New Wave is a seed fund for European founders. Our ambition is to become a reference point, alongside the best venture capital investors out there.
I remember an occasion in early summer 2016 when Pia, then an associate at Accel, wanted the firm to lead the Seed round of Payfit. At the time, the company was at 20k of monthly recurring revenue. Eventually, they ended up investing just nine months later, when the company had reached 100k of MRR, with Accel’s Philippe Botteri joining the board. But it already demonstrated her attraction for Seed rather than Series A deals.
A few years later, Pia decided to pursue something she felt was closer to her true self as an investor and joined Stride, a new seed fund launched by two prominent figures in the VC world, Fred Destin and Harry Stebbings. There, she chased and led several seed rounds. Among them were non-obvious, non-consensual deals, like Impala - A travel hospitality tech platform - which we co-led together. She also managed to spot companies like Sorare - A digital collectibles experience for sport fans - pretty early on!
I feel very lucky to work with Pia. She always had this sixth sense with founders and early opportunities. She has got this unique duality being a structured mind with real conviction. Instinct is her strength, diligence is her secret ingredient. Despite her impressions, she always manages to keep her head cool and pursue a process of market understanding and founders' analysis with a remarkable discipline.
New Wave is the result of an organic path.
When she decided to join Stride, we discussed the move extensively together. It felt and was the best move at the time, the natural step towards someday launching her own firm. To understand the elements that led to New Wave, a couple of thing should be put into perspective.
1) Seed is the new Series A and vice versa
Back in 2015, when I joined Xavier Niel, we were mainly investing through Kima Ventures (100 deals per year, 150k per deal, a small team of three people, now composed of Jeanne, the Jedi of asking the right questions and spotting deals before everyone else, and Alexis, the European non bullshit master of all things tech in venture… Among other things :)
We started to invest in larger deals with Xavier, an attempt to spot the most incredible companies and get more skin in the game. Over the past five years we invested in about three larger deals a year, including Zenly, Payfit, Alan... The average amount started at €2m to €3m, we were co-leading Series A deals. Over the past two years, in order to co-lead Series A deals, we noticed that the average ticket was more in the €4m-€6m range. Also, ambitious seed entrepreneurs raised higher amounts.
We realised that with the same amount of capital, we preferred to lead more deals, earlier. Instead of leading around three deals a year for a total close to €12m-€15m, why not lead seven or more deals a years for the same amount?
But this changes the dynamic as the approach to sourcing must be a lot more robust because the number of seed opportunities is incredibly high, especially if you target Europe. And therefore you can’t do this as a single investor if you want to be a generalist. A note about single-investor funds : It doesn’t scale. So either you’re a specialist à la Adjacent, à la Gelt, or a generalist follower with a network à la 20VC or à la Kima Ventures…
Therefore it was becoming clear that we had to partner to win.
2) The rise of angel investors and operators
The number of investing entrepreneurs and operators has increased tremendously over the past years, in the US as much as in Europe. If you want to build the most ambitious seed fund in Europe, it only works if you find a truly collaborative way to do it with them.
New Wave is founder-centric. It is not only about the entrepreneurs we fund, but also about the entrepreneurs we partner with as limited partners, co-investors or advisors.
When Pia and I discussed with Alex Yazdi, Antoine Martin and Xavier Niel about the kinds of people we wanted to partner with, we set a simple rule: are we comfortable adding them in the same group on Telegram or having them all together in a room?
We aim to foster a group of like-minded people who are incredibly ambitious yet humble, and it starts with a partnership that shares those values.
3) Alone we go fast, together we go far
Pia and I started to talk early summer 2020 about her new initiative and how we could support her.
It’s not new for us, we have supported quite a few other first time funds. Except that this time, on top of being close to Alex and Antoine, the first anchor investors of the fund, the purpose was closer if not identical to our own shift. And we had worked with Pia on many deals together as co-investors or board members.
We felt very complementary and therefore started to define whether New Wave was compatible with my role as managing director at Kima Ventures. As Xavier once told me: It’s ok to launch new initiatives as long as we don’t stop what we’re already doing and that it doesn’t impact them negatively. Even better if a new project can positively affect our other initiatives.
And so we teamed up, the five of us, to start New Wave.
Adding a new member to the team
We’re now in the process of hiring one or more new members to the team. We have started discussions with amazing candidates and we have highly appreciated their proactive approach. At the same time, we still want to run a thorough recruiting process, not too rigid, but very disciplined nonetheless.
We’re looking for people with three sets of attributes:
The ability to search, filter, run through a pretty high volume of data/information and see quickly and clearly through them to spot the best teams and companies; analytical mind with an ability to cut through the noise and synthesise.
The ability to form opinions, express and defend them with awareness, not stubbornness; To follow the signals but equally to remain immune to them.
The ability to create and maintain strong relationships with people. How do we spot you among ten other people? What makes people want to work with you?
We could list dozens of additional attributes… You’re curious, you’re a hard worker, you’re hungry, you play to win, you’re honest, you think long term, you’re humble…
Get in touch with us, join@ newwave.vc
PS: Venture Capital is about founders, market fit, timing. We will leave you with that thought.