Wie kommen Start-ups an Venture Capital?

Wenn es darum geht, als Gründer oder Jungunternehmer an Venture Capital zu kommen, sollten Sie drei Punkte im Auge behalten:

  • Was muss man bei einer Präsentation leisten?
  • Was gilt es auf jeden Fall bei einer Präsentation zu vermeiden?
  • Wie finden sich VCs und Gründer?

Fangen wir damit an, worauf Sie bei der Präsentation vor potenziellen Kapitalgebern achten sollten.

Achtung bei Präsentationen
Venture Capitalists wollen von Ihnen wissen, wie groß Ihr Unternehmen werden kann. Das unterscheidet VC-Geber von Banken. Banker fragen vor allem: Erhalte ich mein Geld zurück? Venture Capitalisten dagegen interessieren sich für das Potenzial des Unternehmens. Also zeigen Sie es Ihnen. Wenn Sie also eine Idee haben, die spannend ist, die es in dieser Form noch nicht gibt, mit der Sie glauben, ein neues Google, SAP oder Facebook zu gründen – dann sollten Sie sich an ein Venture-Capital-Unternehmen wenden.

Natürlich: Je ausgereifter Ihre Idee ist und je konkreter Sie Unternehmen, Team, Technologie, Produkt, Markt und Wettbewerb darstellen können, desto einfacher gestaltet sich die Diskussion mit potenziellen Investoren. Machen Sie Ihren zukünftigen Partnern klar, warum gerade Ihre Idee neu, anders und vor allem erfolgreich sein wird. Und erklären Sie möglichst genau, wozu Sie das Kapital brauchen. Das Produkt fertig entwickeln? Die Markteinführung? Zeigen Sie im Gespräch Potenzial und Fantasie, aber untermauern Sie Ihre Aussagen immer mit harten Fakten. Ein Businessplan und eine knappe Zusammenfassung, die Sie vorab schicken, helfen Ihnen zwar, den ersten Kontakt aufzubauen, aber Begeisterung, Erfolgswillen und klare Argumente rund um das einzusetzende Kapital sind die Erfolgsfaktoren fürs Gespräch.

Welches sind die größten Fehler bei der Präsentation von Ideen?

Kommen Sie auf den Punkt
Reden Sie nicht lange um den heißen Brei herum. Erklären Sie kurz und knapp, wie Ihre Ziele aussehen und verlieren Sie sich nicht in den letzten Details. Dafür bleibt später noch Zeit.

Konzentrieren Sie sich auf das Wesentliche
Folgende Frage sollten Sie dem Venture Capitalisten exakt und präzise beantworten können:
„Was wollen Sie warum an wen mit welchem Preis wie verkaufen? Sicher, den Kundennutzen der Basis-Technologie sollten Sie glasklar machen und vielleicht haben Sie ja schon ein Patent, das Sie vor Nachahmern schützt. Und ein Blick auf das Marktpotenzial hilft Venture Capital-Gebern zu sehen, ob man zueinander passt.

Fassen Sie sich kurz
Bauschen Sie Ihren Businessplan nicht unnötig auf. Er sollte auf die Technologie/das Produkt, den Kunden, den Markt, den Wettbewerb, die Finanzen, die Finanzierung sowie das Team näher eingehen.

Präsentieren Sie sich
Bei der Präsentation will man auch Sie selbst kennen lernen. Geben Sie deshalb einen Überblick, der auch Sie als Unternehmer oder Unternehmerteam mit einbezieht. Denn in diesem Stadium sind lediglich Sie selbst Ihr Unternehmen. Und Geschäftsideen sind oft nur so gut wie die Menschen, die sie umsetzen.

May 28, 2010 at 6:19 am Leave a comment

Updating and upgrading my blog / going to change the language

I started to change my blog yesterday and it seems to become a bigger project. There are some interdependencies between wordpress, my hoster, my email-server and other stuff.

After the blog is changed I am going to get a bit more active and due to numerous requests I’ll change the languages (partly) to German. Stay tuned!

May 27, 2010 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

Are some VCs „Value Added Venture Capital Investor“?

During my time as an entrepreneur I’ve got a lot of similar pitches from Venture Capitalists when they were trying to convince my colleagues and me to let them invest:

  • You’ll get smart money
  • We bring money and we’ll add value
  • We’ll support you and your team
  • We have a huge industry network
  • We’ll actively support you
  • and a lot more

At the beginning I wasn’t skeptical about the ability of Venture Capital Investors to add value. Everybody told me more or less the same story and I believed them. I was more than blond an inexperienced about the venture industry, their players and the background of them.

Isn’t it true that every venture capital investor needs to bring more than money onto the table? Otherwise he would be a banker 😉

An entrepreneur has to take a decision, which VC might be the right investor. And the entrepreneur has to take into account that the investor will become shareholder, most likely board member, “co-entrepreneur”, owner of veto rights for particular decisions and adviser for the next years.

What kind of added value can you expect?

Networking – introductions to all kind of people and groups

Business Development – open doors, pitching on conferences, etc.

Recruiting – using its own network, saving money for head hunters and advising in the decision

Raising Equity – support in further investment rounds

Strategic Advice – general discussion and advise about the proposition, positioning, products, expansion, etc.

Save Resources (time and cash) – help to avoid reinventing the wheel and staying focused

PR – an announcement about an investment will increase the credibility and of the startup

Exits – helping to take the right exit and maximize the outcomes

Few investors are able to provide value on all these fronts. But great VCs will help where they can be helpful and staying out of the way the rest of the time.

My advise to all entrepreneurs:

Start your own due diligence about us (the VCs) and call some entrepreneurs who made experiences with the particular VC firm and investment manager you are considering as a potential shareholder and investor.

Most importantly – you are sitting on the driver seat – not we as the VC. You are the entrepreneur and the executive. You build your company, hire great talents, raise money, make strategic decisions and you are the market expert.

A good VC can and will support you without sitting on your driver seat.

May 16, 2010 at 8:07 am Leave a comment

Green IT – German technology goes abroad (company building in the US)

We (Target Partners) have invested in JouleX, Inc., an Atlanta-based developer of software for reducing the energy usage of IT networks. JouleX will use the funds to further expand development and sales of its products in the U.S. and EMEA. JouleX has its roots in Munich,  Germany.

Josef Brunner, a serial entrepreneur and founder of JouleX who lives in Munich presented the technology to me in summer 2009. Josef and I know each other since 2005. I was impressed about the clear benefit of JouleX, its technology and about Josef’s traction. Back in summer 2009 he was more or less a “one man show”.

Josef and I immediately started to work on that case. The first evaluation has shown that the company was facing two main challenges:

  1. Josef was the only founder and executive. We decided to find and recruit a perfect team of co-founders and executives who will run the company together with Josef.
  2. Due to the fact that Germany is not the center of gravity for enterprise software we decided to locate the company as an Inc. in the US.

Long story short:
We were able to recruit two additional co-founders through our industry network and together with the team we decided to locate the company in the Atlanta, USA.

Tom Noonan, president and CEO of JouleX, is also the former co-founder and CEO of Internet Security Systems, which was acquired by IBM for $1.5 billion. Tom and Chris Klaus launched ISS in 1994, taking it from a startup to nearly $400 million dollars by 2008. Prior to ISS, Tom held senior positions at Dun & Bradstreet Software, where he was vice president, Worldwide Marketing. Before joining D&B Software, he specialized in automated control systems for computer-integrated manufacturing. Tom also founded two successful technology companies: Actuation Electronics, a precision motion-control company and Leapfrog Technologies, a software development company. Tom holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and a business degree from Harvard.

JouleX video:

Rene Seeber is a successful entrepreneur and the CTO and co-founder of JouleX, where he manages the engineering team and oversees design and architecture of the JouleX Energy Manager. Prior to JouleX, he founded and sold two other companies: ONLY Solutions and Cobion. ONLY Solutions was a leading Image Search Engine, which he sold in 2000. Cobion was an enterprise content security provider that crawled and indexed all available web content (images and text) with its own data center and infrastructure consisting of thousands of computers. When Internet Security Systems (ISS) purchased Cobion in 2004, René became ISS’ chief scientist for content security products. René holds a master’s in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Kassel in Kassel, Germany.

Finally we seed funded JouleX in December 2009 and closed an additional investment round in March 2010.

Who is JouleX?

JouleX is leading the way in sustainable energy management systems for the enterprise. Its solutions deliver significant cost savings in the form of energy usage reductions across all networked devices, while also providing robust reporting that enables companies to comply with new carbon emissions monitoring requirements. JouleX’s mission is to change the way companies manage their energy consumption, and to help them become more energy efficient.

What solutions does JouleX offer?

JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) reduces energy costs, potentially by as much as 40 to 60 percent. It does this by monitoring, analyzing and managing energy usage of all network connected devices and systems, without the use of agents.

JEM is geared toward Global 2000 companies that wish to manage and significantly reduce the energy usage associated with their network-connected devices and systems.

What advantages does JEM offer compared to its competitors?

Importantly, JEM works without the use of device agents, dramatically reducing installation time and costs while also removing the maintenance burden associated with similar technologies. Other unique benefits include:

  • Installs in only a few hours
  • Uses Multi-state Energy Monitoring that provides granular visibility into energy usage
  • On-demand, third-party Energy Triggers reduce energy waste by precisely controlling energy usage, while exception lists ensure mission-critical device and system availability
  • JEM Energy Profile combines user, system and device information from multiple sources to generate a true, easy-to-understand energy profile
  • JEM Intelligent Asset Sync validates user, system and device inventory continuously
  • JEM Condition Controller queries and controls end point system condition, eliminating data and productivity loss

What is the market potential for the JouleX Energy Manager?

JouleX estimates that the market for enterprise energy management systems for the Global 2000 will approach $1 billion by 2016.

April 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm 1 comment

Log of the 2010 spring training camp

Today (Sunday, 4 April 2010) I am going to fly to Mallorca to join the ChamCamp 2010. I’ll join this beachvolleyball training camp the third time after 2008 and 2009. This spring training camp is the start of the out-door season and the first tournaments will start in month.

Daily log

1. Day (Sunday, 4 Apr 2010):
Early wake-up in Munich.
Heading to the airport to catch the flight to Mallorca.
Sunny day at the beach with some easy matches.
The hotel is a -1 star hotel fully loaded with sport men (mainly bikers and beachvollyball players).

2. Day (Monday, 5 Apr 2010):
Just a perfect day at the beach.
We’ve played several matches and enjoyed the sun.
The first training session will start tomorrow.
We had a typical spanish dinner in a tapa bar at night with much garlic and wine ;-).

3. Day (Tuesday, 6 Apr 2010):
70 players game together and participated in a casting to define the training groups (sorted by levels).
The afternoon training session had very bad conditions because of the strong wind.
Well, some work needed to be done too. Slow internet connection in the hotel lobby.

4. Day (Wednesday, 7 Apr 2010):
A cold but dry training day at the beach.
The training was well organized and the training showed us our weaknesses and how to improve our technique.
He gave feedback after every single ball – just perfect.

5. Day (Thursday, 8 Apr 2010):
Today is not training to recover from the first two days.
We are going to play some matched but the weather is just bad. It’s raining and it’s cold. The forecast shows an improvement for this afternoon.
We used the rainy first half of the day and drove to Palma de Mallorca. Window shopping!
Well, the weather forecast was right and we had a nice afternoon at the beach.

6. Day (Friday, 9 Apr 2010):
Another cold but dry day at the beach. The heavy wind was more than complicated to handle.

7. Day (Saturday, 10 Apr 2010):
Sunny and warm last day of training.

8. Day (Sunday, 11 Apr 2010):
Another sunny day.
No training – we’ve played a tournament today.
I left the beach at 5 pm. Transfer to the airport at 5:30 pm. Arrived in Munich at 10:30 pm.

Thanks to www.champcamp.de and the motivated and well experienced team and coaches.

April 4, 2010 at 5:48 am Leave a comment

25% of the year – end of the first quarter 2010

This was fast! Sometimes it is scary how fast we are moving. The first 25% of 2010 are over.

I thought that the beginning of 2010 would be a bit more relaxed compared with the 4th quarter of 2009. Well, I tried my best but if I look into the tail mirror I have to admit that I’ve failed.

We at Target Partners have seen many interesting deals in the last three months and I am pretty sure that this trend will continue.

What has happened during the last three months in the German startup and VC scene?

A highlight (whether positive and/or negative) was definitely the exaggerated buzz about various Groupon clones (and other copy-cats) in Germany. To be honest and very frank – for me it is remarkable that so much energy and money is been spent. Time will tell if this business model will work in Germany. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for all involved people.

Lets keep it this way: we all have 75% left in 2010

April 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm Leave a comment

Some learning for a start-up. Stay focused and never forget – cash is king!

I would like to share some essential experience that I’ve learned over the last 11 years as an entrepreneur as well as an investor in start-ups. Some of them I’ve learned painfully and some I’ve got free of charge.  Nevertheless the list is not complete and I am sure that there are lots of other learnings. Please feel free to add your comments.

Pareto’s 80/20 Rule: efficiency works

Some start-ups (especially German start-ups, because they often tend to over-engineering) are too late with their product launches. Perfection and too many features are often the reason why a start-up needs to much time, money and is losing its competitive edge. My experience: Just get the product out of the blocks fast and learn from your customers’ feedback.

Keep your organization mean and lean

Long story short: An employee of a start-up should either build something or sell something. In most cases a young company doesn’t need HR staff, personal assistants or other people, which don’t create value (revenues or products/technology). Take this into account for every hire.

Liquidity is more important than profitability

Focus your operational business on cash flow and not on EBIT. Most important is to be able to pay bills and sign paychecks. Your entire organization and all team members should think this way. Cash, cash, cash – is king!

Plan with a bottom up approach

If your budget is based on a business plan which is calculated with a top-down approach you might be lost. There is a huge difference if you are describing the entire market potential or if you are planning your revenues for the next 12 quarters based on a defined sales process with a logical metrics.

Define your Must-Wins (we call them “game over customers”) and go get them

In some particular markets it can be more than important to add some lighthouse customers as early as possible – maybe even before the official launch announcement. These “game over customers” will block competition and will gain a lot of credibility. Well and it will focus your sales efforts onto the right targets.

Run your company with an evolving KPI-chart

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are benchmarks that all levels of a start-up can use in their day-to-day operations. I highly recommend defining the relevant KPIs as early as possible in order to run and to manage the start-up. There are hundreds of KPIs that can be measured. It is an ongoing task to pick the relevant once, to monitor them and to reconsider if there might be additional important KPIs.

Never drink your own cool aid (never believe in your own PR)

You might know of some good examples for this advise. Start-ups with huge and impressive press coverage, various speaker slots at conferences and intensive social media buzz – but no real business. Press coverage can support the business but it is never ever an indicator for the success of a start-up. New customers, installations, bookings, revenues and cash-in are important. I’ve seen founders and management teams of start-ups, which lost reality because of there PR success. Please be aware!Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

March 21, 2010 at 10:39 am Leave a comment

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