VC’s with an Iberian Footprint
Balderton was founded to support Europe’s most ambitious technology entrepreneurs. It invests in European-founded companies at both early and at growth stage, through Balderton Growth I.
1. Can you tell us more about you (background, interests, fun facts)?
My background is in Law and Economics. I am a trainee lawyer but I never really practiced. I wanted to have an international career and therefore took on the business route. I started my career at Goldman, in the Tech M&A team in London. I spend over 3 years there and then moved to New York to pursue an MBA at Columbia Business School. After 2 years there I moved back to Europe and joined Balderton Capital in 2018. Since, I have been mostly covering France and Iberia, as well as spending time in the consumer space, sustainability, and ‘consumerised SaaS’.
I love spending time with my family and friends, working out and taking some time to do yoga and wind down, painting, reading, and travelling. All normal stuff. One of my secret passions is coaching and helping people achieve their goals and move forward faster.
2. How do you describe your investment thesis in terms of geographies, industries, stage, and ticket size?
At Balderton we look to back European founders and businesses. We have been strong believers in the European ecosystem for the past 21 years. We are a multi-stage fund investing from late seed to Series E. We are sector agnostic as long as tech is a strong component in the business, and we prefer capex-light businesses. Historically we were mostly focused around the Series A stage, which today doesn’t mean much anyways. For us it is all about backing founders and businesses that have the potential to become the next category leaders and multi-billion giants coming out of Europe. This is why we recently launched our early growth fund to be able to back European talent for longer and at different stages.
3. How is your typical investment process in terms of steps and timings (describe it briefly)?
We like meeting entrepreneurs early. There is no need to wait until there is a proper process or they’re looking to fundraise. We are long-term investors, and we know building big companies take a long time. Therefore, we know we are meant to work together for a long period of time, and we want to ensure we’re the best match for the entrepreneurs and let them make the best choice too.
When the fundraise gets started, we can be very fast. We usually want for the founding team to meet a big part of our investment team 1:1, then we invite the founders to present in front of the whole partnership and if that goes well, we can extend a term sheet very quickly, often in a couple of days. Sometimes, we need to take a bit longer to finalize our due diligence.
4. What are the main characteristics you look for in an entrepreneur? / In your view, what makes up a successful entrepreneur?
Drive, ambition, and thoughtfulness. I like to see people who are truly passionate about what they are building and those who fundamentally want to change how things are done or improve a particular usage / situation / sector. It is a privilege to get to talk to those founders, and it is also really humbling. Great entrepreneurs usually have a very good intuition, and those who combine it with a strong data driven approach and high IQ, can often get much further. Great leaders and inspiring communicators also have a strong competitive advantage when building teams and attracting the best talent.
5. What are the three most common dealbreakers you find after meeting an entrepreneur for the first time?
The lack of real passion and excess of opportunism, a weak vision and low perceived potential to build a big company and become a category leader, and negative references.
6. In your view, how much equity should the founding team own before raising a Series A round?
Ideally the founding team should own c.70–75% of the equity. The more, the better, obviously. Today the market has evolved, with companies often having raised a couple of financing round before their Series A, so we see more often teams having c.60% of the total equity before Series A, and that’s fine too. It is also important to consider the size of the founding team: as it seems obvious, the smaller it is, the more potential dilution is acceptable. For us, it is important that founders keep a big part of the equity over time, as they are the ones doing the real work, and they deserve, more than anyone, to keep real skin in the game.
7. How do you add value to your portfolio companies?
We have more than 21 years of experience in venture. This means, we’ve seen a lot. I believe this is the most valuable thing we can offer. But beyond that, we offer strong operational support throughout and our experience scaling businesses internationally. Our team is a good balance of entrepreneurs, having built multi-bn companies in the past, operators, and finance and strategy experts. That diversity of background is very valuable to entrepreneurs. Additionally, we also have a platform internally with teams that are specialized in different topics, including talent, marketing & PR, legal, finance, and data. Finally, the value of the network, and being part of the ‘Balderton Family’ is extremely valuable to our portfolio founders and C-level. We have in place different communities to facilitate access to information and experiences, organize events and workshops and more.
8. Is there any company you regret not having invested in (anti-portfolio)?
Oh, yes, there are… Is not that also part of our job? (joking).
9. Do you have any specific industries / sectors you are looking at into more detail right now?
I love the stronger trend towards sustainability, with companies being launched both B2B and B2C. The sub-categories are numerous, from regenerative agriculture, waste management, farming, or circular economy, among others.
I have also always been very intrigued by anything consumer-behavioral driven, whether that’s a pure consumer play or a consumerised SaaS business.
10. What were the top three reasons that made you look at the Iberian ecosystem in the first place?
Increased ambition level and talent pool. We have a lot of great businesses being built in this geo as we speak.
11. Do you value having a local co-investor on board prior to the investment round or co-investing with you?
We value local investors a lot. At early stages, we think physical and cultural proximity is important, and having a local network can be very valuable at pre seed and even seed stage. Sometime also later on. We are open to co-investments although we generally look to lead the round.
12. What is the best way for a company to apply for investment at Balderton?
Just email us! We recommend to founders to make sure we can be a good fit based on our investment thesis and the level of ambition they have. We are very open to say we look for multi-billion companies, and that means entrepreneurs should be willing to take on that journey. I’m very much aware that is not for everyone, and to be clear, that does not make anyone less good of an entrepreneur; it is just a different ride. You can find what people focus on in our website and everyone’s email. I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Series
VC’s with an Iberian Footprint invites investors that have Iberian companies within their portfolio to share insights and industry knowledge. With each of its episodes dedicated to a different VC fund, it provides an informal, and deep look at the VC world.
Check our 1st episode with Samaipata here.