Community of founders and tech executives from Baltics and Nordics, turned into angel investors, are sharing year-end results and insights.
Fund Fellow Founders (fff.vc) launched in February 2022. By the end of 2022, fff.vc consists of 200 founders and tech executives turned into angel investors. Most of the community members come from Estonia, Sweden, and Finland. fff.vc is also represented by members from 23 countries from Kirkines to Istanbul.
In the past year, fff.vc has co-invested with such funds and associations as VNTRS, Concentric, Uniqua Ventures, Superangel, Depo Ventures, SWG, Plug and Play, LitBan, Change VC, Bad Ideas Fund.
“When I asked my long-time “Estonia advisor” Sten Tamkivi about recommendations for investor communities he mentioned fff.vc as the first option to look into. Seems his judgment is as solid as ever!” — this is how Patrick Van Hoof, ex-Global Director of Digital Innovation at Arcadis, speaks of the fff.vc community
You can see the dynamics of receiving pitches from outreaches and members since the fff.vc launch here.
In the passing year, fff.vc got 659 pitch decks. 541 of these were qualified for further consideration. Syndicates managed by fff.vc have made 7 investments allocating a bit less than €4M in Votemo, Insly, Drivex, Scramble, RecruitLab, Bolt and KatanaMRP.
Here, you can find the statistics of startups as they move through the screening funnel.
Insights on the most common reasons for investment rejection
Based on the number of pitch decks, time spent with startups, and community interaction, Tim Vaino, deal flow manager of fff.vc makes conclusions about the most common reasons for investment rejection.
- Failure to meet publicly available scoring criteria. Driven by economic factors, fff.vc has adjusted the evaluation criteria from hypergrowth to sustainability. Nowadays, it's important to see how well founders are adapting to the current environment. Have they adjusted the spendings to extend the runways? How did they come up with numbers (valuation, price, etc)? Who are the early investors and are they ready to follow up on their investment?
- Lack of interest on the part of the community members.
- Too early stage or too small a ticket.
- Team did not fit the needs of a startup.
- Late with fundraising, the runway ends in 1-2 months.
- None of the previous investors were willing to follow up.
- Messed Cap Table
fff.vc community aims to get the liquidity faster than a typical stand alone angel investing in the first rounds. Typically, the angel investor enters at a super early stage and waits up to 15 years to exit. The fff.vc enters at later stages, expecting to exit in as little as 5-7 years.
Startups' top disadvantages that must be improved in 2023
The mistakes described below are the top problems that members of the fff.vc community have noticed.
- Lack of skilled people in marketing and B2B sales.
- Lack of planning and forecasting of different scenarios. As an example, the reasons for high burn rates or the ability to adapt to changing conditions.
- Overselling during the first meeting.
- Ethics and intelligence of the founding team is off
- Creating a non-scalable model
- Not solving a real problem (on scale) at the first place
- Low risk assessment and understanding of competition
Insights for investors about the market and regulations
It is already clear that the returns of the previous period's funds will be low. This forces fund managers working on attracting new funds to be extremely careful, because the results of previous funds have an impact on the success of the next ones. Early-stage startups face the challenge of justifying startup valuation. This is caused by the fact that investors do not know how to evaluate startups in round A.
With the economic downturn, financial sustainability becomes important for startups, at the fundraising stage. A lot of companies are going through bridge rounds right now, and it is important for them to show how they can survive in different scenarios. Swedish elections have already taken place and Estonian ones are forthcoming, but the governmental program for tech companies is still unclear. This forces startups to look more carefully at potential regulatory hurdles and investors to seek optimal investment conditions.
Plans for the Next Year
Next year, fff.vc will continue to unite Baltic and Nordic investors into one, friendly community. The assessment of a startup's future impact will play a significant role in investment decisions.
The initiative to support Arctech projects, announced earlier by fff.vc member Kustaa Valtonen in Kirkenes, will continue developing in the coming year.
In 2023 fff.vc plans to close the first deal within the initiative of “fff.vc collectives”, focusing on closed investment circles of unicorn companies. fff.vc will offer a solution in Wealth Management for tech professionals. In the experience of community members, it is difficult to track good investment opportunities, at the same time tech professionals need to forecast liquidity, pay taxes and protect savings. A new tool will be created to aggregate data for analytics and to offer a wider range of investment solutions.
Akim Arhipov, founder of fff.vc: "Remember that one in the field is not a warrior. We will continue to bring together a robust community of tech professionals and executives. Next year we will set up special industries research and track markets closely. A new project and process will be announced shortly by the fff.vc team. The goal is to unite and collectively build up internal knowledge for investment decision-making in private and public markets. fff.vc will win and buy top-quality secondaries at a decent discount, choosing target companies based on research conducted collectively. For the members of the community will be built a portfolio of alternative instruments: VC & PE funds, -personal liability; -revenue-based or secured loans, wine and art. Now we have everything we need to create our own community-led product, and all community members will potentially become shareholders.”