I read that you are “the face of venture capital in Austria”. What is your opinion on CEE VC infrastructure? What challenges does it face?
I think we still have very few globally oriented investors. There are still many small regional business angels or government funds that sometimes lack perspective. And the same holds to entrepreneurs, there are way too little people that think globally.
What do you think are the binding points of CEE and Western VCs and where do you see differences?
History matters in the sense that in the UK or German or especially US you have VCs that have been doing it for many many years and that have seen many ups and downs and also have built really global network of peers, follow-on investors and co-investors and this is just slowly building up.
Also for us as SpeedInvest this has been the main task in the last years – to really build ourselves a brand and a network that can take these companies from A to B and C and D. That´s where a lot of our fellow investors in the region are still in the starting point.
Your main focus as an investor is on Europe. What startups got your attention lately?
Many. We already invested in fifteen startups in last nine months, so quite a lot. The last one we announced is Financefox. It´s a Swiss startup in the insurance space. Really really agressive, and fast-moving. But there is also couple of very interesting Central European startups. We invested in Metrilo from Sofia which is cool. We invested in Enbritely from Hungary, in Cloudo together with Pioneers Venture. So lot of interesting tech startups.
What do you think are the most crucial competitive advantages of CEE startups?
I think tech talent is excellent, mindset of capital efficiency is still here which means low burn rates, taking the time to develop product market fit and overall – a few entrepreneurs that have these kind of advantages but still can think globally. And this is a very interesting combination for investors.
And on the other hand what do you miss?
Search for scale. Many startups are still too little aggressive and not driving it hard and fast enough. Not thinking on the global level but also then translating this into very specific weekly, monthly milestones of what needs to be done to actually get there. It is sometimes a bit too comfortable.
Photo: UpVenture Conference