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.



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
5 min read
The new generation of Nordic founders

The Nordics have produced some of the most successful tech unicorns in Europe—and the world—with Spotify and Klarna securing some of the highest valuations ever achieved by European tech founders. As the tech flywheel spins faster and faster in the region, Antler is excited to publish the largest study of tech founders in the Nordics ever conducted.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Manuel Schönfeld: The management consultant determined to save companies millions

Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Read the story of Manuel Schönfeld, founder and CEO of PowerX, on a mission to help businesses waste less energy and money while combatting what he calls "the largest threat to our planet since the meteor wiped out dinosaurs.”

5 min read
Build your transformational AI company with Antler

As AI technologies evolve at a breathtaking speed, founders have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage those tools to solve complex, meaningful, and pervasive problems. Antler is looking for the next wave of visionary founders committed to using AI to disrupt industries and improve how we live, work, and thrive as individuals, organizations, and economies.

5 min read
Under the hood: How Antler sources and assesses great founders

Our Window into Progress digital event series continues with "Under the Hood"—a deep dive into the rigor and scale that makes Antler unique as we source and assess tens of thousands of founders across six continents.

5 min read
Antler partners with Khazanah to launch in Malaysia

Antler is thrilled to announce our launch in Malaysia, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and in partnership with Khazanah.

5 min read
The state of building today: Antler global perspectives

On the heels of publishing A Window into Progress—a global report that looks inside Antler, the world’s day zero investor—we are excited to present a digital event series offering deeper insights into our portfolio, investment approach, and unique views of the world. Our first event is "The State of Building Today," featuring perspectives on the state of VC and the startup ecosystems in Europe, the US, India, and Brazil.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Abraham Burak: The digital nomad delivering instant connectivity worldwide

Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Read the story of Abraham Burak and Bahadir Ozdemir, co-founders of Airalo, who are on a mission to make connectivity around the world accessible and affordable.

5 min read
Meet the new generation of European tech founders

As unicorns and later-stage companies are battered by the economic climate, the overall health of the European tech ecosystem looks stronger than ever, with more founders coming from big tech and unicorns to build new startups with significant growth potential. Dive into our report and get to know the new generation of European tech founders.