Visit 1: Sailing the venture yacht with Paua Ventures
On 22 March, 2017, the Entrepreneurship Club of ESADE MBA has had the honor to be hosted by successful entrepreneur-turned venture capitalist Mr Georg Stockinger. Like many of us in the MBA, Georg had an engineering background, and after some years of corporate experiences he decided to pursue an MSc in Finance at ESADE.
With an excellent profile for any company, he dived into the startup world after graduation. Georg has run a few big startup names under his responsibility. After two years he took a turn into the other side and started his VC life. Last year, Georg decided to join Paua Ventures.
Georg has introduced the current trends in the VC world. Fintech is still at its tip, but may be passing over soon. Paua’s main targets right now are startups with a soul: the founding team needs to have real domain expertise in what they do; technological competence such as machine learning, AI, big data, and such are on the radar.
Georg encouraged MBA students to pick up some quantifiable skills. At this phase of our lives we may no longer be able to pick up a whole line of engineering expertise, but data analysis, UX design, market analysis skills are rather suitable directions to go.
After an interesting discussion with Georg we went to the rooftop of OneOcean office building. Around the building there are many luxury yachts with different country flags and Georg commented that the regular dusting work of these yachts are quite expensive. What is your startup idea to make this more sustainable and create value for a business out of it?
Visit 2: A view from the top with Active Venture Partners
On 6 April, 2017, we had the honor to climb up to the rooftop in the same building block as Casa Batllo and visited Active Venture Partners (AVP). Mr Blair MacLaren, Partner of the fund hosted us in the atico. Blair has a banking background. AVP was established in 2002 by three founders, and started its first investment round in companies such as consumer products including wine shops, reaching in total 9 deals. The first round was exited in 2008. In 2010, the second round fund-raising was fulfilled at 54Me and so far 16 deals have been made. 5 of them were already sold. Currently AVP focuses mainly on consumer internet, media, mobile, and software companies. The deals are mainly made in Spain, some in Scandinavian countries. AVP mainly invest at 1-1.5M and 2-2.5M level. Currently 50% of the deals are B2B and the other half B2C.
Blair sees that the entrepreneur’s personal experience limits them. Many issues occur when the startup goes out of its own country border. He believes that having good mentors are important, joining an accelerator could be beneficial in bridging the knowledge gap. He mentioned one of the exited companies, saying that the growth was impressive at a certain time, but it turned out that the clients were not at sustainable size. The execution capability is a combination of the expertise of the team, which includes capability to judge the moment to market, opportunities in the market, and problem solving.
Blair believes that, even though still relatively small, Barcelona will keep on growing as a startup hub. The ESADE students are encouraged to take the opportunities and build the network while we are here.