Today we will start our new interview seriews “Interview with a VC” and kick-off with interviewing Kai Schmude, COO at Venista Ventures. Enjoy!
Fund keyfacts Venista Ventures:
–> Fund size: not public
–> Fund age/lifetime: company established in 2004, investment division set up in current form in 2010
–> Investment range in € and stage(s): 50,000 to 300,000 Euro, seed and early stage
–> Favorite co-investors: depends, but always smart money
–> Current investments: KissMyAds, Stylemarks, Startupbootcamp, Datapine, Klash, GTX Messaging.
Who are you?
I’m Kai Schmude. My position is Chief Operating Officer at Venista Ventures, the Cologne, Germany-based early-stage mobile investor. I joined the company in 2011 and oversee our operations as well as the development of Venista’s Mobile Business Incubator and early-stage investment activities. I’m a graduate from the University of Technology, Aachen, in both Engineering and Business. After founding and establishing an Internet startup and years in management consulting, I served as the Vice President of Cologne’s international Trade Fair, where I was responsible for the development and establishment of all IT and digital media shows including the world leading events dmexco and gamescom. Together with Venista Ventures’ founding partners Christian Teichert and Oliver Wimmeroth, I form the three-man management team. I focus on business development and acceleration and like to expand our network within the digital industry.
Why are you a VC?
We have the drive to build things and pursue them in a structured, result-driven way. Our company, Venista Ventures, is built on strong personal experience and business success of the founding team of entrepreneurs in the mobile industry. I joined this team and oversee the development of the company’s portfolio that has broadened into a proper VC with a focused area of activity. Venista Ventures became a VC because the company wants to identify and help develop promising startups in the mobile sector. We combine the practical approach of self-made businessmen with the structured and result-driven style of the executive world.
Tell us a bit about your fund & investment thesis?
We at Venista Ventures are dedicated to drive and enable mobile innovations. We support entrepreneurs with scalable mobile-centered business ideas. We believe: Developing and implementing an innovative and successful business will only work if you have the right combination of idea, team and partners. We are dedicated to help our portfolio companies to arrive there.
We provide early investments to entrepreneurs in the pre-seed and seed funding stages. We invest in and support entrepreneur sand teams with full determination to creating a great mobile business. We expect a clear and comprehensive plan, full commitment and the unconditional will to execute and to succeed. In addition to our investment, we are a partner for our portfolio companies, supporting them in with technical assistance, business planning, legal, financial, PR and marketing advice.
How do you work with your startups in day-to-day operations? What is your working mode?
Our approach is multi-optional so that each co-operation works in its own way. A key part of our strategy to work with startups is thorough business planning and analysis of KPIs. We provide financing and help with the strategic and managerial setup. We’re prepared to do more if our partners appreciate it. We offer consulting and operational support in a variety of fields, such as legal, marketing, communications etc. So the cooperation varies depending on the startup. Some reside a few meters away from my office and are tightly connected to our staff, others are in Berlin and very independent in their day-to-day activities.
What is the best advice you would give to startups that want to get funding?
Focus on the product and not on fantasy. It’s important to understand the market you’re in and to be willing to adapt initial plans as your experience grows. Before you seek funding, you should have climbed over the first few hurdles, analyzed and understood the market and established commitment from anyone involved in your startup.
What is the next big thing?
We see huge potential when it comes to the so-called Old Economy merging with the digital sphere of the Internet, be it mobile or stationary. Just think of the potential that Internet solutions can unfold in combination with two of the strongest traditional industries, Automotive and Health. Integrating new digital business models in these key industries is where I expect the most interesting developments to happen.