Last Friday, the beautiful Dylan Hotel in Amsterdam was the venue of choice for Clever Clover’s annual New Years event. The founders and managing partners of Clever Clover invited current portfolio und prospective startups, experts, and investors to share some news about the current portfolio of the firm (NEO I), thoughts on the last year, important learnings that have been made and how they kickstarted NEO II, with some little modifications compared to NEO I. Venionaire started to work with Clever Clover a little bit less than a year ago and it has been a trustful start of a strong collaboration between our two firms.
Amsterdam is a very interesting startup hub, you can literally feel innovation every second you walk around, as the city is a benchmark for electric mobility, many cabs are Tesla cars and there is this beautiful mix of modern, creative, courageous architecture shaping the character of the city. Of course, the Netherlands have a long tradition in international trade and do have numerous international corporates as well as some of the wealthiest pension funds, but we learned that there is even more, speaking to one of the rising startup accelerators NEXT Amsterdam. Esther and Timan are not only building their own business, they are also very enthusiastic about developing the ecosystem in Amsterdam and connecting it to European Hubs – let us see what we can do together.
It sounds a little awkward, that NEO II is a Venture Capital Fund fully dedicated to the old economy – where most people would expect a strategy of digital or tech products, when they hear “Venture Capital”. Clever Clover is different. NEO II, the second fund of this VC focuses in particular on Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) and it is a very well needed field to cover. The best proof for this is the strong demand of startups approaching the experienced network of Clever Clover.
We do believe there is a lot of fantasy in retail products and trust in the deep knowledge of Clever Clovers team. It is very hard to build a brand and place products in shelves all over the world, it is very expensive to develop hardware products and bring them into mass production, but if you succeed, you have most likely build a sustainable “old-economy” company. Venionaire brings in additional network and resources to back the management team in special situations. It’s valuable expertise in the field of digital services, performance marketing and fundraising helps Clever Clover in the development of their portfolio companies.
Clever Clover focuses on five sectors in relation to FMCG: Media, Sports, Distribution, Food and Retail in general. A unique selling proposition make NEO II a very special fund: NEO II aims at an exit through a founders buy-back of shares – at a clear multiple set at the time of investing. In order to achieve this goal, Clever Clover selects specific products and matches them with a strong mentoring and market access network in order to build solid, profitable companies.
The regional focus of the fund is mainly Austria and Netherlands, as it is obvious considering the core operations out of Vienna and Amsterdam. With its first portfolio, NEO I invested and accelerated a number of well-known startups like Flying Tent, Scoot and Ride, FlyFit or Adoptiq – with regard to performance, Clever Clover confirmed that its portfolio is exactly on track to achieve its target return.
NEO II was established as a legal cooperative (B.V.) based in Amsterdam and registered as an AIFM, by Marloes Voermans (Netherlands) and Heinrich Prokop (Austria) in 2016 and started to sign investors (members – to be technically correct, speaking of a cooperative). Marloes is very creative and hands-on. Connecting start-ups with the right people is an art to her and this is truly some magic hard to copy. Heinrich really needs no introduction in Austria, as he has been on three seasons of the famous Puls 4 TV Show “2 Minuten 2 Million”. He is a very successful entrepreneur in the field of FMCG himself – having run and build Gutschermühle to what it is today. (Note: Gutschermühle was acquired by swiss HACO AG in 2015)