Why I came to Malta – to ‘Follow the Entrepreneur’
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Why I came to Malta – to ‘Follow the Entrepreneur’

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

On July 10 and 11, the ‘Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit’ came to Malta. More than 50,000 people watched the livestream, 15,000 visited the website, 470 investors registered, with more than 75 per cent flying in from 30 countries with 50 international speakers.

Ariadne Capital, my investment firm, set up in 2000 with shareholders including the BetFair, Hotmail, SES Astra founders, has backed more than $1 billion of tech deals. We’ve hosted investors at the Four Seasons, Hampshire, UK for six years but felt the time was right to move the show to Malta.

Brexit was only a small part.

My first exposure to Malta was in July 2000 after I sold my previous firm for $50 million. Andreas Gerdes had invited me to an event of iWorld Group, the corporate mobile accelerator. In February 2016, Kenneth Farrugia, chairman of Finance Malta, invited me to speak at the annual conference, and I came down to Malta in May 2016 to do so. He had persuaded me that we should look at Malta as a jurisdiction for our next fund.

I was really impressed.

The energy was palpable. The professionals were responsive. The benefits for a fund and corporate set-up including tax, to sunshine were apparent. I had a great time and got back in touch with old acquaintances Malcolm Ross and Mikko Pukhalla. I was asked to speak at Zest Malta a month later.

I was introduced to Portcullis Asset Management, which I acquired, giving us a robust regulatory platform, enabling us to position ourselves as the platform for venture capital fund managers to plug into. Portcullis connected me to Karl Strobl, Erik Ferm and Thomas Schildhammer.

Malta works. The economy is screaming. Talent is reasonable

Every visit seemed to bring more interesting people, ideas, opportunities and capital.

In order to raise the €1 billion AUM (assets under management), that our investment platform is targeting I decided to host the ‘Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit’ in Malta so that large asset allocators such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, large family offices, HNWIs and corporate investors could see the benefits of Malta.

Malta works. The economy is screaming. Talent is reasonable; I haven’t had a problem finding great talent at all. As a venture capital franchise, we want to test pilot the applications that our entrepreneurs are bringing to market; the social media obsession of the population is valuable to get this done.

Malta is a United Nations Hot Spot in this respect. It’s vibrant and the natural capital of the Greater Mediterranean Ecosystem which is the second largest GDP zone in the world.

At the ‘Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit’ we showcase the entrepreneurs not the money. Ariadne organises our investment capability around ecosystems, and this past week we selected the best entrepreneurs whose businesses are forging the digital ecosystems which will transform our lives:   transportation, energy, financial identity, art, property, gaming and local content.

Speakers included Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Economy Minister Chris Cardona; entrepreneurs who are Malta residents, Mark Weingard, Angelo Dalli and Andreas Gerdes; Candace Johnson, founder of SES Astra; John Porter (the grandson of the Tesco founder, founder of Verifone); Shlomo Kalish, chairman of Jerusalem Global Ventures and the individual most associated with ‘Start-up Nation’; George Coelho, founder of Intel Capital; and Joseph Portelli, the chairman of the Malta Stock Exchange.

Ariadne organised a full week of pre-summit activities which included excursions across the island – tours of historical sites, boat trips, winery tours, incredible lunches, gala dinners and networking for the investors who were able to explore Malta and fall in love with the country.

We see Malta as an exceptional location for our investment platform which is bringing platform economics to the cottage industry of venture capital.    The big money is looking for the best way to allocate into European tech venture capital with big tickets, diversified and with a service level guarantee that all of the regulatory functions are being done correctly.

By aggregating the functions of fund management, administration, banking, investor development and portfolio development into a platform, Ariadne enables tech investors to focus on what they love, which is backing entrepreneurs and making good tech investments. This is why most venture capitalists go into business, but they find themselves spending years raising the funds, and then managing regulation and compliance.

The annual pilgrimage of ‘Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit’ will return to Malta in late June 2018.

Julie Meyer is CEO and founder of Ariadne Capital.

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