You don’t become an artist because you want to, but because you have to.

The words are of Katja Lepola, a partner at Grädde Invest. Katja held a speach about venture capital for companies in early stages at the Geek Girl Meetup on 28th March in Stockholm, Sweden.

Her quote was strongly related to as of being an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is most likely not something one chooses to become, but something one has to do. It’s very hard to be an entrepreneur, especially if one is to create a great successful company. To make it, one has to have a very strong commitment.

Katja’s advice for an entrepreneur

Besides from the fact that entrepreneurship is something one has to do, Katja shared her best advice for an entrepreneur:

  • Love your customer, or get customers who you can love. You’ll benefit greatly if you’re interested in creating value for your customer.
  • Create a company you love to work for, it’s going to be long hours along with ups and downs.
  • Build a company that is easy to sell. Do your homework on what type of companies are most likely to be bought.
  • There are no shortcuts to create value, it takes time. Be prepared on a fantastic, but a long and tuff journey.
  • No skeletons in the closet. Keep your records straight like if you were to get listed at the stock exchange the next day.

She also talked about on what investors are looking for in a startup, as well as what startups should be looking for in an investor. Her message was very similar to Daniel Blomquist’s at Creandum, who in his interview with Antti told how important it is for a startup to recognize that investors are rather to look for a strong team than just a great idea, as well as to look for an investor profile that matches one’s needs. 

What I found especially positive was that Katja was being very clear about the business model of a venture capitalist, and Grädde Invest in particular: To make successful exits of portfolio investments. To make money. As an entrepreneur one should also want to grow and make money.


Who is Grädde Invest?

Grädde Invest is a Swedish venture capital firm specialized in investing in early stage internet companies. (Grädde is Swedish for cream). Grädde has been operating since 2006 and has seven employees. It is privately owned by it’s partners, all of whom have an entrepreneurial background. Grädde’s goal is to invest in the internet stars of tomorrow. It focuses on companies and ideas with short time to market, rather than business ideas based on heavy research and development. The companies should also have reasonable needs of investement capital. According to Katja, to have a shortage of capital in the early stage is only good for a company’s creativity. Their portfolio today consists of six companies, mostly on the areas of online business and consumer services.

One of Grädde’s explicit goals for 2009 is to include at least two companies run by female entrepreneurs in their portfolio. Grädde disagrees with the common understanding that female entrepreneurs operate in different bransches than venture capitalists do. So, if you’re a female internet entrepreneur looking for seed or startup money, give Grädde a call.

Disclosure: The writer is one of the organizers of the Geek Girl Meetup.

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