We were young, idealistic, and lucky to be beginning our careers just as the first web applications were being launched. Since then, we have collectively amassed over 40 years working in tech, split equally between operating and investing, the US and Europe -- and approaching half of that time working together.
Achieving impact -- by partnering with great founders to build breakthrough early stage startups -- is what we absolutely love. In this respect, we are blessed.
Through our experience in operations — Excite@Home, then together at Yahoo!, each of which achieved $30-50 billion outcomes — we understand the Valley approach to company-building first hand. This has informed our investments in global category leaders away from the West Coast such as Alibaba, Criteo, Etsy, Squarespace and TransferWise.
We are convinced that if a founder’s ambitions are truly category-leading or paradigm-defining, it’s helpful for their investors to bring a “Silicon Valley” mentality. As an investment philosophy, we see this as descending from pioneers like Arthur Rock and Tom Perkins in the 1970s, comprising guidance, support through risk and challenge, aiming for the outsized outcome, founded on a shared thesis. We are also lucky to have learned the craft of venture investing working alongside some of the industry’s great practitioners, as partners and co-investors.
The startup ecosystem in Europe is more exciting and vibrant than ever. Nonetheless, even with dozens of new seed firms, plus several new multi-stage VC firms entering the fray, our belief is that the best founders are under-served by seasoned venture capitalists focused on Series A.
We set out for Mosaic to bring a truly differentiated proposition to this stage in Europe, based on our unique perspective, culture and experiences. In the four years since we launched, we are proud to have created a firm with a strong operating philosophy and values.
All of us go through at least one or two inflection points in our lives, when we step back to consider which mountain we wish to climb. As we talked about our dreams for Mosaic, we realised:
A true business partnership is based on trust, intellectual honesty, and integrity
Values are central and drive our behaviour. We aim to “do the right thing” by each other, our investors, and the founders we serve
A long term view is essential
We are happiest in a small, equal partnership, making what can sometimes be complex decisions with limited information, through Socratic conversation
All partners should invest a significant element of their own capital in the firm, to be aligned with our investors
We play to win and enjoy the associated risk.
Why Europe, why now?
To realise this vision, we chose to create a new firm (along with our former partner Mike), rather than reshape the legacy of others. We relished the chance to start our own business, build a collaborative team, operating a high-performance culture.
We believe the market opportunity is compelling:
A Cambrian explosion of entrepreneurial activity is underway -- each year heralds a record number of tech startups being founded
We believe that technology is increasingly driving the structural transformation of society. In turn, this is powered by a growing supply of talented founders.
Much of this entrepreneurial talent is immigrant or first generation, as in Silicon Valley
The new model startup is much more capital efficient than in past cycles, making the Series A stage more attractive for investors
Thanks to the Internet and app stores, distribution is often one click away — it is no longer necessary for ambitious European entrepreneurs to relocate HQ to the US to win globally
By our count, there are over 50 European-founded tech startups that are valued at over $1 billion. Together with the scores worth in the hundreds of millions, a genuine ecosystem of serial entrepreneurs and alumni networks is emerging from these successful companies
We now see plentiful sources of seed and angel capital (in part recycled from the above exits); but relative to the US, there is a lack of experienced early stage venture investors focused on Series A
Beyond Series A, alongside the few successful indigenous European “growth” funds, leading US venture funds are increasingly active. Most of these US firms have several European winners in their portfolios
We are convinced that there is a great opportunity for an ambitious Series A firm, founded by experienced investors, to make a dent in Europe. We are fortunate and remain grateful to have assembled a strong group of investors, entrepreneurs and fellow VCs who are supporting us on this journey.
We are optimists who believe that technology and the startup ecosystem are generally progressive forces in society.
We started Mosaic Ventures to invest in inspiring, ambitious founders. We love renegades who take a fresh look at the world and want to shape it their way. The outliers.
Our business is grounded in a deeply-held set of values:
Entrepreneurs put everything into their startups. You are the foundation for what we do. We understand that venture capital would not exist without you. Period.
As your investor we have faith in you. We are open and straightforward. We offer intellectual honesty and unbiased counsel, at each step of your journey.
The path through the wilderness is by definition uncertain. We are in it for the long haul. This is a business that rewards patience on all levels. We love true believers — single-minded founders with grit.
Mosaic is a flat, equal partnership, small by design. Should you choose us, everyone at the firm becomes your partner. We will work our hearts out for you.
We often take a different view from the herd, so love engaging with crazy, contrarian ideas and investing in them early.
We appreciate the value of time and the pressure you’re under. We commit to simple, transparent business and quick turnarounds. We don’t sweat the small stuff and deliver on our promises.
What We Invest In
We Invest In Founders.
Great founders are rare. Pioneers, geniuses, rule-breakers. Forging their own path with a drive to “make a dent in the universe.”
Like many great founders, you have some of the following traits in your DNA:
Courage of conviction
A true believer by nature, you are brave enough to challenge convention — and you have been proven right in the past.
You are mission-driven, not a mercenary. This is a mountain that you chose to climb and you are determined to conquer. It’s worth some of your best years.
Carpe diem. You can go a long way with limited capital. You make your own luck. You find a way to the best advisors and business partners.
You are stubborn, but honest and transparent even when the going is uncertain. You like to listen to and learn from others and enjoy being challenged, but you make the decisions.
Here is what we look for in the companies we invest in:
Big, attractive markets
A great market can cover a lot of sins. And when the right team meets a great market, something special happens, especially when you are first and define the space.
We fall in love with original products and services that make or revolutionize their markets. Where customers are evangelists and can’t imagine a world without you.
You have handpicked a killer team. Your first hires are stars who will scale with your ambition and share your passion.
Your small size is a strength — you are fast and nimble. You measure everything and adapt quickly, and thrive on overcoming obstacles. When the model is working, you put your foot on the gas.
We know things rarely go to plan. That’s okay. Like you, we’re in the risk business. We prefer to swing for the fences and look towards the sky, and expect to make some mistakes.
We build conviction about macro investment themes and focus our activities around them (for more, see below).
We invest in fewer than 10 new companies per year, so are thrilled when great entrepreneurs choose Mosaic as their partner.
We look forward to getting to know you.
We are high conviction, thesis-driven investors, concentrating our time today in areas where we come with a prepared mind.
In terms of business model, we focus on platforms, marketplaces (or more generally: network effect-driven businesses), SaaS ... and occasionally open source.
As Mosaic, we have invested in over 20 startups across our five core themes, areas in which Europe has world-leading capabilities:
1. Mobility and Location Services
Communities and mobile connectivity are bringing transformative fluidity to the movement of people, goods and sensors, both in the urban context and beyond. Historic talent in mapping, computer vision, and of course the automotive industry are a demonstrably firm basis for company creation here.
2. Machine Intelligence
We believe the impact of machine learning will be pervasive across all industries and businesses. Proprietary access to broad, low cost, well-labeled, unique training data with long duration relevance is critical. Europe has an extraordinary depth of technical talent here — including DeepMind, arguably the foremost commercial AI lab in the world, walking distance from our London office.
3. Blockchain, Crypto and the Decentralized Web
Decentralized ledgers and programmatic trust mechanisms facilitate radically new structures of exchange. We were early: three of the first four investments in 2014 were blockchain startups. London and Berlin have emerged as leading nodes.
4. Finance 2.0
The combination of previously silo-ed financial data and novel interfaces can create newly empowering products, unbundling banks and insurance companies into best-of-breed services both for individuals and enterprises. London’s status as global financial centre and talent pool has naturally led to fintech becoming a core theme.
5. Computational Health
Continuous bio-tracking combined with newly codified biological knowledge (especially from -omics data) enable near real-time diagnosis, as well as adaptive and personalized therapeutics. Our venture partner Dr Jack Kreindler is a thought leader in this space.