October 17, 2023
TL;DR Lots of cool things happened in the short but very packed first years of Fund I’s life. And we are excited for what’s ahead!
We are happy, and as a bunch of happy children we want to tell everyone! It’s Calm/Storm’s second birthday and we’d like to share with you some insights from the first two years.
The initial period of operations in a fund’s life is critical. We are no different than any other startup. Everything is messy and chaotic. You need order, priorities, focus.
Ours has been to invest in purpose-driven founders changing our life, health and well-being for the better. But let’s recap what steps we’ve taken until today. The crossing line.
Lucanus and Hansi start talking about building a fund to the public. They want to invest as early as it makes sense. With a strong focus on digital health. A fund whose main objective is to leverage knowledge from experienced entrepreneurs to support the next generation of founders.
Then Michael and Veronika joined and it was time to stop talking and start building Austria’s first Founders’ Fund! Calm/Storm Ventures got registered on February 5th 2020, and soon after received its first significant commitments.
Early 2020, however, will stay in everyone’s minds as the year everything changed. A few weeks after Calm/Storm’s birth, the pandemic hit. And while loudly unfolding in our world, it slapped us right in the face. But with these challenges arise opportunities to move fast and completely rethink traditional systems. We wanted to re-invent venture anyways, and now we had to do it even more drastically. This was also the time when — all of a sudden — innovation in health was not only possible but even flourished at an unprecedented pace.
In the past 20 months or so, we’ve continued our journey of investing in ideas that will change the way we live towards a healthier present and future. And now that we closed the fundraising with more than $20m, we have proven that there are crazy entrepreneurs with very bold ideas! Not only those building new products to change our lives with technology, but also those investing and backing emerging managers with their first fund.
By the numbers:
At C/S, we’re all into super-early-stage investing for some reason. There’s definitely a lot to like about contributing today to the change we hope to see in the world. Of course, many things really bother us too. One being not enough diversity. So, in our small reality, we’ve been trying to bring some change.
First of all, with capital. Our startups have diverse teams. Nearly half of the portfolio has female/diverse co-founders and every third portfolio company has a female/diverse CEO. But we don’t stop here. One out of three managing directors in the fund is female. More than half of Calm/Storm’s team is female, and so are four out of five members of our board.
We are also shedding more light onto the issue by starting a podcast series for female founders. We invite female founders to pitch in a voice-only format. A C/S team member and another female investor give instant feedback — demystifying venture capital decision making processes. Found/Her sets the stage for aspiring startups you might not have heard of before. To create awareness, reach a broader audience and get feedback.
We believe in lifelong learning. So, it appeared natural to surround ourselves with additional entrepreneurial wisdom, knowledge and passion. Three ingredients that are brought to both the fund and the portfolio by our Supporting Partners (SPs). Who? More than 40 very knowledgeable entrepreneurs who share their learnings from decades of experience. Some are quite prominent, like the co-founders of HIMS or AVA, while some of them you might not have heard of yet, so go check them out here!
Together with our Supporting Partners, we’ve organized multiple Founder Academy sessions. These are intimate meetings around certain topics that are of utter importance to early stage founders. We’ve put an effort in making these sessions a place where lifelong growth can be fostered. Where we recommend to be honest, ready to share, listen and learn, ask the weirdest questions, and have fun! A few examples from the past include our Supporting Partner Travis Pittman (Co-Founder of TourRadar) sharing his experience with hiring and retaining talent. Or a panel discussion with Peter Windischhofer (Co-Founder of Refurbed) reflecting on some of his past choices based on his knowledge of today — post Series B.
The Academy is a safe house for our portfolio startups and the best place where our SPs start sharing. To know more about it, be sure to check our latest posts or read our book, Future Ahead!. These are collections of stories and messages — some with successes, but also many failures — that we hope can inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
In short, I guess we’ve been busy, but we’re also constantly improving and changing. Our focus is clear: invest in great founders, bring diversity to the industry and learn from others.
P.S. Happy 2nd Birthday Calm/Storm!
Former Investment Associate