CEEfarers - June 2024 Edition

Ahoy CEEfarers! We summarize the most notable events in venture capital in CEE and news from the team at KAYA VC. Enjoy the read!

Congratulations to Iga Świątek (PL) on her 3rd consecutive French Open title and 5th Grand Slam overall. At 23 years of age, her achievements already put her amongst the all time great tennis players. We can't wait for more!

💸 Early-stage rounds in CEE

During the previous month (May 2024) more than 23 CEE startups successfully raised their early rounds with an aggregate deal value of €27.04m (€1.18m per deal on average). Key rounds:

  • 🇨🇿🇵🇱 Yoneda Labs (Khosla Ventures, Kaya VC, YC, 468 Capital; $4.6m)
  • 🇨🇿 Behavio (Airbridge Equity Partners; €2.3m)
  • 🇨🇿 Delta Green (Credo Ventures, Tilia Impact, Purple Ventures; €2.2m)
  • 🇭🇺 Parkl (Lead Ventures; €4m)

*Early stage round = publicly disclosed round prior to Series A

🤩 New investments

While we paused releasing new issues of the newsletter, we had our hands full with follow ons and new investments alike! It's our pleasure to welcome into our portfolio two new companies and their stellar founders! 🎉

A Czech-founded Startup Secures $2.1M Pre-Seed to Revolutionize Health Insurance Costs
In a nutshell Czech-founded TrueClaim, a startup that aims to reduce health insurance costs, secured $2.1M in its opening round. Regional and

Jako OpenAI, ale pro chemické reakce. Čech se spolužáky založili startup, nabrali přes sto milionů
Startup Yoneda Labs uzavřel své první investiční kolo, díky automatizaci chce denně provádět experimenty jako v týmu dvaceti chemiků.
OpenAI for chemistry: Y Combinator-backed Yoneda Labs raises $4M funding — TFN
San Francisco-based Yoneda Labs, a Y Combinator-backed AI drug discovery startup, has raised $4 million in seed funding.

📸 Portfolio (& KAYA) in the news

  • Tobik gave an interview with Waldemar Walach from Aternus - one of our key LPs who have been with us since 2014 and are successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Read more about how our relationship evolved, Aternus's current investment strategy and their view on venture capital (Czech only).
Teď se kolíkuje Oklahoma. Waldemar Walach o „rajcovních“ investicích i o tom, proč raději peníze rozdává, než je vydělává
Bratři Walachovi vybudovali a úspěšně prodali farmaceutickou fabriku Walmark, známou díky Marťánkům či Proenzi, a od té doby věnují nejvíc energie dobročinnosti a investicím. Sází na prověřené fondy v čele s Kayou a jedou ve velkém – jimi investovaný kapitál činí zhruba šest miliard korun.

  • Pavel (Kaya) and Tomas from Rohlik have recently made an appearance in the CzechCrunch podcast MoneyMaker (Czech only).
  • Rohlik has also been on the radar of Reuters, who wrote an article about its expansion in Germany here.
Muž, který stál u zrodu startupového Česka. Investor Pavel Mucha sází na Tomáše Čupra i dravé Poláky
Do podcastu Money Maker dorazil muž, který veřejně vystupuje jen velmi zřídka, ale o to zajímavější je jeho startupová a investorská dráha.
Našli jsme recept, jak vydělávat na Západě. Tomáš Čupr popisuje plány s Rohlíkem i změnu životosprávy
Tomáš Čupr v podcastu Money Maker popisuje, jak vidí další roky v byznysu, a to nejen své vlastní, ale i ty týkající se skupiny Rohlík Group.

  • Sensible Biotechnologies has been selected as one of the thirteen recipients of a €1bn grant by the European Commission having been designated as "Important Project of Common European Interest." This selection enables them to draw on EU funding in amounts multiple times greater than the capital they've raised so far and helps accelerate their world-leading technology's route to market.
Press corner
Highlights, press releases and speeches

📚 What caught our eye

  • E1 conducted research on what makes successful startup founders different, focusing on so-called iconoclast characteristics. Iconoclasticity is measured using seven binary factors, including early childhood signals, unique hobbies, and unconventional career paths, with each founder receiving a score from 0 to 5. This iconoclast score, gathered from a dataset of 12,000 founders, emerged as the most predictive variable for future success, surpassing traditional indicators like elite education or top company experience.
Tento obrázek nemá žádný popisek
Here is the link to the original post by Adam Shuaib.

👌 Book recommendation by Martin

The Creative Act: A Way of Being – Review – Northern Gravy

Rick Rubin is a legendary music producer who has won 9 Grammys (both Madonna and Metallica have fewer, for example). He is associated with the works of the likes of Johnny Cash and has co-founded the legendary Def Jam records in his college dormitory in the 1980s (classic founder story!). He’s helped popularise hip hop. 

He is decidedly quirky, as this 30-second viral video clip illustrates, and he has recently written a book about creativity. He also has a podcast Tetragrammaton featuring unique guests who don’t ordinarily appear on podcasts.  

“I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be,” writes Rubin.

Of course, having rules on ‘how to be’ is inherently complex in general and this book specifically appears contradictory at times. It’s a little like reading Warren Buffett’s rules about investing; their advice all individually makes sense, however its nuanced application and prioritization is far from obvious or straightforward.

For Rubin, at one point having ‘a practice’ is a good idea, but also abandoning all routine is a good idea. One should follow instinct but also let go of ego. The book has shades of Buddhist teachings (Rubin allegedly practices mediation since the age of 14) but also elements of self-help and best-practice management writing.

A Way of Being provides a number of helpful prompts for people looking for a little inspiration from Rubin's elevated confidence (again, watch the viral video) or hoping to reframe certain topics or problems in their own lives. People looking for certain signs will find them in this book and hopefully reinforce what their courageous self tells them the essence of ‘how to be’ represents. 

🫠 What made us smile

🎉 Events and conferences

Karel and Tobik took part in the programme of Reflect festival in Limassol and were part of several panels.
Tobik and Pat during the first startup ecosystem event organized by HUSTA.

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Jamie Larson