Investing in Global Startup Opportunities: 500 Global’s Outlook for 2024

We sat down with Courtney Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner at 500 Global, to get her outlook on the venture capital landscape in 2024 ahead of her upcoming appearance at the PE/VC 0100 Conference Europe where she will be sharing the stage with Carolina de Azevedo from Emerald Technology Ventures and Silva Deželan from Forbion.

With over a decade of experience across startups and venture capital, Courtney provides valuable insights from an investor's perspective. When asked about her major concerns for 2024, she emphasized the need for collaboration among ecosystems "It takes an ecosystem of stakeholders like venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, mentors and state-backed agencies and institutions to create a thriving startup ecosystem," she explained. "There needs to be ongoing dialogue and mutual support to drive progress forward."

Should we be worried that key players are not taking an active role in developing their ecosystems? According to Courtney, investors must contribute to the agencies’ need to address mid-stage funding gaps, and policymakers should incentivize business-friendly policies. Educating entrepreneurial talent is also critical so founders can succeed locally and globally.

“A prime example of successful collaboration with multiple stakeholders is our 500 Georgia Accelerator Program. In 2020, 500 Global launched Georgia’s first international accelerator program in collaboration with Georgia’s Innovation & Technology Agency and the Bank of Georgia – bringing our bespoke curriculum and world-class mentors to the region,” Courtney said. “It aims to accelerate 120 companies from Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Baltics, equipping founding teams with fundamental skills in marketing, growth, and operations to scale their businesses while providing a high visibility platform to showcase companies during the program and at a Demo Day.”

Reasons for Optimism in 2024

Despite these challenges, Courtney is optimistic about several trends leading into 2024. She believes the focus on unit economics and sustainable growth that defined the "reckoning" of 2023 will continue. This shift prioritizes healthy business models over inflated valuations, creating stability for long-term exits.

She also highlighted the immense potential in emerging markets like the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. “There’s booming potential for alpha generation in these regions with growing populations – especially younger ones – as well as great internet and mobile connectivity. The shift in focus towards these developing startup ecosystems offers new opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs”, she commented.

Regarding opportunities for exit pathways and liquidity, Powell also has a positive outlook.

“While M&A will remain the dominant exit pathway in 2024, I anticipate increased activity in IPOs, particularly from the Middle East and Africa. There’s a growing popularity of regional exchanges like Tadawul and ADX offer new options for startups beyond traditional Western markets and will attract further international capital and investment”, she explained and added: “Lastly, I think we’re seeing the mid-stage funding gap between seed funding and large checks from sovereign wealth funds starting to close. This is starting to be addressed by new funds entering the market,” Courtney mentioned, highlighting that this increased capital availability will support promising startups and propel them to the next stage of growth.

Uplifting Economies  & Milestones

When asked about investing to uplift economies and milestones, Courtney emphasized 500 Global's mission of uplifting overlooked regions and founders. "We actively champion innovation and talent across those regions," she stated.” This is a strategic pursuit that embraces diverse innovation for a more vibrant and inclusive global innovation ecosystem that drives societal and economic progress”.

Lastly, she emphasized that diverse innovation, like that flourishing in the Middle East, is the key to uncovering the next big ideas and achieving lasting investment success. “Our efforts to find and nurture diverse talent are also represented in the percentage of accelerator startups and portfolio companies that are women-founded or cofounded which is often 25-30% – much higher than the industry average”.

As the 2024 conference season unfolds, we invite you to join us at Zero One Hundred Conferences, LP/GP events in Vienna, Amsterdam, Prague, and Milan, that gather the most senior audience in the industry, where exclusivity meets impact.


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