IMC Investments: A new chapter begins

2022 marks a key historic milestone for IMC, with the launch of IMC Investments: our in-house venture capital platform connecting us with disruptive, early-stage companies. Seventeen-year IMC veteran and former CFO of our Amsterdam and Chicago offices, Osi Lilian, and head of IMC’s Business Strategy team, Jurjen Koksma, lift the lid on this game-changing new venture.

Helping to develop exciting young companies in trading and technology is nothing new for IMC. In recent years, IMC has built successful collaborations with the likes of McKay Brothers, a market leader in low-latency networks for trading firms, and Paradigm, an institutional liquidity network for derivative traders.

The launch of our dedicated venture capital arm marks a natural progression in this approach. And it comes at a time of intensive start-up and scale-up activity in our marketplace. “We’ve seen the trading of financial instruments become increasingly digitalised and data-driven over the years, perhaps even reinforced by the pandemic,” says Jurjen. “This plays to IMC’s core strengths, of course. We’re seeing more and more ambitious ventures that want to carve out a future for themselves in our ecosystem—and we have the capital and experience to help them do that.”

Picking the right partners

Unlike a traditional VC fund, IMC Investments draws funds solely from its shareholders, never having to rely on outside capital. This gives us the freedom to choose investments that align directly with our long-term strategy, and where we feel we can add value. With this in mind, our areas of focus include companies trading in financial instruments (particularly derivatives), technology providers that enable trading and execution, and specialists in trading digital assets.

“We want to work with start-ups or scale-ups that are at the cutting-edge of their field,” explains Osi. “Top of our wish list are innovative trading venues or infrastructure providers, as well as trading firms specialized in Decentralized Finance and derivatives. Innovative companies working with quantum technology, DevOps, and cloud computing are also firmly on our radar.”

Potential investment opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, and a typical first investment offered by IMC can be anywhere between EUR 500K and EUR 10 million. What’s more, because IMC has offices in four continents, we have the coverage to invest anywhere in the world.

“What really matters is whether there’s a clear, long-term business opportunity,” Osi adds. “But it’s about more than just the numbers; we look closely at the people behind the company. The ideal investee partner is one that thinks like us—they have a passion for innovation and are ready to deviate from the status quo and do things differently. We also look for a sense of commitment: at IMC, we talk about being ‘here to stay’, so before we invest our time and resources, we need to be sure you’re in it for the long haul.”

As a market maker, we’re able to commit our own capital and trading flow to specific platforms that we invest in.

A unique proposition

Because we only invest in things that we’re good at, IMC can offer young companies much more than the cash injection they need to grow. Our investees are able to leverage IMC’s knowledge and expertise. In practice, this means having access to our in-house experts, whether it’s our seasoned derivative traders or the skilled technologists who build our world-class low-latency infrastructure.

There’s also an important additional advantage for trading venues that partner with IMC: as a market maker, we’re able to commit our own capital and trading flow to specific platforms that we invest in.

The combination of these different benefits can give early-stage ventures that all-important head start over the competition. Then, as Jurjen explains, the rest is up to them: “Our investee companies know they can count on us, day and night, for the support they need. But we’re not here to micro-manage; our message is always: ‘this is your company, you run it how you see fit’.”

Room to grow

With several investments signed off since the start of 2022 and plenty more on the horizon, IMC Investments is off to a flying start. “This is an exciting time to be launching a venture capital arm,” Jurjen adds. “There’s growth everywhere we look, and particularly in the field of digital assets. As our portfolio matures, we plan to continue growing the team with new analysts who have expertise in our core focus areas.”

Beyond this, anything is possible, and unlike other firms, IMC doesn’t have to answer to fixed investment quotas or targets. As Osi explains, the platform is entirely opportunity-driven, in keeping with IMC’s long-held recipe for success: “Venture capital is the natural progression of our journey as a company. IMC began life as two traders working on the Amsterdam options exchange in 1989. We’ve held on to that entrepreneurial spirit over the years, and now we want to inspire and support the next generation of trading and tech leaders.”

To find out more about IMC Investments, or to start a conversation with our team, please visit the IMC Investments page.