The Future of Startups In Emerging Markets
Roland Manger, co-founder of Earlybird Venture Capital, is banking big on Turkey and Central Eastern Europe.
Earlier this year the company announced the first close toward a fund size of $130 million to focus on what it believes to be an under-served market.
"As a VC investor, you are always looking at how you can change things -- how companies can change the world," Manger told Benzinga. "But you're not only looking at the level of your portfolio companies. You also should do that at your own level. You always should be critical about the kinds of things you're doing and whether you should be doing something different. We've done that very regularly."
In doing so, Earlybird saw an opportunity to capitalize on a number of rising startup communities -- and not just in Germany or Western Europe.
"On one hand I think we're trying to do something new," said Manger. "On the other hand, obviously, we have to pick something that we know where we can add value. We may be able to find theoretical opportunities around the world. What we have though -- in front of us -- is an understanding of the Eastern European markets and Turkey. We have a team of people that have done technology investing successfully in these countries."
There were hundreds (and now over a thousand) investing opportunities for Earlybird to explore in those markets. Manger said that the best opportunities are in system software/technology-enabled business services, digital media, e-commerce and mobile.
"Quite frankly that's not much different from the mix we see in Western Europe," he said. "Those are mostly, maybe with the exception of e-commerce, businesses that are inherently global, where it really doesn't matter [where the] founder comes from. It matters that you have a really gifted, driven entrepreneur that's very smart [and is] capable of building a good team and gets the means to actually go for it."
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.
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