JERUSALEM--(BUSINESS WIRE)--PICO Venture Partners, a Jerusalem-based, early-stage venture capital firm, has closed its second fund with $80 million in capital commitments. PICO now manages $130 million across two funds.
Founded in 2015, the firm invests in early-stage startups seeking to upend broken business models in sizable industries. Rather than focusing on specific sectors, it looks for values-based, execution-driven Israeli entrepreneurs who leverage technology to modernize processes and unlock greater efficiency in the marketplace. The firm believes that this sector-agnostic, business-centric approach is the key to successfully identifying and investing in startups with the greatest potential for growth.
PICO has invested in 15 portfolio companies to date including Vroom, the online platform for buying and selling refurbished, pre-owned cars. Recognizing the massive opportunity to transform the highly fragmented used car market, PICO led Vroom’s initial investment round and has continued to support the company in follow-on rounds.
PICO also led the initial investment round in Spotinst, the cloud automation and optimization startup that has reached more than 1,500 enterprise customers across 52 countries in just three years.
The young firm has other notable, fast-growing investments including Gloat, an AI-powered internal talent marketplace, and ChargeAfter, a multi-lender point-of-sale financing platform – both working with Fortune 500 customers.
More recently, PICO invested in Tastewise, an AI-powered food trends prediction and intelligence startup, and Ravin.AI, which combines computer vision and deep learning to detect and analyze vehicle damage via standard cameras.
The firm – with offices in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and New York – was co-founded by partners Elie Wurtman, Todd Kesselman and Gina LaVersa. Wurtman is a serial entrepreneur, venture investor and technology executive who served as General Partner at Benchmark Capital Israel for six years and, before that, spent three years at Jerusalem Venture Partners as CEO of JVP Studio.
Kesselman and LaVersa worked together as investment bankers in New York before founding an investment firm with $2.5 billion of ultra-high-net-worth capital and relationships with leading private equity and venture funds. Kesselman, based in Tel Aviv, works on the PICO investment team and with LaVersa (based in New York), oversees fundraising and leveraging their U.S. network to provide strategic value and new business opportunities for the portfolio. PICO is backed by family offices, ultra-high-net-worth individuals and select corporate investors from the U.S., Europe and Australia.
At the core of PICO’s investment philosophy is a desire to invest in entrepreneurs who are driven to serve as a positive force in society. As a proponent of values-based leadership, PICO explicitly searches for entrepreneurial leaders who share its values of empathy, purpose, creativity, optimism, grit and teamwork.
PICO takes a hands-on approach to working with early-stage companies, helping them grow from zero to launch. PICO’s team of ex-founders and executives offer support across all areas including idea development, go-to-market strategy, hiring, customer acquisition and management coaching.
This approach has proven immensely successful with companies like AutoLeadStar, a Jerusalem-based startup that has built an AI-powered digital marketing machine for car dealerships, enabling them to engage and convert more car buyers. In 2016 Wurtman began mentoring AutoLeadStar CEO Aharon Horwitz and the pair developed a strong partnership. In less than two years, the company has penetrated over four hundred dealerships, including many of the largest groups in the U.S.
According to Horwitz, “PICO has been a powerful force in the life of our company, creating immense value in strategy and product, while frequently connecting us to hubs of value and opportunity around the world.”
In addition to investing in tech-enabled businesses, the firm works directly to impact its surrounding community. In order for Israel to continue to serve as a source of entrepreneurial talent, PICO invests in the next generation of entrepreneurs – children. PICO Kids, the firm’s social enterprise, is focused on developing future leaders by delivering STEM education, core values and 21st century skills to thousands of students across Jerusalem.
ABOUT PICO VENTURE PARTNERS
PICO Venture Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm positioned in the heart of Startup Nation with offices in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and New York.
PICO invests in visionary Israeli entrepreneurs building future-defining technologies. These entrepreneurs are relentless in their quest to transform existing markets, industries, business processes, and consumer experiences.
Led by former founders and executives with an execution-driven ethos, PICO leverages its domain expertise, advisor network, collaborative workspaces, and go-to-market channels to support its portfolio companies in every aspect of their growth trajectory. Through close partnership and open dialogue, PICO offers founders the unwavering loyalty they need to succeed.
PICO-backed companies include Vroom, Spotinst, AutoLeadStar, Tastewise, Epistema, ChargeAfter, Sepio Systems, Niio, and others.