Ten great startups backed by family offices

Photo by ismagilov/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by ismagilov/iStock / Getty Images

As Family Capital has been saying for some time, family offices are increasingly backing startups, and startups are increasingly looking for family offices to back them. Typically, family offices aren’t providing seed capital - they tend to get involved later on during the growth of the business, although not always as this list shows. Here’s a list of 10 startups and the family offices backing them.

 

Startup: Snapdeal

A big online marketplace business based in India and founded in 2010.

Family office backers: RNT Associates and PremjiInvest

Two Indian SFOs backed Snapdeal - PremjiInvest, the family office of Azim Premji, one of India’s best-known businessman; and RNT Associates, the family office of Ratan Tata, probably India’s best-known businessman. RNT was involved at an early stage, whereas PremjiInvest invested later.

 

Startup: Streetcar

A car sharing club launched in the UK in 2004, which was bought by Zipcar in 2010.

Family office backers: Smedvig Capital

The family investment house of the Norwegian shipping family, the Smedvigs. Smedvig Capital became involved at a relatively early stage - three years after launch. It was sold to Zipcar for £50 million. How much Smedvig Capital owned? Not sure, but the family office probably did well from its investment.

 

Startup: Alltuition

A US online search engine that enables university students to find sources for financial aid. Alltuition was set up in 2010.

Family office backers: Pritzker Group

One of the world’s biggest family offices backed Alltuition with seed capital - so an indication that family offices can be in at the beginning, despite the higher risk. The Pritzker Group is not only big, but it is also one of the most active investors in venture capital. 

 

Startup: Jiff

A US-based health benefits platform founded in 2010 that saves employers money by organising their health benefits, says Jiff.

Family office backers: Aeris Capital

The Swiss-based family office of Klaus Tschira, who co-founded the German software giant SAP. Aeris has been involved at an early stage with Jiff, and the family office is one of the most active investors in venture capital in Europe.

 

Startup: Guru

A US-based team knowledge sharing platform founded in 2013.

Family office backers: MSD Capital

Michael Dell’s family office is one of the most active backers of venture capital anywhere, and it often backs startups at a very early stage, providing seed capital for Guru.

 

Startup: bexio

Based in Switzerland and founded in 2013, bexio helps small businesses with cloud-based business and accounting software.

Family office backers: Armada Investment Group

The family office of Daniel Aegerter, a Swiss tech entrepreneur - who made his initial money from the sale of a trading platform in 2000. Again, like the other Swiss family office on this list, Armada likes venture capital investing.

 

Startup: Infoblox

Describes itself as a developer of network identity solutions “enabling businesses to automate network control functions to reduce costs and boost security”. Set up in 1999, Infoblox was bought by a venture capital group in 2016.

Family office backer: Duchossois Technology Partners, part of the family office, Duchossois Capital Management

The Chicago-based Duchossois family own Duchossois Group, which is a group comprising companies worth more than $3 billion. They invested in Infoblox back in 2005.

 

Startup: Zoomin

A US online photo service group founded in 2007.

Family office backers: Grund Investment

The family office of a wing of the Gund family - a prominent multi-generational American family. Gund backed Zoomin with investment in 2014.

 

Startup: Realla.co

A UK-based online commercial real estate group founded in 2014.

Family office backers: Kirsh Office

Founded by the UK-based South African investor Nathan Kirsh. Kirsh Office got involved with Realla at an early stage.

 

Startup: VIVE

The US startup that describes itself as a “modern beauty concierge for the modern woman”.

Family office backers: T5 Equity Partners

The family office of the Ghermezian family - an Iranian-Canadian family behind big shopping mall developments in North America.