Top deals seen in Central and Eastern Europe by the end of 2014

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Here is my list of some interesting deals from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), seen at the end of 2014. CEE has a lot of cheap and skilled talent. Overlooked by big investors, the region offers many good early and late stage investment opportunities, and much cheaper valuations compared to the US.

GoodData, a cloud-based big data analytics firm founded in the Czech Republic, now based in San Francisco, raised  $25.7 million round of funding led by Intel Capital, with participation also from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Tenaya Capital, TOTVS, Next World Capital, Windcrest, and Pharus Capital. This is a Series E round for the company, which has raised $101.2 million to date. The company is reportedly eyeing up an IPO in 2016. GoodData is a cloud-based business intelligence platform providing data management solutions for businesses. Most of its developers are based in Brno, Czech republic.

Prezi, the Hungary-based company announced a massive round of funding totalling $57 million and some impressive user and engagement milestones. Prezi designs and creates ‘zooming’ presentation software – a cloud-based presentation and storytelling tool for sharing ideas on a virtual canvas. The fresh cash comes Spectrum Equity, a 20-year old growth capital firm based in the United States, although we should note prior backer Accel Partners also chipped in for the round. Prezi has 50 million users worldwide.  All in all, 160 million ‘Prezis’ have been created to date, the company says in a statement. Prezi is a proof that successful companies can be born in small countries. Here is my interview with a Prezi founder.

In Slovenia, ambitious regional fund Silicon Gardens set up in May 2014 announced first set of 5 investments. WIth tempo one startup per month makes it probably the most active for a fund that is focused on SEE region. The first additions to Silicon Gardens’ portfolio I like the most are – Sqwiz – new way for small businesses active on Facebook to build and maintain their website,  Wayra London incubator, Flaviar – app for discovering, tasting and buying fine spirits and Povio – re-envisioning photo sharing, incubated at Y Combinator.

Socialbakers, a six-year old Prague-based company that has raised $34 million in funding to date, announced it was considering the possibility of going public in 2015. Socialbakers provides professional  analytics, exclusive benchmarks, ads & content tools, and free data-driven stats for all smarter social marketers. It has grown to over 300 employees in 13 offices all over the world. With more than 2,500 clients ranging from small firms to international giants, the company is gearing up towards conquering the US market.

In Lithuania, Vinted, an ecommerce platform for individual users to sell or swap clothes they wear – €20 million Series B with Insight Venture Partners, becoming probably the highest valued Baltic startup, at €100 million post valuation. Accel also participated pro rata. Previously Vinted raised $6.5 million from Accel Partners. Vinted users take a picture of the clothes, name their own price, and get put into Vinted’s feed. After the payment goes through Vinted, the seller prints out a shipping label, attaches it to the package. Payment is returned after the buyer confirms everything is fine. Vinted has  three million users.

Companies from Ukraine are successful with crowdfunding campaigns. After just one day of fundraising, eCozy, a Ukrainian energy-saving hardware producer, raised almost half of its $30,000 goal on Indiegogo. In 2013, another crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, helped Ukraine’s hardware product iblazr, a flash that works with a smartphone, raise over $150,000. Petcube, a solution to keep an eye on one’s dog while at work, got $250,000 in funding. Looksery, a mobile app designed by Odesa natives that does real-time facial tracking, followed suit raising more than $46,000 on Kickstarter.

SBT Venture Capital founded by Russian bank Sberbank has invested $5 million in fintech service Advanced Merchant Payments (AMP). AMP’s platform allows banks to offer unsecured short-term loans to small businesses, using data analysis to decide whether to offer loans to businesses without a credit history. It was founded in 2009 and is based in Hong Kong, with offices in Singapore and the Philippines.

Fiedler Capital, a CEE-based VC, and the U.K.’s Oxygen Accelerator. This could be a good deal for many CEE startups. The 13 week accelerator programme kicks off in apring 2015 and will based in Birmingham, U.K. Ten startups from across the CEE/Baltics will be selected and receive €21,000 in investment in return for 8 percent equity. Applications close on 8th February 2015. Meanwhile, the Oxygen and Fiedler teams are planning to hit the road on a 14 day CEE and Baltic tour in January to help seek out the best startups in the region.

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