Disclaimer 1: I am generally more of a cynic than corny but I started at Samaipata a month ago and I´m still in the honeymoon period. So please bear with me while I talk about all the things I love about Samaipata and I promise to — rather sooner than later — get back to you with a post about “10 Things that are WIP at Samaipata”.
Disclaimer 2: I moved to Samaipata after 2 years at Felix Capital. A lot of the things I love about Samaipata, I love them because I learned to appreciate their importance at Felix. All I know about VC so far, I learned from the best at Felix. For that I will always be grateful and proud to have been part of the Felix family.
At Samaipata I have the privilege to work with incredibly talented, driven and enthusiastic professionals, who also happen to be wonderful people and incredibly fun…plus they all love food and communicate with emoticons!
Let me take you behind the scenes to meet the team, so you can get a feel of what I mean:
- José del Barrio is our founder and GP, co-founder and former CEO of La Nevera Roja, the leading food-delivery marketplace in Spain, sold to Rocket Internet in 2015 for c.$100M. He loves to make any idea visual (in a wide variety of geometric shapes) and is so punctual that is always running late. He pushes us to think as entrepreneurs (very `better done than perfect, move forward, break the bottleneck´ style) and is an outstanding leader, because he cares about his team. I have a 30-min daily morning call with him. Every day. To discuss anything. He´s never missed one.
- Eduardo Díez-Hochleitner is our Chairman and Partner (amongst many other scary titles). For such a young team like ours it is great to count with somebody with his experience. He keeps us in line and brings the voice of wisdom (and irony) to the table. I profoundly admire him for being a true contrarian, for his very sophisticated (and unorthodox) sense of humour and for not having given up on trying to teach me how to find where the North is…without using citymapper!
- Pablo Ferreras is our CFO. He’s a brilliant professional with the rare patience not to let bureaucracy beat him down…must be his boxing skills. But above all, he´s a good guy, one of those that just makes life easier for everybody. And I hear he´s a great chef but I can´t confirm because he never brings any food to the office.
- Marcos Alba is our Senior Associate and a former entrepreneur. He brings in the operating experience, an engineer’s mindset and learnings that you only get from having been on the trenches.
- Sebastián Fernández is our Associate. He’s been at Samaipata since the beginning, joining right after school and recently promoting to Associate. He’s the soul of Samaipata´s culture, Prince Charming for the entrepreneurs and our office DJ (i.e. we only listen to disco music).
We work incredibly hard at Samaipata. We have to, because we work with entrepreneurs who have their skin in the game and we have enormous respect for that. But we work in a flexible, zero-aggressive, collaborative culture, based on a high regard for each other and the understanding that we are all on a mission together. We are a true team.
And we play hard(er). Think of spontaneous cheeky team lunches, Thursday after-work piscos, boxing classes to make up for it, team competitions in escape rooms, and witty inside jokes.´We have bigger problems than this one´ is what we tell each other every time hell breaks loose. And then we deal with the issue, but, somehow, it now looks more reachable.
In our first fund, we are working to become a leading VC in European pre-seed/seed-stage marketplaces and digital brands, generating best in-class returns and a positive impact in society.
The path to be considered among the best of the best in Europe is long, but we have a plan, immense talent and the energy of people on a mission…so #letsdothis
Side note: we are looking for an intern!
In just a month at Samaipata I have experienced first hand that Alejandro (SpotAHome) is so passionate about disrupting the short-term rental market that he regularly forgets to eat; Marc and Jaime (21Buttons) are on a mission to take over social mobile commerce and too much sunlight is actually an issue in their office (Spanish problems!); and Andrés, Sergi and Marc (Colvin) are creating a movement with a brand that democratizes the magic of flowers. And I haven´t even met all our founders yet!
I believe VC is a people’s business. We are in the business of finding and backing exceptional entrepreneurs going after big market opportunities, and getting our hands dirty supporting them. At a stage in which there is little to no data to indicate success potential, the investment decision is mainly driven by the team.
When we invest in a company, we are marrying the entrepreneurs. So, they do not only need to be killer executors, they also need to be people you want to work with, for better or worse. In other words, they need to be extraordinary people. And our founders are. They are also our best reference.
And I am not referring to the fact that we love beer, I am speaking about our systematic way of working, run by well-established processes and playbooks, that would make the most demanding German proud.
On my on-boarding offsite (note the fact that there was an on-boarding offsite to welcome me!) there were playbooks explaining the process in every step of the job: from “How to survive your first week at Samaipata” to “How to build kickass Investment Memos”.
Of course, we are a startup ourselves and continuously iterate those processes as we learn from what works and what does not, but I love that there is a framework that makes our work more efficient and more scalable.
We strive to be better every day. We are obsessed with learning and improving constantly. Through processes and feedback loops we learn and grow as a VC. But we also make sure to keep our curiosity alive and our horizons wide. Every Monday, after our Investment Committee we host ´Lunch & Learn´, where we invite the most interesting minds from a variety of fields beyond tech to tell us more about their area of expertise.
Side note: get in touch if you want to come and tell us what you do!
Ownership, that uneasy feeling from having responsibility and the meaning and motivation that comes with it, is what most of us strive for in a job. But it is not easy to find.
One of the things that has impressed me most so far at Samaipata is how core ´ownership´ is to the culture, it is just a given. I still haven´t seen anybody ask for permission to do anything at Samaipata. We (junior or senior) just do it. We work hard and take decisions we feel will take Samaipata a step forward. Because we don´t feel like a resource, we believe in the mission and we all have skin in the game. It´s our project as well, and we run it as such.
This is obviously none of my credit, but I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my first month anniversary at Samaipata than announcing our first exit: Sodexo acquired our portfolio Paris-based company FoodChéri. Bam!
We are proud to have been born in Madrid, but we have a European DNA, and we just opened and office in London, where I´m based. We are also looking for somebody to launch operations in Paris (apply here).
Our office in Madrid is always sunny and we have tons of jamón around, but our London office at Huckletree West is just beyond cool. At the heart of White City´s new creative campus, next to Net-a-Porter, Soho House and the BBC, Huckletree is a community of digital lifestyle startups, creatives and entrepreneurs. We are thrilled to be part of the community of the curious and renegades!
In my career in Venture Capital I am extremely lucky to have worked with people who take kindness as a core value, at work and in life. At Felix Capital I worked every day under a picture that said `Work Hard and Be Nice to People´. At Samaipata, we have a neon in our Madrid office that reads “Be decent. Think as entrepreneurs. Play hard. Go beyond”.
As VC investors, we have a privileged access to innovation and — as such- we have a responsibility towards founders and the ecosystem. We are here to build long-lasting win-win partnerships with entrepreneurs, based on trust, mutual respect, a shared mission and hard-work. As I said, it is pretty much like a marriage ;-).