3 questions to smart minds

Venture capital reaches new heights

For this 3 questions to U. W. Fricke

Triangle Venture
Photo: U. W. Fricke | Triangle Venture
2. May 2011

Triangle Venture Capi­tal and Euro­pean Space Agency (ESA) are aiming to close their €100 million Open Sky Tech­no­lo­gies Fund during 2011. Welling­ton Part­ners has just laun­ched a new tech­no­logy fund. At around €120 million, it is the largest in Germany in two years. Other venture capi­tal provi­ders such as TVM and DVC plan to follow suit during the year.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Co-Foun­der of Triangle Venture and Chair­wo­man of the Euro­pean Private Equity and Venture Capi­tal Asso­cia­tion (EVCA)

1. What is the scena­rio for venture capi­tal firms in the next five years (in Dtl.)? What are the sensi­ble stra­te­gies for the future?

“The invest­ment envi­ron­ment is very good: there are attrac­tive invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, valua­tions are low, more and more expe­ri­en­ced teams to build successful compa­nies can be found in the market. The gene­ral econo­mic envi­ron­ment is extre­mely good, espe­ci­ally in Germany. Those who curr­ently have capi­tal to invest have really attrac­tive condi­ti­ons ahead of them. The biggest chall­enge by far remains fundraising.”

2. Is it diffi­cult for VCs to raise new funds? Do first­ti­mers have any chance at all in Germany? (first­ti­mer = VC teams raising a fund for the first time)?

“The No. 1 chall­enge conti­nues to be fund­rai­sing. Inves­tors are very hesi­tant in deci­ding who to put their trust in. A clearly diffe­ren­tia­ted invest­ment stra­tegy is a mini­mum requi­re­ment and inves­tors want to see the extent to which mana­gers have the appro­priate tools and know-how to successfully execute their diffe­ren­tia­ted stra­tegy. Inves­tors take the time to analyze this closely and evaluate it in paral­lel with perfor­mance data. Since the hurd­les for successful fund­rai­sing are alre­ady very high for estab­lished teams, it seems reasonable to assume that the chall­enge to close a fund is even grea­ter for first time teams. — The best oppor­tu­nity for a First Time Team is to first iden­tify a port­fo­lio and seek inves­tors for it very specifically.”

3. What advice would you give to a foun­ding team today?

“Cash is King — a busi­ness ulti­m­ately exists to gene­rate posi­tive cash flows. Some foun­ders forget this when deve­lo­ping their busi­ness plan. The struc­ture and deve­lo­p­ment of the company must be geared towards scalable posi­tive cash flows. Then a company can be finan­ced. It is also very helpful to approach inves­tors in a very targe­ted way. Not every VC is a good fit for every company seeking funding, and it does­n’t make the chance of success any grea­ter if you approach a biotech inves­tor with a clean­tech invest­ment case.”

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