Saturday, November 12, 2011

(Another) One of Europe's Leading Incubators Comes to Sao Paulo

I recently attended an entrepreneurship and technology conference at the European Business School in Wiesbaden-Schierstein, Germany.  I had a chance to talk with the team from one of Europe's leading incubators, Lake Star - Klaus Hommels, Manu Gupta and Oliver Jung.   Klaus is one of Europe's most famous angel investors - his current and past portfolio includes Skype, Facebook, and Spotify. He founded Lake Star with the thesis that investing alone is insufficient for venture capitalists competing for deals in today's environment. Manu told me "The best entrepreneurs are picky" and they have to offer something other than money and connections.

Klaus Hommels


Lake Star believes it can and does add value in two principal ways 1) it offers an unparalleled growth market platform and 2) access to technology and business expertise.

First, the firm has teams in Berlin, India and Sao Paulo and will soon be opening offices in Istanbul and Sydney.  Because few firms have such a wide reach in growth markets, they are able to help businesses (especially those founded in the US and Europe) to go global quickly.  Airbnb is an example of their success - the home rental site recently brought Lake Star in to lead its international expansion efforts.  

Second, the firm has "Ninjas" with technology, logistics, SEM and product expertise that it offers to its portfolio companies.  Manu tells me that they can take away 30% of the "learnings" that a typical startup encounters and help them get to market faster.  The portfolio companies pay for the cost of these resources but Lake Star doesn't make any money on them.  

The firm has a large office in Sao Paulo near Faria Lima and currently has a team of 15 based there.  They have helped to incubate well-known firms like Brandsclub, Clickon and most recently, an off-peak discounted dining site.

When added the presence of Rocket Internet, BV Capital and DST, it is becoming clear that the Europeans (and especially the Germans) are going to have an outsized impact on Brazil's internet scene.  

P.S.  Congratulations to oLook which recently went live.  They have a slick site that you should check out.  Also, I mentioned CapsDoc (the ZocDoc of Brazil) in a previous post.  They went live this week with an impressive and fun site.  

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