Why we invested in ACCURE Battery Intelligence

The past 10 years can be called the inception of a battery-based society. Everything is powered by mobile energy storages — from laptops, to phones, to home storages charging a car. While these examples come from our everyday-lives, the meta-move to renewable energy by governments around the globe also requires more and more energy storage opportunities as well — because batteries can store energy from on-peak renewable energy and release it when it is more needed in central, decentralised and off-grid situations.

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The Situation

So, we all live in a world with more and more batteries. But what do we know about them? Not much, except for the fact that they age. And this fact points to the problem we are going to face: over time the storage capacity decreases. So does the performance and stability of all devices and services associated with them. Thinking of a 1990s Classic GameBoy an empty battery meant horror — but picturing an EV-ambulance car breaking down on the sideway becomes a real threat. So, what do we do about aging? We need to constantly measure it, need to be able to anticipate it and eventually act on it. …

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There are already countless articles and presentations with advice for startups in the corona crisis. According to the motto “Everything has been said — just not by everyone yet” I will not give any further advice to startups. However, the exciting question is what long-term effects the corona crisis will have on the German startup ecosystem. For this purpose, I will compare the two past economic crises in 2000 and 2008 with the current one. …

Does it help to hang pictures of Elon Musk or Steve Jobs in the office? Or is it a remnant of pubertal behavior when people hung posters of Superman or pop singers in their children’s rooms between the ages of 12 and 15?

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I don’t know any people who could fly later. I don’t know of any leading entrepreneurs or managers who have a photo of Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, Werner von Siemens, Karl Heinz Nixdorf or Hasso Plattner hanging in their offices.

Since I myself have a very critical attitude towards following role models, I wanted to get to the bottom of the matter and have produced an unrepresentative and non-scientific study. …

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German Tech Startups are bought

Does anyone remember a German tech start-up which was so successful that it took over other technology companies, e.g. from the USA? Well, there were a few exceptions in the past, such as United Internet, SAP or Software AG. Despite some research I could not find any significant takeovers by younger (start- or grown-ups) companies.

So far this story has mostly been told the other way around:

“US Tech company buys German start-up” or “US Tech company takes over German technology forge”. Europe and Israel were and still are a kind of grave table for US technology companies and grown-ups (more mature startups) to grow non-organically, to “eliminate” international competitors and to maintain and expand their own technological lead. …

I’m very excited about our investment in Acellere. The company has developed an intelligent software analytics platform which supports teams in building high quality software — named ‘Gamma’.

We led the Series A in December 2017 and I joined Acellere’s Advisory Board. Just after our investment, the company has launched ‘Gamma’ in January 2018, and has already signed first international enterprise customers.

In the last years I have been more or less reluctant when we were evaluating startups in the DevOps toolchain sector because to me the market seemed quite overcrowded.

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Our main concerns have been that most of these tools are providing only minor improvements for the developer and organizations. As a VC we want to invest in potential game changers — companies which can change an entire industry based on their technology and solutions, companies with the potential to get big and take a dominant role in their industry. …

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About two years ago Process Mining has been intensively discussed in the German startup ecosystem after the first startup in this space got funded. I do recall that many venture capital investors including myself have evaluated the sector following this financing round.

I invested some time in order to understand the application and its value for enterprise customers, the underlying technology, as well as the market. Back then it seemed to me that Process Mining was all about ERP data and mainly related to a small handful of processes in the SAP system. My immediate conclusion was that Process Mining solely on SAP data seems rather limited compared to the methodology’s possibilities. I was pretty sure this company would be able to grow but would it get really big? …

After reading a lot about the ‘AI based investment approach’ of some Venture Capital investors I take the liberty to share my thoughts on this matter.

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AI in one sentence:
Software technologies that make a computer or robot perform equal to or better than normal human computational ability in accuracy, capacity, and speed.

First of all — I do respect the ideas and thoughts from other VCs about an ‘AI based investment approach’ but IMHO: a healthy startup ecosystem doesn’t work like this.

My thesis:
The basis of an investment decision in an early-stage startup is the founding team. It is not possible to automatically collect or scrape enough relevant data about a founding team of a young startup if you want to invest as early as possible (first institutional money). …

I have been asked about our (Capnamic Venture) investment strategy several times. Here are some background information on it.

In my last post I have underlined the importance of a thesis driven investment strategy:

Investors without a clear focus and strategy are lost
Some investors claim to invest opportunistically in all the “good” deals. In my experience, this just doesn’t work. A VC needs an investment strategy. Based on the defined strategy, the VC team builds its domain expertise, deal sourcing, industry and co-investors network. Opportunistic investors are like bankers — money with little value added and support.
VCs shouldn’t be afraid to build an impressive anti-portfolio. If a VC firm is investing according its defined investment strategy, they will turn down interesting startups which are off-strategy and out of their chosen focus area. So, don’t worry about all the great companies you did not invest in. Just keep a record of your anti-portfolio. An experienced LP (fund investor) once told me that the deals you have turned down are not that important. …

Two Decades in the Startup Ecosystem

After being active in the German startup ecosystem for almost 20 years, I think the time is ripe to share some of the key insights, learnings and observations I have gathered over the years. I will share my thoughts — and a couple of war stories — in three different blog posts over the coming month:

Part 1 — Key learnings as a VC
Part 2 — The German startup ecosystem
Part 3 — Patterns and attributes of successful startups

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In 1999, a good friend pulled me out of the boring but comfortable corporate world and into the German startup ecosystem. He asked me to join his startup as an executive board member some months before we went public at the “Neue Markt”. That is where my journey in the startup ecosystem started. Between 1999 and 2007, my co-founders, partners and I founded, grew, ran, invested in and exited several tech startups. We have raised numerous rounds of VC funding and worked with national as well as international VCs. During that time, I had many very positive and some unbelievably bad experiences with VCs, and I learned a lot about how entrepreneurs and VCs interact from an entrepreneur’s perspective. …

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There are some new kids on the block…

We have seen some material changes in the German Venture Capital landscape in the past few years and a serious discussion has emerged about the so called “Next Generation Venture Capitalist.”

Before I became a partner at Capnamic Ventures, a German Next Generation VC based in Berlin and Cologne, I was a co-owner and partner at a First Generation VC for almost 9 years. Before that, I was venture backed by some First Gen VCs (1999–2007). I have been asked to participate in a podcast discussion about “The Next Generation of Venture Capitalist in Germany” powered by Joel Kaczmarek (chief editor of Digital Kompakt). …


Olaf Jacobi

Venture Capital Investor and Managing Partner @capnamic, former repeat entrepreneur — focusing on B2B tech startups.

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