Italian angel investor Gianni Matera, who has ploughed €900,000 into six Irish start-ups over the last 15 months, is to take his investment tally in Ireland to €4 million by 2020.
The serial entrepreneur’s Dublin-based boutique investment firm Growing Capital, is looking to grow its seed investment value by 300 per cent in five years, largely through backing Irish start-ups.
Among the Irish start-ups the firm has recently backed are power meter makers Brim Brother, data logistics company, Caragon, fitness software product GloFox and Reflex Gaming.
Mr Matera, who said he expects to invest in at least three more Irish companies before the end of this year, is primarily focused on tech firms looking to break into the US market, where higher valuation exits are more likely.
"I'm interested in companies where the founders are considering a move to the US as they scale, a strategy that's been used promoted by the likes of Frontline Ventures and used by start-ups such as Trustev," said Mr Matera.
Growing Capital typically invests in Irish-based tech companies that are eligible for Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-UP (HPSU) funding. It invests at seed stage, with typical seed investment of €250,000 from Growing Capital with that sum matched by Enterprise Ireland.
Mr Matera moved to Dublin from Milan in 2013 after exiting DigiTouch, a digital advertising company he founded in 2007 that last year floated on the Italian Stock Exchange in a €44 million initial public offering (IPO).
The investor, who will be among the guest speakers at the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) roadshow at the Dean hotel in Dublin on Thursday week, said he had come across potential start-ups via a number of sources, including HBAN, Dublin Bic, Enterprise Ireland and the Ryan Academy.
“I find that Ireland is a good place to be a seed investor. It is a full-time job and one that is very time consuming because on average I’m meeting between 10 and 15 start-ups a week. However, I’ve been very impressed by how strong most of the start-ups are that I’ve seen. I think the support shown by bodies such as Enterprise Ireland has been key in ensuring a good ecosystem for companies starting out,” he said.
HBAN, which is a joint initiative of InterTradeIreland and Enterprise Ireland, is aiming to raise €6 million in funding for start-ups over a 48-hour period with its roadshow, which takes place simultaneously in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway next week. A similar event held last year raised €3 million from business angels.