Funding announcements

Posted: March 22, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »

Just a few days ago we welcomed Videdressing to the Earlybird family. We announced the funding pretty much as soon as the ink had dried on the agreements. Why? The team wants to grow the company quickly in several international markets and some good international PR is likely to be beneficial when attracting talent and partners around the world.

We just signed another investment literally a few minutes ago. However in this case we  jointly decided not to announce the funding for now. Why? We don’t have our MVP yet, we still have to figure out our initial target group, we don’t need to hire a lot of folks right now. Announcing funding now would just blow our ammo at a point in time when we really don’t need it.

Sometimes it seems a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to announce funding when you get it, but it may not always make sense.

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Welcome to Germany

Posted: March 22, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »

I’m a fan of Monocle Magazine. A recent issue discusses how “Europe’s star economy uses business brawn, good design and Gummi Bears to win hearts, minds and tummies.”

I liked another aspect of it most though. We talk about how diversity strengthens tech communities and we see it every day here in Berlin. But there’s something more going on and I loved reading this:

Things are changing, not just in the tech community

Welcome to (the new) Germany.

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The VC inferiority complex marketing gag

Posted: March 21, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »

There are a fair amount of black sheep among the VC community. Many struggle to accept their role within the VC-entrepreneur relationship. No need to discuss further.

However lately it has become all the rage as a VC to indulge in acts of extreme self-flagellation vis-à-vis entrepreneurs. The new VC marketing trick is to repeatedly underscore how lame VCs are compared to entrepreneurs.

In a lot of cases it’s not being humble, its cheap talk. It’s too easy, its cheap signalling. Not entirely sure how it helps entrepreneurs either.

If I was an entrepreneur I think I’d love to work with people who, while being self-critical, are confident and really passionate about what they’re doing. Those folks probably don’t need an inferiority complex as a marketing gag.

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Consumer is (not) dead

Posted: March 20, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »

I keep on hearing that B2C is dead; it’s all about B2B now. We don’t back trends at Earlybird, we back the best teams and companies we can find, based on our investment philosophy and on how we think the world will change long-run. I couldn’t agree more with this great post from Brad Feld.

Here’s some data based on our first investments from our new fund (see this older post for more data on a new kind of company DNA we’re seeing) that shows – overly aggregated and simplified – in what sectors we’re investing:

Videdressing would be an example of a pure consumer play, Wunderlist an example of mixed (consumer adoption but will monetize also via company accounts) and Traxpay an example of a pure enterprise play.

My assumption is at the end it will roughly be a third each, it’s too early to tell.

First point: the borders are blurring, we’re seeing less and less “pure” plays but more and more companies that add value to consumers and enterprises at the same time. Hence the large mixed share.

Second point: If consumer is really dead we haven’t noticed it yet.

I also wonder what the billions of consumers around the world would think of that.

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Being realistic

Posted: March 19, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

At a recent board meeting one of the key topics was hiring a senior technical person, probably CTO / VP engineering kind of calibre. The CEO and I were already in intense discussions around the profile, if we should maybe hire a search-firm, how she/he would fit in to our salary & shareholding structure, etc.

Another team member interrupted us and said something along the lines of “we still need to figure some things out, our cash situation is good but not great, no way will we right now attract someone like you two are thinking of. Lets just hire someone fast who can do the job well and see if we can hire a more senior person once we’re a bit further.”

It hurt a little but it was the right analysis of the situation. We were about to enter in to an epic waste of time and money.

I guess building a company is all about being unrealistic and really hiring the best people, no compromises. But sometimes you have to be realistic too.

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Best way to switch off: blow your mind

Posted: March 12, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »

I can’t switch off. Part of it is I simply like what I do, I don’t really have TGIF moments. The other part of it is that I am inclined to think of problems if my mind is not occupied by something.

So what works for me is to expose my brain to mind-blowing things to think about; that make everything else seem less important. Look no further than astronomy and especially theoretical physics.

Sounds heavy but let me explain using a really cool theory around how our universe was created. Its called the Ekpyrotic universe theory (and is based on the M-theory / string-theory you will probably have heard of). I am going to reduce it to a few bullets and I apologise to all theoretical astrophysicists for botching it up. I don’t understand these theories particularly well, but trying hard gives me a kick. So here it goes:

  • There are further dimensions and we exist within a multiverse. I.e. there other universes in addition to our own -> *mind blown*
  • These other universes could be just a few meters from our own, but are rolled-up in those additional dimensions we don’t see -> *mind blown*
  • Each universe is within something called a brane (from membrane) . Every few trillion years these branes collide and create what we understand to be the big bang. -> *mind completely blown*

This TED talk is a great place to start if you want to blow your mind to switch off too.

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I’m a VC, not a blogger

Posted: March 12, 2013 | Author: berlinvc | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »

I didn’t post at all last week on this blog and some folks asked me what I’m planning in terms of frequency, content, etc. I don’t have a strategy or a plan. When I have time and I have something (semi-meaningful) to say I’ll write something up. If not, then I won’t.

Whenever some topic comes to mind I’d like to blog about I add it to a Wunderlist so I don’t forget. Topics usually aren’t the problem, time is. Some folks are highly disciplined and run a blog and a business at the same time. I’m not one of them. I’d say I’m more in the raw energy / time commitment camp and less in the discipline camp and its a weakness I need to deal with.

So I don’t want to be that guy blogging up a storm but not answering your email.

I’m a VC, not a blogger.

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