How awesome is that feeling of excitement, the adrenaline rush, the smile on your face after you meet someone special? Feeling the spark, the energetic vibes, or even a bit of magic: You know your life is about to change and exciting times are about to start.
One evening, I was waiting for a startup to reply to some important questions. “Will they text me back? What do they think of us? Do they see a shared future?”, these nervous thoughts cycled through my mind as I checked for a reply every other minute. My phone beeped and I felt it: the adrenaline, the butterflies, the anticipation. It occurred to me then, “Shit, am I dating this startup?”
This got me thinking that there are some similarities between dating and investing. From first dates to breakups, I would like to share a couple of them as a small Valentine's gift to you. 💌
Oh, and thank you, team, for letting me write my first blog as a VC about dating. 😉
The love of your life will not just walk by. So, go out there and get ‘em!
What are the chances your soulmate will waltz into your life if you never create an opportunity to meet them?
It’s Saturday night. You’re having a drink in a low-lit bar; music is flowing and suddenly someone catches your attention from across the room. Your eyes meet. You hesitate: “Should I approach? Should I say hello?” -- There is one thing for sure, nothing is going to happen if you are not going to talk to them. So, whether it is a potential date, startup, investor or client... Get out there and start hustling! Life is too short to pass on these opportunities!
We all have our dating product-market-fit. So, “What's your type?”
Whether it is your parents, friends, or curious aunt, we’ve all been asked the question: What’s your type? Maybe your type is tall, dark, and handsome? Maybe you found that you prefer more artistic souls, or people who share your love of chocolate (or cheese)... or maybe you’re just looking for someone that your mother will approve of. 🤓
VC’s also have a type. We’ve found our type or our product-market-fit in early stage European SaaS, marketplaces and platform companies. We’ve even developed criteria to assess if we’re a fit, we rank hot leads with our T-score. Where the hottest leads have a driven team that executes fast, multiple co-founders, a unique value proposition, early signs of strong traction, and are operating in a large enough obtainable market to reach significant scale. Oh and of course a relationship is a two way street. So don’t forget to write down your investor product-market-fit too.
First impressions count. Make sure your dating profile is up-to-scruff.
Whether it's selecting the best pictures for a dating profile or the nicest outfit for a first date, you know that first impressions matter - and you can only make them once.
To nail your first impression, make sure your pitch deck is up-to-date. Have a look at our recommendation for your 12-slide pitch deck. But remember...
It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Sure, sparks can fly at first... but you don’t really know a person until you actually spend time together. You have to really get to know each other before to see if you are meant to be, or if it is just a fling. Perfect test? Go to Ikea together - if you succeed you might be ready to buy a ring...💍
Sure, we can appreciate a well-designed pitch deck any day of the week; but what really matters is the people, the product and the proof behind it. That is why we like to meet our potential investments in person. We need to spend quality time together, work together, and have tough discussions together. This is how we test if our relationship is going to endure the challenging road ahead. It’s why we don’t put down a term sheet after the first meeting. After all, you don’t propose after the first date, right?
Dating can be a numbers game. But remember: quality over quantity!
Ever feel bored on a Saturday night? Do your own deal flow analysis! Which dating sources do you use? How many matches have you had? How many first dates? How many loved ones? Have a look at our dealflow of 2019H2:
We are quite active scanning over 3000 companies in half a year while meeting 100 companies in the past 6 months. However, with only 5-6 deals a year, we are the worst closers ever (according to our CRM stats 😉). But just as in your love life it’s not about quantity it’s about quality. And for us it's not about investing in a lot of companies, it’s about investing in the right ones.
“It’s not you, it’s me…"
Sounds like a familiar, empty excuse? We avoid them!
Sometimes things don’t work out. Regardless, we believe you deserve honest feedback on why we didn’t feel the spark. It might be that we are not convinced by your go-to-market, that we don’t see our added value, or that we believe your company is just not fit for VC funding. Please keep in mind, this doesn’t mean your company won’t be successful. There are many ways to succeed and, of course, we do make mistakes (a lot actually). So, don’t be too disappointed, remember: “there is a lid for every jar” (Dutch saying).
“Hurt me with the truth, but never comfort me with a lie”
If you lie on your first date, you are going to have a problem in the long run. If the relationship gets serious, you’ll have to let the cat out of the bag eventually.
Following the above, our honest feedback doesn't just come if we’re not interested in moving forwards. We will be direct and honest throughout our relationship and we hope that is reciprocated. As a founder, of course you’re going to blow us away with your pitch - but be careful, don’t blow the horn too loud. There is a thin line between embellishing and misrepresenting. As we dig deeper into a company, we will eventually see all sides of it. Not all those sides can or will be great - we know, and that’s okay. We can work through the hard parts together. What’s not okay is omitting important information or making things look better than they are. So, whatever it is you are struggling with, don’t shy away from it - be open and transparent.
To read more about how we value trust and transparency, see how we create safe spaces in meetings.
“The instant spark or the growing relationship” ✨
Sometimes you know it right away, sometimes the love just needs to evolve over time.
VCs never (or hardly ever) invest right after the first meeting. It may take weeks or months, or sometimes even years, to establish a healthy relationship. We are keen to follow the evolution of a company over time, as sometimes the spark may just occur after a couple of years.
This is not just a one night stand, we are in it for the long haul!
You’ve heard it once and you will hear it again: “Raising venture capital is like getting married”
After saying “I do”, and the money is in the bank, the relationship doesn’t end there. On the contrary, it is just the beginning. We will be working together for 7 years or so, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till exit us do part”.
We look forward to working with you hands-on; helping you with and through key moments such as hiring senior management, scaling international, raising follow-up funding, re-inventing your sales approach, founder disputes, and whatever else we can support you with.
So, up for a date? If so, send your 12-slide dating profile to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a happy valentine’s day! 😊