Since our first investment in Europe more than 20 years ago, Battery’s non-U.S. activity has expanded, and evolved, quite a bit.
We’ve invested in more than 100 European-based companies since 2005 in sectors including business software, fin-tech, industrial technology and consumer Internet. These partnerships have ranged from tiny, seed-stage investments to larger transactions in which Battery takes a majority stake in a more-mature firm—and they’ve happened everywhere from the U.K. to France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Ireland and the Netherlands, among other countries. We opened an office in London in 2016 and promoted our first European-based partner, Zak Ewen, earlier this year.
But as a U.S.-founded firm, investing in Europe can be challenging for us because the continent is obviously fragmented geographically, with different business cultures and languages in each market. We sometimes struggle to engage directly with founders and CEOs who may not be fluent in English; in many cases, we need to take extra steps to communicate our value as an investor to these executives.
Indeed, as our European footprint has expanded over the years, our strategy has as well. These days, we’re investing in some tech companies with headquarters outside major European cities, including those that are part of the so-called German “Mittelstand”: a vast group of small- to mid-sized enterprises, often family-owned, that churn out everything from machine parts and chemicals to cutting-edge software. (We’re obviously more interested in the latter group!) In other countries, too, we’re talking to fascinating companies run by executives who may not speak great English because, until now, they’ve been laser-focused on their local markets—but are nonetheless making standout technology and have the potential to become sizable global businesses.
This broad-based innovation wave in Europe and around the globe is spurred by many factors, including the rise of cloud computing; ubiquitous broadband Internet, and the related trend of remote work/outsourcing; and the push by businesses across industries, including manufacturing, to digitize their core processes and operations.
We’ve realized that we need to do more to meet these new European innovators on their own turf, so to speak, by localizing our messaging and helping them to easily see who Battery is and what we can potentially do together. That’s why we recently decided to globalize our Battery website. Starting this week, visitors can access professionally translated versions of the site in German and French, as well as English.
Even better, we used AI technology from our very own portfolio company Smartling* to execute this, and we may add more languages later. We feel it’s a fitting move as our investing practice increasingly focuses on European and other global companies in an increasingly interconnected world.
After all, we wouldn’t want anything about our value proposition to get lost in translation.
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*Denotes a Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments, please click here.