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Speedinvest and SoftBank Announce Emerge Cohort


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October 19, 2021

• The nine companies were selected among more than 600 applicants from 30 different countries

• Emerge aims to promote diversity in tech by funding underrepresented founders and connecting them with tools and networks needed to scale their businesses

• Start-ups will participate in an eight-week customized curriculum and receive mentorship ahead of a showcase event with leading European VCs

What makes the Emerge program unique? 

“There are two things I specifically love about Emerge,” said Oliver Holle, Speedinvest Co-Founder and Managing Partner. “First, the incredible breadth and depth of quality startups we are seeing. It is simply good business to invest in these founders. And second, Softbank, Speedinvest and all of our valued partners aren’t just talking, but we are investing serious money. Funding is what these amazing teams need first and foremost, and this is where Emerge delivers beyond many, many other well-intentioned initiatives.”

Alongside the capital investment...

Cohort founders will participate in a customized program with dedicated mentoring and training from a group of Europe’s leading VCs including SoftBank Investment Advisers (SBIA), Speedinvest, Breega, Cherry Ventures, firstminute capital and Kindred. Founders will also receive access to SBIA and partner funds’ experienced operating professionals, and will interact with other entrepreneurs from across SoftBank’s global ecosystem of more than 300 technology-led companies.

The eight-week curriculum will cover a range of growth themes, from hiring and culture to fundraising and engaging with investors. The modules will integrate workshops and roundtables on topics pre-requested by applicants, touching on customers and product, go-to-market and growth strategies, storytelling and fundraising. 

The program will culminate in a showcase event in December, when companies will pitch to a group of top European investors to secure further funding - in addition to the capital raised through Emerge.

SoftBank Vision Fund Emerge 2021 European cohort:

  • Blloc - a homescreen app reinventing the relationship with our phones by helping users reduce screen time and supercharge their productivity.
  • Credrails - building the open finance rails for Africa's digital economy.
  • FiatRepublic - a platform bridging banking and crypto.
  • Juli - a platform that empowers patients and their care teams to manage complex chronic conditions with an AI-powered app.
  • Kwara - on a mission to bring financial services to 1 billion people, by transforming credit unions in emerging markets into neobanks.
  • Pear Bio - recreates, visualizes and analyzes how cancer progresses to find effective therapies for each patient.
  • Robin AI - making contracts simple by automating contract management using a combination of software, machine learning and expert human reviewers.
  • Vitaance - the life insurance that helps people improve their quality of life through financial, emotional and physical wellbeing.
  • The Stack World - a platform and marketplace for women creators to monetize their knowledge work and find their 1,000 True Fans.

“We were thrilled by the volume and quality of the applications received from a wide variety of inspiring founders,” said Catherine Lenson, Managing Partner and Head of Social Impact at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “This reinforces our view that there’s a wealth of underrepresented talent fighting for opportunities. I’m looking forward to working with every founder and can’t wait to get started.” 

“We have a great opportunity in Spain. Vitaance offers a life insurance product that not only helps users when they have a problem, but also helps them avoid it. This is completely revolutionary in the Spanish market, and we have a great work of evangelization ahead of us,” said Ana Zamora, CEO and co-founder of Vitaance. “Emerge offers us the possibility to be in contact with some of the best minds around the world to help tap that opportunity. We want to make the most of the program, to exchange experiences and learn, growing as founders and as a business.”

"At Kwara, we're using technology to transform credit unions into globally competitive neobanks, targeting the hundreds of millions of people who transact daily with those institutions in emerging markets. SoftBank and its network are leaders in backing companies with a global vision and ambition to grow," said Cynthia Wandia, CEO and co-founder of Kwara. "Triple-digit million financing rounds for and exits of underrepresented founders are so few that something must be wrong. We're excited to work with investors who have experience of backing high-growth companies and are also helping address that challenge."

From top (left to right) Sharmadean Reid (UK), Ana Zamora (Spain), Duleek Ranatunga (UK), Adam Bialy (UK), Cynthia Wandia (Germany), Clara Wanjiku Odero (UK), Adham Badr (Germany), Bettina Hein (Switzerland), Richard Robinson (UK)

Emerge champions diversity in tech

The one-of-a-kind program connects underrepresented founders with capital, tools and networks to help them scale. The program sought European seed-stage start-ups with a working product that uses technology to disrupt a large or growing market. Applicants needed to demonstrate early customer validation and display relevant growth with a scalable business model. In addition, at least one founder had to identify as non-white, female, LGBTQ+, disabled and/or be a refugee. 

The majority of applications came from the United Kingdom (44%), Germany (13%), Sweden (8%), France (7%) and the Netherlands (4%). With companies registering from 30 different countries, Emerge also received submissions from fledgling start-up hubs like Bulgaria, Serbia and Slovenia. Thirteen sectors were represented among registrations for the program, with consumer (16%), marketplaces (14%), deep tech (13%), enterprise (11%) and health tech (10%) among the most popular. Demonstrating demand for more sustainable solutions, climate tech (6%) and agtech (4%) also had a significant number of applications. Since Emerge is targeted at seed-stage companies, most startups that applied (70%) had so far raised less than $500k, with funding coming primarily from angel investors (24%) or from family and friends (21%).

Speedinvest is a leading pan-European, early-stage venture capital firm. Our portfolio includes Wefox, Bitpanda, TIER Mobility, GoStudent, Curve, CoachHub, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and Twaice. Sign up for our newsletters to get our exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

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