Fil Rouge Capital to invest €32,5M in Croatian startups by 2023

Julien Coustaury, Managing partner at Fil Rouge Capital speaking at a startup conference in Tirana / Photo: Julien's youtube channel

Fil Rouge Capital(FRC) will lead the the very first Croatian VC fund initiated by the European Investment Fund(EIF) dedicated exclusively for Croatian startups and scaleups*, Croatian website Netokracija announced. The news is not officially confirmed nor by the EIB, nor by the FRC.

Reportedly, through the newly founded VC, FRC should invest €32,5M in the next five years, but not later than 31 December 2023. For now, the investment strategy is undisclosed. What is clear at the moments is that the money will be invest in Croatian tech companies, more specifically innovative companies at early stage. As reported and confirmed by the members of the team that will lead the investment, the fund will support seed and early stage startups to test their business model and product on the market, but also already established startups that have been operating on the market but may or may not yet be profitable.

The VC is expected to start running either at the end of the first or at the beginning of the second quarter of 2019, depending on when the team will raise the necessary  funds from the private investors.

The decision follows after EIB together with Croatian Government lunched the call in June 2018. Even though the decision was expected to be announced by the end of last year, from undisclosed reasons was postponed.  According to Croatian newspaper Poslovni denvnik, eight VC applied to run the fund. Five of them were from Croatia, while the other three were from Italy, Slovenia and Hungary. According to the same newspaper, in the last round the battle was between one Croatian team and the FRC from Slovenia. That said, according to Netokracija, what distinguished Slovenian team from others were their vast experience in venture capital funds and accelerators.

Stevica Kuharski,
Managing partner at Locodels / Photo: Stevica’s LinkedIn profile

Having in mind the the FRC team are foreigners, the fund has already recruited the very first Croatian representative to join the team. As Netokracija reported, Stevica Kuharski, the Managing partner at the city delivery startup Locodels  and well known fellow among the Croatian startup scene has already joined them. According to his LinkedIn profile he perceives himself as a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in software development. Will other members from Croatian startup environment will join the team, is yet to be seen. But even though foreigners, the FRC’s founders, Julien Coustaury and Roger Blott are not total strangers to the Croatian and regional market. Both of them has been largely involved in the Slovenian startup scene, especialy Mr. Coustaury who through Slovenian ABC acceleator invested in several Croatian companies.

Julien Coustaury, Managing Partner at Fil Rouge Capital / Photo: Julien’s LinkedIn profile

Founded in 2014 Fil Rouge Capital (FRC) is a private investment company that invests in early stage businesses from angel investment, seed, VC and Series A rounds through a combination of equity and debt structures. FRC’s approach is to target investments that complement the skills and experience of its founders so that they can bring more than just capital to help a business grow. Both FRC’s founders have a core knowledge of technology, services, and an entrepreneurial history that they can bring to the benefit of an investment.

Fil Rouge is Europe-centric, and with a base in Zagreb, Croatia, there is an additional focus on Central and Eastern Europe, Austria and Southern Germany. On an opportunistic basis FRC will look at deals throughout Europe and also the United States. The Founders are well-connected to accelerators in Central Europe and in Silicon Valley.

*A scaleup is a startup that past the search phase and is rather in the execution phase of the business model.