The WTFs of an Investor: #3 Hypermotivated Founders

In 2013/2014 Inventures asked me to write a series on our experience as a Seed stage fund, about stuff that makes us wonder, but not in a good way. This series originally titled “WTFs of a Business Angel” hasn’t lost its truth it seems, so we decided to revisit the content, update and adapt it where necessary and publish it here on our blog (also because investures.eu sadly is gone from the Web). Have fun!

When we started Speedinvest in 2011, we were a startup ourselves. A very well funded startup, but still, we were a team of people who had some experience in building companies and no experience in building a Venture fund. We’re still learning an awful lot, because you can profit tons from other people’s experience, but there is no way around doing things yourself, making mistakes, trying again and again, learning from what you’ve seen so far.

That is the spirit that we like to keep, a positive and pro-founder type of attitude, because the truth is: we love what we’re doing. It’s fun and exciting to meet visionary people, who have drive and enthusiasm to change whatever tiny bit of their world, step by step. However, there are those rare events where we sit across the table in our office and have a facepalm moment. When one of us gets an email from a startup or reads a piece of news about our industry that just makes you go “WTF?”. For your reading pleasure, but also to offer you the opportunity to learn, we open up our treasure chest of awkward moments and give you our top WTFs, of course with all due respect to those contributing to them.

WTF #3 The Hypermotivated Founder

As an investor, one of our main tasks is to talk to founders and grasp their ideas, try to understand what motivates them, what drives them and what vision they’re trying to bring to life. The first pitch often happens via email and it’s truly hard to write a good email pitch in times where people easily receive up to 100 emails per day. That probably leads to some of the mails that we get, where super- or even hypermotivated founders pitch us their idea as ”a revolution”, where they brag on about their business as being ”the biggest opportunity EVER” and that we ”surely don’t want to miss out on this” because this is ”unlike anything we have ever seen”.

Recently, we got an email from a founder, saying that ”only the heart sees everything, because the real beauty is hidden for the eye” and that if we only looked at his idea with ”our hearts”, we would see the true beauty of his media-related business idea. He then went on, presenting a list of things that the eyes see, followed by facts that only the heart sees. We had several WTF moments up until there, but our 2 palms were stuck to our faces when it came to ”now, after we have reached break even, we will launch in the US and this will multiply everything by at least 10, this is plain to see”. It all ended with ”what we need now, is someone like you, who sees with the heart. Are you ready for this? We are. Let’s rock.”. WTF?

I have witnessed this in pitches all across Europe as well: a very energetic founder goes on stage and completely ignores the world out there, thinking that his ”idea is going to revolutionise [fill in your industry] unlike anything else EVER before”. This might be true, and to be clear, we want motivated founders, we love if you create and dominate a category, we need you to believe in your idea, otherwise we can’t.

But there is a fine line between being really driven by your vision and being a megalomaniac that ignores that there is competition out there, doesn’t give a shit about business models and is basically drinking his or her own Kool-Aid. I have been there myself. As an entrepreneur you need this mode, where you completely ignore everything that keeps you from executing on your vision. You need to blind out the naysayers, otherwise you’ll never be able to cope with the rollercoaster you experience day by day, where one tiny success is followed by a massive drawback leading to another success within just a couple of hours.

Confidence without Attitude

But honestly: would you believe the salesguy who tells you that his product is truly the best out there, unmatched by anything else? You might be sceptical as well. And what you don’t want is that the potential investor becomes sceptical of you and your idea. It requires fine tuning, finding the right balance between being really confident about the potential of your idea and keeping the bullshit to a minimum. But once you figure that out, there will be confidence on our side that we can and want to work with you. Because we will also be very confident in our offer and the stuff we can help you with on your rollercoaster ride. Just try to keep the bullshit about exits, rich founders and all that glitter to the utmost minimum. Or like one Business School in the US puts it: “We make decisions based on evidence and analysis, giving us the confidence to act without arrogance.”

The WTFs of an Investor: #2 The NDA fallacy

In 2013/2014 Inventures asked me to write a series on our experience as a Seed stage fund, about stuff that makes us wonder, but not in a good way. This series originally titled “WTFs of a Business Angel” hasn’t lost its truth it seems, so we decided to revisit the content, update and adapt it where necessary and publish it here on our blog (also because investures.eu sadly is gone from the Web). Have fun!

When we started Speedinvest in 2011, we were a startup ourselves. A very well funded startup, but still, we were a team of people who had some experience in building companies and no experience in building a Venture fund. We are still learning an awful lot, because you can profit tons from other people’s experience, but there is no way around doing things yourself, making mistakes, trying again and again, learning from what you’ve seen so far.

That is the spirit that we like to keep, a positive and pro-founder type of attitude, because the truth is: we love what we’re doing. It’s fun and exciting to meet visionary people who have the drive and enthusiasm to change whatever tiny bit of their world, step by step. However, there are those rare events where we sit across the table in our office and have a facepalm moment. When one of us gets an email from a startup or reads a piece of news about our industry that just makes you go “WTF?”. For your reading pleasure, but also to offer you the opportunity to learn, we open up our treasure chest of awkward moments and give you our top WTFs, of course with all due respect to those contributing to them.

WTF #2 The NDA fallacy

It should be conventional wisdom by now, but it still happens more often than you would think: entrepreneurs that want to work with us, ask for an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement. This, however, is hardly manageable for us. Our job is to look at startups and their business ideas. We do this on a daily basis and have seen well over 5.000 startups in the past 6 years. If you consider the number of pitches we receive at conferences, startup lives and other events, this number may well be more than twice as high.

If we signed an NDA with every company we talked to, we wouldn’t have time to work with all the great entrepreneurs that we end up investing in and get ourselves in a legal clusterf***. So please, trust us. Apart from the fact that many ideas are not as unique as they may seem in the beginning, we are actually dependent on your trust and that of everyone else, because we intend to stay in this business for a while. Plus: for later stage deals, where lots of proprietary data of the company is provided, we do sign NDAs. But I think we are in the double digits here, even after 6 years in that industry.

Ideas are sh*t

Even if we do not end up making a deal with you, we know that our industry is small, tightly knit and builds on the trust of all parties involved. I once heard a Slovenian entrepreneur on stage talk about ideas and his business. He said “I have an idea every day. Ideas are shit, they are worth nothing. It’s the execution that counts, so please, go ahead and talk about your idea, that is the only way you get valuable information for executing on it”. Damn right.

Associate (m/f) at Speedinvest (Vienna)

Associate (m/f) at Speedinvest (Vienna)

Speedinvest is a leading European venture capital fund for tech start-ups. We work alongside entrepreneurs to achieve a common goal of building great companies. Due to our global partner network that includes operations in Silicon Valley, we have become a key investment and development hub for Europe’s start-up community. We are involved in early stage investments and specialise in operational support. Our company philosophy states that we only work with projects where we can have a truly purposeful long-term impact, by offering experience combined with the right network.

Your Responsibilities

As a Speedinvest associate you will act as a junior investment manager. You will be responsible for trend scouting, industry analysis, number crunching and research. Additionally, you will support deal sourcing and due diligence for investment opportunities as well as providing operational support to our portfolio companies. This means assisting start-ups with business development (e.g. sales support, communication and the preparation of sales pitches) as well as any other critical company functions.

We need someone who

  • is a start-up aficionado.
  • reads Techcrunch as part of their daily routine and would pick Pioneers as their festival of choice.
  • understands acronyms such as CAC, LTV & LiqPref.
  • has completed a Master’s degree. (Any technical background, would be a plus.)
  • has either worked in a start-up or consultancy for a minimum of two years.
  • loves numbers, structure and results.
  • enjoys presenting, representing and networking.
  • is well acquainted with Excel, Power Point and social media platforms.
  • has excellent German and English skills. (Any other languages are appreciated.)

We are looking for someone who is

  • driven, takes the initiative, learns fast and works autonomously.
  • curious, adaptable and flexible; preferring new challenges over routines.
  • entrepreneurial with a ‘can-do’ attitude and is keen to learn.
  • able to juggle multiple projects and work with tight deadlines.
  • able to digest complex information, form an own point of view, and communicate it in a clear and relevant way.
  • passionate about business models, performance marketing and deal structuring.

Compensation

The Associate position is full-time (40h/week) and based in Vienna.
The minimum salary offer starts at €2.400 a month and is negotiable depending on education and previous work experience.

If you fit the profile,
please send your resume and application to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch! Feel free to include links to any websites or other sources where we might learn more about you (e.g. personal blog, Twitter).

 

Financial Analyst (m/f) at Speedinvest (Vienna)

Financial Analyst (m/f) at Speedinvest (Vienna)

 

Speedinvest is a leading European venture capital fund for tech start-ups. We work alongside entrepreneurs to achieve a common goal of building great companies. Due to our global partner network that includes operations in Silicon Valley, we have become a key investment and development hub for Europe’s start-up community. We are involved in early stage investments and specialise in operational support. Our company philosophy states that we only work with projects where we can have a truly purposeful long-term impact, by offering experience combined with the right network.

Your Responsibilities.

As a financial analyst at Speedinvest, you will support the deal structuring process and take care of fund reporting. This includes reviewing existing contracts and reports. Furthermore you will calculate captables, draft termsheets and LOIs, assist with deal completion and communicate with the finance department.

 

We need someone who

  • can calculate captables, liquidation preferences and distribution waterfalls.
  • takes pride in being reliable and precise in their work.
  • isn’t a total stranger to acronyms such as CAC, VC, IRR, LOI & LTV.
  • has completed a university Bachelor’s degree in finance.
  • can read contracts, extract the relevant numbers and complete deals.
  • is an Excel wizard and Power Point pro.
  • has excellent German and English skills.

 

We are looking for someone who is

  • driven, takes the initiative, learns fast and works autonomously.
  • renowned for their strong analytical skills and is highly numerate.
  • passionate about business models and venture capital.
  • is curious, adaptable and flexible.
  • has a “can do” attitude.
  • is able to juggle multiple projects and work with tight deadlines.

 

Compensation

The Financial Analyst position is full-time (40h/week) and based in Vienna.

The minimum salary offer starts at €2.200 a month and is negotiable depending on education and previous work experience.

 

If you fit the profile, please send your resume and application to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch! Feel free to include links to any websites or other sources where we might learn more about you (e.g. personal blog, Twitter).