VC firm Middlegame Ventures eyes Irish fintechs

Firm is behind NadiFin accelerator, which takes place in Dublin and Luxembourg

MiddleGame general partner Patrick Pinschmidt said he was impressed by the calibre of fintech companies he had come across in the Republic in recent years. Photograph: Rebecca Drobis

MiddleGame general partner Patrick Pinschmidt said he was impressed by the calibre of fintech companies he had come across in the Republic in recent years. Photograph: Rebecca Drobis

 

Washington-headquartered venture capital firm Middlegame has said it is actively weighing up investing in a number of Irish fintechs.

Middlegame Ventures, whose partners have invested about $300 million (€267 million) in financial services companies over the past 10 years, is focused on backing early-stage fintechs in the United States and Europe that are raising series A or B rounds.

Speaking to The Irish Times, general partner Patrick Pinschmidt said he had been impressed by the calibre of fintech companies he had come across in the Republic in recent years.

“We’re talking to a few of them right now and in terms of our pipeline about 20 per cent of that is Irish fintech companies. I think there are definitely some that we will be going further down the road with,” he said.

Mr Pinschmidt added that the Republic’s fintech ecosystem is very attractive to Middlegame, with much of the focus of Irish start-ups dovetailing nicely with many of its key investment themes.

“Many of these companies are eager to partner with investors that can help them access the US market and other potential partners across Europe. Our job is to help connect the best and most promising start-ups with a broader network of international investors, critical business partners and new clients,” he said.

NadiFin accelerator

Middlegame recently teamed up with marketing and communication agency Farvest to announce a fintech-focused accelerator known as NadiFin that is running in Luxembourg and Dublin over the next two months.

The accelerator is focused on cutting-edge fintechs that are using artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, blockchain and other “deeptech” tools to create solutions for the European financial services market.

More than 100 applications have been made for the programme, whose local partners include Enterprise Ireland, Fintech and Payments Association Ireland, Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, and Stripe, the company founded by Limerick-born brothers Patrick and John Collison.

The local link continues with Gene Murphy, former entrepreneur in residence at Bank of Ireland, who is programme MD for NadiFin.

Mr Pinschmidt said a number of Irish companies were expected to be among the 12 finalists chosen for the accelerator, which ultimately leads to a €100,000 investment by Middlegame for one lucky company.

“The initial investment by our fund is just the beginning of our journey with the start-up,” he said.

Stability oversight

Before joining Middlegame, Mr Pinschmidt was a deputy assistant secretary at the US department of treasury where he served as the first executive director of the financial stability oversight council. He also spent a decade as a sell-side financial institutions, where he was the lead analyst at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch for the brokers, exchanges, and financial technology sector.

Having jumped shipped to go into the VC sector, Mr Pinschmidt said he was enjoying working with early stage companies.

“It is completely invigorating. There is such anenergy in working with entrepreneurs and trying to help them with their business. There is an optimism they have that is contagious,” he said.