Strategic differentiation in European early-stage venture capital
: influencing factors of portfolio support activities : an empirical study

  • Sinah Mussmann (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In the last couple of years, European venture capital (VC) has been pacing astonishingly records. The deal value of European venture capital activity increased from €48.3b in 2020 to €105.6b in 2021, therefore more than doubling within 12 months (Farber & Patel, 2022b). Consequently, the competition between incumbents as well as new entrants in the European early-stage VC industry is picking up. This research paper highlights the relevance of portfoliosupport activities of early-stage VC firms in order to strategically differentiate from the competition and add value to their investments. The results of this empirical study imply the following key findings: 35 out of 43 VC firms that responded offer a minimum of 8 of 13 (61.5%) listed support activities. The results show that there is a significant effect of the lead investor role on the number of support activities offered. Lead investors focus more strongly on supporting their portfolio companies than non-lead investors. In addition, respondents that offered more support activities perceived them both as an important strategic differentiator and as a performance advantage. Surprisingly, neither the overall assets under management nor the number of partners had a significant effect on the support activities. However, a significant effect was found with respect to the number of portfolio companies. Hence, the more active companies a VC stated to have in the fund's portfolio, the more support activities the investor would offer. Overall, the findings highlight the relevance and coverage of operational involvement by early-stage VCs in Europe.
Date of Award27 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorJosé Vasconcelos e Sousa (Supervisor)


  • Venture capital
  • Early stage
  • Support activities
  • Services
  • Differentiation


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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