Do VCs and Angels Sit in the Same Boat? 

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Should-all-eggs-go-into-one-basket? When-it-comes-to-start-ups-you have-no-choice

Part 1: “Diversification” From time to time people ask me whether investing selectively in start-ups as a “profession” is not quite an irresponsible gamble, especially if, like in my case, you have practically no other current sources of income. This question is meant rhetorically, because the people who ask and I, we know that the risk I am prepared to … Read More

Was VCs und Business Angels verbindet – und was sie unterscheidet

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Should-all-eggs-go-into-one-basket? When-it-comes-to-start-ups-you have-no-choice

Teil 1: „Diversifikation“ Hin und wieder werde ich gefragt, ob denn das selektive Investieren in Startups als „Beruf“, nicht ein unverantwortlich riskantes Vergnügen darstelle, insbesondere dann, wenn man, wie ich, über praktisch keine anderen laufenden Verdienstquellen verfüge. Dies ist eine rhetorische Frage, denn die Fragenden und der Befragte wissen  beide a) dass dieses Risiko tatsächlich ziemlich hoch ist und b) … Read More

Angel Fallacies 4: Neglect of Founders’ Personal Circumstances

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Angel Fallacies 4.0: Neglect of Founders' Personal Circumstances

  The personal circumstances of employees are a minefield for employers: Whether in hiring or in staff development: On the one hand, as an employer you have to consider potential risks such as illness, financial stability, family situations, even possible pregnancies; on the other hand, in an ideal world, these issues should really remain a private matter for the respective … Read More

Angel Fallacies 3.1: Neglect of Target Market Imponderables (“Competitors”)

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Typical Angel Fallacies: Neglect Typical Angel Fallacies: Neglect of Contrarian Market Forces

  “So, who are your competitors?”  Within the start-up ecosystem this hypertrivial question is asking for a routine answer. It is one of those questions that usually does not raise any serious worry among start-ups asking for money. But it should. Because these standard responses follow a pattern which can be easily anticipated and usually is astoundingly poor. Variant 1: … Read More

Confirmation Bias and Neglect of Contrarian Market Forces

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Start-ups need a USP for their products and services that is not just unique but also in demand. There lies a structural tension in this: Whatever is really novel or unique cannot be in demand, because nobody as yet knows about it. So, frequently you can only guess or assume or hope that the new feature of a new product … Read More

Angel Bias and Angel Vanity

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Angel Bias and Vanity - An Almost Unavoidable Mistake

Investors and serial entrepreneurs usually entertain some good and many not so good investment memories respectively. Angel investors, who usually previously either worked as VCs or (serial) entrepreneurs therefore tend to be biased towards certain investment targets, certain technologies, certain types of business model etc. Their previous roles as investors (fund managers) or (serial) entrepreneurs make angels believe they have … Read More

The VC Business Model: Pareto Driven to Extremes

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The VC Business Model: Pareto driven to extremes

Virtually all venture capitalists agree that only a very tiny fraction of their targets accounts for the positive overall return of their funds, while most investments produce either no significant contribution, or even result in complete losses, thus producing negative effects on fund returns. Depending on the individual fund, alternative target industries, investment stages, regional priorities etc. the statistics vary, … Read More

Risk Mitigation in the Venture Trade (Part 3): Markowitz does not Work

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Markowitz does not work in the venture trade

I guess (in the course of my two most recent blogs) I have made my basic stance clear that standard portfolio theory fails as far as start-up portfolios are concerned. Let us, just for the sake of the argument 😉, assume Markowitz’s paradigm could somehow be applied, or rather, transferred onto the start-up stage. What would it look like? I … Read More

Risk Mitigation in the Venture Trade (Part 1)

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Risk Mitigation in Venture Capital

Like in conventional asset management theory, the credo for the need of a “distribution of risk” or “risk diversification” is generally also considered to be inviolable in the venture business. In my opinion, the imperative is fairly nonsensical – at least when it is based on the number or the type of targets to be chosen. Within the asset class … Read More

Smart Tech VCs do not Invest in Brands

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Smart VCs do not invest in brands

There are times when you really wonder… Four days ago, I read an article on on “The Value of a Brand for Tech Companies” by some Cameron McLain, principal at Hummingbird Ventures. The gist of this article is that tech start-ups and VCs alike should embrace the idea, that brands constitute an important value for tech start-ups worth of … Read More