Over the past years, Nordea has successfully organised matchmaking events and created strong partnerships between startups and investors. Now the bank is expanding the concept with events right down to the pre-seed stage and a mission to help both young and mature companies – wherever they are on the funding journey.
The article was prepared in collaboration with Nordea Startup & Growth.
While apps like Tinder and Bumble have made the hunt for that special someone easier and faster, the chance of a good match is never greater than when a friend arranges the date. An intermediary who understands and knows you both and can easily assess if you’re a good match.
In the same way, Nordea has acted as a matchmaker between startups and scaleups and competent venture capital funds from all over the Nordic region in recent years with the Nordea Investor Speed Dating initiative. Now the bank is expanding with their new concept Startup Match, which is dedicated exclusively to young companies in the pre-seed stage.
“It can be difficult as an early stage startup to kick the doors in to the right investors. Here we create a space where parties who are not normally in contact can meet each other under the best conditions,” says Mikkel Rørvig, Director of Nordea Startup & Growth.
When Nordea makes itself the ‘Kirsten Poison Knife’ of the ecosystem, it is particularly due to a large network and wingspan as the largest bank in the Nordics – a unique position to contribute to every step of a company’s growth journey.
“As a large bank, we benefit from having branches in all the Nordic countries that also know how to talk to each other across the whole of Scandinavia. In practice, this means an extensive network within fast-growing companies and skilled investors, of course, but also the right internal or external specialists. That’s why we can often help these companies – right from start-up to international scaling and IPO,” explains Rørvig.
Coming to Nordea’s matchmaking events?
Apply for Nordea’s Startup Match event Pre Seed (15 March) here
Apply for Nordea’s Investor Speed Dating event Seed (16 March) here
Apply for Nordea’s Investor Speed Dating event Series A+ (20 April) here
Quality across the board
One company that has benefited from the matchmaking events is fintech comet Crediwire, which participated in 2021. Here, it was the preparation of the participants that particularly impressed.
“Nordea introduced us to a number of very relevant investors and the dynamics of the event were quite different to many other events we have been to. The investors were extremely well prepared and it is not a given that they are always well briefed. But when they are, it forms a good basis for conversation with the startup. And that creates magic,” says Nicholas Meilstrup, co-founder and CEO of Crediwire, which raised €50 million in investment in 2022.
And that’s an important point. Because the bank goes to great lengths to quality assure and select the startups and investors that could be interesting to each other before the event itself, explains Mikkel Kjærulf Nielsen, who is Growth Business Partner at Startup & Growth Nordea and close in on the various events.
“Through our matchmaking events, we select the most interesting growth companies and connect them with competent investors – both in the form of venture capital funds and experienced angel investors. And that creates a good platform for some interesting partnerships,” he says.
Last year, Nordea matched hundreds of startups and scaleups with investors across the ecosystem. This year, the goal is to help even more young companies – no matter how early or mature a stage they’re at.
“We see ourselves as more than a bank. We’re more of a long-term business partner that can contribute and bid on every step of a growth journey – from startups to IPO-ready companies. And this is where our size as a bank matters, because our capacity allows us to present a very interesting deal flow, especially for international venture funds,” says Mikkel Kjærulf Nielsen.
It all starts with a good pitch
Over the past few years, the Danish start-up scene has built up strong momentum. More and more international investors and experienced angel investors are interested in Denmark, and are getting into companies earlier than before. In short, the Danish investment market has become more mature and more young companies are building solid foundations faster that can be replicated in other countries.
“It’s simply become shorter to scale internationally. So for us, it’s about capitalising on that interest and helping to create the business successes of tomorrow. That means a better economy, more jobs and ultimately more growth for society. As the largest bank in the Nordic region, one of our most important tasks is to take responsibility for development and help the Danish companies of the future,” explains Mikkel Rørvig.
That’s why Nordea is hoping for many exciting pre-seed, seed and Series A companies when the bank opens its doors for new matchmaking events this spring. Especially from those who manage to build a good pitch.
But what does it look like?
“Of course it needs to be very clear what problems you are solving, what team you have and how much capital you are looking for and for what. So make sure you are well prepared, practice your pitch from home and sort out any unanswered questions about the company,” says Mikkel Kjærulf Nielsen about the good investor pitch, and continues:
“I read about 500 pitches a year and I usually say that good ambitions and dreams combined with a detailed action plan and a strong team is one of the best arguments you can give the investor.”
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