Equite, a Lithuanian hybrid investment firm, is taking its first step into the venture capital space with the launch of the company’s first startup, the price comparison platform Sherlook, this summer. This is part of Equite’s venture capital investment strategy – the company accelerates startups internally and then brings in external investors when needed.
Sherlook is an online price comparison platform where visitors can compare the prices of different service providers operating in the country and instantly become their customers. The startup’s first market in Romania. It is expected to launch in the first half of the summer and will allow visitors to compare offers from the country’s insurance companies, electricity and mobile phone providers.
“The market for online price comparison platforms has a very high potential, e.g. in Western Europe the market share of these platforms in motor insurance sales can reach 50% or more, in Lithuania up to 20%, while in Romania it is only 6-8%. In Lithuania, we already see fragmented competition in this area, which is why we start with the Romanian market. There are hardly any such specialised platforms, and the potential consumers are very large, with a population of almost 20 million people. We are in the home stretch, and most of the local suppliers are already contracted. Later on, we see opportunities to expand the range of services we offer and enter other markets – there are 3-4 countries in Central and Eastern Europe where this sector is still undeveloped,” says Vytautas Staugaitis, partner and head of venture capital at Equite.
Equite is investing EUR 500,000 in the initial phase of platform development.
A different strategy for venture capital investment
In the venture capital market, it is common to invest in a large number of different startups in the hope that a few of them will become successful.
“We have chosen a different strategy – we accelerate startups internally to the MVP (minimum viable product) stage, launch them on the market and then bring in external investors if needed. We do this for several reasons – there is a lot of untapped capital in the venture capital market today, with active funds, so there is no shortage of potential investors. In addition, there are not many new quality startups, and there is fierce competition for them among investors. We also have a lot of experience in our own team. We see potential problems and challenges that we can solve with the startups we develop,” says V. Staugaitis.
According to him, Equite plans to develop 3-5 startups in the next three years. In addition to Sherlook, the company’s portfolio currently includes two other projects in the early stages of development.
Equite, a hybrid investment firm launched last year, invests in five main areas: green economy projects, private lending to companies, private equity, real estate, and venture capital.