Speedstartstudio: Building big ideas in small environments.

Startups are built in a garage or late at night on a flickering screen in bed. At least that’s the common myth around entrepreneurship and founders. Sometimes though, ideas are strategically built and not born in the shower. And just because you work in a big corporation doesn’t mean you can never reach this level of spirit and foster innovation within the company.

In recent years, several so-called startup studios have popped up, facilitating and incubating products and ideas. Last.fm founder and Speedinvest partner Michael Breidenbrücker spent years advising companies on how to innovate in a fast-pacing world where the little startup in the garage could become your next big competitor. At the same time, Speedinvest founder Oliver Holle found more and more corporate managers asking for help. So when they two got together, they decided to join forces and create Speedstartstudio.

Described as “company builder of entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs”, Michael and his co-manager Christoph Böckle are offering a platform for developing a product or even a startup as company spin-off. Their motto: “Let’s build a thing!” A lot of corporates want to get involved in the startup community and find solutions for their own challenges, but find it tough to get it started within an existing organisation. “So we help them develop new products and find talents to execute and build a new company”, Michael explains.

Usually, these projects turn into startups that both Speedstartstudio and their corporate partner are invested in. “We basically create the startup they would want to invest in”, says Marie-Helene Ametsreiter who supports several Speedstartstudio projects. “It’s essential that the project is outside the corporate structure. I guess you could call it excubator rather than incubator”, Michael says. The studio itself is an independent company that Speedinvest and other corporations are shareholders of.

A year after its launch, Speedstartstudio runs six projects at the moment. Their biggest one to date is a joint venture with the Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB. Their management approached Speedstartstudio to build an extensive platform for national transport services and route planners that also involve ridesharing services. “They wanted to do it themselves before someone else does”, says Michael about the platform called “iMobility”. Together with the ÖBB, the studio came up with the strategy and business plan and hired a management team. The platform is expected to launch next year.

Speedstartstudio projects don’t always take that long. Following an individual approach, defined milestones determine how long the collaboration between the corporate partner and Speedstartstudio will last. It could be anywhere from six to 24 months, depending on the success factors the company builders are going for.

“We’re bringing two worlds together: Traditional industries share valuable expertise and knowledge while the new economy is known for its agile product development”, Marie-Helene lists the two factors of success for Speedstartstudio. Michael adds: “The important thing is that we create an environment where interests of all partners are aligned and the individuals own their products. It’s not like getting a job done. It’s doing your thing and taking chances to build something big.”

BBVA Acquisition of Holvi – what it means

By Stefan Klestil.

BBVA’s acquisition of Holvi announced today, is remarkable in several ways.

speedinvest-27291. To my knowledge, this is the first customer-facing FinTech acquisition by one of the big banks in Europe. There have been many investments into FinTechs by banks often via their in-house accelerators or VCs, there have been partnerships, there have been several tech acquisitions especially in the infrastructure domain but never before has a bank decided to directly take over a customer-facing FinTech brand in Europe.

2. BBVA is far ahead of most banks in executing their digital agenda as witnessed by its M&A and investment activities but also by its CEO and chairman embarking on a radical overhaul of the bank few years back. BBVA has a vision and a team that is attractive and inspiring even for top-notch FinTech founders – a key asset when it comes to actually closing a deal.

3. The deal confirms the attractiveness and growing importance of the prosumer/solopreneur/microenterprise segment. The digital entrepreneurs, or “makers and doers” as Holvi calls its customers are strongly growing across Europe and are in need of digital workbenches and payment and banking infrastructure to easily handle its business and money matters. Traditionally banks have not been able to service this segment profitably. In addition, Basel 3 and further regulation are pushing banks out of lending to this segment altogether. Propositions like Holvi allow access to this segment at low CACs and service costs and with high cross-selling potential especially in lending and FX.

4. The deal in my view marks the starting point of banks using M&A to buy themselves into segment-specific FinTech brands in Europe. FinTechs such as Transferwise, Funding Circle, Number26, Holvi, Nutmeg, Raise, Wikifolio, Revolut, Curve, FinanceFox and Loot are building pan-European or even global brands in specific customer segments and verticals. They are able to acquire and serve customers at a fraction of the cost of financial institutions, enable frictionless onboarding and cross-selling and offer a beautiful smartphone-only experience that millennials have come to expect. And most importantly, they are offering services that cater to the needs of specific segments such as young professionals, expats, millennial entrepreneurs, students and small merchants. As FinTechs grow to dominate these segments banks will have no choice but to acquire these FinTech brands if they don’t want to completely lose access and relevance.

5. FinTechs can survive compliance due diligence of a big bank! The bank exit channel is fundamentally more complex due to heavy regulation in Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know-Your Customer Procedures (KYC), operating licenses and approval procedures by the regulator. This puts additional heavy burden on the FinTechs to set procedures up in the right way and thoroughly prepare DD towards exit. Unsurprisingly, exit processes take generally a lot longer than in other industries.

Disclosure: Speedinvest has been lead investor into Holvi, and is invested in Wikifolio, Curve and FinanceFox. Stefan Klestil is advisory board member of Number26.

Team_Holvi_1

Exit! BBVA übernimmt Holvi

Nächster Exit für Speedinvest: BBVA, global führende Bank im Digitalbereich, übernimmt das finnische FinTech-Startup Holvi

Wien, 07.03.2016; Speedinvest vermeldet seinen sechsten Exit. Die globale Bankengruppe BBVA übernimmt das FinTech Startup Holvi. Speedinvest unterstützte die Onlinebank für Freelancer, Kreative und KMUs in seiner Funktion als Lead-Investor bei der Expansion in die DACH Region.

Speedinvest und Holvi geben heute bekannt, dass das Startup von der globalen Bankengruppe BBVA übernommen und als Teil der BBVA Gruppe integriert wird. Holvi wird als eigenständige Marke und mit eigener, unabhängiger Lizenz weitergeführt. Hauptsitz des Unternehmens bleibt weiterhin Helsinki, Finnland; im Management-Team rund um CEO Johan Lorenzen wird es keine Veränderungen geben. Mit Hilfe von BBVA plant Holvi für 2016 den Roll-Out von weiteren Produkten sowie die Erschließung neuer Märkte. Das Volumen der Transaktion wird nicht veröffentlicht.

Holvi wurde 2011 gegründet, um der von traditionellen Banken vernachlässigten, aber massiv wachsenden Zielgruppe an Selbständigen und FreelancerInnen zu helfen ihre Finanzen besser zu managen. Als eine der ersten pan-europäischen Onlinebanken mit “Value-Add” Features wie einem Spesenabrechnungstool und einem Onlineshop setzte sich das dahinterstehende Team zum Ziel, Finanzen besser verständlich zu machen und Unternehmen in allen dazugehörigen Aspekten zu unterstützen.

Für Holvi ist mit BBVA der perfekte Partner gefunden worden. BBVA ist einer der proaktivsten Player im FinTech Bereich, so wurde bereits 2014 das bekannte US Bankenstartup Simple übernommen, eine Reihe weiterer Investments folgten. 2015 wurde ein eigener Venture Arm aus der Taufe gehoben.

Speedinvest zählt den Bereich FinTech bereits seit drei Jahren zu seinen Kernthemen und verfügt über ein spannendes, stetig wachsendes Portfolio von nun bereits zehn Startups – B2B und B2C – aus ganz Europa. Anfang 2014 investierte der Wiener Fonds in das finnische Unternehmen. Als Teil der Investments stellte Speedinvest ein eigenes lokales Team in Wien zur Verfügung, um den österreichischen und deutschen Markt zu erschließen. Nach Finnland war dies der erste internationale Expansionsschritt, der mit Hilfe des erfahrenen Teams rund um Speedinvest erfolgreich gesetzt werden konnte.

Stefan Klestil, Speedinvest Partner und Investment Manager von Holvi dazu: “Diese Transaktion markiert einen Wendepunkt im Verhältnis von Banken und FinTechs in Europa. Wir glauben, dass Banken sich zukünftig vermehrt über M&A Transaktionen in attraktive Marken in Europa einkaufen werden. Der Deal bestätigt ebenfalls die Attraktivität der Zielgruppe von Holvi – Prosumer, Solopreneurs und Microentrepreneurs. BBVA setzt mit dieser Transaktion einen weiteren Meilenstein in der Umsetzung ihrer digitalen Agenda.”

Michael Breidenbrücker: Mr. Startup

Michael founded his first startup before even knowing what a startup was. 16 years later, he shares his wisdom with young entrepreneurs and big corporations.

His colleagues charmingly refer to him as Mr. Startup, but Michael Breidenbrücker didn’t even know he founded a startup when he launched Last.fm in 2000: “They didn’t call it startup back then.” Michael grew up in Vorarlberg and moved to London for his studies in 1998. He recognized the need for a platform that helps to find the right music at the right time. Long before MySpace, iTunes and Spotify, Last.fm was born – a music streaming service which kick-started the music recommendation space and was a main player in the web2.0 movement. Last.fm was sold to CBS in 2007 but Michael insists that he didn’t set out to be a CEO, but eventually ended up in that position from 2002 until 2005.

“As startup CEO, you’re basically the janitor. You’re doing everything”, the early founder says now. He refuses to romanticize the business of startups, and that is what Michael brings to the table at Speedinvest. Oliver Holle approached Michael, who also founded another music startup called RJDJ and more recently turned to angel-investing. In 2011, the serial entrepreneur decided to join the VC firm’s Investment commitee and in 2014 he joined as a partner: “We realized that we were working on the same things, so we decided to join forces”, Michael recalls.

Having been through the highs and lows of building a company more than once, “Mr. Startup” is sharing his experiences as entrepreneur with young founder teams. Growth Hacking, Product development, Team building and management are Michaels areas of expertise Ultimatively e’s helping to build products and turn them into successful businesses.

Besides his investments and work with portfolio companies, Michael’s other responsibility at Speedinvest is to run Speedstartstudio, a so-called excubator. At Speedstartstudio, the VC works together with corporates to build startups and new products from scratch. “In the past, corporates were perceived as exit partners. But more recently, a lot of them are turning into sparring partners“, the head of Speedstartstudio explains. “We are seeing a lot of non digital markets opening up to the digitalisation and if we want to have a presence in these new digital markets we need industry specific know-how which we can only get in collaboration with corporates” Michael insists that startup is the perfect management method to conquer new markets fast.

For Michael, having a startup is not a job, “it’s a lifestyle“. Thus, he doesn’t see himself as a classic investor or Venture Capitalist. Almost 16 years after founding his first company, Michael still can very much relate to the struggles of young founders while also understanding the demands of corporations.

Speedinvest invests in Datapath.io

Datapath.io provides Network Performance Management for (Net)DevOps

Cloud Application Performance Weakest Link

The cloud ecosystem has developed at a breathtaking pace since its emergence about 2 decades ago. Today adoption is pretty much universal with 1/3 of IT spend happening in the cloud, and cloud computing infrastructure and platforms growing around 25% YoY to an estimated $100B+ in 2016, driven mainly by the increase in SaaS application workloads.

Being able to offer reliable and high performance Web/Mobile applications is critical for cloud customers. We all know the headlines around Google seeing that an extra 0.5 seconds in search page load time dropped traffic and revenue by 20%, and Amazon finding out that every 100ms of latency cost them 1% in sales, for example.

Application performance optimization is where DevOps spend much of their time – hence the rapid growth of solutions like AppDynamics and New Relic. However, Internet performance remains an Achilles’ heel of application performance and is often the weakest link. To optimize networking performance DevOps lack

1) Granular visibility

2) Easily accessible solutions (deep network engineering skills required)

3) That are economically viable (no huge hardware investment)

Cloud customers with the required resources and skills can turn to the networking equipment vendors and build their own solutions. CDNs are good solutions for static content, less so for dynamic content, ads, transactional data or e-commerce. There is a clear opportunity in the market for a service that delivers rich Internet performance management capabilities to DevOps and IT application managers through an easy to use dashboard.

This is why we could not be more excited about our investment in datapath.io together with Target Partners and a select set of business angels.

datapath.io was founded in 2012 by a Sebastian Spies, an expert in carrier-grade networking technologies and Sascha Coldewey, a serial entrepreneur in the e-commerce space.

Using its own reimplementation of the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) running on commodity hardware, datapath.io monitors the real-time network performance and characteristics of 600K+ networks (prefixes) globally from 70 vantage points. It uses this information to

1) Provide detailed and granular access to individual application performance as a function of end user network/location.

2) Easily set network performance requirements and rules (e.g. switch routing when latency to US West increases > 50 ms)

3) Automatically update routing tables and re-route traffic overriding standard BGP routing based on customer requirements/preferences

Congratulations to datapath.io for coming out of the Beta and the general availability of their NP² (Network Performance Platform)!

Marie-Helene Ametsreiter: The customer’s voice

After almost two decades in corporate environments, Speedinvest partner Marie-Helene Ametsreiter has carved out her own role in the firm and helps startups understand their users.

On paper, Marie-Helene Ametsreiter might be the most corporate person at Speedinvest. But in person, she’s far from that and makes it very clear: “I’ve always built new businesses.” During her studies in the 90s, she focused on the telecommunications industry and landed her first job at Mobilkom Austria (later A1). Long before we all owned an iPhone or Android, Marie-Helene was involved in establishing mobile networks in Austria and Eastern Europe. “I’ve always felt like a founder“, she recalls her corporate experience which was full of diverse roles.

Despite almost two decades in managing positions, Marie-Helene admits that joining Speedinvest was a bit of a challenge: “The first weeks were tough, I sort of had to find my own role.“ Eventually she realized which of her strong points would be valuable to the young firm. Creating a marketing strategy for Speedinvest, Marie-Helene is responsible for turning the venture capital company into a brand and even household name in the European startup ecosystem. As investment manager, she further advises portfolio startups like Greetzly and Wikifolio.

“I like to see products from a customer’s point of view”, Marie-Helene says of her approach. She is convinced that if people don’t understand what a startup is selling, it won’t be successful: “You have to question things with a certain naivete.” According to the marketing expert, you have to be able to explain your product with only one sentence. After all, behind all the data are real people.

Aside from challenging startup founders with her curious questions, Marie-Helene’s corporate experience has come in handy at Speedstartupstudio. Understanding corporate structures and needs, she supports the incubator building new companies and maintaining relationships with corporations and partners. Starting 2016, Marie-Helene will run Speedinvest’s first German office in Munich, further establishing connections with the startup community and other investors.

Having been with Speedinvest for more then a year now, her biggest learning is one that she would probably never have had in a corporate environment: “What was new to me is that revenue doesn’t matter all that much. For a lot of startups in this early phase, having a unique technology or a strong, growing customer base is as important.“

Speedinvest raises $100M Early Stage VC Fund, first pan-European investments

Speedinvest, an early stage venture fund based in Vienna, has just closed its second fund with 100M USD capital committed.

Speedinvest is not only the the biggest VC fund ever raised in Austria, but proposes a new take on early stage venture that challenges a lot of traditional assumptions how VC works.

Speedinvest differs in many ways from comparable funds in Europe.

First of all, the capital  is provided by more than 100 entrepreneurs and private investors, rather than a few institutional investors. The list of backers behind Speedinvest is impressive, ranging from Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bulls iconic founder to Herman Hauser, or the latest generation of successful founders of startups such as Runtastic, Shpock or Busuu. This is in stark contrast to the typical European fund where often more than 50% comes from taxpayers. What does this mean for startups? The majority of Speedinvest’s investors actively co-invests and in some cases collaborates with selected portfolio companies.

In May the fund also announced its collaboration with New Enterprise Associates (NEA), the world’s largest venture fund by assets under management. NEA invested 5M USD in Speedinvest 2 and reserved 50M USD to drive global growth in Speedinvest’s portfolio of top EU startups.

So what is this new take on venture that attracts such attention?

To start with, Speedinvest is run by a total of 12 partners, 3-4 times the size of the teams that operate similar sized funds. These partners spend most of their time in full-scale operational roles for 1-2 portfolio startups each, typically executing business and corporate development functions in the US or Europe, thereby extending the resources of a given startup team by senior people, network and experience that an average seed stage company simply could not afford. If all goes well, the fund earns additional equity points with the contributions coming from these partners, at minimum founders and investors work side by side for given time, completely changing the dynamics of such relationship.

How does this work for the GP’s, given that Speedinvest charges industry standard fees? Very similar to startups! In stark contract to their well paid collegues, SI Partners receive salaries similar in size as the founders that they invest in. But, in turn, they particiate directly in the funds returns, with a portion of every exit’s proceeds going also in their pockets.

This entrepreneurial model has proven to be very successful in the first fund, with Shpock as its biggest success so far, four further exits and companies such as Hitbox, Holvi, Wikifolio, Flaviar or Tourradar that are on to great things.

Oliver Holle, CEO of Speedinvest comments “The feedback from investors was overwhelmingly positive, confirming the appetite for innovation also in our field. Venture investing is undergoing massive change and we intend to play an integral part in Europe newly emerging VC landscape.”

Pan-European Focus

With the inception of its new fund the team is now sourcing startups from all over Europe, with a strong focus on the CEE region. It will stick to its core strength: as a lead investor at seed-stage with tickets up to 500k. Beyond that, it has reserved roughly half the fund for follow on investments in its own portflio.

The new fund has three core sector focuses: Fintech, Deep Tech and Consumer.

The Deep Tech segment caters specifically to tech founders in Europe that need to bring their world class IP early on to US customers and partners. Given Speedinvest’s operational support model and its team in Silicon Valley, Speedinvest is perfectly positioned to help them.

In fintech, Speedinvest has further strenthened its portfolio under the lead of industry expert Stefan Klestil (board member in Wirecard, Holvi, Number26 or IyziCo, to name just a few) with investments in Curve (http://www.imaginecurve.com/), a London-based smartcard aggregator, and Investly (https://investly.co), an Estonian e-factoring platform.

Since the first closing of the fund earlier this year Speedinvest has already invested in 14 across all of Europe. Building on the skills of eastern European tech talent the fund invested in Hungarian Slush winner Enbritely (https://enbrite.ly), an ad-fraud detection startup and Sofia-based Metrilo (www.metrilo.com), a solution for SME eCommerce entrepreneurs.

To identify the most promising founders very early, Speedinvest has has built a strategic partnership with Pioneers Ventures (pioneers.io/ventures), a pre-seed fund investing 20 to 100K in Europe’s best, nascent companies.

Second Closing: 90M

Österreichischer Seed Fonds Speedinvest schließt Fundraising mit über 90 Millionen Euro ab und etabliert neuartiges Investment Modell auf europäischer Bühne

Wien, 9.12.2015 – Der Fonds mit Sitz in Wien und San Francisco übertrifft mit dem finalen Closing die selbst gesetzten Erwartungen und konnte über 90 Millionen Euro an Investitionszusagen einsammeln. Damit ist Speedinvest einer der größten Seed Stage Venture Fonds in Europa.

Das Modell von Speedinvest ist aus verschiedensten Gründen bemerkenswert. Zunächst wird Speedinvest – im Gegensatz zu nahezu allen anderen europäischen Fonds – fast ausschließlich von privaten InvestorInnen gespeist. Mehr als 100 private UnternehmerInnen, viele davon selbst Startup UnternehmerInnen wie etwa die GründerInnen von Runtastic, Shpock, Busuu oder Hermann Hauser finden sich auf der InvestorInnenliste. Grund dafür ist das außergewöhnliche Investment Modell von Speedinvest, welches so gar nicht der üblichen Blaupause von institutionellen InvestorInnen entspricht.

So arbeiten bei Speedinvest neben dem Gründer Oliver Holle insgesamt 12 PartnerInnen, also ein Vielfaches von vergleichbaren Venture Fonds. Dieses Team stellt einen Gutteil seiner Arbeitszeit für operative Arbeit in den Portfolio Unternehmen zur Verfügung. Zumeist drehen sich diese Aufgaben um Bereiche, in welchen die GründerInnen noch selbst wenig Erfahrung haben, etwa internationales Business Development, Aufbau einer US Kundenbasis (via Speedinvest’s Team im Silicon Valley) oder Fundraising. Im Erfolgsfall erhält Speedinvest durch diese Arbeit zusätzliche Anteile, in jedem Fall arbeitet man Seite an Seite mit dem Gründer und lernt sich und das Geschäft im Detail kennen.

Wie funktioniert dieses Modell ökonomisch? – Sehr ähnlich wie für Startups! Ein/e Speedinvest PartnerIn verdient jährlich in etwa so viel wie ein/e GründerIn, in den Speedinvest investiert. Im Gegenzug ist er oder sie (das Speedinvest Team besteht zu ⅓ aus Frauen) direkt im Fonds beteiligt und partizipiert an jedem Exit mit.

Dieses Modell wurde bereits im ersten, kleineren Fonds erfolgreich umgesetzt. Neben dem einem großem Erfolg mit Shpock, konnte Speedinvest bereits 4 weitere Exits feiern. Im SI Portfolio befinden sich außerdem bekannte Namen wie Holvi, Wikifolio, Hitbox.tv, Tourradar, IyziCo, Flaviar oder die beiden YCombinator Alumnis Flaviar und Bitmovin. Bereits im Mai konnte Speedinvest mit dem Einstieg von NEA einen weiteren Meilenstein vermelden. New Enterprise Associates (NEA), der größte Venture Capital Fonds der Welt, der unter anderem an Salesforce, Cloudflare und Uber beteiligt ist, investierte 5 Millionen Euro direkt in den Fonds und reservierte weitere 50 Millionen für Top-Startups aus dem Speedinvest Portfolio.

Wo wird investiert?

Speedinvest setzt weiterhin auf die Bereiche Finanztechnologie und digitale Kerntechnologien („Deep Tech“). Mit dem eigenen Silicon Valley Business Development Team spricht Speedinvest insbesondere technische GründerInnen an, die sehr früh erste KundInnen und Partnerschaften in den USA anstreben.  Mit Stefan Klestil (Board Member und Advisor bei Number26, Holvi, IyziCo, Payworks, Wikifolio und inzwischen 5 weiteren FinTech Startups) soll das FinTech Portfolio weiter ausgebaut werden.

Der Schwerpunkt wird auf die Seed Phase gelegt, pro  Jahr sollen 10 – 15 Neuinvestments mit einer Durschnittssumme von 500.000 EUR umgesetzt werden. Mit dem neuen Fonds kann Speedinvest bis zu drei Millionen EUR je Investment Case weiter investieren. Der geografische Fokus liegt dabei auf der DACH Region sowie Zentral- und Osteuropa, wobei Speedinvest in den oben genannten Schwerpunktthemen auch in ganz Europa aktiv ist.

Das inzwischen 18-köpfige Team, welches sich zwischen Wien, München und San Francisco aufteilt, investierte heuer bereits in 14 Projekte aus Ungarn, Estland, Bulgarien, und natürlich dem Heimatmarkt Österreich und auch Deutschland. Eines von drei deutschen Investments darf bereits genannt werden: Es handelt sich um Inkitt (www.inkitt.com) aus Berlin.

Gegründet von Serial Founder Ali Albazaz (Gründer von fünfi.de [2010] und Demanta [2012]) und Linda Gavin (Designerin für Twitter, LiveJournal, Adobe und Apache) ist es Inkitts erklärtes Ziel die Verlagswelt zu revolutionieren.

“Das Verlagswesen ist seit jeher für seine Ineffizienz und Intransparenz bekannt. Bestseller werden oft von zahlreichen LektorInnen und Verlagen abgelehnt, bevor sie schließlich zum Erfolg werden. AutorInnen, AgentInnen und Verlage rufen nach Veränderungen, bisher fehlten jedoch die Tools. Dies ändert sich mit dem revolutionären Ansatz von Inkitt. Die Idee, gepaart mit dem erfahrenen Team rund um Ali Albazaz hat uns überzeugt,” so Erik Bovee, US-Partner und Investment Manager.

Um dem Anspruch nach Internationalität gerecht zu werden und die besten internationalen Deals zu sourcen, baut man auf die strategischen Partnerschaften mit Pioneers und deren Pre-Seed-Fonds Pioneers Ventures. Damit verfügt Speedinvest über einen Partner, der quer durch Europa in den Startup Communities vernetzt ist und eine Plattform über die rasch und unkompliziert kleinere Investments (20.000 bis 100.000 EUR) umgesetzt werden können.

“90 Millionen privates Kapital für Startups sind ein enormes Rufzeichen zum Thema Innovation und Entrepreneurship in Österreich. Das macht uns sehr stolz, aber bedeutet auch eine große Verantwortung. Das Zusammenspiel aus Risikokapital und Unternehmertum ist der zentraler Baustein für die wirtschaftliche Zukunft Europas, diese gesellschaftliche Verantwortung nehmen wir bei Speedinvest sehr ernst” betont Oliver Holle.

We are hiring for the valley! How awesome is that?!

Associate Speedinvest (Silicon Valley)

Speedinvest is a leading European venture capital fund for digital startups. With $100M under management, Speedinvest works side-by-side with early-stage entrepreneurs to build great companies. Thanks to our hands-on model, our global partner network and our operations in Silicon Valley, we have managed to become one of the main focal points for the European startup community. We do investments from pre-seed through Series-A and a big portion of our value-add comes through operational work. We concentrate on projects where we have direct experience, networks, and where we can take a well-defined, intensive operational role, and significantly create value for founders and shareholders.

Your Responsibilities

Europe is a prime area for early stage investment for many reasons, most significantly: valuations are based on financial reality and the engineering talent rocks. And there a many proof points: Europe has created world class companies, and the number of large exits and success stories in our region is growing fast. BUT, one of the local challenges is that there are few early stage funds with global networks and operational resources. European start-ups need the right platforms to scale globally, and this is what we have built. But it takes a lot of work to make global success happen. This is where you come in.

You might find yourself as a COO of a technology startup for 4 months while we execute their US GTM plan. You might find yourself spending your mornings on calls with European founders as you evaluate deal flow, surveying the competitive landscape, developing partnerships, negotiating license agreements or pitching to investors for your start-ups in the afternoon, then sitting on an investor panel in the evening.

Requirements

We are looking for an active, creative all-rounder. We want someone who can design/build products and sell them. Start-up experience is a must. Technical skills and or BSc highly preferred. European languages (particularly German) are a big plus.

  • Sales and business development experience required
  • Product management experience highly desirable
  • MBA +2 years experience or equivalent. We LOVE PhDs.
  • Start-up experience in a key leadership role – founder, CEO, COO. Failure is fine. We need someone who has seen the whole cycle.
  • Relative fluency in corporate finance and venture capital concepts (although we can teach you this quickly).
  • Fundraising experience highly desirable

Your personal profile

  • Active networking – do you already have a strong local network? Do you like to go to hackathons/incubators/mixers 3-4 nights a week? Do you have Marc/Ron/Travis on speed dial?
  • Self-driven and independent.
  • Curious, adaptive & flexible. You prefer new challenges over routines.
  • An entrepreneurial ‘can-do’ attitude facilitated by continuous learning.
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects and work on tight deadlines
  • Ability to digest complex information, form a distinct point of view, and communicate it in a clear and relevant way

Compensation:
TBD. If we like you, you’ll get options in our $100M fund. Seriously.

Please send your resume and application to jobs@speedinvest.com and we’ll be in touch with you! Links to other websites and resources where we might learn more about you (personal blog, Twitter, etc.) are greatly appreciated.

Speedinvest Partner: Michael Schuster

Michael Schuster is one of the partners at Speedinvest, but his business card could very well just read „Product Guy“. By avoiding “typical investor tasks“, he is focusing on operations and helping his start-ups build their products. His journey to being a VC started as a fan of „Knight Rider“ and blogger in the early days of weblogs.

„A fortunately unsuccessful merger” led Michael Schuster to his role at Speedinvest. In 2011 his employer, semantic technology-start-up „System One” merged with another technology company, and the management team ended up leaving. So did Michael, who served as a COO to the company. What makes the investor refer to the event as „fortunate“ is the fact that he met Speedinvest-founder Oliver Holle during the process. „Oliver was helping us with the merger and was already raising money for his first Speedinvest fund.” In search of partners, Holle approached Michael to come on board, a challenge he gladly accepted.

Talking about his career, Michael makes use of the word „coincidentally“ a lot. Not knowing what he should study after high school – „I could imagine pretty much any major“ – he decided to sign up for computer science after getting bored with his business major in the first semester. It was during that time when Michael became interested and eventually „fascinated“ with blogging. Known as „‚smi” in the blogosphere, he ran his first blog in the early 2000s on the hosting patform Antville. His fascination with the new media opportunities rose and his passion landed him his first professional role after university. Vienna-based digital agency Knallgrau hired Michael as a product manager for their own blogging software Twoday.net. Founded in 2003, the hosting service was one of the most successful in Europe, totally overwhelming the small agency that couldn’t keep up with the high demand, plus a lot of the know-how now everpresent, wasn’t public knowledge back then, like “Freemium” models and the like.

Having built a reputation as „product guy“, he landed his next position at „one of the first US-style Viennese start-ups” in 2006. As Head of Product at System One, Michael was in charge of the semantic software the company developed. He was also part of fundraising and taking the company to the next level. In its heydays, System One employed around 25 people. „All we did was pretty much learning by doing. There wasn’t a start-up community around and not many experienced people who could’ve helped us with the process“, Michael remembers. Those years of apprenticeship, success and failure ultimately transformed the Speedinvest partner into the business professional that he is now.

Michael is not shy to admit that he tries to avoid „typical investor work“ as much as possible. Rather than reading contracts, raising money and dealing with administrative stuff, he likes to be involved with the companies that Speedinvest is invested in. His self-described „Hands-on”-approach is his understanding of being a partner at a VC firm. „I very much care about the product“, Michael stresses his collaboration with the founders of their portfolio. He prefers start-ups to have a vision about the product but to be open about the ideas that could get them there. While a lot of Silicon Valley investors claim that the founder team does matter more than the actual product, Michael disagrees: „I think you need a product first. If there’s nothing there, being an entrepreneur and a good team alone won’t get you anywhere.“

Being highly involved with the day-to-day-business of Speedinvest does come with challenges sometimes, Michael admits: „You can only be their advisor to a certain degree. At some point you have to accept that and let them do their thing.“ His insistence does lead to success, though. Spirits subscription service Flaviar – “anything food and drinks related lands on my desk” – was recently part of the YCombinator program and has built important relationships all over the world. Another startup of his portfolio, Bitmovin, was a bit reluctant to apply until Michael pushed them to send their application. Indeed, Bitmovin got accepted and is part of the most current YC batch.

As a product enthusiast, Michael does get the start-up itch every so often: „I can’t rule out that I’ll found my own start-up some time in the future“. For now, he’s pretty content in his role as VC partner at Speedinvest. With eight companies under his wings, Michael surely is keeping himself busy. While he certainly sees a lot of different start-up ideas, the investor would like to see more things coming out of the transportation industry. After all, watching „Knight Rider“ got him excited about innovation at a young age.