When I was a startup founder, I was always skeptical about whether VCs could truly deliver added value. Personally, I rarely received anything from them but money. Ten years later, I’m on the other side of the table, and I’ll be the first to admit it’s easier said than done.
Adding real value “from the outside” is really, really hard. It takes a lot of time, effort and resources. And it requires focus on a few high impact areas where the founders are stuck or simply too slow on their own. Identifying and addressing these gaps requires consistent engagement from all sides, and above all, a lot of trust between the founders and the investor.
This type of operational support, far beyond the usual “VC marketing speech”, was the founding idea of Speedinvest. Nine years ago, six quite experienced operators (me being one of them) launched a tiny €10M fund with the idea that all of us would spend a considerable part of our time working side by side with founders — quite different from most VC setups out there.
In the beginning, it was simple. If there was something a founder needed help with, we jumped in. We knew we had to demonstrate impact to our founders from day one, otherwise they would quickly move on — as we would have done if we were in their shoes. And it worked. Small, yet important contributions, from customer wins to critical hires, to much needed intelligence on the US market. Founders appreciated our support and we loved our job.
But as Speedinvest grew, we had less and less time to offer the hands-on support we knew our founders needed and deserved. Not to mention, we started realizing we were not experts in everything. It was time for reinforcements.
Having sold my own business to a US public company (Verisign), and having spent a number of years in Silicon Valley, I knew from day one that a bridge to the US market was critical for our success.
So Speedinvest established a senior team on the ground in San Francisco to fully focus on finding US product-market fit, building a strong local network, and navigating US business culture. Today, with nine years of experience helping countless startups with their US expansions, we know what it takes to make this critical step successful. Back in Europe, we narrowed in on the two core ingredients of any startup success story: understanding levers for growth and attracting and retaining talent.
Over the years we expanded, scaled and professionalized our offerings. From the beginning, founders benefited, but we knew we could do more. We could build something better. So that became one of our key 2020 goals.
The year started with a bang. Our new fund, Si 3, grew beyond our fundraising goal to reach €190M at final close. We opened our sixth office in Paris, and Joerg Floeck joined as Managing Partner to help us take our founder support to the next level. And then…
Lockdowns. Market collapse. March 2020 hit hard, and COVID-19 tested our commitment to our startups like never before.
Our investment managers and in-house support teams did what they do best — went into action mode and began offering all our services for free. While our investors helped companies raise the follow-on funding they needed to extend their runways, our operational team was busy supporting our founders with applications for government support, customized marketing strategies, business pivots, and much more.
We’ve now successfully executed more than 50 projects for our portfolio. In March, only 40% of our startups had a runway longer than twelve months and just 50% reported a positive business outlook. Now, despite continued economic turmoil in many industries, these numbers stand at 90% and 67%. That’s not a “VC marketing speech,” just data that speaks for itself.
We had no idea that helping our founders navigate successfully through an unprecedented global crisis would lay the foundation for version 2.0 of our platform. But it did, so we doubled down.
We’ve spent the past six months optimizing our team. Every team needs a strong leader. My long-time colleague, Managing Partner, Joerg Floeck, stepped up to the challenge. Aside from his vast corporate leadership experience (Thomson Reuters), and years as an angel investor and venture partner himself, he’s worked side by side with startup teams, helping them to build relationships with heavy-hitter industry players. He also worked as our Executive Chairman for several years before joining as managing partner. In short, he knows what it takes and is the perfect point person.
Joerg began recruiting top talents who know when, where, and how to most effectively help startup businesses succeed. The result, Platform+, 100% free for our founders!
Our new team of in-house experts tasked with providing founders with unparalleled support on a daily basis in the areas they need it most: growth strategy, people management (human resources), business development, and knowledge sharing and networking with fellow founders.
Over the last 15 years, Jon has founded numerous companies in the US and Europe. Supported by Mitchell Bradley, the Growth team along with their extensive industry network of entrepreneurs and executives, have first-hand experience guiding companies through every stage of startup expansion.
Jon and Mitch help founders develop strong go-to-market strategies, build killer strategic narratives, and define and measure product-market fit to best position and launch their products. For companies further along in their journey, they assist with fine-tuning customer engagement and retention through opportunity and product-led growth models and strategies. And through it all, they focus on customer and market segmentation and digital marketing, ensuring the right customers find our startups’ products at the right time.
Miriam has 11+ years of international HR management experience, having helped an Austrian company scale to over 1000 employees in the US. Our People Manager, Valerie Wiederkehr-Prundianu, is an HR allrounder with extensive startup experience. Building a world-class team while scaling a startup isn’t easy. But Miriam and Valerie are here to help.
They know that attracting top talent is a founder’s top priority. They’re here to help, but take it a step further. Whether it’s 1:1 leadership development, workshops on talent acquisition and retention, or easy access to people operations best practices, they are a sounding board and helping hand. With tailored support throughout, they help founders to develop as leaders and build engaged, talented teams with strong, healthy company cultures.
German-born, but based in Silicon Valley, Daniela knows how to navigate both the US and European business worlds. She comes to Speedinvest with 15 years of Business Development experience in high growth companies and has launched products in 30+ countries. Daniela was a mentor at HenkelX and continues to mentor at the German Accelerator Silicon Valley.
Whether it’s validating US market fit, defining a local go-to-market strategy, closing their first US customers, or scaling operations, Daniela supports our portfolio companies through the entire process. Our powerful network of corporate executives, industry experts, and local business partnerships ensures founders are firmly plugged into the world’s most competitive tech ecosystem.
With a passion for working in the tech industry and a knack for problem-solving, Nicole brings 10 years of experience in building meaningful relationships across teams and extended communities. With a background spanning a wide range of international corporate financial institutions and tech community hubs, she knows the value that comes from bringing diverse thought and experience together.
Through virtual events, 1:1 introductions, exclusive webinars, and our founder knowledge base, our Speedinvest Community connects startups with our network of industry experts, fellow founders, and the resources they need to succeed at every stage of their journey.
After years of working side-by-side with founders, making some mistakes, seeing some huge successes, and learning a lot along the way, we’ve managed to build what I believe is much more than just another cash-and-grab VC. With Platform+, we’re now providing an unrivaled level of founder support from day one. But are we satisfied? No.
This is only the beginning.
In the coming months and years, Joerg and our Platform+ operational support team will continue to expand and evolve services to meet the ever changing needs of our founders. The success we’ve seen across our portfolio makes it clear it’s more than worth the investment.
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