Posts tagged ‘Entrepreneur’

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.

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May 28, 2010 at 6:19 am 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

2009 from a German VC’s perspective

The German Internet start-up battle

There is lots of noise in Berlin. Numerous Internet start-ups have been founded and seed-funded in the last years. 2009 was dominated by new (mainly copied) ecommerce cases. As an early stage VC investor (Target Partners) who sees the majority of the investment cases in Germany it was quite astonishing to see the “rat-race” which is currently taking place. The German Internet and ecommerce incubator scene was ruled from the European Founders for some years. Due to the fact that this concept seems to work others tried to copy this approach. The result is that three or even more incubator organizations are often competing with their start-ups today. A good example is the battle of the German copy-cats Sponsorpay, Gratispay and Deal United. Every start-up is supported from a different incubator an is doing more or less the same.

I highly respect the power and the experience of all involved people – in the supported start-ups as well as in the incubator organizations. But I am honestly asking myself if it is a good thing or a waste of resources that such kind of competition looks sometimes like an end in itself. Well, time will tell and in the meantime we all have some interesting things to observe.

The deal flow in 2009

This year was really an interesting one. We’ve seen more deals than ever before. Statistically the ratio of pure Internet case has decreased and the percentage of technology cases has increased. Which is a good tendency because we believe that technology can make the difference. If I compare the deal flow in 2009 with the deal flow some years ago it is more than obvious that the German start-up market is growing. There is no proof but I think this is the result of various causes, e.g.:

  • Public stories about successful entrepreneurs are motivating other people
  • Active business angels are supporting entrepreneurs and their ideas
  • Social media are connecting and inspiring entrepreneurs
  • Seed investments are possible again because of the establishment of the High-Tech-Gruenderfonds and some business angel networks

I hope that this trend will continue.

The investments in 2009

Will be posted in some days…

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December 25, 2009 at 6:46 pm 2 comments

Critical and caricatural picture of a VC

When I joined Target Partners in early 2007 I also changed sides of the table from being an entrepreneur to becoming “One of them”, a VC. During my time as an entrepreneur I had a lot of experience working with VCs and related investment managers.  Over time I became very critical of VC’s and investment managers because in my view some of them didn’t have the kind of operational experience needed to support their portfolio companies to ensure success. They were missing the “seen it done it” expertise and sometimes they had an arrogant attitude.

I promised myself that I would try to avoid making all of the big mistakes they made including the way they conduct themselves.

Today I found a presentation which really brings it to the point (maybe a bit exaggerated and a bit caricatured):

June 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

My personal paradigm shift: from an entrepreneur to a Venture Capitalist

From 1999 until the end of 2006 I founded several technology startups. I am also a business angel and have invested in several startups since 2001. During this time I learned a lot about the startup business. How to raise money? How to build execution driven management teams? How to market products? And how to work with VC’s? (I painfully felt the drawbacks as well as the joys of having a VC investor on the advisory board.) I also learned how to bootstrap a startup as well as how to sell a company (exit). And a lot more…

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In 2007 I joined Target Partners, a Munich based Venture Capital firm, as a Venture Partner. Since then I fully immersed myself as an investment professional and was always treated as part of the team. Early this year, I joined Target Partners as a new Partner.

People often ask me how to become a venture capitalist and why I decided to become a VC instead of founding or joining another company. To be honest – it just happened.

After two years of working on the other side of the table as a VC I have to emphazise that this move was a rather large paradigm shift for me. The entrepreneurial mind-set is more like “Yes, I can fix it” or “Come on, just do it”. As a VC I can’t operationally work in a startup as part of management, meaning, “I won’t fix it”. The entrepreneur/management team members are responsible for the operative business. In my new role “I have to let go”. Now, I am standing on the sidelines watching the game and hoping that my advisc, tips and voice might be heard and used by the team.

Seen it – done it

However, let me point out one important quality a VC should have. This insight is based on my work with VC’s as an entrepreneur as well as my experience working as a VC over the last two years:

  • A good VC should have an entrepreneurial background.

Sure, there are exceptions, but statistics show that a good VC usually has a background which includes growing companies and/or developing and marketing products and services. Why? Because he will understand the needs, the problems, the daily work of a startup much better than a VC who has only seen it from the sideline and wasn’t part of the game.

Is the entrepreneurial background and experience enough to make a good VC investor? Definitely not! Venture Capital is a detail driven business, which demands additional talents and skills (e.g. curiosity, networking, accuracy, gut feeling, readiness and a lot more).

Conclusion: It was the right move

During the last two years I have enjoyed working with driven and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. I have seen interesting business cases and some not so interesting ones. I will focus on this chapter in an extra post.

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March 29, 2009 at 9:22 am 2 comments


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This blog is a view from an VC investor, entrepreneur as well as from a private person. You'll find posts about Startups, Technology, Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship and about life and fun. If you enjoy and if you don't please send me your critical comments.

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