Of the many things we’ve learned over the last year and a half at APX, the most positive has been that a remote-first approach has allowed us to invest in even more great companies without losing the personal connection with our portfolio founders.
Does it still make sense for APX to have a >1,000 m2 office with co-working space for its startups?
This question popped up some weeks ago and has been a constant talking point for our team after a year and a half of firstly a strict lockdown and, more lately, a remote-first approach to running our business.
When the Covid lockdown hit Germany in March 2020, we were only months away from opening our new dream office in Berlin, across the street from our first office. For that reason alone, it feels crazy even to consider letting go of our office.
But things have changed since spring last year.
APX turned into a virtual company overnight. Instead of collaborating in a physical, brand-new co-working space, we found virtual ways of communicating with our colleagues and the founders. We also decided to ditch one of our few existing prerequisites for startups to receive an APX investment: relocating to Berlin for some time to work from our office.
Going to the next level
Earlier this year, APX announced transitioning from an accelerator to becoming a very early-stage VC, alongside ambitious changes in how (and how much) we can invest in startups. The goal is to support even more of the best startups across Europe and beyond. Our biggest strength has always been the synergies we can create as one of the most active startup investors in Europe, but becoming a VC helped us realize that these synergies do not require us to be in the same room as one another. It’s possible to stay personal without meeting in person.
It works even better in some ways: mentors and experts have joined sessions worldwide, and we can invest in great teams wherever they are. Many of these prefer working from different, remote locations, and we’ve seen how this works in their favor, so why should this stop us from investing? Since the first lockdown, we have invested in more than 50 amazing new companies, growing our portfolio to 100+ companies from more than 20 different countries.
It’s possible to stay personal without meeting in person.
Our network is even more accessible for the founders, and we have some great ideas regarding digital and personal formats for the near future. We also launched the APX Platform, our own digital networking tool that connects all founders, experts, mentors, and follow-on investors in one place. And crucially, our startups were able to attract additional investors from all over the world, with APX on their side as a long-term partner.
Saying goodbye to our brand new office
We concluded that APX is stronger as a remote-first company without its co-working space.
Our first office was a beautiful but noisy chaos of open office space surrounded by graffiti walls and industrial elements. To us, it was the perfect office of the 2010s. Our second office is built in a completely climate-neutral way. Sprinkled with more modern details combined with small team offices and a cool yet divided open office space, it represents the 2020s for us.
Our third and future home will be a combination of remote-first and a physical office housing only the APX staff. We will still be arranging and attending events and meeting our portfolio founders in person when it makes sense. Our headquarters will still be in Berlin — Europe’s hotspot for aspiring founders. We need a physical space to meet and create opportunities and spend time together in person from time to time. Creating moments of serendipity can be challenging in a digital setting, but it is not impossible. We’ve not fully figured everything out yet (e.g., collaborating from different time zones) — but we will.
Those who know me personally will be well aware that I love to make “big” decisions, and this feels big to us. But at the same time, taking this step feels completely natural on our journey to become Europe’s leading and most active very-early-stage VC.
If you’re an ambitious start-up looking for an early-stage investor and long-term partner, nothing has changed. Check out APX.vc and send us your pitch deck. And if you’re looking for new office space that is ready to be used, ping us at email@example.com, and we can share more info.