SMOK Ventures invests in early stage startups in CEE. Our key geos are Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the Baltic countries, but we’re happy to invest anywhere in the CEE region.
If you’re based elsewhere in the European Union, or globally, there usually needs to be a good reason why you want to raise capital from SMOK, e.g. you’d like to take advantage of our network in the region.
We prefer if the HQ is in the European Union (we love Estonia, btw!), but we’re also OK with occasionally investing in Delaware or London-based companies with a significant business or workforce in CEE.
So far we have 16 investments HQ-ed in Poland, 4 in Estonia or Nordics, 1 in Latvia, 1 in Czechia, 1 in the UK, and 5 in Delaware.
Our initial ticket size is between 100-500k USD for pre-seed and 500k-1.5M USD for seed. Historically our average ticket size has been around 250k USD, but now with a larger fund we’re planning to be doing more seed rounds than before.
We’ve taken between 5% and 20% in initial investments. On average we’ve taken about 12% in the companies we invested in.
We like software and gamedev and we prefer simple business models (e.g. saas, marketplace, straight-to-consumer) vs enterprise sales.
We’re not limiting ourselves to specific industries, though, e.g. we’ve invested in energy, food tech, hospitality before – which are outside of our main scope.
If you’re a serial founder with proven track record, regardless of your industry, please reach out!
SMOK is a US fund and our capital comes from 50+ founders from Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, US and elsewhere across the globe. Some of our investors include Paul Bragiel (also GP at the fund), Dan Bragiel (venture partner at the fund), Ashwin Navin (founder at Bittorrent & Samba TV), Wiktor Schmidt (Netguru), Konrad Wawruch (7bulls) and Przemek Żebrowski (K2) – our Limited Partners. We’re proudly supported by PFR Ventures as our sole institutional investor in fund 1.
We like to be the early believers and preferably the first institutional investor in your company.
We’ve led around 75% of the startup rounds we participated in. In others we were either a co-lead or a smaller investor.
We don’t usually lead the follow-on rounds of our portfolio companies.
However, we try to co-invest pro-rata in the following round if the round size allows us to do that.
Team, team, team, team… and then the market and the traction. In that order.
We love serial founders and we’re happy to back their projects super early (as in pre-revenue).
If you’re a first-time founder, we usually like to get to know you a bit before making a call (attending ReaktorX is always a good way to achieve that) and we need to see more customer validation and traction (as in first revenues, proof of concept, etc).
We’re a hands-off investor who gets involved when called for by the founders. Our founders mostly appreciate our help in fundraising and connecting them to people in our network around the globe.
We’re best connected to the tech ecosystems in Silicon Valley, Asia, Western Europe, that’s why 80% of money raised by our portfolio companies comes from those regions.
So far we’ve helped our portfolio startups:
An intro from someone you actually know that we also actually know and trust will be the best way to get to us.
Examples of good intros:
Examples of not-so-good intros:
However, even though a good intro is always good, a Good Clean Cold Email will do, so don’t run after our friends just to be able to get that introduction – it will be a weak one anyway.
Good clean cold email is better than a not-so-good introduction. Here is how to nail it.
A pitch deck is a basic set of information which will help us quickly get to know you and validate if your project is interesting to us. Quality decks:
The deck is here to get us excited about your startup, not to tell us the whole story or answer all our questions.
We’re going to spend about a minute looking at your deck and then make a decision whether or not to book a meeting or ask some questions by email first. So make it attractive and make us want to know more!
The whole process from initial meeting to sending a term sheet can take anything from a week (this has actually happened a few times already) and a month.
Once we sign the term sheet, the money lands on your account in 2-4 weeks, depending on your speed in providing the necessary documents for the committee and due diligence.
The fastest process from initial meeting to the wire was four weeks so far. The longest was around three months. We’re doing our best to make the former a standard rather than the latter.
VCs say “no” a lot and SMOK is not different. We say “yes” to about 1 in 100 projects that apply for funding. Here are some common reasons we don’t invest.
We hate broken cap tables. Here is what we mean that it’s broken.
We’ll be unlikely to invest in your startup unless you fix the above issues.
We’re not hiding anything from the founders and we’re happy to share the terms we offer to entrepreneurs.
Our typical term sheet includes the following rights:
You can download our draft termsheet and review specific clauses here: SMOK Term Sheet.
We’re proud to be early investors in 24 amazing companies so far (as in June 2022). Check out current SMOK portfolio on this website.
Just like we do due diligence on you, you should do due diligence on your investors before deciding to accept them into your cap table and we’re happy to help.
Haha knew you’d ask this one. Smok simply means “dragon” in Polish, Belarussian (цмок) and a few other Slavic languages. And “dragon” is “an investment that returns the fund”. Not that we knew about it when naming the fund but it’s a nice coincidence.
What we definitely did not know is that “smok” also means “a small kiss” in Albanian and “a bowl or hair” (sic!) in Romanian. We’re still not sure what to make of those findings.