There are plenty of ICOs around. I held two opinions and they are apparently contradictory: (1) There is a bubble in ICOs valuations, and (2) We can learn and earn a lot from blockchain and ICOs. Let me elaborate on this schizophrenia — and on possible positive outcomes. I will also share some thoughts about the recently launched Neufund.

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@ Karsten Wentink

Blockchain Schizophrenia

I missed blockchain and bitcoin in its early days. I was intellectually and entrepreneurially lazy, and I stayed in my comfort zone not even checking what was going on. It was very unprofessional. The second chance was about two and half years ago when I had understood the concepts of distributed databases and immutable database records. It was clear to me that I had to look more closely at blockchain and its eco-systems. However, with the portfolio full of companies and the fundraising for the second fund close by, I just had no time.


A year ago, ICOs appeared and shocked everybody: startups, investors, crypto-communities and others. Though familiar with blockchain, when the first ICO began I did not even believe that it was happening. News about the first ICOs just did not fit into my understanding of the world. After a while I researched the topic and, remembering the initial dot-com crash, I concluded…

I always loved dancing but it was only recently that I took it seriously. What happened? Why? I would like to treat dancing as an excuse and share a few thoughts on soft skills in startups and in business.

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@ Filip Pobłocki. On the photo Marta Grabowska & Ewa Świtoń. The workshop with Marta at Kontakt was my dancing initiation.

My story

Each story is different, I will share the one that I know the best.


I was an intelligent kid, simply the processor in my mind worked fast. I guess I was in the top 0.1% of the population. I loved thinking and I loved abstraction therefore I did my first two degrees in most abstract and intellectual subjects, that is in philosophy and mathematics.


But I was missing something and when opportunity happened I eagerly accepted an entrepreneurial proposal that a friend of mine proposed to me. It was the first level of my personal development. To be practical. To have things done. To sell. To deliver results. Because the resources as in every startup were limited, any delay, any mistake was painful and could be lethal for the business. On the other hand successes were exhilarating. …

This post shows one of the ways how to become an investor in a venture capital firm. This post is also a job listing for Innovation Nest.

The problem of future investors

Let me start from the beginning. Becoming an investor in a venture capital fund is not easy. Therefore, we offer investment experience in VC setup.

On the other hand we see that increasing the talent pool of people who invest is beneficial for VCs who do this. Thus, we made a decision to increase the funnel of talent in Innovation Nest through posting regular position for venture partner at Innovation Nest, and we do not limit our outreach to our network.

Venture Partner

The path to become a VC that I have in mind is a position of venture partner. Brad Feld, one of our role models, describes venture partner as follows on Ask the…

I would like to share how we built the strategy of Innovation Nest.

Building strategy is a long process and very often it is a long and winding road. In our case it began 6 years ago when we started Innovation Nest Fund I. The current strategy, the strategy of Fund II, is a consequence of experimenting that we did in Fund I. Fund I was a sandbox, it was a microfund of €7.5m and it invested in 23 companies from 2012 until 2016.

Fund II begins investing now. The first substantial closing for €24m will take place next week, in June 2017. …

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M25 Motorway, photo by Ian Britton

It is fascinating to look at teams at the beginning of their path. Let me share with you a story that happened to me recently.

A story of Palleter

I am Managing Partner of Innovation Nest — an early stage European VC firm focused on B2B software. Marcin Szeląg from the team of Innovation Nest found Palleter, a company from Estonia, to invest in.

Palleter wanted to solve the problem of empty trucks crossing Europe back and forth. When we talked with the company we became more and more attracted and made a decision to invest. In the three main areas where investors evaluate companies, they scored good or very good:

  • Market — the market for Palleter was big or, the better way to put it, really big.
  • Product — the product was not there yet but the approach of founders convinced us that it would be software and data that would solve the problem that was challenged for decades. …

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All pictures show Koscielec — an amazing peak in Tatra Mountains

The lessons learned building Innovation Nest Fund I

5 years ago Marek Kapturkiewicz and I founded the micro VC fund Innovation Nest and we started to invest in startups.

Today it is a very special moment as Fund I has just finished its investing and Innovation Nest Fund II starts to invest.

Last 5 years were filled with thousands of meetings, emails, rational arguments, number crunching, intuitional guesses, it was 5 years of hopes and disillusions, hard work and, after all, great fun.

In total, we invested in 25 companies, 4 of them are stars and 9 of them are promising companies that with reasonable probability will become stars soon. The fair value of the existing portfolio shows net IRR of 16.4% …

Recently I met with an entrepreneur who asked me a simple question: “how do you decide in which companies to invest?” That question is with me, as with any investor, at least since the first investment. Although it is a kind of an obvious question, the very fact that I was asked made me to revisit the process and criteria. I always ask four questions and I hope these four question will be helpful also for entrepreneurs on the other side of the table.

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Photo by Steven Key

Obviously investment decisions are made differently for companies at different stages of development. What I am primarily interested in are investments in tech startups that have already built the prototype but do not yet have sales big enough to assess them on sales figures. As you see — seed investments is what I have in mind.

First — product

Does the company solve a real problem and does it solve it really well?

It is the basis of anything else — any business to succeed has to deliver value to its customers. Every product must be a solution to a problem. As Paul Graham says: Build product that people want. …

To go or not to go, it is a question.

Most, if not all, good European startups ask themselves whether they should move to the Bay Area or NYC. Should they really move? If yes, how and when should they do it.

The short answer to this question is: it depends. The long answer is that it depends on the stage of the company, the product the company has and the market it sells to and, of course, the motivation of the founders.

Let us go through three themes: the financial roadmap, examples of how it refers to US presence, and what value the US gives startups. …

Many entrepreneurs face the challenge of raising Round A from VCs. How to do it? Let me go through three points that, in my opinion, speed up the process a lot and increase the chances of success.

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An entrepreneur facing a challenge.

Point 1 — what game do you play?

Let us start from the very beginning; that is, from the thesis:

Entrepreneurs should build a $1 billion company and grow sales to $100 million annually.

The topic of unicorns is so popular that this thesis is a cliché. But wait — is it really so? Is the dogma of building a $1 billion company really valid? Unicorns are a very special and uncommon breed, so why should I care? A $50 million exit would be perfectly fine for me.

The reason is simple, and it lies in the nature of the VC business model. (By VCs I mean venture capital firms investing in Round A or later that is firms investing above $3m in a single deal). …

The early days of

“Culture matters” was the title of a talk by David Bizer at the Innovation SaaS meetup on people. It was a great talk and a great subject. It made me recollect how it was at when Tomek Kolbusz and I were in charge.


It was December 1997 when Roman Kluska, chairman of Optimus SA, and we, Tomek Kolbusz and I, agreed that it was time to build a great Internet company in Poland. Roman made the in-kind contribution of the Optimus Internet team based in Kraków, which employed around 15–20 people, and we gave the vision, management and assets of two companies that we were running. …


Piotr Wilam

early stage investing @InnovationNest

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