As Creandum – the leading Nordic based venture capital firm – are currently recruiting, I caught up with Johan Brenner, General Partner at Creandum, now based in Palo Alto to build out Creandums network there, for a chat regarding what it takes to enter the world of venture capital.
Note: For those interested, Joel Eriksson (current associate at Creandum) has promised to be as available as possible for last minute coaching and answering questions. Reach him at email@example.com.
Tell us briefly about your background and how you became involved with Creandum
I have a background with both large companies and entrepreneurship and have also been investing for a long time. I was a part of founding companies such as e*trade Nordic, jobline, Dibs payment, Payson and Tradera. After a couple of exits I started with angel investments, but enjoyed it so much that I joined the VC firm Benchmark Capital as a General Partner in London. There we did investments like MySQL, Betfair, Wonga.
Then I joined Creandum in 2010. The Creandum team was small but a great team and had already managed to invest in some very interesting sompanies, with Spotify being the star. Creandum is currently the biggest early stage technology venture capital fund in the Nordics and is considered to be one of the leading actors on the Northern European market.
We are probably most known through being first institutional investor in companies such as Spotify, Wrapp, iZettle, VideoPlaza.
Our investment strategy is to be the first institutional backer of entrepreneurs within consumer internet and enterprise software, and also within high potential hardware sectors. We can invest as little as €100.000 up to €10.000.000.
You are recruiting a new associate and one investment manager. What do you look for in potential candidates?
At Creandum, we strongly believe that you need to have true understanding of what entrepreneurship is rather than a nice finance degree. You can achieve that understanding either buy building your own companies, work for fast growing startups or just be very smart and have the right mindset in general so that you are able to understand the entrepreneur’s situation, and the fast past internet and technology environment and how this drives startups and growth. In addition, you need to have an analytical skill set and strong social competence.
The entrepreneurs shall fell that you are a true partner, as an investor, mentor and provide smart advise and support taking the right strategic decisions. One part is also to understand tech to be able to assess disruptive technologies and to communicate with entrepreneurs that have strong technical backgrounds.
Building a company is a challenge and it is never a straight line, instead more often, to be successful, you need to adapt and change all the time.
It’s an extremely competitive market for both parties – candidates and firms. What is special about Creandum?
I actually asked our current associates what they experienced to be they main benefits, and in their opinion there are three things:
1. You get a very high level of responsibility from day one as we are currently only 7 people in the whole investment team and the workload is high. Everyone has almost equal responsibility, and we have a very flat organization taking everyones’ opinion into consideration, but the partner group always have the final saying.
2. Unlimited development curve: you learn new sectors all the time, it can be everything from understanding the dynamics of the social gift card market to the market for wearable electronics developed for elder people. After being part of taking investment decisions, you are involved in the future progress and challenges of several growing startups. This can include everything from helping the companies with analysis as a base for strategic decision, drive internal improvement projects or understand if an acquisition bid should be accepted or not.
3. You are building a one of kind platform if you are interested in entrepreneurship: as you are meeting entrepreneurs, angels and investors from all around the world, some already very successful and some that will become very succesful in a few years from now, you are building a very strong network if you are into entrepreneurship in the long term.
When it comes to the associate position, we strongly promote that the candidate that we chose shall either continue his or her career in one of our portfolio companies or starting something own after 2-3 years of time. During the time as an associate, we are trying to support the candidate in the best way possible to maximize the chances of future success, especially if he or she chose to take the entrepreneurial path.