In October 2012 we held the Arctic15 conference in Helsinki, where a panel discussion between venture capitalists took place. This discussion proved to be rather interesting, controversial and extremely useful for everyone who wants to understand more about Venture Capitalists and get some tips and advice in regards to talking to them.

The discussion took place between Aman Ghei of Accel partners (Invested in Rovio, Supercell, Facebook), Johan Brenner of Creandum (Invested in Spotify, iZettle), Vitaly Rubstein from Rubylight (Former Co-Founders of Odnoklassniki.ru, invested in Ask.fm) and Dmitri Sarle from Arcticstartup as the moderator. During the discussion some “dirty little secrets”, as Johan Brenner put it, were revealed. For a complete video, scroll down to the bottom and enjoy the show.

It was extremely interesting to see the VC’s opinion of the region, as they talked about the fact that every country in the Arcticstartup region has a different skill set and that the best companies combine the best from each sub-region.

However if you think that the only thing these guys care about is the core team, then you would be surprised by some of the discussion as it was said that sometimes the team is not important at all, which undermines the belief by many that the team is the holy grail to success. That being said, nobody denied that the team is still crucial.

Then they had to fight off the notion that investment is pure luck and to show us exactly how the try to choose the best companies, especially when they only invest into five companies out of 500. As a part of this discussion it was stated that VC investing is similar to playing the financial markets while accelerators and incubators are still pure luck.

You would also think that being a VC is smooth sailing, but the panelists also revealed the tough parts about being one. Mostly it has to do with saying “no”, missing investments and travelling.

Particularly useful was the part about the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make when talking to investors and we made a short list (The video goes into more detail):

  • Long Powerpoint Presentations
  • Talking about something else rather than the product
  • Overcomplicating what they are trying to do
  • Not giving investor credit for what they know
  • Secretive behavior

In addition to that they also talk about best business models of today, SaaS advice, presentation advice, pitfalls of entrepreneurship, favourite startups of the region and what happens to the teams that fail?

Top quotes:
“It’s really 90% entrepreneurs. They are 99% of the success.” – Johan Brenner

“Share Google Analytics with me and in less than a week you will have an answer. In another week you will have the investment” – Vitaly Rubstein

The video:

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