Glovo going global. Investor of world-famous startup explained about the principles of investing in “unicorns”

When starting a new project or thinking about investment, one should not focus solely on profitability. It's necessary to build a sustainable business from the very beginning. It should be a sign that the project would be profitable, interesting, and over time would become a 'new normal' of our daily lives.

Maksym Filippov, executive director of the GR Capital venture fund, is one of those able to recognize putative “unicorns” among many projects immediately. It was GR Capital that became the investor of the Glovo delivery service, which is now skyrocketing in Ukraine.

Today, the venture fund’s portfolio includes 14 companies. Five of them have shown extreme success. Maksym Filippov shared his secrets of success on the day before the “Sustainable Business Summit”. NEWFOOD has been the information partner of this event.

“GR Capital is already managing $85 million-worth businesses. Five of the companies we invested in have already become “unicorns”. They hold serious positions and are extremely ambitious. The rest of the investments are not much weaker,” the top manager says.

He says GR Capital chooses those investment targets that will dictate the norms of business sustainability in the future and, more broadly, the new norms of life.

According to Filippov, ten years ago, the issue of business sustainability was quite tense. Ukrainian founders had to concoct how their business met the norms externally imposed by Europe, which few people in Ukraine understood.

Since 2012, the venture market in the world, as well as in Ukraine, has taken an interesting development path. “At that time, I advised various startups and saw how the founders of new businesses build their companies from the first days, making them more efficient and sustainable in every sense — from following the UN Global Compact to the daily norms of our existence. In fact, that’s how GR Capital was born — from an interest in working more with today’s founders,” says Maksym Filippov.

Where the innovations begin

GR Capital does not invest in space technology, biotechnology and other long-term projects that will have an unclear or no impact on our lives.

“We invest in everyday industries, in what people encounter daily or at least weekly,” says the venture fund’s executive.

One example is cooking at home. Every day, consumers spend an hour or two buying products, cooking them, and disposing of waste.

“It’s ineffective,” Filippov believes. “This issue can be solved by delivering grocery kits daily. And there are a lot of such options. But they are not innovative, and they will never become the everyday norm.”

How to become a “unicorn”

What criteria must a project meet to create future norms? The main thing is innovation. There are a lot of solutions that only seem to improve lives or are just a small addition to existing solutions.

The second is everyday life. The problem that a startup is dealing with should not be too far from an average user.

The third is forward-looking development.

The fourth one is a working business model that can support sustainable development for 7-10-15 years.

And the fifth is scalability. A founder must think of his business model’s scalability from day one to create a new norm. It should not depend on one person or any unique regional conditions.

“We chose Glovo following this principle,” says the venture fund’s executive director. Fast food delivery is a conceptual solution to the problem. A consumer does not need to cook, to think about whether the products or ready meals have been stored properly. Meanwhile, the waste issue is already solved.

Sustainable by default

The companies chosen to the GR Capital investment portfolio are already sustainable.

“Creating a new norm, having a large-scale impact on society, one way or another, they are already effective in terms of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, reducing paperwork. That’s why they are sustainable by default. Most startups do not even list sustainablitiy among their advantages,” adds Maksym Filippov.

In his opinion, all promising companies think about inclusiveness, simplification of access to services, flexibility of working conditions, focus on quality and customer service from the first days. These are the companies that motivate their employees through options, take care of equal working conditions and build effective flexible corporate governance. Thus, he belives, they establish new norms for society.


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