Our sweet spot reloaded

October 9, 2016

Years ago someone gave me the moniker of “Rude VC” because I had a reputation for giving curt (ok, sometimes rude) feedback to investment opportunities which we’ve chosen to decline. The moniker stuck, partly because I espouse the idea of being direct and transparent to entrepreneurs. Time is an entrepreneur’s most precious asset, so why string them along if I’m not convinced to invest? Moreover, I feel it’s my duty to the ecosystem to provide an honest opinion on an entrepreneur’s plan: building a company is a continuous process of adjustment and improvement. I believe good entrepreneurs will be receptive to a diverging point of view, and I’d like to think I’ve improved my bedside manner too.

The principle of transparency also entails being clear on one’s investment scope. Realizing that my previous explanation of our fund’s investment scope is nearly 7 years old, here’s a refresh.

Europe

europe_map2Outside of my existing portfolio, I am not actively making new investments in European startups right now. However, my partners are. Here is what currently floats their boat:

  • Financial innovation technologies – this includes Fintech, Insurtech, and even Hardware (to the extent that it is hardware-enabled-software or financial services)
  • Opportunities that could represent business partnerships or combinations with their existing portfolio companies, notably: Paytop, Smile&Pay, WizyPay, Credit.fr, Retency, Populis
  • Companies which are based in Europe (especially France and Benelux) yet target pan-European expansion
  • Startups which have already demonstrated some early market traction. Typically they prefer a minimum of 3M€ in revenue, but this may vary.

Japan

japan-mapSpending most of my time in Japan now, my interest area centers on Japanese startups. Regarding investment themes, I’ve written previously about the appeal of Fintech in Japan, but I also look at mobile gaming and AI. Although my criteria are not so rigid for the moment, I look for entrepreneurs who possess global ambition. I find startups that appreciate the potential of the developed “Rest of World” market (i.e. Japan, Europe, parts of Southeast Asia) particularly intriguing.

I am also open to hearing from European startups that are genuinely interested in Japan, a market which I believe merits serious consideration in some cases. But only from those willing to make the multi-year commitment necessary to succeed.

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posted in venture capital by mark bivens

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