The Latvian Business Angels Network (LatBAN) and the Latvian Private and Venture Capital Association (LVCA) have determined the winners of the Investor of the Year 2021 award for the most significant investments in Latvia last year. Investors Ģirts Līcis, Kārlis Cerbulis, and Uldis Cērps received the award Investment of the Year in the category of commercial angels for the amount of investment and the most promising forecast for a joint investment of 150,000 euros in WeedBot, which develops agricultural robots for the British market. Bregal Sagemount's investment Printful was recognized as the Investment of the Year in the legal and institutional investor sector, which allowed the company to reach the value of more than one billion dollars and the status of the first unicorn in Latvia.
LatBAN and LVCA event Investor of the Year has existed since 2015. It focuses on the growth trends of the private equity and business angel industry, highlighting and honoring key market players, advisors, and supporters.
Reinis Bērziņš, Chairperson of the Board of ALTUM: “ALTUM is heavily investing in the venture capital sector. More than €190 million have been invested there and another €75 million in the next generation funding and behind these figures are tangible achievements. To date, through 16 different fund managers and Baltic innovation funds, ALTUM's investments have supported more than 330 companies and contributed more than €740 million to the development and growth of companies in the Baltics and the wider region. These companies have already paid more than €180 million in taxes and their annual revenue is approaching €1 billion! We are pleased to see a meaningful contribution from Latvia and the European Union, where the best of the best investors this year have been deservedly honored on the Investor of the Year stage.”
Kristīne Tarvida, LatBAN Executive Director: “Last year some of our members have managed to achieve an impressive 10x return on investment. This shows that our investors are able to find successful projects, and we also believe that thanks to the triumph of Printful, it will not be long before the next Unicorns from Latvia appear. There are already several potential candidates waiting in line. In total, in 2021 business angels invested 2.6 million euros in startups - mainly representing the IT, manufacturing, and electronics sectors. 11 investment sessions took place, in which 63 startups had the opportunity to present their ideas and meet potential investors. Also, approximately 150 startups have received investor advice and mentoring then. We are proud of the achievements of investors in 2021 and we look at this year with cautious optimism - Latvian startups have access to investor smart money - the added value provided by investors' knowledge, business experience, and lessons learned over the years in the domestic and foreign markets.”
Winners of Investor of the Year 2021 in the categories of business angels:
- Investment of the Year on the amount of investment and the most promising future forecast: Ģirts Līcis, Kārlis Cerbulis, and Uldis Cērps for a joint investment of 150,000 euros in the startup WeedBot, which develops agricultural robots for the British market;
- The Most Profitable Investment of the Year in terms of ROI and in absolute terms from the amount earned by the project: Voldemārs Brēdiķis and Uldis Dzērve for the investment in the live translation platform Interactio, which supports face-to-face and Online events and integrates with third-party platforms. Interactio already operates in 111 countries. The investment reached a 10x ROI in a year and a half;
- The Greenest Investment of the Year for the largest investment with the most positive impact on the environment: Capitalia Co-Investment Fund and its Manager Juris Grišins for investment in wind turbine inspection, maintenance, and service company Aerones, which uses robotic solutions, saving resources, reducing repairs time and helping to increase the amount of energy produced;
- The Industry Supporter of the Year: Httpool for supporting the co-organization of the Baltic Private Investors Conference Business Angel Camp in Latvia, which gathered investors from all over the Baltics and Europe, and for making a significant contribution to supporting the growth of Latvian startups through the digital marketing.
Kristīne Bērziņa, Chairperson of the Board of LVCA: “It is a real pleasure that the Latvian private capital market is obviously strengthening. In 2021, an increase was observed both in the activity of local funds and in the activity of foreign funds. Change Ventures became the largest seed capital fund in the Baltics, private equity manager Livonia Partners established the largest private equity fund in Latvia to date, several real estate funds were established, and funds registered in Latvia invested three times as much as in the previous year. There were also significant investments by foreign private capital giants in Latvian companies, most notably it was by Index Ventures, Apollo Funds, Bregal Sagemount, and Partners Group.”
Investor of the Year 2021 winners in the category of legal and institutional investors and consultants:
- Investment of the Year for investment volume and future forecast: Bregal Sagemount for Printful investment, which allowed the company to reach more than $ 1 billion in value and so-called Unicorn status;
- Exit of the Year on the volume, results, and impact of the transaction on the development of the growth capital sector: Livonia Partners on the sale of shares in its portfolio company Santa Monica Networks to Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT);
- Financial Advisor of the Year on the scope, outcome, and significance of the advice provided to investors: Superia for advising Livonia Partners on the sale of Santa Monica Networks to LMT; EKJU company management consulting in purchasing a company from BaltCap and its founders; Utilitas consultations related to the acquisition of the Tārgale wind farm project and consultations related to the acquisition of Primekss from the Green Gateway Fund;
- Legal Adviser of the Year: Ellex Kļaviņš for advising Printful, attracting investment from Bregal Sagemount, advising Livonia Partners on the Santa Monica Networks transaction, and assisting SG Capital Partners Fund I in connection with the logistics complex purchase in Riga.
For the second year in a row, on the initiative of the Ministry of Economics, a joint LatBAN and LVCA Growth Award was awarded to a company that has grown with the help of business angels and/or private equity funds and significant growth in Latvia affects the Latvian economy. This year's award went to Lokalise.
The LVCA would like to thank Alise Barvika, Head of the LIAA and its Finnish Representation, for assistance in cooperating with foreign partners, especially in activating Finland's involvement. Thanks also to ALTUM and its board member Ieva Jansone-Buka for active work with risk capital programs and Financial Intermediaries expert Andris Baumanis for involvement in the daily processes of funds established under ALTUM, Deloitte for the preparation of the third Baltic Private and Venture Capital Market Report, Change Ventures and especially Andris K. Bērziņš for his influential work in supplementing foreign public space with information about the Baltic and Latvian private capital markets.
From March 31, 2022, the Investor of the Year 2021 award ceremony and panel discussions on Latvia's macroeconomic forecasts and the business experience of Ukraine, Georgia, and Israel in wartime will be available on LatBAN and LVCA Facebook pages and the LatBAN YouTube channel.
Investor of the Year 2021 was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Economics and the Development Financing Institution owned by the state of Latvia - ALTUM and co-financed from the resources of the European Regional Development Fund.