Jerusalem-Based PICO Venture Partners Closes $80 Million For Fund II

By Amit Chowdhry ● Oct 3, 2019
  • PICO Venture Partners, a Jerusalem-based early-stage venture capital firm, announced it raised $80 million in capital commitments for its second fund

Jerusalem-based early-stage venture capital firm PICO Venture Partners announced it closed $80 million in capital commitments for its second fund. Now PICO manages $130 million across two funds. Launched in 2015, PICO invests in early-stage startups seeking to upend broken business models in sizable industries.

Instead of focusing on specific sectors, PICO looks for execution-driven Israeli entrepreneurs who utilize technology to modernize processes and unlock greater efficiency in the marketplace. And PICO believes that this sector-agnostic and business-centric approach is the key to successfully identifying and investing in startups with the greatest potential for growth.

So far, PICO invested in 15 portfolio companies to date including Vroom, an online platform for buying and selling pre-owned vehicles. PICO led Vroom’s initial investment round and has been supporting the company in follow-on rounds.

Plus PICO also led the initial investment round in Spotinst, which is a cloud automation and optimization startup that reached more than 1,500 enterprise customers across 52 countries in just three years.

And PICO also invested in internal talent marketplace company Gloat, multi-lender point-of-sale financing platform ChargeAfter, food trends prediction company Tastewise, and vehicle damage analysis company Ravin.AI.

PICO was co-founded by partners Elie Wurtman, Todd Kesselman and Gina LaVersa. Wurtman is a serial entrepreneur and previously served as a general partner at Benchmark Capital Israel for six years. Before that, he spent three years at Jerusalem Venture Partners as CEO of JVP Studio.

And Kesselman and LaVersa worked together as investment bankers in New York before launching an investment firm with $2.5 billion of ultra-high-net-worth capital and relationships with leading private equity and venture funds. Kesselman is based out of Tel Aviv and works on the PICO investment team and with LaVersa (based out of New York).

PICO is currently backed by family offices, ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and select corporate investors from the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

To help the firm’s portfolio companies, PICO takes a hands-on approach. For example, PICO’s team of ex-founders and executives offer support across all areas including idea development, go-to-market strategy, hiring, customer acquisition, and management coaching.

This strategy worked well for companies like Jerusalem-based AutoLeadStar, which built an AI-powered digital marketing machine for car dealerships by enabling them to engage and convert more car buyers. In 2016, Wurtman started mentoring AutoLeadStar CEO Aharon Horwitz. After developing a strong rapport with the venture firm, AutoLeadStar was able to penetrate over four hundred dealerships including many of the largest groups in the U.S.

“PICO has been a powerful force in the life of our company, creating immense value in strategy and product, while frequently connecting us to hubs of value and opportunity around the world,” said Horwitz.