4 strategies for deep tech startups recruiting top growth marketers

In an earlier article, I wrote about how and when to build go-to-market teams at deep tech companies. There, I noted that it is more important for growth hires at deep tech companies to have functional expertise than industry expertise.

But how do deep tech companies connect and cultivate strong relationships with talented nontechnical growth people outside of their industry? In this article, I answer this question, articulating exactly how to:

  • Write role descriptions that entice talented growth people.
  • Create company marketing materials that brands your startup well to talent.
  • Craft thoughtful end-to-end candidate experiences for growth talent.
  • Close top growth candidates.

Incredible growth people are independent and creative and are drawn to environments that explicitly value these traits.

Write a job description that explains how you operate

Underscore the autonomy. Incredible growth people are independent and creative and are drawn to environments that explicitly value these traits. Growth talent wants to know that they have room to experiment, fail and iterate with the support and trust of their company. Highlight the creative agency you give to your growth team. Paint the role as one of managing a subset of the startup and its initiatives.

Show you are ready for a growth marketer. Do not expect your growth person to be a panacea for the company. Growth people work cross-functionally, but there are boundaries where the growth role starts and ends. Growth people cannot sell a product that is not ready. Growth people cannot fix product bugs. Growth people cannot replace excellent customer service. Ensure your role description is clear on what the growth person would do and what they would lean on other teams for. Demonstrate that you have a team structure in place where a growth marketer could fit in and thrive.

Articulate your talent needs. Growth is a broad category. Some growth marketers are more creative. Others are more quantitative. Some have more industry experience. Others have more functional experience. Be clear on what type of growth marketer you need and how this person’s talents would complement those of the existing team.

Use marketing to share your history and chart the future

Generate excitement and establish credibility. People can naturally be skeptical about new technologies and younger companies. Do anything you can to ameliorate these concerns. Link to relevant news articles from well-known publications and thought leaders in your industry. Incorporate customer testimonials that speak to the transformative impact your product creates. Name drop well-known advisors, investors and team members.

#column, #deep-tech, #ec-column, #ec-entrepreneurship, #ec-how-to, #ec-marketing, #labor, #startups, #tc

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Commercializing deep tech startups: A practical guide for founders and investors

As a deep tech investor, I have often noticed that deep tech startups go through a different evolution cycle than a typical B2B or B2C company.

Accordingly, the challenges they face along the way are different — commercialization tends to be more complex and founders are often required to approach it differently.

Deep tech companies are usually built around a novel technology that offers significant advances over existing solutions in the market; often they create new markets that don’t yet exist. Taking these technologies from “lab to market” requires substantial capital carrying a much higher degree of risk than an average venture investment.

The majority of VCs are often surprised by the amount of complexity involved in building a successful deep tech company.

Typically, the underlying intellectual property (IP) of a deep tech company is unique and hard to recreate, resulting in a significant competitive advantage.

High risk, high reward

Since most deep tech companies are built around a fundamentally new and unproven technology, they carry higher risk. Typically, the tech has been tested in a lab or a research center and the early results are therefore often derived in a controlled environment. As a result, while building a product, founders are likely to encounter technical challenges along the way and won’t be able to eliminate the technology risk until later in the process.

By comparison, if a company is building a marketplace for used cars, for example, the technology risk is almost zero. Deep tech companies have the capability to create new markets with little competition and can replace existing technologies while fundamentally transforming an industry.

Microsoft, Nvidia, ARM, Intel and Google were all deep tech startups in the beginning. These companies will almost always require higher capital, carry higher risk and have longer time to return on investment.

However, if successful, they could deliver outsized returns over an average venture investment.

Technology-first approach

An obvious, but fundamental difference with deep tech companies is their technology-first approach. Typically, the founder has developed a novel technology or IP as part of their Ph.D. thesis or postdoc work and is in search for a real-world problem it can solve. Most startups, in general, pick an existing problem in a market they know well and develop a product that solves for that problem and they have a clear sense of the problem they need to solve.

Deep tech entrepreneurs take the opposite approach and as a result they often suffer from SISP (a solution in search of a problem), as Y Combinator calls it. Founders need to be aware of this and must be willing to pivot and repivot based on market and customer feedback. Investors should be prepared for this before backing the company and support the founders as they navigate through the challenges of building a successful deep tech company.

#column, #deep-tech, #ec-column, #entrepreneurship, #science, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

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4 strategies for deep-tech founders who are fundraising

Fundraising is challenging, especially for deep-tech founders who need to get investors excited about a complex technology, a complex sales cycle and a complex risk profile.

As a former investor and current angel investor, I have met thousands of founders, many in the deep-tech space.

Based on my experience, here’s how to avoid making the most common mistakes deep-tech founders make when pitching investors:

Work on your storytelling

Highlight your big vision

Early-stage investors are in the business of funding dreams. They chose to be early-stage investors because they love hearing about new ideas and enthralling futures. They deliberately are not investment bankers or accountants because they do not want to constantly pour over endless spreadsheets or dive deep into financial models. Similarly, they are not operators because they do not want to spend time figuring out the intricacies of a supply chain or a marketing campaign or the configuration of a product component.

Make your pitch tailored to what excites venture capital investors and avoid what does not.

So make your pitch tailored to what excites venture capital investors and avoid what does not. Keep the financial model details and the warehouse system logistics information to your Appendix. You have it in case anyone wants to dive in deeper, but your core presentation should be focused on your biggest, most bullish hopes for the company seven to 10 years from now. Dedicate multiple slides to painting the picture of what society would look like should you meet all your intended milestones as a company.

Underscore the impact

As a deep-tech company, your differentiation is in your intellectual property. However, investors care less about the “what” and much more about the “so what.” Investors are less interested in the intricacies of your technology and more interested in what impact it can create.

Formulate your slides to focus on answering questions like, “What can people or companies do as a result of your technology?” and “How will people save time, money and lives with your product?”

Put your presentation to the “grandma” test. Would your grandmother be able to understand and be excited about everything you share? Investor pitch meetings are not dissertation defenses. You are being evaluated on your potential for impact rather than the intricate details of your research. The best way to succeed in this evaluation framework is to ensure that everything you share is relevant and exciting to a diverse audience of even nontechnical folks.

Try to reach hearts and minds

Five million people are a statistic, but one person is a story. When people read data on massive populations of people, they conceptually understand the implications but only on a logical level, not an emotional one. When pitching, you want to reach the hearts of investors.

#column, #deep-tech, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #entrepreneurship, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

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Prime Movers Lab raises $245 million for second fund to invest in early stage science startups

After revealing its first fund just last year, a $100 million pool of investment capital dedicated to early stage startups focusing on sustainable food development, clean energy, health innovation and new space technologies, Prime Movers Lab is back with a second fund. Prime Movers Lab Fund II is larger, with $245 million committed, but it will pursue the same investment strategy, albeit with a plan to place more bets on more companies, with an expanded investment team to help manage the funds and portfolio.

“There are a lot of VCs out there,” explained founder and general partner Dakin Sloss about the concept behind the fund. “But there aren’t many VCs that are focused exclusively on breakthrough science, or deep tech. Even though there are a couple, when you look at the proportion of capital, I think it’s something like less than 10% of capital is going to these types of companies. But if you look at what’s meaningful to the life of the average person over the next 30 years, these are all the companies that are important, whether it’s coronavirus vaccine,s or solar energy production, or feeding the planet through aquaponics. These are the things that are really meaningful to to making a better quality of life for most people.”

Sloss told me that he sees part of the issue around why the proportion of capital dedicated to solving these significant problems is that it requires a lot of deep category knowledge to invest in correctly.

“There’s not enough technical expertise in VC firms to choose winners intelligently, rather than ending up with the next Theranos or clean tech bubble,” he said. “So that’s the first thing I wanted to solve. I have a physics background, and I was able to bring together a team of partners that have really deeply technical backgrounds.”

As referenced, Sloss himself has a degree from Stanford in Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy. He was a serial entrepreneur before starting the fund, having founded Tachyus, OpenGov and nonprofit California Common Sense. Other Partners on the team include systems engineer Dan Slomski, who previously worked on machine vision, electro-mechanical systems and developing a new multi-phase flow fluid analyzer; Amy Kruse, who holds a PhD in neuroscience and has served as an executive in defence technology and applied neuroscience companies; and Carly Anderson, a chemical engineer who has worked in biomedicine and oil & gas, and who has a PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering. In addition to core partners with that kind of expertise, Prime Movers Lab enlists the help of venture partners and specialist advisors like former astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Having individuals with deep field expertise on the core team, in addition to supplementing that with top-notch advisors, is definitely a competitive advantage, particularly when investing in the kinds of companies that Prime Movers Lab does early on in their development. There’s a perception that companies pursuing these kinds of hard tech problems aren’t necessarily as viable as a target for traditional venture funding, specifically because of the timelines for returns. Sloss says he believes that’s a misperception based on unfortunate past experience.

“I think there are three big myths about breakthrough science or hard tech or deep tech,” he said. “That it takes longer, that it’s more capital intensive, and that it’s higher risk. And I think the reason those myths are out there is people invested in things like Theranos, and the clean tech bubble. But I think that there were fundamental mistakes made in how they underwrote risk of doing that.”

Image Credits: Momentus

To avoid making those kinds of mistakes, Sloss says that Prime Movers Lab views prospective investments from the perspective of a “spectrum of risk,” which includes risk of the science itself (does the fundamental technology involve actually work), engineering risk (given the science works, can we make it something we can sell) and finally, commercialization or scaling risk (can we then make it and sell it at scale with economics that work). Sloss says that if you use this risk matrix to assess investments, and allocated funds to address primarily the engineering risk category, concerns around timeframes to return don’t really apply.

He cites Primer Movers Lab’s Fund I portfolio, which includes space propulsion company Momentus, heading for an exit to the public markets via SPAC (the company’s Russian CEO actually just resigned in order to smooth the path for that, in fact), and notes that of the 15 companies that Fund I invested in, four are totally on a path to going public. That would put them much faster to an exit than is typical for early stage investment targets, and Sloss credits the very different approach most hard science startups take to IP development and capital.

“The inflection points in these types of companies are actually I think faster to get to market, because they’ve spent years developing the IP, staying at relatively low or attractive valuations,” he said. “Then we can kind of come in, at that inflection point, and help them get ready to commercialize and scale up exponentially, to where other investors no longer have to underwrite the difference between science and engineering risk, they can just see it’s working and producing revenue.”

Companies that fit this mold often come directly from academia, and keep the team small and focused while they’re figuring out the core scientific discovery or innovation that enables the business. A prime example of this in recent memory is Wingcopter, a German drone startup that developed and patented a technology for a tilt-wing rotor that changes the economics of electric autonomous drone flight. The startup just took its first significant startup investment after bootstrapping for four years, and the funds will indeed be used to help it accelerate engineering on a path towards high-volume production.

While Wingcopter isn’t a Prime Movers Lab portfolio company, many of its investments fit the same mold. Boom Aerospace is currently working on building and flying its subscale demonstration aircraft to pave the way for a future supersonic airliner, while Axiom Space just announced the first crew of private tourists to the International Space Station who will fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 for $50 million a piece. As long as you can prove the fundamentals are sound, allocating money turning it into something marketable seems like a logical strategy.

For Prime Movers Lab’s Fund II, the plan is to invest in around 30 or so companies, roughly doubling the number of investments from Fund I. In addition to its partners with scientific expertise, the firm also includes Partners with skill sets including creative direction, industrial design, executive coaching and business acumen, and provides those services to its portfolio companies as value-add to help them supplement their technical innovations. Its Fund I portfolio includes Momentus and Axiom, as mentioned, as well as vertical farming startup Upward Farms, coronavirus vaccine startup Covaxx, and more.

#advisors, #articles, #astronaut, #business-incubators, #ceo, #chris-hadfield, #clean-energy, #corporate-finance, #deep-tech, #entrepreneurship, #executive, #falcon, #finance, #funding, #international-space-station, #machine-vision, #momentus, #money, #neuroscience, #oil, #prime-movers-lab, #private-equity, #serial-entrepreneur, #stanford, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #theranos, #venture-capital, #wingcopter

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How and when to build marketing teams at deep tech companies

Deep tech startups develop cutting-edge innovations with the power to truly revolutionize society. The founding team members at these companies often come from deeply technical backgrounds, which powers rapid product progress but can create bottlenecks on the go-to-market side.

In this post, I outline the answers to four key questions around marketing at early-stage deep tech companies that are post-revenue:

  • What marketing teams at deep tech companies do.
  • When to hire the marketing team.
  • Whether the marketing team needs industry experience.
  • How to source and evaluate talent for the marketing team.

From this post, deep tech startups can formulate their marketing hiring strategy and attract and cultivate top talent to drive their go-to-market plan. Without business execution, even the most groundbreaking innovations do not achieve their intended impact.

What do marketing teams at deep tech companies do?

To set the context, I share below the typical projects of deep tech marketing teams, which look different from marketing in other industries given the greater product focus and complexity, regulatory oversight and longer time to market.

Go-to-market

Marketers leverage the strength of the IP to establish collaborations with large companies, such as pharma companies and institutions, such as the government, universities or hospitals. To this end, marketers develop creative ways to gather lists of, and information on, key contacts at these potential partners. They also build sales collateral, such as demo videos, pitch decks and one-pagers, to more effectively reach and build long-term relationships with these prospects.

More broadly, marketers also develop the go-to-market strategy beyond partnerships. To this end, marketers conduct in-depth market research on business models, monetization strategies and reimbursement channels.

Communications

Marketers create original content to establish the company as a thought leader, build the company’s brand credibility through social media and apply for awards and honors to validate the potential of the company’s solution.

Forecasting

Marketers work with finance and product teams to formulate projections as the company moves into the clinical phase.

When should deep tech companies hire marketers?

The CEO and other members of the founding team take on marketing work in the formation stage to better understand and empathize with the needs, capabilities and opportunities in the department before bringing someone on full time.

Once the product shows signs of repeatable revenue, a marketing lead is needed. Specifically, this is ahead of a large Series A round, after a small Series A round or when a commercial partner has expressed interest in larger, long-term contracts. Instead of the typical chief marketing officer or chief revenue officer title, deep tech startups call this person a chief commercial officer or chief partnerships officer.

For additional support in the formation stage, companies bring on MBA interns and work with their investors. Prior to the Series A, platform teams at deep tech venture-capital funds are hands-on in helping with marketing through actually doing marketing projects for their portfolio companies, ideating on long-term marketing strategy with the founders through regular feedback sessions and connecting founders with vetted marketing contractors or agencies.

For companies that require FDA approval, commercial advisors, consultants and board members fully take on the partnership strategy work (which represents the bulk of the marketing needs) prior to the Series A round. Similarly, external consultants, such as marketing agencies, can take over major projects like launch strategy. External consultants can then join the team should their performance be strong.

For drug-development companies, the marketing leader is most crucial when the company enters the clinical phase and prepares for trials, regardless of funding stage.

Do marketing hires need industry experience?

Of course, it is ideal to hire someone with experience selling into the space and someone who is comfortable with the complex supply chains and long sales cycles. However, if the choice is between someone with functional expertise but no industry expertise and someone with industry experience but limited or no functional expertise, it is better to hire the former candidate and leverage the rest of the team for domain expertise. Deep tech is a niche area, so the other team members can support the marketer in developing industry expertise.

#deep-tech, #ec-entrepreneurship, #ec-marketing, #growth-marketing, #labor, #marketing, #product-management, #product-marketing, #startups, #tc

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Bristol entrepreneur who exited for $800M doubles-down on the city with deep-tech incubator and VC fund

Harry Destecroix co-founded Ziylo while studying for his PhD at the University of Bristol. Ziylo, a university spin-out company, developed a synthetic molecule allowing glucose to bind with the bloodstream more effectively. Four years later, and by then a Phd, Destecroix sold the company to Danish firm Novo Nordisk, one of the biggest manufacturers of diabetes medicines, which had realized it could use Ziylo’s molecule to develop a new type of insulin to help diabetics. He walked away with an estimated $800m.

Destecroix is now embarking on a project, “Science Creates”, to repeat the exercise of creating deep-tech, science-based startups, and it will once more be based out of Bristol.

To foster this deep tech ecosystem it will offer a specialized incubator space able to house Wet Labs, a £15 million investment fund and a network of strategic partners to nurture science and engineering start-ups and spin-outs.

The Science Creates hub, in partnership with the University of Bristol and located in the heart of the city, is aspiring to become a sort of ‘West Coast’ for England, and the similarities, at least with an earlier version of Silicon Valley, are striking.

The Bay Area of old was cheaper than the East Coast of the US, had a cornerstone university, access to capital, and plenty of talent. Bristol has all that and for capital, it can access London, less than 90 minutes by train. But what it’s lacked until now is a greater level of “clustering” and startup-focused organization, which is clearly what Destecroix is planning to fix.

In a statement for the launch, he explained: “Where a discovery is made has a huge bearing on whether it’s successfully commercialized. While founding my own start-up, Ziylo, I became aware of just how many discoveries failed to emerge from the lab in Bristol alone. No matter the quality of the research and discovery, the right ecosystem is fundamental if we are going to challenge the global 90% failure rate of science start-ups, and create many more successful ventures.”

Science Creates is be grown out of the original incubator, Unit DX, that Destecroix set up in collaboration with the University of Bristol in 2017 to commercialize companies like his own.

The Science Creates team

The Science Creates team

The ‘Science Creates ecosystem’ will comprise of:

Science Creates Incubators: Unit DX houses 37 scientific and engineering companies working on healthtech, the environment and quality of life. The opening of a second incubator, Unit DY, close to Bristol Temple Meads train station, will mean it can support 100 companies and an estimated 450 jobs. The Science Creates’ physical footprint across the two units will reach 45,000 sq ft.

Science Creates Ventures: This £15 million EIS venture capital fund is backed by the Bristol-based entrepreneurs behind some of the South-West’s biggest deep tech exits.

Science Creates Network: This will be a portfolio of strategic partners, mentors and advisors tailored to the needs of science and engineering start-ups.

Destecroix is keen that the startups nurtured there will have more than “Wi-Fi and strong coffee” but also well-equipped lab space as well as sector-specific business support.

He’s betting that Bristol, with its long history of academic and industrial research, world-class research base around the University of Bristol, will be able to overcome the traditional challenges towards the commercialization of deep tech and science-based startups.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Bristol, commented: “We are delighted to support the vision and help Science Creates to build a thriving deep tech ecosystem in our home city. Great scientists don’t always know how to be great entrepreneurs, but we’ve seen the impact specialist support can have in helping them access the finance, networks, skills, and investment opportunities they need. Working with Science Creates, we aim to support even more ground-breaking discoveries to progress outside the university walls, and thrive as successful commercial ventures that change our world for the better.”

Ventures in Unit DX so far include:
– Imophoron (a vaccine tech start-up that is reinventing how vaccines are made and work – currently working on a COVID vaccine)
– Cytoseek (a discovery-stage biotech working on cell therapy cancer treatment)
– Anaphite (graphine-based science for next gen battery technology).

In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Destecroix went on to say: “After my startup exited I just got really interested in this idea that, where discovery is actually founded has a huge bearing on whether something is actually commercialized or not. The pandemic has really taught us there is a hell of a lot more – especially in the life sciences, and environmental sciences – that has still yet to be discovered. Vaccines are based on very old technology and take a while to develop.”

“Through this whole journey, I started trying to understand it from an economic perspective. How do we get more startups to emerge? To lower those barriers? I think first of all there’s a cultural problem, especially with academically-focused universities whereby entrepreneurship a dirty word. I had to go against many of my colleagues in the early days to spin out, then obviously universities own all the IP. And so you’ve got to go through the tech transfer office etc and depending on what university you are at, whether it’s Imperial, Cambridge or Oxford, they’re all different. So, and I put the reason why there were no deep terch startups in Bristol down to the fact that there was no incubator space, and not enough investment.”

“I’ve now made about 14 angel investments. Bristol has now catapulted from 20th in the league tables for life sciences to six in the country in the last three years and this is largely due to the activities that we’ve been helping to encourage. So we’ve helped streamline licensing processes for the university, and I’ve helped cornerstone a lot of these deals which has resulted in a wave of these technology startups coming in.”

“I thought, now’s the time to professionalize this and launch a respectable Bristol-based venture capital firm that specializes in deep technologies.”

#advisors, #articles, #bristol, #business, #cambridge, #cancer-treatment, #deep-tech, #east-coast, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #finance, #london, #oxford, #private-equity, #start-up, #start-ups, #startup-company, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital, #west-coast, #wi-fi

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5 top investors in Dutch startups discuss trends, hopes and 2020 opportunities

The Netherlands’ ecosystem has been flourishing; more than $85 million was invested in regional startups in 2019 alone. The nation’s proximity to the U.K., Belgium, France and Germany makes Amsterdam a natural gateway to those markets. Long ago the savvy Dutch realized this, and built up Schiphol to become the world’s twelfth-busiest airport. Indeed, Amsterdam’s logistical and social connectedness is ranked number one in DHL’s Global Connectedness Index.

Plenty of good funding rounds, a highly skilled workforce and a strong entrepreneurial culture have given Amsterdam a booming startup ecosystem. And Brexit is helping: The Dutch are highly proficient in English and Dutch law is similar to English law, which means U.K.-based tech founders are welcomed with open arms.

In 2020, the venture industry continued to invest in startups, despite the COVID-19 crisis. According to a study by KPMG and and NL Times, startups raised $591.2 million in the third quarter, more than double the $252.4 million raised in the quarter before.

For obvious reasons, this year has seen more cash go into companies that were able to adapt to the pandemic. KPMG found that while the total amount of investment increased in the past six months, the number of overall investments decreased. New startups pulled in fewer investments, KPMG sees this trend continuing and likely leading to consolidation amongst startups in similar sectors.

According to a report by Dealroom.co and StartupAmsterdam, there are 1,661 tech companies in Amsterdam, while the city ranked fifteenth in Startup Genome’s 2019 report “Global Startup Ecosystem Report,” moving up four places since 2017. The median seed round is $500,000 (above the global average of $494,000) and a median Series A round for a startup is $2.4 million. The average salary for a software engineer is around €54,000.

Amsterdam has tech industry “schools” such as Growth Tribe, The Talent Institute and THNK for educational courses, as well as accelerators like Rockstart, Startupbootcamp and Fashion for Good. Co-working is well-catered for with TQ, Startup Village and B.Amsterdam, and workers can cycle everywhere in minutes.

While taxes are high, entrepreneurs won’t find the staggering income inequality so often seen in cities like San Francisco and New York. In Amsterdam, rich people take public transport, not private buses.

During COVID-19, the Dutch government has also announced support packages such as tax deferrals, temporary employment bridging schemes and other initiatives. It also launched a national program, TechLeap.NL, to boost the ecosystem with more international investor visibility. StartupDelta, a Dutch startup lobby group, keeps the pressure on the politicians.

The Netherlands’ most famous unicorns include Booking.com, Adyen, Virtuagym, MessageBird, Swapfiets, Backbase, Picnic and Takeaway, among several others.

Adyen launched in 2006, and in June 2018, it was listed as one of Europe’s largest tech IPOs with a value of €7 billion. Booking.com started in 1996 and was later acquired by Priceline Group (now called Booking Holdings) in 2005. Elastic, the provider of subscription-based data search software used by Dell, Netflix, The New York Times and others, was another gangbuster IPO in 2018.

For this survey, we interviewed the following Amsterdam-focused investors:

• Janneke Niessen, partner, CapitalT VC

• Stefan van Duin, partner, Borski Fund

• Nick Kalliagkopoulos, partner, Prime Ventures

• Bas Godska, founder, Acrobator Ventures

• Renaat Berckmoes, partner, Fortino

Janneke Niessen, partner, CapitalT VC

What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Digital health, education, B2B SaaS.

What’s your latest, most exciting investment?
Wizenoze.

Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
More overlooked founders than opportunities.

What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
A great team.

Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
Delivery, taxis, scooters.

How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Less.

Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
NL seems well-positioned for fintech, deep tech. I am really excited about Tracy Chou and Diane Janknegt, two incredible founders.

How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
Very positive. Lots of innovation, great infrastructure, good talent.
Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
I think startups have always been there, investors just don’t tend to look at them. I think the opportunity is more that they now will.

Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
None. We look at digital health, education and SaaS and they all thrive in this climate. Of course an economic crisis will have an impact on spending in general.

How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
It has confirmed our approach. We have a data-driven approach to teams, which is great when people cannot meet.

Are you seeing “green shoots” regarding revenue growth, retention or other momentum in your portfolio as they adapt to the pandemic?
We invest so early that companies are growing regardless.

What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
When I explained to my little boy what racism is and he answered: Mummy that is just really weird. That gives me hope that the generations after us might do better.

Stefan van Duin, partner, Borski Fund

#amsterdam, #deep-tech, #europe, #european-union, #startups, #tc, #unicorn, #vc-survey

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