Interviews

How This Londoner Fell in Love With the Nordics and Now Invests In Startups

Written by Kim Oguilve Read time 4 min

When Neil Murray moved to Copenhagen around 5 years ago, he was happy to discover that back then some of the world’s most interesting startups came from the Nordics. He was fascinated and determined to tell the world that story. Back in his hometown, London, the story told was different — people thought that companies such as Holvi, JustEat, and Spotify were being built in London.

How This Londoner Fell in Love With the Nordics and Now Invests In Startups
Neil Murray is the Founder of The Nordic Web — an online resource providing data-driven analysis, insights and reports on the Nordic startup and technology scene.

Since 2014, Neil Murray has been an active advocate of bringing out the best coverage of the startup ecosystem in the Nordics through his website “The Nordic Web”. The Nordic Web has become an iconic resource of where to find the yearly Nordic Funding Analysis report and anything entrepreneurship/startup related. One can say that even as a Londoner, Neil has gathered enough hands-on experience as to what the Nordic ecosystem is lacking in many areas — such as uneducated decisions on early-stage funding.

“A little-known fact about me is that I hate writing and I wasn’t doing it because I like writing or because I wanted to run a blog or a media company, I did it because I was passionate about the ecosystem. ”

From the beginning, when Neil started The Nordic Web — the Nordic startup ecosystem needed a push in terms of telling the names and the stories behind the startups founded in the area. However, the needs are much different now. The startups needed a different push, which leads Neil to the founding his first angel fund “The Nordic Web Ventures “.

Challenges in Early-Stage Funding

“I started the fund because I wanted to be a good actor or founder friendly option for companies that are raising their first money. ”

One of the main challenges in early funding is the lack of education and information through the first money a company receives. As Neil mentioned, “there are many rich private individuals that haven’t spent a lot of time within the startup ecosystem and don’t understand how things work”, which presents an early risk for many of startups to be less likely to be invested later on.

A typical scenario is that of an investor taking 30%-40% of equity in a company in return for a few thousand euros, which sets the startups on a bad start to get investment further down the road.

From the founders’ side, it is also the lack of information about the implications these sort of actions can have later on for their startup. It is the responsibility of people within the startup ecosystem, say co-working spaces or angel investors to inform how these decisions can affect a founder later on, explains Neil.

Ideally Investing in Founder-Market Fit

“I was playing the role of an angel investor without writing a check. So I eventually thought it was time to do that. ”

After running The Nordic Web for a while, Neil started to notice that his network had become relevant both for investors and startup founders, to the point where he would get asked for recommendations from both investors and startup founders. Starting his own fund was the next natural step to follow as he had built his own network where he could now actively help everyone in the ecosystem.

The Nordic Web Angel Fund was launched in November 2017. As of today, Neil task is that of writing checks to startups in need of their first check or as part of a participating round.

The fund is backed by some of the most known names inside the startup ecosystem in the Nordics such as: Rudi Skogman (Blok), Linda Liukas (Hello Ruby), Ekaterina Gianelli (Inventure), Andreas Cleve (Corti), and many more.

As of today, Neil has invested on 4 different startups and he is looking forward to making between 6–8 investments more. Neil is looking for Founders that have been working on “x” industry where they have first hands-on experience, found a problem in the field and want to tackle that problem and solve it.

He understands that the investments he is doing are quite early, thus things can easily change later on. For that reason he considers that a great team and a founder/market fit will make the deal. The mentioned meaning, the capacity in which “x” founder is the most suitable to solve “x” problem.

The Nordic Web Ventures Funding Process

“Typically I do a check size of around €50K. I can come in on my own or I can be part of a round of money.”

The process is very simple to apply as it is only needed to send an email to Neil ( neil@thenordicweb.com) with your pitch deck. After that, you will have an introductory Skype call or two with him. If things are in green light after the calls, he would personally come and meet your startup.

Neil counts with many different investors in the Nordics which help him with company recommendations. After a decision has been made, the idea is to continue to work with the startups to help them reach their metrics and preparing them for the next funding round.


About The Nordic Web Ventures

The Nordic Web Ventures is an Angel Fund run by Neil S W Murray, backed by 50+ community builders, entrepreneurs and investors passionate about supporting early-stage Nordic startups.