Today I’m talking with Fredrik Cassel – a General Partner at Creandum – one of the Nordic’s most well-known venture capital firms. We spoke about the Swedish startup scene and what he looks for in entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in pitching Fredrik and the Creandum team – read on for a few tips!
Fredrik, tell us about your background
Thanks for asking. I’m an engineer by formation but started my career in media. Worked for (then) startup Scandinavia Online, moved on to help start the free daily newspaper 20 Minuten in Cologne and Zurich for Schibsted. Eventually returned to SOl to assist in their IPO in 2000 and later headed up the internet search part of the organisation. This was pre google, so we ran the largest search service in the Nordics with some 4.5 MAU, or “monthly unique visitors” as the lingo was then. Eniro acquired us late 2001 so I stayed on and led the work merging the two audiences into one joint search service that was pretty successfully launched in Denmark, Finland and Sweden during my time there.
How did you get into the world of VC?
I realised quickly that the big corporate world was not for me. And also that the best time I had was when I worked with highly talented people with 100% focus on bringing and growing new products to new markets. So started thinking actively about where I could continue to do that, and slowly the VC industry appeared on my radar screen.
How and when did you join Creandum?
Heard about Staffan who was about to start Creandum from a common acquaintance around about the time the first fund was formed, in 2003. Then joined the team as analyst. Now 10 years later i’ve participated in 15 or so investments and led the work with 7 of them.
What do you look for in entrepreneurs and what kind of industries are you personally interested in?
Obviously I look for extremely strong personal drive and commitment with the entrepreneurs. With the best leaders you can almost touch their force field radiating. That desire you feel to work with him or her is a good representation of the magnetism that future employees, customers and partners will be attracted by.
I’ve also come to appreciate the personal connection and –chemistry. Most of our engagements last over many many years. Sharing the values and motivation of the persons you work this closely with for that long time is really important to me.
I spend most of my time with entrepreneurs in the digital media space. This is fairly wide and has for me translated into leading investments in b2b media such as Videoplaza or Cint over to consumer applications such as Spotify or 13th lab. The most recent investment I had the fortune to lead is in an entirely different industry but with a business model that we know well. Xeneta out of Oslo does online price comparison / demand generation for sea container freight. In all of these cases Creandum is the first institutional investor.
What advice do you have for Swedish startups wanting to approach Creandum?
We try to respond quickly to all entrepreneurs approaching us. Having said that, the best thing is to come recommended from someone we’ve worked with in the past or knows us well. This network of ours help point us in the direction of the next big winners and we listen very carefully, and often times invite them to co-invest with us.
What are your thoughts on the scene here in Stockholm?
I’m so happy to see the extent more experienced entrepreneurs helping other teams and paying attention to the ecosystem. Remember that the best form of angel investing is not so much about the money but about the experience they add. This has become a really important factor in Stockholm. Think about the number of fairly valuable quality companies around town: give it another 3-5 years and we will in addition have entrepreneurs not only with competence and interest to help, but also with very deep pockets.