospec Analytics (biomolecular analysis), Eightinks (lithium-ion batteries) and Faive Robotics (humanoid robotics).
Alex Stckl, Founding Partner at Founderful, commented: Were beyond grateful that we get to continue our work with the most ambitious founder teams of this exciting ecosystem. Switzerland is one of the worlds fastest-growing venture capital markets. With the global shift towards more complex technologies solving some of our societys most pressing challenges, it will become one of the worlds most important tech hubs. With our founder-operator backgrounds and the deeply rooted access weve built over the years into the universities and research institutions with our Founderful Campus program, weve become the go-to firm for entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Founderful II is backed by a range of institutions, family offices, and founders who have successfully scaled their startups into global unicorns such as Duolingo, Climeworks, GetYourGuide, Delivery Hero, and Scandit.
Severin Hacker, CTO and co-founder at Duolingo, commented: "Building Duolingo, I've seen my own fair share of VC firms, and it is rare to collaborate with an investor who is as meticulous and relentless toward creating value to the founders they backed, as the team at Founderful.
Jonas Theiler, Head of Asset Management at Artemis Group, added: Weve been working with Founderful since day one, and the companies they back have impressive substance and relevance from a technological and business perspective they are spot-on doubling down on the Swiss venture ecosystem.
Founderful is laser-focused on the Swiss tech market and, with it, concentrated on supporting founders in the B2B software and industrial technology space This includes robotics and industrial automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, computer vision technologies, and material sciences innovations in cleantech, climate tech, and construction tech. Founderful works quickly and closely with academia and industry to boost the new generation of technology leaders.
Lukas Weder, Founding Partner at Founderful, commented: Our fresh identity as Founderful reflects our purpose as a venture capital business to have the deepest understanding of founders and give them the highest level of support. We were once founders ourselves and know what it takes to succeed. We are redefining founder-friendliness beyond just the term sheet through sharing advice, granting insights, and investing courageously. We bring lightheartedness and empathy to serious topics and remain calm in the face of adversity. We try to be the honest companion we would have wanted by our side when we built our own companies.
The Founderful thesis on investing in Swiss-based startups has been proven by three megatrends:
For the 13th consecutive year, Switzerland has ranked first in the Global Innovation Index – topping the lists for technology, knowledge, and creative output. It also has the world's highest patent per capita ratio, and ETH Zurich produces more university spin-outs than any other university worldwide.
Big tech is fascinated by Switzerland, which is why Google has 5,000 developers there (its largest tech office outside the US). Disney, Nvidia, Meta, Huawei, and Intel have consistently grown their local R&D teams over the past years.
Switzerland is a Unicorn state there are more billion-dollar tech startups per capita in Switzerland than anywhere else in Europe. Recent unicorn graduates like Scandit (logistics software), Climeworks (carbon capturing), and SonarSource (code security), and bootstrapped under-the-radar success stories like Proton (internet privacy) underline Switzerlands rising global relevance for B2B technologies.
Yoram Wijngaarde, CEO and founder of Dealroom, added: When looking at our data, Switzerland has been on the rise as one of Europes fastest growing VC ecosystems over the past five years, and in 2023 becoming the fifth largest venture market on the continent only behind powerhouses UK, Germany, France and Sweden. When you look at nine tech unicorns on 9 million inhabitants, it becomes apparent that this is a market you cannot miss in your coverage as a European fund or limited partner.
Founderful is Switzerlands leading pre-seed fund. We give every founder our deepest understanding and highest levels of support, and together, were building the future of the Swiss startup ecosystem. For more information, please visit our website or LinkedIn.
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