Coming out of the niche: Earlybird initiates Digital East portfolio with disruptive investments

Posted on 13. Mai 2014 by Roland Manger

The venture world still largely disregards CEE and Turkey even though some tech companies have created $4 billion in value in recent exits. In the past, we argued that this is one important aspect adding to the attractiveness of our new fund: Find great companies where nobody else is looking.

As with any not yet completely proven claim, some believe we are right while others challenge our point of view. Time will tell and we will report about our experience now that we are putting money where our mouth is.

After reviewing over 2,000 investment opportunities over the last two years, we have chosen and completed the first two investments:

Flipps (www.flipps.comis a direct-to-TV streaming platform out of Sofia, now also with an HQ in San Francisco. The team is using our investment to build on their rapidly growing customer base of 10 million users and expand the library of premium content. Flipps’ patented technology immediately works with over 250 million connected TVs worldwide and is compatible with over 5,000 manufacturer models. PwC estimates the global streaming TV market will expand to $17.4 billion by 2017, a growth rate of 27% annually from today.  And because the Flipps mobile app requires no hardware or set top box to stream to a nearby, connected TV, its global reach and ability to scale quickly represent a significant opportunity to disrupt this rapidly growing market.

Tjobs (www.tjobsrecruit.com) the Romanian start-up continues its pan European expansion serving a growing temporary worker population of millions as the EU liberalizes its labor mobility laws. Tjobs combines the reach and scalability of an online recruitment portal with the fulfillment ability of over 700 small and mid-sized independent recruitment agencies. The company enables employers across the European Union to seamlessly recruit from a talent-pool of well over two million qualified temporary or permanent candidates to fill jobs that are not being filled otherwise.

These first two commitments also give a good initial idea about the kinds of opportunities that can be found in our region. Tjobs is a pan-European business and Flipps already global. The businesses also cover various tech sectors: consumer Internet, tech-enabled business services and digital media.

It will take a while to see which of these and further investments will prosper. Stay tuned.