Nauta Capital is today launching its fifth fund with an initial closing of €120m. The Barcelona-founded, London-headquartered venture capital firm invests in seed and Series A stage business-to-business (B2B) companies, primarily in the UK, Spain and Germany.
Nauta Capital general partner Carles Ferrer told Sifted that, amid the coronavirus uncertainty, he’s optimistic about the future of B2B startups in the current climate.
“If there is a winner out of this horrible pandemic, it's technology,” he says. “This is very different from what happened in 2008, when companies were slashing budgets right and left, with very little distinction. Today it's not like that. Today you have technology budgets that are being kept, and some are being accelerated, so that's what is so positive for technology.”
And it’s not only tech budgets that remain healthy — Ferrer says that, during the process of raising Nauta’s fifth fund, he noticed a positive mood among institutional investors for venture capital.
Vintage years for venture
“If you go back to the different points of inflection that we've seen in the past, whenever there's a situation like the one we're facing, usually the next couple of years are great, vintage years for investing in venture. Institutional investors know that,” he explains. “They realise where it's a time where we're going to find better entrepreneurs who will build companies more efficiently.”
And efficiency is the name of the game, as far as Nauta Capital is concerned. The firm’s investment thesis revolves around two key concepts: finding solutions that address big inefficiencies in large markets; and backing companies that take a leaner approach to use of capital.
Controlled deployment of capital is key in the B2B market, says Ferrer, where injecting large sums of money is less likely to yield results than in business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplaces: “It's not like you will get better metrics quicker if you over invest. In a certain way, with B2C you can influence the market differently, it's not the case with B2B.”
And it seems as though the thesis is working, given that more than 80 percent of the fund was raised from existing investors.
Nauta Capital isn’t the only European fund looking to capitalise on B2B opportunities — they share the space with other London-based funds such as Dawn Capital, Crane Venture Partners and Notion Capital, as well as the Berlin-headquartered Point Nine Capital.
Nauta Capital’s first investment from the new fund is a seed round of $2.3m for UK-based contextual intelligence startup NumberEight. The startup’s technology allows apps like music streaming services to respond to the user’s environment, such as being in the gym or on a bus.
Nauta Capital's portfolio also includes some of Spain’s most promising B2B startups, including business management software platform Holded and knowledge integration solution Onna, which recently scored €24m in Series B funding.
They’re also happy to dip their toe in the more consumer-facing water from time to time, having backed the sexual wellbeing app and audio guide startup Emjoy.
One area where Nauta Capital is hoping to improve, as a firm headed up by five white male partners, is diversity.
"Nauta has evolved a lot over the years and so has our team's origin and characteristics. We have developed an internal code of conduct that is part of our hiring processes and also our investment activity," says Ferrer.
"In terms of diversity of deal-flow, we are also actively engaging with events and gatherings attended by a diverse founder community to ensure that we are seeing all companies. We have also made it easier for people to submit their decks via our website to improve accessibility and rely less on warm intros," he adds.
And as the team begins considering new investments, Ferrer says they’re more focused than ever on finding founders with big ideas, which can now help lead businesses out of the Covid-19 crisis stronger than before.