Guillaume Kloof
IMPACT INVESTING

Guillaume Kloof

#42

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Managing Partner at Valley Date Venture Partners

Guillaume Kloof – When is tech expertise important?

“Sometimes even a setback is a set up for a comeback.”

ABOUT

Guillaume has shown great insight in helping, especially early stage startups with getting their product/market fit. With more than 40% of startups failing due to them not having a product/market fit, Guillaume is dedicated to help his fellow entrepreneur.
This drive has led him to setting up his own accelerator program that aims to help startups and investors alike. While many programs focus on one stage of startups, we are able to help early stage and later stage startups, through our multiple partnerships. Our program helps with the following:

Finding and maintaining a product/market fit for new and/or existing products/services
Increasing market share
Increase the valuation (especially relevant for investors)
Increase the conversion rates for sales
Running a lean and efficient business
Establishing lucrative partnerships
Etc, etc.

REQUEST INTRODUCTION Arrow

THE FULL INTERVIEW

Guillaume Kloof

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Guillaume, welcome very much to —- awesome to have you part of the OPN, Open People Network Ask an Angel and so today, the best way to start is to jump into what we’re all about is if you can give everybody a little bit of a background on yourself, and where you come from, what you’ve been up to with the new ventures you’re working on now and then one thing about you that nobody will know.

Guillaume:
Okay. Okay. okay. I’ll start from the top. So basically, I’m one of the managing partners at Validate Venture Partners. And pretty much what we do is we try to connect all of the actors in the startup ecosystem. Primarily, startups and adding value, also to investors and what I like the most, is trying to figure out how we can get particular startups to that next level, and really figuring out what would be the best fit. And it’s always like a – almost like a boxing match where it’s like, “Okay, this didn’t fit, but I gotta uppercut for you next,” so that one might land, so it might be a good fit there. So, that is in a nutshell. Really, what I like doing, particularly in.. with tech startups. And first we’ve been only active in Europe. But then we started expanding and playing around, connecting with startups from the U. S. And since the day, officially, we’re also working together with some startups in Southeast Asia. So for us, it’s all about really making sure that all of the mechanisms in startups, they rotate the correct way and manner, and the correct direction and things like that to really get them to that next level, and ask for something that some people would never really know about me is that… Well, one common misconception is that my name is French, but I don’t speak a word of French.

Jeffery:
Alright, fair enough. Well, we – maybe you might have to get some French in there just so that you’re not misleading with Guillaume, right? I guess, we’ll have study some French lessons just so that you don’t have to worry about that claim anymore.

Guillaume:
Yeah, I’ll try to connect with a French startup.

Jeffery:
That’s good, and maybe Just a little bit about your previous background. you worked with a startup, you were part of a- Well, I guess it was a startup?And you were the CTO side, is there’s some other, like, just some background little details about things that really drive you to get you into where you are today.

Guillaume:
Yeah. So I actually really build up from the bottom up. Where I started as a web developer. And really, really doing the programming myself on things of that nature. But as I was helping more clients with those tasks, I noticed a, you could say common threat, where there were two types of groups. Where it’s there either tech heavy or business heavy. I figured I’m already quite knowledgeable in the tech scene. Let me start reading up and getting into the business side of things. And that’s how I got connected with other investors, VCS and whatnot. And that took a couple years. But initially it started out as well, developers just doing some small jobs here and there. And then the first startup, I was actually CEO at that. That was my, you could say jump off point to bigger things because that was the first startup where I was truly involved with day to day actions that needed to take place to go from just a regular WordPress website to a completely customized platform that they have that built out and things of that nature. And once I started to figure out what was truly needed within startups on a day to day basis, I started to focus on particularly, looking at business models as the how they work and also evaluating especially, tech startups, their products. Looking at, okay, how efficient is it running and really looking at the product side as well. So those are the key things that I learned, really building up and as a, you could say, as a CEO at one of those early startup, I was also at a accelerator program, so I kind of picked up a couple of things as what they were looking at, and things of that nature. So I was exposed to all of that information which gave me, kind of, I was only taking notes. I said, Okay, how can I improve my craft? So I started focusing on the business models of these startups and their product themselves. So that’s kind of a bit most.

Jeffery:
No, that’s awesome. So can you relate a little bit more to that CTO experience, that Web development experience to what you bring into the startups when you’re working with them? Because I think it really does transition a lot of.. and you kind of mentioned the two buckets, you’ve got business and tech. A lot of the time and I don’t know the percentage. But I’m going to say that, maybe there’s like 80% of founders aren’t really technical oriented. They don’t have the true understanding of tech and you becoming this- having this tech background, have you seen that? It makes a big difference in that conversation that you’re having with startups.

Guillaume:
Yeah, so pretty much what tends to happen is, you basically hitting on the head. A lot of these founders, they’re not really tech savvy, but let’s say they have a development team. There’s always a disconnect between those founders and that development team, where it’s almost one speaking English and the other one speaking Greek. You- they don’t understand each other. So, me having my base in the tech world, and then reading up and getting more familiar with the business aspect, gave me the opportunity to almost be a translator between both parties. So a practical example would be the founder coming in asking, “Hey, we need to update the look and feel of the product so that users can get to A to B faster.” If you tell that to a developer, it’s like, “Okay, so you need a button or what do you need exactly?” You know, so on my side and when it would be on me, “Okay, we’re gonna focus on the user interface. Within the user interface, the flow from one screen to another needs to go seamless. And then I would go communicate with the founders. That’s okay. What is important to you?” Then they would highlight maybe two or three points that they want the emphasis on. And then I get back to the tech team and ask, “Okay, functionality wise, it needs to be focused on. It needs to be prominently highlight this particular product or this particular button, and it needs to go from one screen to the other, ASAP, as soon as they click on that button.” So that’s a more practical example, as it for things to, you can say that the business model, what a lot of startups actually, I wouldn’t say miss, but they are very passionate about the dream and the vision that they see. So what sometimes tends to happen is that they miss that they need a product market fit. So from my side, I tend to strip down the business model to its bare bones and really look at what is truly needed and what is not. Like I have almost like a ‘priorities list’ of what’s necessary and what’s say, a luxury to have within that product. So that- those are some more practical examples.

Jeffery:
And is this going all the way back to- are you guys mostly focusing on pre-seed and seed round companies? So that when you’re working with them, you can make those types of changes, and use cases, and find ways to better deal with the customers that are coming to their product or utilizing their products? So I’m assuming if you’re further upstream, they probably have less chance of making those changes. So do you tend to look for really early stage companies that are in the process of building these out?

Guillaume:
We typically have two programs. Like, for that, we have a two week program and a three month program for that. Where on the two week program is kind of, is also meant for investors to maybe give some of their portfolio companies a boost. Just ask like “Hey, can’t really figure out what’s going on with them. Can you guys look under the hood and really fire them up?” And that is, that tends to be for pre-seed but mostly seed stage types of companies. And when it comes to a bit more mature companies, let’s say early stage, early stage companies or almost Series A companies. With them, we solely focused on business development. So let’s say a company, so for example, right now we have a fintech company, that we’re helping that is already generating a couple million, annually. What we’re trying to do with them is to almost make them a bit more scalable by trying to identify markets that they either can penetrate or reviewing some of their products where it might be feasible for other target audiences or groups that they didn’t consider yet. So those- that’s kind of how the focus tends to shift.

Jeffery:
Okay, now that’s a well valuable to understand how and what you guys work with, and where you fit in. So you almost get into being that you’re doing this bus. dev., and you’re doing updates, and being able to help them sort through their fundamental changes to get to better sales. It seems like it’s just a pure sales funnel, “Will make these changes so that you can start generating more uptake, and more viewers, and more people into your product.” How do you guys offset this? Is it done- because you guys do come a little bit more unique from being just a pure investor, angel investor. You guys were looking at this from how do we get in here at the beginning? Help you work through your