Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post for Imperious Group.
The investment market is becoming increasingly competitive, and the Nordic/Baltic region is starting to attract special attention from VC’s. Many major firms now have full-time principals and partners looking at startups everywhere between Denmark and Estonia and others often send representatives to local events.
With this increased attention, comes the competition for finding and funding top startups. As a result it has become common for us to answer e-mails about the most interesting startups in the region and to talk to VC’s from all over the globe on a weekly basis.
Many do not realize just how interesting the investment market is. The investors are fighting for the best startups, working together on investing into them while pitching to LP’s to get more funding, just the way you pitch your startups to them.
We talked to Imperious Group about making it in the VC world and picking winners at the pre-seed/seed stage, a young fund who are now actively looking into the Nordic/Baltic Startup Scene and will be coming to the region during Slush to scout and make friends.
According to Yuriy Romanyukha, investment analyst at Imperious Group, there was a time when “smart money” was a big differentiator, but now funds have to become a lot more creative and also need to pull the trigger a lot faster.
“The game is changing. At one point, startups realized that being lean is the way to go and we think that it is time for VC’s to follow what we preach. For instance, we dont want to have a large central office, to drive expensive cars with drivers or to hind behind secretaries. Our goal is to be on the same level with our startup founders and to be as accessible to everyone as possible.” says Yuriy.
They themselves guarantee to make investment decisions in less than a week after you get in touch with them and promise to be as hands off as you want them to be, while still kicking those doors you need opened.
The other side of the equation, is reliably picking winning startups, so that your LP’s will remain happy and help you raise the next fund.
And it is always interesting to speak about the “secret sauce” of VC’s. At the pre-seed/seed stage, many will brush the question off by commenting that “the team” is the most important thing and others will say a couple of words on “traction”. In reality, they all have a list of complicated criteria that they need to defend to LP’s, proving that they know how to pick the winners.
Getting to the ‘formula’ and understanding what they really want is usually difficult, and you just want to make the best impression on all criteria and hope for the best.
Talking to Yuriy – we found something that startups can do to attract their attention and something we honestly believe entrepreneurs need to think a lot more about.
“We invest into teams, but all the founders of our startups are market innovators. They either create completely new markets, find problems in existing ones or look at a market from a new perspective.” says Pavel Aleshin, head of Analytics at Imperious Group.
This is something we have heard before, from Phil Libin, at Arctic15. Do not start a company if you want to make money, start it if your really want to change something. Preferably solving your own personal need.
Many say that the biggest reason for startup failure is building something nobody really needs. So what Imperious Group is looking for is not simply great talent, but people who are first and foremost solving a problem for themselves and know the market or area very well.
This is not simply an investment criteria, but excellent advice to any of you out there thinking of starting a company. Find a problem/need that you have yourself, in a market you know very well, and solve it. For instance if it was us, we would most likely start a company in the startup events space because we know so many problems there all too well.
If you do find something or have a startup looking for funding already, feel free to reach out to Imperious Group, who not only make decisions in less than a week but also do a lot of them.
With over 30 companies in their portfolio, they make more than one investment per month and have been recognized as the most active fund in Ukraine when they started investing there. They will be in Helsinki, Finland during Slush and are happy to pre-schedule meetings. Just drop them an e-mail at: [email protected]