Mustard Seed MAZE team includes João Santos, Henry Wigan, Ana Pinheiro, António Miguel, Criistina Almeida, Orson Stadler, from left to right

We help talented teams solve the world's most pressing challenges

Software isn’t just eating the world – it’s saving it too. Our founders are solving meaningful global problems through early-stage tech. We’re here to help them scale.

If you’re into developing solutions to tackle climate change or inequality, read on.

Impact ventures can deliver the biggest opportunities of our time

We back founders cracking the code of global challenges

The great businesses of the future will solve the world's most pressing challenges – our goal is to find the best, today.

We invest in European early-stage impact ventures between pre-seed and series B.

Investment Process

Investment Process

We strive for speed and quality in our decision-making. That's why we walk every founder through a 6-step investment process designed to quickly take promising ventures from first contact point to our investment committee. We do this by prioritizing short feedback loops and granting internal buy-in as long as at least 1 senior principal and 1 partner believe in the opportunity.

Partner Buy-in
Founder Follow-ups
Cash Transfer

Initial Filter

Sub-sections: (1) Data collection & storage, (2) Evaluate, (3) Progress or Pass.

Expected Duration: Approximately 2 Weeks.


Early Diligence

Sub-sections: (1) Risk & Opportunity Framework, (2) Enhanced Data Collection, (3) Impact Framework

Expected Duration: Approximately 2 Weeks.


Initial Memo

Sub-sections: (1) Summary, (2) Product, (3) Business, (4) Team, (5) Impact, (6) P&L

Expected Duration: Approximately 3 Weeks.


In-Depth Memo

Sub-sections: (1) Hypothesis & Narrative, (2) Impact KPI Finalization, (3) HoTs Proposal

Expected Duration: Approximately 2 Weeks.


Close Process

Sub-sections: (1) Agreed HoTs, (2) Tech & Legal DD, (3) Longform Drafting

Expected Duration: Approximately 1 Week.


Portfolio Integration

Sub-sections: (1) Reporting Process, (2) Board Ratified, (3) Growth Process

Expected Duration: Ongoing.


Meet the people building businesses that solve problems we actually care about.

Mariano Kostelec and Marta Palmeira are co-founders of Student Finance, a Portuguese startup that uses Income Share Agreements so close the ‘skills gap’ and the lack of accessibility to upskilling and reskilling from students and employees.

Student Finance

Mariano Kostelec and Marta Palmeiro


Shaping the workforce for the digital economy by investing in the talent of tomorrow.

There are over 700k unfilled vacancies for technology roles in Europe. Mariano Kostelec, Marta Palmeiro, Miguel Santo Amaro and Sergio Pereira co-founded Student Finance to tackle this issue. Student Finance is a platform that analyses real-time job market data and partners with education providers of ‘in-demand’ skills, to finance their students through Income Share Agreements (“ISAs”).

Fenton & Co

Laura Lambert


Building a fully transparent gemstone and jewellery brand to empower workers and consumers alike.

Laura founded Fenton & Co to create a brand with foundations of honesty and transparency to drive systemic change in the jewellery industry. Today, she is partnering with 50 of the world's best suppliers to build elegant and affordable products, raising the bar for the industry across the supply-chain.

Photo of Laura Lambert
Photo of Hugo Menino Aguiar


Hugo Menino Aguiar

Co-Founder and CEO

Crowdsourcing classrooms and language teachers to connect locals, migrants and refugees.

Hugo wanted to use informal language learning as a way to connect locals with migrants and refugees. Today, his platform SPEAK offers a crowdsourced, tech-enabled language and culture exchange with a vibrant community of ~20k members from 154 countries.


Marc Zornes


Leveraging Internet of Things to tackle the $1 trillion of food wasted annually.

Marc co-founded Winnow to tackle food waste in commercial kitchens through a combination of proprietary hardware and software. Today, he helps clients such as Compass Group and IKEA save hundreds of thousands of tons of food waste annually.

Photo of Marc Zornes

Our Team

Meet the team positioning Lisbon at the centre of European impact tech. They back climate change startups too, social tech is just a cooler buzzword.

Photo of Henry Wigan

Henry Wigan

Managing Partner

Henry is co-founder of Mustard Seed, and a Board Member of MAZE. He was formerly a Director and Portfolio Manager at BlackRock in London, having started his career at Goldman Sachs. Henry was the recipient of the GSGL academic scholarship for social entrepreneurship and holds a First Class Honours degree from London School of Economics in Economics and Economic History. Henry serves on the board of Winnow.

Photo of António Miguel

António Miguel

Managing Partner

António has been working in impact investment for +10 years in the UK, Canada and Continental Europe. He worked on deals that have mobilized over 200M€ into impact ventures. He founded MAZE after being an Associate at Social Finance UK. Antonio is a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum and visiting professor of Impact Investment at NOVA SBE. Holds an MsC in Business Administration from Católica Business School.

Cristina Almeida

Head of Communications

Cristina is a management consultant turned into storyteller. She was an analyst at EY, seconded at Impact Investment Group in Australia and learned the ins and outs of startups at Mellow. Cristina has created engaging content for +50 entrepreneurs and curated dozens of unforgettable MAZE events for our partners. BsC in Economics from NOVA SBE, BsC in Political Science from ISCSP.

Photo of Orson Stadler

Orson Stadler

Senior principal

Orson backs entrepreneurs who are on a mission to learn while solving the world's hardest problems, focusing on consumer businesses with network effects.

Orson is a Senior Principal. Prior to Mustard Seed Maze, Orson was one of the first joiners at Mustard Seed in London in 2015, where he led investments into businesses including Mush, HireHand, Knok and Hype Labs. The last two kickstarted Orson's love affair with Portugal. Previously, Orson was at BlackRock where he worked on global product and business strategy for the Fundamental Active Equity leadership team. Outside of work, Orson is a keen CrossFitter, a Portuguese language novice and a repressed gamer.

Photo of João Santos

João Santos

Senior principal

João leads MAZE's capital advisory services, structuring some of Portugal's first seed rounds for impact ventures. Previous experience includes MaRS Centre for Impact Investment (Canada), where he was seconded to design impact portfolios for foundations and wealth managers, as well as Head of Onsite at Zalora (Rocket Internet, Singapore). João taught Social Entrepreneurship at UEM (Mozambique) and has BSc in Economics, MSc in Management from NOVA SBE.

Ana Pinheiro is the operations manager of Mustard Seed MAZE fund

Ana Pinheiro

Operations Manager

Prior to joining the fund, Ana was a Project Management Officer at BNP Paribas where she mastered the delicate art of managing operations. Ana is also an alumnus from SheCodes and a post-grad in Applied Management at Nova SBE in Lisbon. Ana holds a MSc in Culture Studies in Lisbon, and BSc in Languages, Literature and Cultures in Lisbon and Cambridge.

Let's talk

Interested in cracking the code of critical global challenges?

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