SMOK in 2021. Year in Review

SMOK Ventures is bridging Silicon Valley to Central & Eastern Europe

We invested in 10 new startups in 2021

In 2020 we invested in 12 startups and we kept a similar pace in 2021. Our focus remained the same: pre-seed and seed software and gamedev startups from Emerging Europe run by exceptional teams.

  • MX Labs — Estonia-based, personalized health diagnostics in your pocket, founded by Remi Kościelny (Vivid Games) and Przemek Jaworski (Zmorph). Here’s why we invested in MX Labs,
  • Omnipack — full-stack fulfillment for ecommerce, founded by a pack of ex Westwing, McKinsey and iProspect guys. Named the best Polish scale-up of 2021 by The Next Web. Operates in Poland and Germany,
  • ProperGate — smart materials delivery for complex construction sites, founded by two brothers Rafał & Robert Grudzień and a serial founder Anna Walkowska,
  • Stepapp — Uber for housework with a subscription business model, founded by two 20-year olds from Sweden and Poland, recently featured by Forbes,
  • Quantum Flytrap — Polish-Israeli startup providing user interfaces for quantum computing,
  • Heroify — codility for marketers by Paulina Wardęga, ReaktorX alumni.
  • Plan Be — digital green manager by Aga Maciejowska (exit at Evenea),
  • and three more signed, but yet undisclosed investments which you’ll be hearing about soon!

SMOK portfolio startups raised over €37 million!

11 out of our initial 12 investments from 2020 raised follow-on funding in 2021 which results in an unprecedented 91.6% follow-on rate!

Vue Storefront shocked the headless commerce world with their huge Series A in 2021

80% of follow-on capital raised from outside of CEE

Only 20% of the follow-on funding of our startups came from angels and VC funds from the CEE region while the other 80%, namely EUR 30M came from Asia, the United States, and Western Europe.

Y Combinator headquarters in Mountain View

Two of our startups took part in Y Combinator

At SMOK we have a special path for startups willing to go through Y Combinator, led by our venture partner, SF-based Dan Bragiel.

Portfolio founder stats

Here are some of the more interesting portfolio stats based on the current portfolio as of December 2021.

  • 90% of portfolio startups were founded by serial entrepreneur(s),
  • 60% of portfolio startups were founded by founder(s) with previous exit(s),
  • 45% of portfolio startups include a female co-founder. One of the teams is all-female (Plan Be).
  • Our startups have on average 2.7 co-founders.
  • Average age of our founder is 36.2 while the median age is 35.

Yes, 45% of SMOK startups are now female-founded

That’s correct. Almost half of all startups we invested in have at least one female founder, which is 20 percentage points higher than a year ago.

With some of our female founders. I’m definitely having the most fun on this photo.

Dealflow stats

Just to prove to you that we have a CRM system (Streak FTW!) here are some stats from analyzing our pipeline in 2021:

  • We’ve seen over 1000 deals. This includes all the projects, including spammy, non-personalized e-mails.
  • We’ve analyzed 513 startups. The rest we immediately filtered as out of scope because of geography, stage or industry.
  • We met with 127 startups, i.e. either an in-person meeting, or more likely, a zoom call.
  • We deeply analyzed 59 of the above. This usually means a few meetings, early DD calls, time spent analyzing the market and the competition.
  • 20 made it to the last stage — i.e. a call with either Dan or Paul Bragiel — “BB” aka Bragiel Brothers stage.
  • We ended up investing in 10 new deals in 2021.
SMOK.vc pipeline in 2021

Anti-portfolio

The startups we either missed or passed on form our anti-portfolio. The anti-portfolios of most VCs look way more impressive than their actual portfolios and it’s no different at SMOK.

  • RAMP Network — we had a chance to invest at ~€6M valuation. The latest 46M round by Balderton valued the company at least at €200M (valuation has not been disclosed).
  • Sat Revolution — we considered investing at around ~€10M valuation in early 2021. Virgin Orbit just invested at €132M.
  • Other amazing startups we either rejected, missed, or could not invest for other reasons include Pilot, GamerHash, Hiro, RespoVision, Spacelift, Enso, nomagic, merXu, Formation, MyContainer or Mindgram.

What’s next for SMOK in 2022 and beyond?

We’ve had a great year here at SMOK. We rose to become the first-choice fund among serial entrepreneurs in Poland. Next challenge is to try to repeat this success in the larger CEE region!

  • “Local VCs are arrogant and don’t understand founders (they are mostly ex finance guys).”
  • “Everyone just waits for traction, no one invests pre-seed / pre-product / pre-revenue.”
  • “Investors promise huge value-add, but what that usually means is that they want to get involved in my day-to-day operations which is not what I need from them at all. I want them to help me get customers and raise follow-on funding from outside the CEE. Most provide little or zero help in that regard.”

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Borys Musielak

Borys Musielak

1.4K Followers

I invest in early stage startups in CEE via SMOK.vc. Prev CEO Filmaster sold to Samba TV, co-founder ReaktorX, Startup Poland. Filmbuff. NBA lover.