Startup Investment Strategy
I’m investing in teams with solutions – not ideas. I’m investing in teams who know what they want and are determined to make it happen.
Here is my investment focus, selection schema, and long-term engagement strategy
Accelerator Graduates Only
With 90% of startups not making it, and I’m looking for a very long-term investment (7-10 years), I only invest in our own accelerator graduates. That means I worked with the teams for about 3 months during our accelerator program and know them. For me, it’s the best due diligence and also the best way to get to know each other. During that program, we get a feel for each other; so it’s a two-way street. I learn how fast they are, about their sense of urgency, their drive to execution, how they work under pressure, and eventually getting to a point where we really want to work together for the next 7 to 10 years.
TECH SPACE | Since I not only invest capital but also time, I’m only investing in tech and tech-related companies where I can add value. My main focus includes AI, Energy, FinTech, ICT, Mobility, Neuro-Tech, Platforms & Marketplaces, Robotics, Smart Contracts, Space-tech, Supply Chain, and tech-related spaces. I’m not experienced in ad tech, defense tech, entertainment, fashion, games, and alike, and as such not investing there.
DREAM TEAMS | Brilliant ideas, relentless execution.
1) TEAMS | My first and foremost selecting criteria is about the founders’ team. Sorry, I will never invest in solopreneurs or teams with one dominant founder 50%+. I’m looking for fearless risk-takers, creative, determined, curious open minds, independent, confident, connected, communicative, involving, and intelligent. See my blog post for more details “10-most-relevant-founders-traits“. I’m happily investing in founders that invested everything they have.
2) STAGE | Having performed the basic steps to validate your business idea: “Starting a startup in 5 steps“. Caring about natural resources and the long-term consequences of their doing (sustainability).
3) IPO | Taking a company to the top means getting to be a public company or equivalent stage. My key interest in an IPO is that the population of your country can participate in your future success, which contributes to prosperity. If you already have an exit strategy and looking to be purchased in the next few years, I have no interest at all.
With four successful companies under my belt, I’m interested in advising the teams I invest in. Companies go through many rather different stages and each stage has challenges. And in our rapidly evolving global markets, those challenges change, old challenges evaporate and new challenges arise. Even after the fourth company, I realized that every next company is new, different, has a different market, need different people, and different actions. Every new company must compel, surprise, and attract their market in new ways. So I won’t make suggestions, how to do things – I ask the most stupid questions to stimulate new thinking and new ways of doing things.
I will always co-invest with others, who have a similar investment strategy.
Take it or leave it
My 20 years in Silicon Valley as VC funded entrepreneur and later investor, taught me: The only way to be a successful investor is by following several rules, the history of startup investment wrote. Between 1950 and 2018 almost all successful tech companies came from Silicon Valley and no foreign investor has been even close to the success rate of Silicon Valley Startup Investors. That is why I follow my investment strategy at all cost. If a company is not a fit – it’s better for investor and investee to not engage.
I don’t want to be the smartest investor in the world – but a successful investor investing in the smartest teams.