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The Scandinavian Venture Capital Scene – league tables of most active Scandinavian VCs – part of my European VC blog series

ShareTaken as one region, the four Nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, Scandinavia form the second largest market for venture capital in Europe.  These four Nordic countries provide a market of 25m highly educated citizens who earn and spend a relatively high GDP. My heart warms up to everything Scandinavian. The way my career unfolded found me frequently in Stockholm. My contact network there just grew and grew. I became quite settled in the original Lydmar Hotel and loved the scene from amazing breakfasts to all of the delights of the Stureplan part of town where many of the VCs are clustered along Bigerjarlsgaten. In Stockholm, cell phones worked in tunnels and wifi was already ubiquitous when the rest of the world was just plugging in their first routers. Sweden is by far the largest venture scene. Kista (pronounced shee’stah) is a veritable Silicon Valley cluster of top tech companies positioned between the capital and the Arlanda airport. I’ve been to Sweden over 100 times. I invested in a few companies and joined a few boards. I love Sweden and feel truly at home with its advanced culture. If you ever get invited to a “Swedish Christmas table” I suggest you accept the invite. They have private clubs on the archipelago that are amazing properties with priceless tapestries on the walls and what I like the most is the viking goblets outside with burning wood. As you walk into these places they have wood burning outside and the aroma of almond fire wood being burnt just makes it all perfect. This is a country of vikings. They...

The Austrian Venture Capital Scene – league tables of most active Austrian VCs – part of my European VC blog series

ShareFor the purposes of venture capital and entrepreneurship, Austria should be understood as an offshoot of Bavaria and also a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe. It should additionally be viewed as a gateway to the former states that were possessions of its old empire. With such a happening city, Vienna is in itself a unique city with an amazing lust for kultur and the arts. The country is home to 8m people, of whom 25% live in the capital city of Vienna. At one point in history this country controlled more than half of the landmass of Europe and their capital city reflects this history of taxing half the continent. Today, Austria’s capital city seems a bit too big for the tiny country. One echo of former Austro-Hungarian empire days can be heard today because Vienna investors actually do understand the countries of their former empire: the Balkans and surrounding central European countries of Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the former Yugoslav states – Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and so on. I have a personal connection to Austria as I was hired to move to Vienna and sell fiber optic cables and turn-key network builds for telecom, energy, highway and military applications where fiber optic networks were sprouting up everywhere in the mid 90’s. I actually followed the Austrian historical connections and they introduced me to their counterparts in neighboring countries and I ended up selling fiber optic cables and network components in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Those were wild days taking ferries over blown up bridges, having meetings in half destroyed buildings in Sarajevo and meeting French...

European Book Tour & VC Roundtable Events

ShareI am now planning my European VC Roundtable & Book Tour and am seeking law firms, accelerators or large corporates that can host these events as well as cash sponsors and media partners that can help promote the events. I’m also seeking sponsors for my small VIP dinners in each of the European cities listed below. I have already organized VC Roundtable events in most of these cities in 2009 and 2010 and I know most of the active VCs and many relevant folks and expect 100 to 200 participants for each event. The format of the events is a lot of networking with 1 hour of content. If you have a venue that can accommodate at least 70 seated participants or if you would like to be a cash sponsor for one of our events please contact me at romansventures@gmail.com or +1.650.475.6877. Also send me any ideas of how to promote the events with local media partners such as via StartupDigest or any other relevant email lists that reach local entrepreneurs, angels and VCs. I am now planning events in April, May and June in the following cities: London (I’m open to adding Oxford and Cambridge if someone can help organize) Dublin Paris Amsterdam Stockholm Copenhagen Berlin Moscow Saint Petersburg VIP DINNERS I am also organizing a VIP dinner in each city the night before or after each book tour event with 10 to 20 VIPs that are very successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs, head of M&A at big balance sheet buyers, family office execs or other investors in VC funds. I am seeking a wealth manager or...

The Swiss Venture Capital Scene – league tables of most active Swiss VCs – part of my European VC blog series

ShareSwitzerland is a small country with a population just under 8m but, punches above its weight. CH has attracted success since ancient times and is now organized with unique investors and strong entrepreneurs.  Switzerland is home to Nestlé, Roche, ABB and some of the major players of big pharma such as Novartis and Merk Serono as well as other big balance sheet acquirers of venture-backed companies.  Switzerland’s beautiful mountains, lakes and towns along with capital gains tax being zero attract the very rich. The very rich make most of their money from investing; so zero capital gains tax is where it’s at! Understanding how the global economy works requires an understanding of Switzerland and the family offices that are based there and the wealth managers that command these large fortunes. Sometimes I see entrepreneurs from Germany, France and England that already had huge exits bypass VCs and tap directly into the true source of cash raising large $30m or $50m rounds for their tech startups directly from the big families in Switzerland. It’s kind of like the major leagues of European startups. These families know how to find the startups of the most successful European entrepreneurs. Many of these families allocate a small percentage of their fortunes to VC funds in California and globally making Switzerland a very important piece of the puzzle. Some of my investors are from Switzerland, including – André Jaeggi, who is based on a lake outside of Zurich. I have worked with André for a number of years as the chairman of The Founders Club and the lead and first investor in my VC Fund...

The German Venture Capital Scene – league tables of most active German VCs – part of my European VC blog series

ShareGermany is the third largest market for venture capital in Europe after the UK and France. If you accept Scandinavia as one unified market then Germany comes in fourth place. Germany is the most populous and richest country in Europe and has the potential to move into number two or even number one position in Europe. Bolt on the German language speakers in Austria and Switzerland and you’ve got the workhorse of Europe with a solid GDP per capita. Germans are obsessed with education and advanced degrees. The result is more registered patents per capita than any other country in Europe. The concentration of patents per German in the Munich area is 7x the national average. Traditionally, Germans are risk averse, not a perfect fit for entrepreneurship, but that accurate stereotype is fading quickly. Peter Thiel is one of my heroes, founder of PayPal, VC at The Founders Fund, early investor and board member of Facebook. Speaking at the German Silicon Valley Accelerator launch, he asserted that, historically, German companies sell early rather than stay the course to build a big stand-alone business. Any good company will receive offers to sell from time to time. Germans tend to take the money and move on, where American counterparts soldier on and sell later. Peter’s point is such early selling is inconsistent with the investment thesis of venture capital. He states that his fund, The Founders Fund, wants to invest in companies that can achieve a $500m or $1bn+ exit. Such exits pay venture returns and make up for the failures. Germans often sell at $10m, $30m or $85m. When discussing...

The French Venture Capital Scene – league tables of most active French VCs – part of my European VC blog series

ShareFrance is the second largest VC market in Europe after the UK. If you take Scandinavia to be a single market then France comes in third. Germay is challenging this position and may have already become number 2 by deal volume and dollars / euros invested. Scandinavian funds have also struggled to bounce back from the 2008 venture melt-down response to the financial crisis. The French government has put in place amazing tax incentives for wealthy folks to minimize their tax burden and encourage investing in early stage companies. Some of the funds have also benefited by providing major tax incentives for their institutional LP cash investors. The French labor market requires employers to pay significant severance to terminated employees; so if you were just laid off from Accenture or France Telecom, you will enjoy unemployment benefits (paying you around 50% of your salary or better for over a year), plus some tax free termination money in your pocket. Maybe that’s a good time to start a new web site or tech company and tap angels and VCs. France has always been an early technology adopter. The Minitel was well in place and adopted by the population in the 1980s, a decade before Mosaic came along with the first web browser. Broadband arrived with higher levels of penetration and edge speeds than in the UK or the US. Deregulation of telecoms and high penetration of IPTV (or what is functionally two-way, interactive TV) has made France a hotbed for entrepreneurship. In contrast to their risk-averse cousins in Germany, the French have excelled in entrepreneurship and venture capital. They also...

The Irish Venture Capital Scene – league tables of most active Irish VCs – part of my European VC blog series

ShareFor the purposes of venture, Ireland should be considered part of the UK. (I can hear the cries of many thinking this is offensive or ignorant, but it’s what I believe. Time to get modern and move onward and upward.) One challenge facing Irish entrepreneurs is currency. Irish companies typically keep costs in Euros, the home currency in Ireland, but allow for revenues in Sterling, the currency of their British customers or USD. I was once the financial advisor to an Irish company in the online price comparison space for home bills and utilities. We raised 19m Euros from VCs, but all the revenue was in Sterling. At first, the exchange rate of Sterling to Euros paid all of the expenses; the company was profitable. The Euro then surged against Sterling; the company went from being profitable to very unprofitable. We were forced to negotiate numerous cash lifelines from the existing investors and struggled to close a deal with new investors. The guy I would go to with an IT startup in Ireland, after taking the Enterprise Ireland government funding, is Dermot Berkery at Delta Partners. Irish entrepreneurs should not limit themselves to the local VCs, but target British, American and other European investors, too. There are new funds sprouting up in Ireland, but the classics that were in the business seem to be fading away. I do like the place and would not be surprised if the best startup in my career came from Ireland. If you are going to spend 3 months somewhere for an accelerator program it may as well be in Dublin. Startupbootcamp, one of...

Free M&A chapter from my book “Which Way to the Exit?”

SharePlease download a free copy of chapter 8 “Which Way to the Exit?” from my book – THE ENTREPRENEURIAL BIBLE TO VENTURE CAPITAL: Inside Secrets from the Leaders in the Startup Game (McGraw Hill 2013 hardcover & all e-book formats) Contributors to this chapter include: Gary Johnson, director of corporate development, Facebook Jackie Reses, executive vice president of people and development at Yahoo! (interestingly in charge of both M&A and HR) Parag Patel, Vice-President of Worldwide Sales, Software-Defined Storage at VMware formally VP of global strategic alliances at VMware Dave Berkus, author and business angel Nic Brisbourne, partner at Forward Ventures, former partner at DFJ-Esprit Russ Fradin, CEO and cofounder of Dynamic Signal and former CEO and cofounder of Adify sold for $300m Antoine Papiernik, partner at Sofinnova Partners Benjamin D. Kern, partner at McGuireWoods Additional contributions from directors of corporate development from some of the most acquisitive companies in Silicon Valley I’ll start you off here with my opening to the chapter: “WHICH WAY TO THE EXIT? “I made most of my money selling too early.” – J.P. Morgan M&A IS THE MOST LIKELY POSITIVE OUTCOME FOR MOST ENTREPRENEURS Merger and acquisition (M&A) is the most likely positive outcome for most angel- or VC-backed technology startups and therefore worth understanding from the first moment you begin to conceive your new venture or as you move along the journey to exit. For acquirers M&A is about a lot of things. Is a dollar spent on acquisitive growth better than a dollar spent on organic growth? M&A is about revenue growth, innovation, augmenting the DNA of your employees and core leadership...

European Venture Capital – a series of blog posts

ShareThe European venture scene is bigger than many Americans realize.  Each year European companies close between 1,000 and 1,700 venture financings, compared to a steady 2,500 venture financings in the U.S.   Today it is typical to meet a 29-year-old European closing his first funding, who is already on his third startup.  His previous two startups may have been only angel backed, but the entrepreneurial experience that happened in Europe over the past fifteen years has changed the landscape.  Europeans basically joined the entrepreneurship game in the year 2000, just moments before the dot com melt down.  Fourteen years later, experienced teams work with experienced VCs. It is time for Europeans to adopt the “move it forward” culture of the Valley. Europeans must help each other more and connect to each other, Americans, Chinese and Indians the way Israelis already do. They need to take time to meet each other and give each other honest and direct feedback rather than politely nod when they believe the other entrepreneur’s strategy is flawed. More info at www.evca.eu. The British Scene I lived in London for nearly 10 years, spending so much time there that it is hard for me to pick my favorite VCs. I have relationships with pretty much all of them, and I have grown to know which partner at each fund is an appropriate fit for what. Let me name a few VCs that I like. For IT, ProFounders Capital, established by Sean Steton-Rogers, is particularly interesting. At a time when other VCs in London were reacting to the 2007-08 recession, this guy left his job as an...

My TV interview on MSNBC “Funding Your Startup” Dec 4, 2013.

Share https://www.openforum.com/videos/funding-your-startup/ Venture capitalist Andrew Romans gives us advice on what you should keep in mind when raising money for your startup. DECEMBER 04, 2013 Money is crucial to getting your new business off the ground. But how do you get access to the funds you need? In this week’s Where’s the Money, Andrew Romans, co-founder & general partner of Georgetown Angels and writer of the book, “The Entrepreneurial Bible to Venture Capital: Inside Secrets from the Leaders in the Startup Game,” joins us. He gives us some expert advice on what you should consider as you raise money. Follow Romans on Twitter @romansventures...