Antler VC Cast Episode 19 —  The Human Side of VC with Simon Schmincke

In Episode 19, we speak to Simon Schmincke, General Partner at Creandum, a VC advisory firm with offices in Stockholm, San Francisco and Berlin. Spotify, Klarna and Kahoot are among their portfolio of companies across Europe and the US. Originally from Germany, Simon built three companies for Rocket Internet and was part of the founding team of FoodTech startups Foodpanda in Singapore and HelloFresh in the United States. In this episode, Simon talks about the fundamentally human side of venture capital, his ideal founder-investor relationship and the differences in consumer behaviour he has noticed while working and investing across Asia, Europe and America.

antler

Author

Antler

The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

Highlights From Transcript

[13:46] On connecting with founders in a pandemic-world

Simon Schmincke: I'm someone who really enjoys social interactions face-to-face, so it was not easy for me in the beginning to build the same relationships with founders via Zoom. But it's also a fantastic opportunity, right? You're sitting in Singapore, I'm in Berlin, and we're having this great conversation here. Creandum has been doing deals remotely in many countries in the last 12 months, something that we were, quite frankly, skeptical about in the beginning. Can we wire 10 million euros to a group of folks that we've never met before? That's scary.

It's about getting people into a mood where they feel they can loosen up and don't feel that this is just a business relationship. For sure, by the name itself, "capital," says it is the cause of business, but we see such a human side to Venture Capital.

As I mentioned before, if I don't feel comfortable with you, I don't want to give you my money. And you shouldn't choose an investor who you wouldn't want to have dinner with.

[07:22] The key things he looks for when deciding to invest in a team

Simon Schmincke: It really comes down to the dynamic, the passion, and quite frankly, the social chemistry we have with them. I go for walks, dinners and coffees with them. We talk about barbecuing, family and vacations. I want to see if it's a group of people that I would like to hang out with for the next 10 years because we'll be WhatsApp, Facetime and Zooming pretty much every week for 10 years if things go well. So, we invest a lot of time in getting to know each other and see if there's a fit.

Secondly, we try to find out how "big" these individuals and teams think. Are they willing to admit that they're planning to build Bavaria's biggest platform, Germany's biggest platform, Europe's biggest platform? Are they trying to conquer the world? More often than not, that's a criterion that makes us choose not to invest in founders because they're thinking too small, not bold enough, not brave enough.  Finally, we're looking for hints about how founders think about the product. Are they doing this because of a business opportunity or because they believe the world needs this product? That's very important for us.

We strongly believe at Creandum that the best product wins. Even if you have someone with a head start commercially in front of you, if your product is fundamentally better, and you know, you have a vision for what to do better, then that's a bet we often take.

[20:23] Consumer behaviour differences across Asia, Europe and America

Simon Schmincke: As a European, what I love so much about the US is the customer's willingness to try out something new. They have a willingness to spend on services and to change habits with new offerings. On the other hand, Europeans are often very skeptical and not willing to pay for anything. They'll ask: "Why does this cost 50 euros more than the previous version, which is significantly worse than the new version?" In Asia, the consumers are very different from country to country. So I think it's very difficult to generalize, at least from my experience when we built Foodpanda. I was responsible for the global team overlooking Thailand from Bangkok. I lived in Singapore, but we had offices in the Philippines, Vietnam, KL and Hong Kong eventually. And it was different from country to country, the expectations on customer service, on timing, etc.

[31:00] The role of sustainability when it comes to making investment decisions

Simon Schmincke: This is the most important topic for mankind right now. Ignoring sustainability and climate change can be very expensive for all our LPs and for sure, for my son, who just turned seven. It's a topic that's very close to everyone at Creandum. Most of us have families and we're really afraid of envisioning a future when we're not able to turn around climate change.

Startups that Simon mentioned in this episode:

Stockeld Dreamery - a FoodTech startup creating alternative protein for vegan cheese  

Kahoot! - game-based EdTech platform

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
Insights
5 min read
The 2022 Benelux Unicorn Founder Roadmap: How to build unicorns in Benelux

As everyone anticipates the next wave of ultra-successful companies in Benelux, what does it take to get there? What do the successful founders of Benelux unicorns look like? This report is an in-depth look at the Benelux startup ecosystem and its brightest stars. And above all, it is for anyone who is helping build the next 50 unicorns in Benelux.

Insights
5 min read
The Angle: Why the long-term view is the hard but right one

The Angle is a new content series from Antler, featuring perspectives from our team members on the biggest events and trends impacting founders and early-stage investors today. Every article is that person's unique angle on a hot topic—what they see from their vantage point in one of our 25 offices around the globe—not Antler's stance. In our first edition, Jeff Becker draws lessons from the demise of FTX and turbulent tech moments in recent years. This article first appeared in Jeff's Monday Morning Meeting on Substack.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Jamie Bubb: The tech marketing venture developer connecting brands and content creators

Our new content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering wtih around the world. In our second spotlight, we sat down with Jamie Bubb, co-founder of Twirl, a remote content studio powered by top-quality creators that helps brands scale their content engines rapidly and cost-effectively.

Insights
5 min read
Venture investing in the downturn

We are living two simultaneous realities: the uncertainty of the current downturn and the unstoppable wave of innovation disrupting every industry. Against this backdrop, Antler's Kevin Brennan shares perspectives on assessing your position in venture capital for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. Might 2023 be the best vintage for the coming decade?

Founder Stories
5 min read
Emilia Theye: The psychologist using AI to democratize access to mental health solutions

Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. To honor them, we are launching a new content series—”It All Starts with People”—spotlighting the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they are building and the positive dent they are aiming to make on the world.

In our first spotlight, we sat down with Emilia Theye, the co-founder of clare&me—a mental health app that uses language-based AI to develop an innovative approach to virtual self-help.

News
5 min read
Backing founders from day zero to greatness

Today we are sharing our new brand that reflects that commitment and the reason Antler exists: to stand behind our founders from day zero and to keep backing them on their paths to greatness.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Seven ways founders can prioritize mental well-being as they build

Founders are the life force of the startup ecosystem. They give their all, betting on their seemingly “crazy” convictions and executing on abstract ideas that can potentially make our lives and work easier, faster, healthier, and better optimized.

But sometimes they do this to the detriment of their health. Being a founder means being beholden to customers, employees, and investors while balancing personal life. Often founders trade their stable, well-paying jobs to prioritize the restless inquisitivity of their mind. In the quest to answer the question “what if?”, they sometimes sacrifice their mental and physical health, only realizing the effects on their state of mind once they have impacted their ability to function as a leader. We have also seen how the mental pressure on founders can cause distress to those who depend on them for their livelihood and direction.

Insights
5 min read
A fresh take on early-stage VC: Harvard Business School publishes a case study on Antler

Harvard Business School (HBS) recently published a case study about Antler’s fresh approach to early-stage venture capital. Antler Co-Founder Fridtjof Berge shares thoughts on how the case sparks discussion about the best ways to identify and support great people anywhere on earth.