EUVC #216 Agate Freimane, Norrsken
The state of impact investing in Europe, the decline of opportunity funds and LP appetite for VC and Impact in particular, ESG reporting and building team and culture in VC 👀
Today we're happy to welcome Agate Freimane, Founding Partner of Norrsken, one of Europe's leading impact venture capital funds born out of Norrsken Foundation, which hosts events, operates co-working spaces, and runs accelerator programs across the Nordics, Iberia, and Eastern Africa. Their fund is dedicated to investing in early-stage startups focusing primarily in climate tech and they've led the investments into almost 50 companies, including Northvolt, Einride, 1komma5 and Matsmart.
Jump to the parts that matter to you 🎧 and watch the highlights below 👀
00:01:04 - Introduction
00:03:10 - Journey into venture
00:12:00 - Impact Investing in Europe
00:15:24 - The Decline of Opportunity Funds and LP Appetite
00:17:52 - Shifting Topics in the Impact Space
00:18:27 - LP Appetite & The Challenging Environment
00:22:09 - The Drive for ESG Reporting in Europe
00:24:49 - The Challenge of Impact as a Business Model
00:28:19 - The Importance of Finding the Right Problems
00:31:02 - Agate’s Core Learnings in Life
00:36:12 - Building Team and Culture as a VC Firm
00:38:23 - Assumptions and Feedback in Team Building and Culture
00:39:38 - Capital Deployment and Small Bad Bets
00:40:31 - Ego in VC & Professional Development
00:45:19 - Regrets and Priorities
00:45:35 - Top Tips for Fundraising In Europe
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Agate’s Journey into Venture
Agate taking a stance
Diving Deep on how the LP landscape has evolved for impact-focused investors
Agate’s shout-out 💌 to Carl Manneh founder of Mojang Studios behind Minecraft 👾, Sebastian Knutsson, Founder of King behind Candy Crush 🐤 & Filip Tysander, Founder of Daniel Wellington ⌚
Without them, we wouldn't be here today.
Agate’s Three Biggest Learnings
🔫 The Quickfire Round 🔫
If you were stranded on a desert island, what book, music album and luxury item would you bring?
Book: Michael Singer, Untethered Soul.
Music: Nina Simone or some really good house beats that you never get tired of.
Luxury item: I think it would be really warm sheepskin slippers.
Q: What advice would you give your ten year younger self first dare more.
I sometimes fell for the trap of being a little bit too much of the good girl, good students type of person. Just do more, stick out more.
And second one is: travel more, learn more languages, party more
Q: What are your top tips for emerging VCs across Europe who are fundraising? One filter that helps that you're going to talk to.
Oftentimes you're given the advice that you know when you're raising Fund two, you need to already be speaking to LPs that will be prospect for a fund two and three. I think too many emerging managers take that interpretation too broad. You still have to do your homework and don't waste your time talking to LPs that are just never going to invest. So be smart, protect and preserve your energy for the ones that matter for Fund I. Fund I is really your business card
Also second: I wouldn't be too obsessed about portfolio construction early on because in the end of the day, what’s really important is that you build an awesome portfolio that starts to speak for itself when you're on fund two and fund three. This basically means sometimes making exceptions, accepting a lower ownership just to be part of truly, truly exceptional stories that later is going to give you a lot of credibility.
The third: Building a VC, is the same as building a startup. You have to learn, you have to iterate, you have to find your DNA or product market fit. And I think you should stay lean in the early days so that you can iterate faster and you can really develop your fund's DNA and then once you have truly found that DNA, then you can start to scale. I think it's a big mistake to grow your fund team too quickly, too early.