How a 700-year-old legend inspired a VC?
Around 700 years ago, Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas was hunting in the sacred forest near the valley of Šventaragis, where today’s capital resides. After the successful hunt of a wisent, the tired hunting party settled in for the night. Gediminas fell soundly asleep and dreamed of a huge iron wolf standing on top of a hill where he killed the wisent, howling as loud as a hundred wolves. Upon awakening, the Grand Duke asked a pagan priest to interpret the dream. The priest told him: ‘the iron wolf represents a castle and a city which will be established by you on this site. This city will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of their rulers. The howling of the wolf signifies the fame of the future city - its prominence is destined to spread as far as the howling of the mighty iron wolf’. Therefore, Gediminas, inspired by his vision, built the city and named it after the Vilnia River.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the height of its power in the 15th century, superimposed on modern borders. Source: Wikipedia.
Gediminas the Grand Duke of Lithuania had a dream that Vilnius will become a prospering and strong city where tolerant people of all nationalities live in harmony and peace. His dream came true.
Coming back to 2019, the Iron Wolf Capital’s modern office stands on the northern riverside, overlooking the famous hill upon which the remains of Gediminas’ castle resides, encircled by the bustling city. A legacy that lasts close to a thousand years. We have come far, but there is still so much further to go.
Inspired by the monumentality of the legend, the Iron Wolf Capital have their sights firmly set on funding the most promising and ambitious startups in the region and becoming a truly successful early-stage VC.
The Baltics, nicknamed as the ‘New Nordics’ have positioned themselves to be one of Europe's fastest-growing startup hotspots. From Lithuania’s reputation as a major fintech hub to Estonia’s four unicorns, there’s no doubt the Baltics have serious potential on a global scale.
The recipe of the nurturing Baltic startup ecosystem consists of a good balance of experienced, multinational teams, a wide-reaching diaspora that provides huge networking opportunities, the spirit of entrepreneurship, government initiatives and of course, the abundance of talent.
Coming from a small country, the Baltic founders have a unique advantage from day one - global and adaptable thinking. Which means, they’re building a scalable, global product right from the very start. The habit of lean, creative and adaptive thinking is inbuilt in the Baltic DNA - history made sure of that.
Furthermore, Baltic salaries tend to be lower than salaries in the world's major cities like New York or London. This means that a huge chunk of initial investment funds can be allocated to marketing or product development as opposed to salaries or living costs. Combine that with the amount of experienced talent and you have a recipe for success.
The Baltic VCs are in a good position as well - there’s not much competition and they’re well-funded. In the last five years, the private equity and venture capital market in the Baltics have grown sevenfold and stands at more than €3 billion in 2019, according to the Baltic Venture Capital Association. They’re also using the funds efficiently: EU based VCs demonstrate better early-stage returns than their US counterparts.
Recently, the Lithuanian startup ecosystem had a symbolic breakthrough - their first unicorn, or ‘wolficorn’ in Vilnius-speak. We’re sure there’s many more in the making. 700 years ago Lithuania achieved greatness by conquering foreign lands. Now, the Iron Wolf Capital has a vision to fund promising regional startups and help them expand globally. We’re hungry and we’re patient - that is the most dangerous combination of all.