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Five Tier 1 early-stage VCs to invest €1M in the next Slush 100 winner

Photo: Susanna Lehto

Five Tier 1 early-stage VCs to invest €1M in the next Slush 100 winner

Slush launches a new program for early-stage founders: 100 startups will get on stage this Fall to compete for a €1,000,000 investment from Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA, and Northzone in the Slush 100 Pitching Competition.

Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA, and Northzone have partnered up to invest €1 million together in the winner of the next Slush 100 Pitching Competition. The initiative adds to European programs that offer fair, open, application-based access to some of the continent’s best VCs.

“Slush 100 is an exceptional display of openness and allyship in favor of the startup ecosystem. Never before has a group of VCs of this caliber committed capital to a European startup program – not to mention one that benefits the earliest stages of the ecosystem, and is completely open to apply to”, says Eerika Savolainen, CEO of Slush.

“Each of the five participating funds has backed some of the most iconic tech success stories of our time – Meta, Stripe, Airbnb, Snap, Spotify, Slack, Instacart, Hubspot, Uber, ByteDance, Salesforce, Klarna – the list goes on. We can’t wait to see what happens when they throw their collective weight behind a promising startup”, Savolainen continues.

To make the competition as impactful and transparent as possible, every pitch will be recorded and made available to the Slush audience.

”That way, the whole ecosystem is left with 100 high-quality pitches and insight into how the best investors on the planet decide between those. We believe that this will be an invaluable resource bank for future generations of founders”, Savolainen explains.

The 5 best early-stage funds join forces in order to find Europe’s next unicorn

When asked why the five funds decided to take part in this Slush initiative, the answers came down to a few common themes: exceptionally talented founders, unique cooperation between funds, and the booming European ecosystem.

“The extraordinary potential of Europe’s startup ecosystem has captured NEA’s attention for many years, and today the region commands more of our capital than ever before. We are excited to deepen our engagement in Europe as the tech ecosystem continues to mature and evolve. We are proud to participate in the €1M investment in the Slush 100 Pitching Competition, and that’s just one signal of our commitment to accelerating innovation in this vibrant, rapidly growing market”, says Rick Yang, General Partner and Head of Consumer at NEA.

“Slush is always an incredible talent magnet for some of the most ambitious founders in Europe. At the same time, they are helping to lead the way in terms of democratizing access to the startup and venture capital ecosystem”, describes Paul Murphy, Partner at Lightspeed.

“At General Catalyst, we have a 20-year history of partnering with ambitious founders to build enduring companies across sectors. This is what the Slush 100 Pitching Competition is about – discovering company builders in their earliest stages, that are focused on new themes and industries ripe for change. As judges, Juliet Bailin and I are looking forward to hearing from 100s of founders from all over the world. See you at Slush”, says Adam Valkin, Managing Director at General Catalyst.

Four of the five funds are headquartered in the US and all rank among the best investors on the planet. “This initiative would not have been possible five years ago. In the past few years, we’ve seen leading US investors take an exceptional interest in European startups. According to the latest State of European Tech report, as many as 28% of European rounds now include a US investor. This is a very special time to be working in European tech, and Slush 100 reflects that”, Savolainen remarks.

2021 was a record-breaking year for European tech. According to the State of European Tech report, European startups raised three times the funding they did in 2020, crossing $100B. In the process, Europe reached parity with the US in rounds under $5M.

“Now entering our third decade on the ground in Europe, we’ve seen what was a nascent tech ecosystem evolve into a thriving community that has produced a wealth of global success stories. Since its inaugural event in 2008, Slush has become a core part of the European tech ecosystem and consistently brings together the most impressive startups and exceptional entrepreneurs under one roof. We’re delighted to be partnering with the team on the Slush 100 competition and look forward to meeting the next generation of founders”, says Harry Nelis, Partner at Accel.

Jessica Schultz, Partner at Northzone, a global fund with European roots, agrees: “For the past decade, we’ve been collaborating with Slush on a shared vision: to make Europe a global powerhouse in tech. We believe category-defining leaders are part of this booming, dynamic and resilient ecosystem and we can’t wait to welcome a new portfolio company to the Northzone family!”

The 2022 installment will be the 11th of the Slush 100 Pitching Competition. Three previous Slush 100 winners have matured into companies valued at over 100 million euros: CybelAngel, Fishbrain, and Yousician. All three participated in the competition in their very early days, before raising significant external capital.

Anyone can apply, and anyone can win

Any startup founded in 2019 or later, with less than €500k in previous equity funding can apply. The application period is open until the 7th of October. Investors from the five funds will mentor and judge the participants down from an initial 100 down to one winner. The competition culminates with three finalists stepping on the Slush main stage on the 18th of November, in front of thousands of people.

“In 10 years’ time, I believe we will look back on this competition as a shaping moment of an important, enduring tech company”, Savolainen sums.

About Slush 100

  • The winner of Slush 100 is picked from a pool of 100 startups and will be rewarded with a €1 million investment from Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA, and Northzone.
  • Partners from each fund will mentor and judge the participants through the journey.
  • The application period is open until the 7th of October. The finals will be held at Slush on 17–18 November 2022.


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