Reykjavík-based Iceland Venture Studio has raised more than $1 million of the fund and is now in the process of raising the remainder, said Bala Kamallakharan, founder and CEO of both Iceland Studio Venture and Startup Iceland, in an email to VentureBeat.
I enjoyed visiting Iceland, a steamy land with volcanic spas. But it’s also hot for startups. Iceland has become one of the most progressive countries in the world in terms of open data, and the fund sees that as a growth opportunity for entrepreneurs. Iceland Venture Studio will invest in Icelandic ventures, but it will also be open to investing in startups elsewhere.
Kamallakharan said the mission is to work with startups providing services around decentralization of private data, algorithms, privacy, process, and data security.
The studio’s developer and capital ecosystems include a multi-disciplinary team of developers, designers, marketers, analysts, scientists, investors, and operators who are passionate about helping founders solve their problems. Before starting Iceland Venture Studio, Kamallakharan created Startup Iceland, a grassroots organization aimed at creating a sustainable startup ecosystem in the country.
The founders and startups Iceland Venture Studio is currently investing in are:
- Retina Risk — founded by Einar Stefansson, Arna Gudmundsdottir, and Johann Malmquist.
- Flow VR — founded by CEO Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin.
“We had the opportunity to work with several potential investors, but we found Iceland Venture Studios to have the best possible mix of capital, connections, and capabilities to meet our very specific needs,” said Stefansson, cofounder of Retina Risk, in a statement. “They have committed to partner with us for the long haul, and we are very impressed with Bala and his team as they help us grow to the next level.”
Kamallakharan previously served as an executive board member for both Guide to Iceland and Travelshift.
Over the years, Bala has invested in, mentored, and served as chair at CLARA (Resonata), the Icelandic community analytics company that was acquired by Jive Software in 2013. Bala has also invested in various early-stage ventures, including Buuteeq (acquired by Priceline.com), Mattermark, and Genome Compiler (acquired by Twist Biosciences). He was most recently granted a major award in January of 2019 by First Lady Eliza Reid for services rendered to the country.
“As part of the team here at Iceland Venture Studios, my job is to provide expertise and guidance to effectively mitigate the product-to-market fit validation risk, product development risks, team development risk, and eventually reduce the capital raise risk, as well,” said Kamallakharan. “We have the industry relationships, technical know-how, and business development experience to bring the best opportunities to our portfolio partners. We intend to see them win big and make that happen with professionalism and enthusiasm in equal measure.”