at has Founderment learned from the local ecosystem after its first years as an Aarhus-based venture fund? Get the answers here.
Sponsored: This article is made in collaboration with Founderment.
Aarhus lacks an early-stage venture fund based in the city. This was the opinion of the serial entrepreneurs Anders Boelskifte Mogensen and Christian Schwarz Lausten, and therefore they launched the boutique fund Founderment in collaboration with Heartland last year. A fund that has a special focus on supporting the growth companies and entrepreneurial talents of the future in Aarhus.
Nine investments later, we have asked Investment Director Christian Vinther and Anders Boelskifte Mogensen what they have learned about finding investment-ready startups after their first year.
Grand ambitions needed:
Christian Vinther: “There is an insane amount of talent in Aarhus. However, there might be missing something in the scale of their visions. Really daring to think big and not just want to build a company for Denmark or the Nordics. Of course, it is important that the founders are skilled in their industry, but my thesis is that you can train for skills within a domain – it is more difficult to learn the visionary aspect.”
Anders Boelskifte Mogensen: “They must have a robustness that enables them to cope with the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey and they must have some prerequisites for building big.”
The good and the bad, honestly:
Christian: “Two founders can be great together, but they do not know everything. They must own the self-insight to say: Here we need help. We have several meetings with founders before we invest, where we show ourselves as honestly as possible, and we expect founders to share both the good and the bad with us in return. That is the only way we can help them at this early stage – and if they are honest about their shortcomings we are much better prepared to help them when things go wrong – and things will go wrong on this journey.”
Anders: “And here, of course, it helps to be physically close to each other, so you can look each other in the eyes. It is not a limiting factor if we can’t, but it just adds something to the relationship.”
Human Due Diligence:
Christian: “Our due diligence is actually quite light in relation to market material and market data. As we invest right around the creation of a startup, the human due diligence is much more crucial. So here, we go to great lengths. But of course, in addition to the characteristics of the founders, we also focus on creating a business in a large market that in the long run can return our investment many times over.”
Anders: “We need to see integrity, ambition and willpower in the founders – we need to see that they can handle some of the disciplines in the startup game they enter. It’s not because we have a checkbox, and there are huge differences between founders, but there must be some traits for success. So far, the combination of both technical and business-oriented founders has proven to be a good match for us. And then, of course, we want to associate with some talented people, who can teach us something, so that it is not just someone who has to learn from us.”