The fintech investor for real innovations beyond the hype

The fintech investor for real innovations beyond the hype

When Patrick Aisher sketches the DACH region on a napkin, you get a completely new view of the landscape. Aisher sees Switzerland and Austria as two turbo-boosters for Europe’s economic engine and as the two places where fresh start-up ideas thrive, especially in the fintech sector. The central location and good economy of the DACH region enable companies to quickly access the rest of Europe and even expand globally. Therefore, the British-Austrian entrepreneur and investor, together with two partners, have established themselves its own start-up incubator, Mountain Labswhich aims to develop the potential of fintechs in the region.

Aisher, who took over the family’s Kinled Holding as director in 1995 and gained a lot of experience at a young age (including Nasdaq IPO or exits of portfolio companies to Wienerberger or Magna International), has invested in fintech for over 10 years. Kinled Holding is heavily involved in the biotechnology sector and with the Central European Biotech Incubator & Accelerator (CEBINA), on the biotechnology campus of the University of Vienna. Biotechnology companies make up approximately 50% of Kinled’s portfolio. With a focus on financial technologies, Aisher aims to invest in projects that digitize financial processes and make them more accessible to everyone. He sees great opportunities for startups in the payments sector.

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Growing portfolio

Fintechs are smaller and more agile and use innovative technologies to develop tailored solutions for their customers. Technology is the most important advantage for moving forward in a highly regulated industry like finance,” says Aisher. He has already built a respectable portfolio of startups and scale-ups via Kinled and Mountain Labs. The portfolio of around 125 companies includes 25 fintech and 37 digital technology startups, many of which focused on financial issues. Some of the most prominent projects in Aisher’s portfolio are:

  • Bricksave: A ground-breaking real estate crowdfunding platform based in Zurich and London that allows investors to invest in handpicked projects from $1,000. Bricksave has invested $30 million in US residential real estate to date.
  • Sonect: The Zurich start-up enables users to cash out at cash registers in stores simply via smartphone. This gives the banks the opportunity to position thousands of new “ATMs”, without having to set up locations themselves. Sonect has 800,000 users in Switzerland.
  • linx4: The Austrian start-up enables so-called pay-per-use financing for industrial machines and systems and thus develops an exciting counter-model to classic leasing or purchase.

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Stay away from the hype!

Despite his involvement with innovative solutions in the fintech landscape, Aisher stays away from short-term hype. NFTs, Buy Now Pay Later, Metaverse – the investor ignores all these and prefers it concentrate on long-term, sustainable trends. “I prefer to focus on sustainable business models in the B2B sector that give customers real added value and are not just looking for quick money,” says Aisher. As an example, he cites BVNK from the UK, which enables crypto payments for banking products in the B2B sector.

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With Mountain Labs, Aisher invests in startups from the Seed Stage onwards – so it has the power to handle large financing rounds of many millions of euros. The following examples show how successful portfolio companies can become: Trufin was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2018 – also with Aisher as a seed investor – and valued at £185m at the time. Just a year later, DF Capital went public with Kinled as a shareholder, fetching a valuation of £120m.

The success stories really show that Aisher’s team knows the entire process from the start-up phase to the stock market listing and has the tenacity to follow businesses through the various phases. It is important to him build deep trust with the founders and monitor their progress. “We don’t invest as early as possible just to be at the table at the very beginning,” says Aisher. “We can say no the first time, the second time and the third time. But then, if the product, the team, the marketing and the strategy suit us, then we are happy to get on the pitch. I prefer to come on board later and stay there for a long time than to come on board too early and lose the investment quickly.”

A wealth of experience and many connections

Aisher is, as one can immediately see at the first meeting, a thoroughbred entrepreneur. He took over the family’s Kinled Holding as a director in 1995. The biggest asset at the time was the construction company Marley PLC, which his family founded after the First World War and remains one of the market leaders in environmentally friendly roofing in the UK. In 2022, after several partial exits (including to Wienerberger of Austria), it was finally sold through a private equity transaction for £565 million.

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Meanwhile, over the past 25 years, Aisher has built Kinled into a Hong Kong-headquartered investment company specializing in funding life sciences, digital technology and fintech companies. Although Aisher prefers direct investments, he is also on board as a Limited Partner (LP) with several funds, including Concentric and D2. Consequently, Aisher is well connected to the investor community – and can count well-known names such as Watrium, Augmentum or Tiger Global among its CO investors.

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