Europe’s top entrepreneurs and investors light up awards night

The efforts of SoundCloud's Alexander Ljung and Arieso's Shirin Dehghan were acknowledged at the 11th annual Investor AllStars awards.

The best of the European entrepreneurial and investment community were lauded at the Investor AllStar 2013 awards, hosted by GrowthBusiness and GP Bullhound at the Natural History Museum.

Scooping the male and female entrepreneurs of the year were Alexander Ljung of SoundCloud and Shirin Dehghan from Arieso, who founded the technology company and recently led it through a successful sale to JDSU.

Beating off competition from the likes of iZettle’s Jacob de Geer and former Dragons’ Den investor James Caan, Ljung was lauded for his efforts in building SoundCloud as well as his investment and mentoring activities.

European investor DFJ Esprit capped a memorable year in which the firm completed an oversubscribed fundraising for its Angels EIS Co-Investment Fund and was part of the exiting team at Arieso, by collecting Venture Capital Fund of the Year.

Speaking with GrowthBusiness, Simon Cook, partner at DFJ Esprit, says, ‘For me personally, one of the most exciting things right now is the angel industry and the venture industry coming together, and we’re very excited to be working closer with angel investors.

‘We continue to be very active investors, and were in the top three last year in terms of number of deals.’

The Growth/Buyout Fund of the Year gong was given to Investcorp Technology Partners, a firm which has $1 billion under management and saw portfolio company Fleetmatics float on New York’s NASDAQ in October 2012.

In an era when divesting existing investments is hard work for venture capital firms, the judges’ panel dished out Exit of the Year to HOWZAT Partners for the sale of Trivago. Expedia’s acquisition of German hotel-focussed metasearch business Trivago valued the company at €750 million.

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While DFJ Esprit picked up the gong for group effort, Investor of the Year went to Par-Jorgen Parson of Northzone. Lining up alongside other shortlisted candidates such as Alex Macpherson of Octopus Investments and Dawn Capital’s Haakon Overli, Parson was the first investor in Spotify and has also backed businesses including Russian classifieds venture Avito and credit card payment processor iZettle.

The company award on the night, Europe’s Most Exciting Investor Backed Company of the Year, was decided through a pitching session earlier in the day. In front of a crowd of 100 investors, entrepreneurs and advisers, the seven companies each had ten minutes to present followed by a Q&A session. While Angry Birds creator Rovio and online members online travel service Secret Escapes provided strong competition, it was British property website Zoopla which was crowned on the evening.

Sponsors on the night included GP Bullhound, Sferiq, MTI Ventures, Orrick, Ballou PR, Berenberg, PER, Reeves, Information Age and Growth Company Investor.

A full list of winners and shortlisted companies is available on the Investor AllStars website.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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Venture capital funding