It’s not every day that a new VC firm comes out of stealth. This time, Varsity is announcing its first fund. Founded by a former Société Générale executive and two VC investors who worked at Serena Capital, Varsity has already raised €70 million ($75 million at today’s exchange rate) to back early-stage startups across several verticals.
This is just a first close, as Varsity hopes it’ll be able to raise as much as €150 million ($161 million) for Varsity I. Overall, the firm plans to invest in roughly 30 startups in Europe. Some of Varsity’s limited partners include French public bank Bpifrance, MACSF, Sogecap and Elevation Capital Partners (with the creation of a feeder fund).
It means that Varsity plans to invest anything between €1 million and €5 million, depending on the investment opportunity with the option to invest in follow-on investments — Varsity has already invested €15 million in five companies. While the team doesn’t have a specific vertical in mind, it says that it plans to invest in finance, health, enterprise software and climate startups.
The three founding members are Didier Valet, the former deputy CEO at Société Générale, as well as Kamel Zeroual and Florent Thomas, who spent some time working for Serena Capital.
Florent Thomas (pictured right) also created TalentLetter back in 2018. It’s an email newsletter for tech startups looking for potential hires. Every week, TalentLetter sends two profiles that have been selected because they can have a high impact at a fast-growing startup. Along with Marie Brayer, they also created Karma Driven, an invite-only job board.
As for Kamel Zeroual (pictured left), he created the Startup Mafia podcast, interviewing several executives working for a handful of successful tech startups. During the first season, he interviewed Swile executives. He shifted his focus to Alan and Checkout.com for seasons two and three.
Both already know quite a few people in the startup ecosystem. So it’s going to be interesting to see how the Varsity team plans to leverage these platforms to identify interesting investment opportunities and make sure they perform well at later stages.