As an early-stage VC who's seen the inside of a startup scrubbing up the home cleaning industry, I'm currently building my unique lens on the investment world. This past year, I've put my money into five startups. Our investment thesis leans heavily on "domain expert founders building scalable tech," but let me dish out the real tea on why these five caught my eye.

Company 1: The Olympic Gamers

Imagine a startup as ambitious as landing on the moon, but instead of astronauts, you've got an Olympic-winning gaming team at the controls. That's Company 1 for you.

These folks come from the gaming industry, where iterating faster than your character respawns is just part of the job. Their cycle of iteration in B2B SaaS is something I wish I could bottle and sell.

With Finland churning out gaming veterans like it's nobody's business, I'm here for the crossover episode where they jump into "regular" startups. Their deep dive into the problem from their gaming days had me at "hello."

Company 2: The Long-Term Courtship

Then there's Company 2, who took "getting to know you" to new heights by researching their problem for a full year before even starting to build.

Coming from the ex-Smartly squad, these folks have a knack for culture and an uncanny ability to validate problems like they're swiping right on solutions. They've managed to grow from a big fat zero to over €500K in ARR in just six months, which is the startup equivalent of a mic drop.

Also, their pitch happened over Call of Duty, which is as cool as it sounds.

Company 3: WhatsApp Hustlers

Company 3's founder was hustling on WhatsApp, proving you can turn group chats into cash flows before even building a product. After a year of digging into their problem, they decided to go all in.

This approach to validating market demand—essentially making sure people are willing to pay for what you're cooking—is genius in its simplicity.

Company 4: The Culture-Speed Combo

Mix the strategic culture-building of ex-Smartly folks with the high-speed iteration of gaming industry veterans, and you get Company 4.

They're a lean team with a dream, having spent ages interviewing users and experiencing the problem firsthand. They're on track to hit seven-figure revenue without bulking up the team, provided they nail the elusive product-market fit. It's like watching a high-wire act, but you're pretty confident they won't fall.

Company 5: The Problem Whisperers

Last but not least, Company 5 comes with years of industry expertise and a problem so relevant today it's practically screaming for a solution.

They didn't just talk to a few companies; they interviewed 100 before even starting to build. By the time they were discussing things with investors, they had a prototype ready to go. It's like they were baking a cake, and by the time they invited us over, it was already cooling on the rack.

So, why did I invest in these particular startups? Because they're not just talking the talk; they're walking it, running it, and occasionally sprinting it. They have the kind of domain expertise that can't be faked and the kind of dedication to their problems that you can't help but admire. And maybe, just maybe, they remind me a bit of my days trying to clean up the home cleaning industry—minus the actual mops and brooms, of course!

As we look to the future, I'm excited to see where these startups go. Will they stick to the landing? Only time will tell, but I've got a front-row seat to the action, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

My last 5 investments and why they got my attention

The reasons behind my investment in five unique startups over the past year.