Starfunding: 10 European startups funded by celebrities

28th June 2021

Bono. Ashton Kutcher. Leonardo di Caprio. Madonna. Snoop Dog. What do they have in common aside from being mega-celebrities and Hollywood A-listers? These celebrities are also investors in startups, and not only that, but they also invested in startups that made it big! Bono is noted for being an early investor in Facebook while Kutcher did the same for Skype. Di Caprio invested and helped out in the marketing and brand positioning of now-defunct Mobli, a startup from Tel Aviv which was dubbed as Instagram’s challenger, while Madonna made an early investment in Vita Coco water. Some of them, like Bono (Elevation Partners then later The Rise Fund) and Kutcher (Sound Ventures) even formed their own venture firms.

VR-meets-neuroscience startup MindMaze was founded in 2012 by neuroscientist and engineer Tej Tadi, and has Leonardo di Caprio as one of its investors. Di Caprio also joined as a Director on its Board when he invested in MindMaze in 2017. MindMaze develops medical grade virtual reality products to stimulate neural recovery. Its platform aims to build intuitive human machine interfaces combining VR, computer graphics, brain imaging, and neuroscience. In May 2021, Yahoo Finance revealed that MindMaze is considering a Nasdaq listing by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). It is looking at raising €82.5 million ($100 million) as an initial step to attract financing for growth and acquisitions. If successful this will bring its valuation to €1.65 billion ($2 billion).