TransferWise CEO Taavet Hinrikus is investing early. After leaving Skype and turning his own TransferWise (now known as Wise) into one of the world’s biggest digital payment companies (he paid his early investors back massive 35,000 percent returns). In turn, he’s now re-investing his returns in new start-ups, with plans for a similar return on investment for others.
“I spent the past 10 years building one iconic European company,” the Estonian native said. “In the next 10 years, I would love to have 100 or even 1,000 similar iconic companies come around.”
Last fall, he sold a $110 million stake in Wise after the company went public. He is still an investor, though, holding more than $650 million in Wise stock. He’s already putting that money to good use: he’s backed over 100 European start-ups in Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe, including Roofit.Solar (company building photovoltaic construction elements to replace conventional roofing materials), the electric bike company Ampler Bikes, the trading app Lightyear, the equity property crowdfunding Property Partner, the alternative energy storage firm Skeleton Technologies, and the metaverse infrastructure software firm Improbable. Hinrikus hopes to boost the future of these small companies by increasing his personal investment in them.
The small company investments are already picking up significant gains. With just four years of investment, he received a more than 700 percent return on his money in Estonia’s Bolt, a transportation company.
Currently, Hinkrikus is looking at several sustainable, climate-focused companies like Roofit.Solar and Skeleton Technologies for his next investments. He hopes to level the playing field for promising tech companies on the Continent.“I want to make sure Europe has a great chance,” Hinrikus said. “Silicon Valley has a 50-year head start.”