OpenseedVC reaches first close of $10 million European-African fund

The fund's investment strategy is focused on sectors such as B2B software, AI, fintech, health, and work technologies,

OpenseedVC reaches first close of $10 million European-African fund
Founder & General Partner Maria Rotilu (left)

OpenseedVC, a newly launched, operator-led venture capital firm, has reached the first close of its $10 million early-stage fund, at 30% of its minimum size, in what marks a milestone for tech startups from Europe and Africa. 

The fund, under the auspices of General Partner Maria Rotilu, wants to become an initial investor for seasoned operators taking on new ventures, provide them with much-needed capital and expertise, and overall foster ground-up innovation. Based on this, she is Europe’s first Black solo GP and one of the first females in the fold.

Its strategy is pinned on sectors like AI, B2B software, fintech, healthtech, and workplace technologies, in alignment with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. It will write up to $150,000 in starter checks to each startup and provide them with access to more than 50 industry experts.

Openseed's checks, written alongside angels or family and friends, go for about a 5% stake. The fund plans to back around 60 ventures over a 5-year deployment period. However, it will not make follow-on investments.

Maria Rotilu, the visionary behind OpenseedVC, brings a wealth of experience to the table. She has a track record in scaling tech services like Cuber and Branch, investment experience with Octopus Ventures, one of Europe's largest VCs.

Maria has also served as Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Saïd Business School and Managing Director at the Oxford Seed Fund, one of the leading producers of European tech unicorns.

 “As an operator and investor, I have encountered incredibly talented and experienced operators, and the challenges faced as they try to launch their startups. Operators have the advantage of domain expertise and unique insight into large problems that can be tackled with innovative technology," she says.

"Those who are visionaries coupled with the ability to execute, scale, build teams and have the grit required to solve difficult problems – these skills, especially in the current market, are highly relevant to building technology start-ups that solve real problems, and create scalable value for the global economy and our investors,” Maria explains. 

OpenseedVC's launch and approach are perfectly timed given the currently daunting fundraising climate. The global contraction in early-stage equity funding, which has caused a 33% drop in Africa, is no longer news. The fund lifelines a growing industry in need of not just funding but also acumen. 

The fund also comes at a time when both founders and employees of thriving ventures have started going on to start other companies. Startup mafias are becoming active; alumni from Andela, Paystack, Flutterwave, and others are now calling the shots at newer startups. 

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