Interview with Lucanus Polagnoli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Venture Capital Fund: Calm/Storm

Calm/Storm is a super early-stage, boutique venture capital fund based in Austria.  We invest in founders who are building digital solutions for the healthcare and wellbeing space all across Europe.

Investing in super early stage often means pre-traction, that’s why we are searching for a “founder/market fit” rather than a product/market fit. We’re usually one of the first checks in companies, co-investing alongside with other Angels or funds. Our first ticket sizes range from €50k to €250k. Because every startup will go through its own ‘storm’ we see ourselves as partners who help founders calm the storm.

We do this through our network of Supporting Partners, who are experienced founders themselves. And through our Academy, which is a “Y Combinator” style community where founders share their learnings and support each other.


Calm/Storm Ventures


What inspired the idea for the fund?


In my previous role, it was hard to convince other partners to invest in companies that had no traction and sometimes not even a product. You need to trust your gut and base your decision on the founder. This convinced me that a smaller fund with a culture open to new ideas and exceptional founders was the solution to finding those early stage gems.

Both during my career as an investor and also when I led a startup, I learnt that there are no safe places in the “super early” stage. Storms will hit you no matter what industry, how profound the team might be, or how much money you raised. So the aim is not to circumnavigate risks but to embrace them consciously, not getting thrown off the course, staying afloat and not drowning. In a nutshell, the goal is to calm the storm. And I wanted to create a fund that was designed to support with just that.



How has the fund/company evolved during the pandemic?


We had to adapt just like everyone else. For an emerging fund manager it’s obviously hard to raise a fund and even harder during a global crisis. But the pandemic has also very strongly validated our investing thesis.

At the end of the day, health is what counts. Health systems have been forced to go digital with a degree of urgency that we wouldn’t have dreamt of before covid. Our deal flow is exploding. Founders all across Europe are starting to build digital solutions to improve our life. We’re quite fortunate that we have an international team, based in Vienna, Berlin, and Warsaw and we’ve been working and investing remotely from day one of the fund. All of this makes us feel very optimistic about the future.


What can we hope to see from Calm/Storm in the future?


We’re very excited about the future. We closed our first fund quickly and have already invested in more than 20 companies. We’re looking forward to seeing them grow and supporting them on their journey. We believe that there was never a better time to invest in digital health solutions in Europe and we are extremely well-positioned to do so.