We received news that Buran VC, a successful venture capital fund focusing on CEE, Finland and Israel is going through a rebranding that is much more than meets the eye: it is not just about switching to a fancier name, but implementing a broader vision, launching a new product and even welcoming an invaluable addition to their team.
We managed to catch Alexander Konoplyasty, Managing Partner, for a quick call and hearing his voice, excitement echoed all over:
“Seven years ago, it was Michael and me. Now we have a team of 16 covering the region from Russia to Israel. The reason we are very excited about this certain geographic area is that there are half a billion people in more than 20 countries, that have 40-something unicorns – it is very remarkable if you compare it to the US where there are 135 unicorns. But the CEE really lacks capital. This is a small market producing so many unicorns, meaning we are so much more efficient. We are planning to continue providing capital to the founders of this area to build international companies.
We are finance guys, we are good at numbers, scoring systems and very good at exits – 6 out of 10 exits in the first fund. So we were thinking, what else can we do for startups that correlate with our vision to build an actual company, not just a successful VC fund, and also help people?
Then we realized: we should be building a multi-product tech investment and asset management business. Then the startups can come to us for different solutions, and we will not lose the talented entrepreneurs by not being able to offer what they need the most. Also, there are great synergies when we can provide alternative financing solutions, as we are also equity investors – we understand the pain and can help more.”
In the spirit of becoming a multi-product company, Flashpoint is launching their first new product – venture debt. Michal Jozwiak, formerly Senior Vice President for private debt, mezzanine and private equity at the CEE team of Darby Private Equity (Franklin Templeton Investments), will be the Managing Partner of Flashpoint Venture Debt. Michal shared his vision: “We are excited to be the first to launch a dedicated venture debt fund for the CEE with a target size of EUR 50 million, offering technology companies an alternative option to fund their growth.”
And sure, the name itself, Flashpoint, is worth mentioning: “We started looking for a new name that would reflect this broader vision and also resonate with our core values and DNA. We think we found the right one. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which vapours of a material will ignite, when given an ignition source.” – adds Michael Szalontay, Managing Partner.
Finally, a new member: Edward Nicholson will join the group as a General Partner, and Chairman of Flashpoint advisory board. Edward was the CEO and Chairman of Brunswick Investment Bank, which was acquired by UBS, and built it to be one of the leading finance businesses in Eastern Europe. Edward added: “I am excited to join this talented team, that has been actively offering early-stage financing and expertise to an underserved market with brilliant technology entrepreneurs building international software companies.”
“These are exciting times for us, as for the company and as for myself, I can say: I have never been this excited in my whole life. There is so much ahead of us.” – says Alexander before we hang up.
Founded in 2012, Flashpoint is an international group managing equity and debt funds, investing in software companies founded by entrepreneurs from Central and Eastern Europe, Israel, Finland, Armenia, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Flashpoint has a team of sixteen professionals, and offices in Israel, Hungary, Poland, Latvia and Russia.