Managing Partner at Valley Date Venture Partners
Guillaume Kloof

"Sometimes even a setback is a set up for a comeback."

- Guillaume Kloof

Guillaume outlines what he looks for in a start-up

Talk Takeaways

Listen to Guillaume Kloof as he shares the importance of product /market fit and his mission to help entrepreneurs succeed through his accelerator program.

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.

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 fundamental changes, updates and fixes and carry this through as you continue to grow and build inside of that company. So is there a limited number of companies that you’ll work within a year, or is it open ended? And then how do you structure those deals so that you’re benefiting but so are the companies you’re working with?

Guillaume:
Yeah, so basically, very good question. So basically from us that the way we typically work with these startups, we have two week programs which are every other month on and with those programs, we take a maximum of 15 startups. And windows, those startups that we help, we- It’s a very high intensity workplace where startups receive, you could say trainings, and workshops, and webinars almost on a daily basis that would be week one and two. It’s really going after structural changes that they need to kind of implement into their strategy to get greater growth. And, as week two is kind of proceeding. That’s when we typically start looking at, “Okay, you guys came here to grow, but at the same time, when all of this starts to really pan out, you guys might also need to really look at how are you guys going to get funded.” So then we allocate one or two sessions, to getting them investor ready. The three month program is a bit different because there we have a bit more mature audience, a bit more mature group. And, that’s where we break it down month by month. And that would be mostly focused on expansion. So that’s where we would look at, “Okay, you’re right now in Europe, we have some connections in Asia or we have some connections in this country that might also be able to use some of your products. So we can get that connect really set up.” And that is really, that’s also a 15 15 startup limit and we have that for Europe, we have it twice a year and for Asia, also twice a year. And with regards to actual, a bit more specific, the- in the end of January, we have the first two week program and in February, will start with the Europe slash US three month program, and in May will have the first, a Southeast Asian European Connect three month program, and then in quarter, in the fourth quarter will have the other European three month program.

Jeffery:
Amazing! That sounds so busy. It’s not even funny. But you guys obviously have no problem making that work. So how big- you’ve got the 15 startups for each buckets. How do you manage this on a team front side? So is there, like account managers that focus on five companies each or is it a full rounded that you’ve just got people coming in and connecting? You’ve built a schedule for them, and they’re really just focused on the schedule you guys have put together for that three months or that two weeks. So it’s high intense, get it through, make it through. Or do you give sparing time so that the startups can continue to build, and grow, and network, and do the things they need to? But you’ve got touch points all the way through. How does that structure work?

Guillaume:
Yeah, so with both programs, the two week program and the three month program, before we begin, every startup receives kind of targets that they will need to reach. With the three month program we’re more focused on the targets. With the two week program, that’s where we can kind of be, where we’re mostly focused on getting them to pick up all of that information. So with all of those-

Jeffery:
So in one cell into the other, is that kind of the idea? That once you’ve completed two weeks, then you’re gonna be more interested to do the three months-

Guillaume:
Exactly.

Jeffery:
-Because “I got some progress”, you’ve got some good legs up, things that move forward. Now, you jump into three months and will help you tackle a lot more.

Guillaume:
Exactly and ask for the team management aspect. For all of those, those 15 startups they’ll be assigned to one project manager. Granted, one project manager might have two or three startups. But the way we kind of rotate a bit in each, you could take continent, we have several partners, and all of these partners have a certain time slot with the startups. So with them, since we work together with them, they report back to me and my senior level team to say, “Hey, this startup actually might need a bit more sales. So this one, they might need a bit more of that. The way it works or the way we keep track of that is because right now we’re kind of finalizing a platform that we’re building, where investors and startups, in full transparency would be able to kinda have a look into, “All right, their traction is to this level,” in the sense that, “Okay, they’ve been growing their amount of sales every month. The way we made it interesting for investors is that every startup has a due diligence profile. So whenever a investor would be interested in a particular startup, all they have to do is look at that startup and request the due diligence report or the attraction report. And boom, we have a match already! So we’re using the tools that are available to us. While, also not neglecting the human factor, in the whole. When it comes to the three month program, we’re doing that as well. But as I mentioned, we’re mostly focused on the targets per se. Where especially, in month number two, that’s where we really start looking at, “Okay, whatever we did in month number one. Yes, it’s working or no. It wasn’t working, so we need to adjust this, this, and this.” And then in month number three, that’s where it’s business development on steroids. Where it’s like, “Okay, it has been working now. Now, how do we exponentially grow that? Which markets can we help you expand?

Jeffery:
And when you’re doing that expansion side of it? Are you guys putting? I know some accelerators, incubators they provide, like cash infusions to obviously bumped their models up or they do certain ways on criteria to help them with. If it’s SEO spend, organic spends, like things that are going to help generate through that- those channels. Do you guys work and focus on any of those things? Or that’s still based up to the startup, and you’ll just work with them to kind of work them through different sales channels, and finding their niche, and finding their way to closing faster and bigger deals?

Guillaume:
Well, for us, it’s mostly us working with those startups per se. We provide the expertise and most of all, experience. When it comes to our, especially our Asian, Asian program, that’s where we have connections with the government. So that’s where we help startups either from the U.S or Europe really set up shop in Vietnam, in Singapore, in those types of countries where people don’t really know what’s really going on. But at the same time, those markets are right now, really on the rise. The economy there is starting to really rise. So that’s where our connections with the government really pay off because we’ll be able to provide a clear roadmap. Asked, “Hey, work with this ministry of finance or whatnot because that’s where you need to be, to get a grant from the government. That’s where you need to be if you’re an investor and you’re looking for the best tax breaks in that area.” So that’s pretty much how we- that’s our strategy because, when you- is like we’re providing, we’re trying to provide the most resource is to these startups, but at the same time, experience is the best lesson, you know, like once they get that experience under their belt, where- when, where they go through it, that’s our focus. So we try to provide tools, but not where we try to spoil them too much.

Jeffery:
No, for sure. So do you build KPIs with each of the companies? When you start, when you bring them in, you kind of sit them down and say, “Okay, here’s what we want to achieve. So at the end of the program, we want to be able to achieve 120% growth over three months, and here’s how we’re going to do it. Here’s some KPIs, so that everybody on both sides is working towards a goal.” And then the follow up to that is, how do you choose the companies and where do they come from?

Guillaume:
Yeah, when it comes to selecting, I’ll start with that question first. When it comes to selecting the startups, we were not really looking to compete with other organizations. That’s why when I reached out to you, it was all love, all respect. Asked, “Hey, ultimately, we need to add value to these startups and these investors.” So for us, we get deal flow from all of these organizations coming in. I say, “Hey, you know take a look at this. This started. I think they’d be a good fit or not, and that makes it all work because ultimately it’s a win-win for everybody. As it pertains to providing a roadmap for these startups, we initially take in all of the requests to kind of join our program. There’s some clear guidelines what needs to be in there, you could say in their deck what we review. And then they’ll get invited for a intake, and ultimately they’ll be either approved or they’ll get a list of potential points that they need to improve. And then, once they are, the ones that are approved, they receive kind of a, you can say a roadmap actually sent to us. I said, “Hey, this and this and this day you will, we will have a call to discuss this component, that component, that, and all of which would be centered around reaching clear KPIs, in practical example, would be, “Hey, your customer acquisition costs right now are way too high. So within the first week will start focusing on what can we slash on your PNL she because right now, it’s costing you more than it’s bringing in. So let’s try to focus on that, you know. So that’s pretty much how we phase it out through that entire week, our entire three months program.

Jeffery:
Which is great and it all centers around, “sales”. Just centers around “business development”. So I know you mentioned there’s a little bit of IT, but I think those were just changes that you’re making to accommodate growth in sales.

Guillaume:
Yes.

Jeffery:
So I think that it sounds like you guys are really putting together a great little program that’s going to allow for companies in different countries to be able to get better exposure and deliver more on their bottom line, to allow them to survive. And again, at the end of the day when you’re driving sales, that’s also going to generate a value for investors to come in because they’re going to see that they finally have some market fit. If they didn’t have it before, you guys, they’re gonna be able to get it while they’re working with you.

Guillaume:
Yeah, definitely, definitely. And for us, we typically are always open to collaborate and whatnot. And the one area where the tech expertise always comes in, is when you need to mesh business and the product together because, for example, like right now, I’m involved with a virtual reality startup. Where I also have some equity and really helping them to get to that next level with them. The- in the beginning, it was more like, “Hey, Way can do x, y and Z with virtual reality.” “Okay, cool. Who’s your target audience?” But then there was no match with the product and the target audience. It was like, “Okay, one of those two will have to give, and that’s when they figured out. “Okay, our target audience is wrong. We’ll adjust that.” And now that they found the right target audience, now it’s a matter of going back to the tech. I said, “Okay, how can fine-tune it to really cater to that audience?” And that’s where you get to, ”Okay, right now, our virtual reality solution, it’s taking too long. What is available on the market for us to have a shorter development time for our clients?” So it’s always a handshake, which is inevitable. So it’s- we try to keep an eye on both.

Jeffery:
No, that’s good. And how do you- now there’s the skills set that you’re bringing to how this all works and how about your partner and the rest of your senior team? What type of experience and skills are they bringing that really help either make your skill set shine more, or do they offset your skill set? So that when you guys were going in, you’re going in as a powerhouse to help these companies all change? What is that diversity that you guys bring to the game?

Guillaume:
Yeah. So my business partner, AJ, which you’ve also met, he is really the marketing genius that I am not, like I can have the vision as to “Hey, we’re gonna take these guys to that next level”, but they will come up with the creative as to “Hey, let’s put something here and we’ll put some flowers there,” like really have that soft touch where I’m like, I’ll come in with a hammer and try to hammer it up, you know? So he keeps me balanced on that front and then we have our other partner, Josh, who’s really big in the financial world. So when it comes to certain investor or financial relations reviewing PNL sheets and things like that. That’s where he’s really at home and together, we’re almost like a three headed monster where it’s like, “Okay, what do you got?” “Okay. Tech wise, vio get up, marketing.” “Alright, A J. What do you think does not fit with their roadmap that they have right now?” And then when it comes to crunching the numbers, that’s when Josh comes in. “That’s okay. This doesn’t make any sense. We need to drop those cost ASAP.” So those with- those two, they’re my go-to guys and per continent, like in Southeast Asia. I’m working with two guys, two Hungarians, Chaba and Ben. And they are, one, is really connected with the government. The other is really big business development. So both really give me a heads up as okay with certain types of startups. We need this and this and this as our requirements or what not, you know. So that’s where- that’s how that dynamic pretty much works.

Jeffery:
I love it. So there’s a really good synergy between the three of you offsetting each other’s skill set. So there’s not any stepping on toes. It really is a great support factor. And I think that that’s what- I felt the same, when even in when we were doing our talks, you could see that your partner’s were really stepping up in certain areas, especially on the marketing side. As you were kind of coaching the conversations and everything else, so I thought it was what, one very well done. But on the second hand, I can see how this dynamic would be a great way to help startups really work their way through your programs and get you to the end result, which is “I need to get growth even though I’m in an early stage”.

Guillaume:
Yeah, yeah. And at the same time we’re all learning from each other. So when AJ makes makes a deck, I’m picking up as the, “Okay, I should always have our logo there or something like that. So hat when I hand over something, it’s not all bare bones that he has to work from scratch, but at least has something on it from him for proceed with. On the same goes with Josh, with everything first coming on my desk is like, “Okay, Josh. Here you go. That’s that for you, AJ. There you go. Now, let’s really set it up with these guys and make a roadmap that makes sense for them”.

Jeffery:
I love it. I love it. So when’s your next cohort start? What’s the date of it?

Guillaume:
Our next event actually is December 15th.

Jeffery:
Okay

Guillaume:
Our next two week program starts, if I’m not mistaken, its January 20th.

Jeffery:
Okay.

Guillaume:
That’s our two week program. Yeah.

Jeffery:
Perfect. And then, just for context purpose because I know that you work in different countries. Where are you currently right now and where are you going to be in the New Year?

Guillaume:
Right now, I’m in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. And basically, with the kick off two-weeks program, I’ll remain here in Amsterdam. But in May, as soon as we kick off, the three-month program in Asia, I’ll most likely be in Vietnam. First, officially kicked off the official first, very first cohort. So there’s a couple of drinks involved there (Laughs). So I’ll be in Vietnam, and then I’ll most likely have to fly back to Europe to kick off the second three-month program for the Europe three-month program and the other two week programs in between. Because the two week programs are mostly, I only oversee them, and Josh and A. J really get down to the nitty gritty.

Jeffery:
Well, that’s awesome! Very exciting. I’m a big fan of Vietnam and the Netherlands. I’ve been multiple times to each country. And, I’m a fan on both sides. So, sounds like there’s great things happening there. So I love that there’s so much dynamic and movement. So very cool. I guess, my next question, I guess, or something that I’d like to learn more about is that while you’ve been working with all these different companies and the kind of the experience that you’ve gone through to get to where you are today, what got you on this path? What made you think, “Man, I really want to get in here and kind of dig in and help these companies and find a way to help them differently?”

Guillaume:
Well, to start with that it was mostly by accident because, as I mentioned in the beginning I wasn’t- when I first started with the first websites that I was making, I didn’t even consider, “Hey, you could set up your own company.” “Oh, okay. I can do that. All right.” And, once I-

Jeffery:
And make it global like it’s not like you’re just working in your basement, you’re like working across the world. You’re going into other countries. You kind of expanded this quite quickly. So you’re doing lots of great things, but something had to trigger you to say, “Hey, I’m in. I’m moving this way.”

Guillaume:
Well, it was- it started with that, “Okay, that’s even possible?” And as you get into other environments, I remember the first call I had with a investor in trying to raise capital for one of the first startup that I was working with. And, it was first we were negotiating a corporate exclusive deal for that started per se. And that guy was like, “Yeah, right now we’re actually also raising capital, and we’re looking to raise 400 million.” And if it wasn’t just a voice call, he would have seen the flabbergasted look on my face because I could not fathom hearing 400 million dropped so casually. So those types of experience and get you to, “Okay, that’s possible, too?” And then it became like, “Yeah. Okay, then you fund, you raise capital for your first company. “Okay, done. Okay, what’s next?” “Oh, we’re actually from Japan, and we’re trying to get into the European market.” “All right. I haven’t done anything yet,” but that’s when that inner entrepreneur jumps in and stuff. “I’m not going to tell you that-”

Jeffery:
Your solving problems.

Guillaume:
You know, but I can figure it out. I know I can figure it out

Jeffery:
Yep

Guillaume:
And that’s when you- that work ethic comes into really, really struggle first and figure out what to do and figure out. “Okay, this is a good angle to approach that topic.” And, kind of brings me back to what you have mentioned during our discussion panel is that, it’s okay to ask for help if you really need it, you know? And some people actually want that. But you have to humble yourself as to, “Yes, I can ask for help.” And once you do that, a lot of doors will start to open. And because to be honest, I didn’t expect to be doing business with the U. S. And then with Asia on all of these other countries. But as more doors start to open, that ambition gets more and more fuel and you start to see all of these things that are possible. And then it grows. And your own circle, that if they are the ones really supporting you and really adding wood to that log, like that fire, then, yeah, the sky’s the limit.

Jeffery:
Now it’s brilliant. And I totally support that, obviously, because I’m a fan of that, you know, “if you don’t ask, you’ll never receive, and you won’t know if you ever could have got it.” But at the same time, it is humbling. You do have to try and figure out how you can ask those questions. You know, I have the toughest time doing that all the time. But I do find is that when you do get that to that state, when you start to see a problem which, Guillaume, I will say 100% that you are an entrepreneur through and through, and when you see a problem, you started to attack it and you keep solving that problem and you keep moving forward. And that’s what entrepreneurship is all about, right? It’s seeing that problem all the way through to the end, and then you started solving it in a bigger form and driving more people, and more people saw you starting that to fix that problem, and they want to be part of it. So then you start asking questions and you start asking questions to the right people, and I will guarantee you that if you ask anybody a question for when it’s around help. There is a 99% chance that someone will offer to help you back. Even if you think it’s impossible, people will always want to help because people want to be empowered. And if you can empower them, man, they will jump through hoops for you. And it’s just all about how you ask. And it’s, you know, there’s always a reverse, and you gotta help them, too. So…

Guillaume:
One thing I would add to it is, to actually stick with your initial vision, in the sense that even when sometimes somebody doesn’t help you or reach out yet, everything happens for a reason. At least that’s what I believe. So sometimes even a setback is a set up for a comeback, because I’ll give you an example. In February of yeah, February this year, before the whole Coronavirus and whatnot, I was going to set up a physical accelerator program. We had the building. We had everything set, list of investors, everything, set. Guess what? Coronavirus came. The co-working space pulled out first, of course, then the investors was like, “Well, we need to focus on our portfolio company,” and I’m left with only the plans. So then you have to really start figuring out “Okay, What do I do now? What will work now if I really still want to do my accelerated program?” Fast forward 5, 6 months later and I get in touch with a couple of really interesting people. That was like, “Well, I like your skill set. How can we do something?” And you worked on concepts whatnot, months go by and then you suddenly have a new set up. And “Hey, this is actually even better than what I previously wanted to do.” And so that is also one thing to keep in mind. Everything happens for a reason.

Jeffery:
Agreed. And I like that being positive, optimistic. brilliant! And that is the way you gotta keep shifting and pivoting to get to the spot where you feel comfortable. And then, you gotta work a different angle until you feel comfortable again because when you get to come comfortable, I don’t think he drives fast forward. So always make yourself feel a little more uncomfortable and then just keep pushing. So, but that’s brilliant, Guillaume! So now, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna jump into our rapid fire questions, and then we’ve got a couple of personal questions to ask and we’re off the races. So, let’s start off. All right, some of these questions you have answered before, so we’ll just be reiterating so that the audience gets that right into the back of that mind there, so that they won’t forget. So, in total, I guess, how many companies do you invest in per year? In this case, work with or invest in per year?

Guillaume:
I worked with a total of, a minimum of it least 60 companies per year but I either invest my time or money in just four companies per year.

Jeffery:
Perfect.

Guillaume:
I still wanna be hands on it. Yeah.

Jeffery:
Yeah, that’s good. Any verticals you like to focus on?

Guillaume:
I’m industry agnostic, but I stick to tech. Hardware is really not my thing. And to be a bit more specific, fintech has been very, very popular, but also a nice industry to focus on. Yeah.

Jeffery:
Okay, any due diligence requirements that you look for before you make any commitment into the company?

Guillaume:
Yes. I tend to look at first the product itself. If there’s- if they really done their work on the product, with my background, I’m able to see if they really went in on it. And second the team because some people are wantrepreneurs not really entrepreneurs. So a soon as I sense the wantrepreneurs, I’m like, I’m out. I’m good. Yeah, you know.

Jeffery:
I haven’t heard that one. The wantrepreneurs, but I like it. It’s a good tough classification but at the end of day, there are groups of people that do need a little bit more hand holding to get them over the line and those ones are tough too when they don’t have that full commitment.

Guillaume:
Yeah.

Jeffery:
Investment timelines like, is there a time period that it takes you to do this? One month, three months a year? What do you- what’s the balance?

Guillaume:
For us, it’s almost like a sliding scale, depends on how much we’re raising. Typically, for- you could say seed stage companies, it takes us either four months, four tests sometimes maximum six months to raise the capital. Pre-seed stage, it’s a bit shorter, but it- really six months of the max.

Jeffery:
Okay. Do you guys lead rounds? And do you have any preferred terms? Like, perhaps shares, common shares, saves?

Guillaume:
It truly depends on the startup per se and for us because we’re not going to rob those guys blind. Let’s say early stage startup. When we do go for equity it’s between 5% to maximum 10%.

Jeffery:
Okay, that’s good to know. You guys do follow up investments? I guess you’ll see how time goes and you guys take board seats?

Guillaume:
Yes. Usually in a- usually advisory board. That’s usually our sweet spot.

Jeffery:
Okay, so outside of the way your program works on helping with sales, is there anything else that you guys do outside of equity and the services that you do to help the companies? Which is already a lot, so they’re probably can’t be too much left. But if there is, is there anything else you guys emphasize on helping startups with?

Guillaume:
No, not really, like, really, that bus. dev. and looking into our roller deck as to which contacts we can connect them with. That’s the full extent.

Jeffery:
Okay, awesome. So the next question I have is that based on the last few years that you’ve been kind of working through this system, talking to a lot of startups, is there kind of this heartfelt story of a startup that you maybe they didn’t think they were gonna make it, they were having a tough go, maybe COVID helped them skyrocket into fame. Is there anywhere that you see there’s a good storyline here that you want to share about some great things that have occurred with one startup or two whatever that might be? But just looking for something that’s kind of one of those heartfelt stories that really keeps entrepreneurs excited about the challenges ahead, but the success that can come out of it.

Guillaume:
Well, this story isn’t as recent. It’s the one where I had my first CTO job Farmed Today. And we were- we participated in accelerator program, here in the Netherlands, and we had to- it was, I think, Demo Day and all of most of the startups out of the 12 startups, there were at least eight startup that were awesome, just awesome! There were only five spots to get to that next level and also be put in a position to receive funding. And me and the co-founder, we did our best during that program. But the night before, we had to do our demo day presentation, I think I- my mind was stuck on that Post Malone song, Congratulations. Where it was.. whatever I did, I was on my way to the program, All I was thinking was congratulations. All I was thinking. And the founder, he was like super nervous. And he was joking. “Yeah, Yeah, you know, I’m German. So where were sometimes a bit uptight.” And but yeah, he was really, really nervous. And I told him about me hearing that song, and it was like, “Well, I kind of like that song too. Let’s see what we can do,” and we go up to present, the presentation goes Well, we got a couple of questions. So we’re really feeling ourselves. But we were like the third or fourth startup that presented and there were at least 10 more startups that still had to present. And as we’re sitting there and you feel every minute going by because some of those bitches are really great. So you’re starting to feel the pressure and that song that I was hearing the volume was going down and then like, I think two hours later it was like, “Okay, we’re going to announce who who gets to that next level,” and the third Company Day Name was Farmed Today and the founder and I, we just jump off blatantly jump up. I said, “I knew it, I knew it.” Like super hyped and that just goes to show that if you have that innate feeling that you’re going to make it, sometimes it ends up in that storybook ending. Sometimes it ends up with a lesson as to, :Hey, maybe you should look at this. Or maybe you should look at that.” But that memory definitely was one of the highlights where I’m like, “Yeah, as a startup. You could basically do anything. Just put in the work.”

Jeffery:
No, I love it. That’s great. Yeah, it makes a big difference. And like you said, your mind was in the right space. So I think it makes a big difference, right? So brilliant. And I like that we’re champions. And you know what? Maybe that’s what you got to think about when you’re driving forward. You gotta keep thinking on the positive side. And, you know, good things will follow from that,

Guillaume:
Definitely.

Jeffery:
so we’re going to shift just quickly to kind of near the end now, and it’s been a great discussion. Learned lots of great things about how you guys are operating and functioning. And how you guys envision this new world of how to work with startups. So we kind of shift to the more personal side. So I started doing this a couple of weeks ago and I’ve become a big fan of it because I find it the most interesting kind of component to discussions. So what’s your favorite sports team?

Guillaume:
Los Angeles Lakers. Yeah.

Jeffery:
Nice. Now, have you always been a Lakers fan or is that just because of the change that’s occurred with the number one footballer?

Guillaume:
No. First I was in Chicago Bulls fan MJ still played, but then he retired and then I got Kobe. So I was like, yeah, he passed away now, but yeah, kind of loyalty to L. A. And now Galaxy one at like L. A has been picking up championships this year like, Yeah, so I’m happy.

Jeffery:
Oh, I like it. You know what I was a true hearted Lakers fan since I was a kid, and then we got the Raptors ,and the problem was that the Raptors stunk. So I was very loyal Lakers fan until about the fact where I realized I keep going to Raptors games to watch the Lakers play well, to actually support a team that doesn’t even.. they’re not here. So I eventually became a Raptors fan, and it was just that a necessity, because I kept going to Raptors games and I couldn’t just only go to Lakers games because there was like a three a year that I could go to, so it wasn’t worth it. So I eventually became a Raptors fan and as much as I still like the Lakers, it’s been like 20 years, so it’s almost gone out of my mind now. But I was always a fan, and you do still turn it on and still wanna watch them because you love the yellow jerseys and you like the whole thing about the Lakers. The story all the way through. So they-

Guillaume:
Last year, you guys won the championship.

Jeffery:
We did

Guillaume:
The Raptors won. Yeah (Laughs).

Jeffery:
Kawhi Leonard was a big player in that, so he kind of helped us through. So, just circumstantial, maybe they shouldn’t have won. There was a couple of bad games we had, but you know what? We still pulled it off, and that’s all that matters.

Guillaume:
Exactly.

Jeffery:
All right, So your favorite movie and what character would you play in that movie?

Guillaume:
Mm. Favorite. Okay, I’m a very old school. I’m torn between the old school types of movies that I like. So, for example, I like, there’s a movie, 1955 High Society with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong called High Society. It’s a awesome, amazing movie. That’s one that I truly love. Other than that, Hitch with Will Smith, I definitely would be Will Smith in that one for obvious reasons. And, if I need to take a third movie, it would be, what’s that- Woman Of The Year with Catherine Hepburn. Yeah.

Jeffery:
All right. I gotta check out some of the- I think I have actually seen the first one, High Society, I think. I see it not a long time ago. What character would you play in it?

Guillaume:
And that one, I would be Bing Crosby. Yeah.

Jeffery:
All right. I’m gonna have to watch that again. Because I can’t remember the whole movie anymore. It’s been a while, but I like the fact that you’ve gone all the way back to, like, 1950 movies. So we’ve had people pick Star Wars, even movies I’ve never even heard of. Another one yesterday was a French movie, which was really cool. So they’re in..

Guillaume:
into Shabalin?

Jeffery:
Intouchables?

Guillaume:
Yeah, yeah. That one is good too!

Jeffery:
Great movie. I actually see that one too. I thought great movie, and by far, you know, he was all over that one. So, big fan, but I like that Hitch was a good flick. It actually gave me an idea on building. I think it was.. Hitch was probably 10 years ago. Maybe he came up and I came up with this concept where it was a dating app that was gonna be built off of Linkedin so that you could actually profile everybody and then drive it into dating, because now you know some more metrics around the person, so it wasn’t just about looks. It was about

Guillaume:
Ahh yeah. Speaker !: And, obviously never built it. But regardless, it was still a cool way to use data. Never went to anywhere because Linkedin shut off the API so we couldn’t get access anymore, so we decided not to build it. But that was a cool one that I thought would have been great, because, hey, how else would you find a partner that you don’t know everything about and it’s all there, so why

Guillaume:
Yeah.

Jeffery:
So why not? But anyhow, so that’s pretty cool. Well, I appreciate that. I’m gonna check these out. I think that the High Society, I need to re-trigger my mind around that. But of course, Will Smith and Hitch, how can you say anything different? That guy was a rock star, Regardless, And whatever movies in, he’s always the rock star so brilliant. I like the choices. And of course, the Lakers are okay, they’re not as good as the Raptors, but that’s okay. You can always pick the winners. But I want to thank you, Guillaume, for taking the time to be part of Ask An Angel and very excited at the opportunities that we have to work together and looking forward to seeing you on December 1st from 2 to 5. So hopefully you were able to make it to that. If you haven’t please sign up. We’d love to have you. There’s gonna be some great companies in there and I’m sure there’s gonna be a few you guys might want to jump in with and we can make those intros too. So looking forward to that and again, thank you very much and the way we like to end our shows Guillaume is we like to give you the last word. So if there’s anything you want to share to investors or the startups, anything you want to say, the floor is yours and I turn it over to you.

Guillaume:
Okay, the only thing I want to say to startups is stay motivated, stay ambitious, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. To investors, I want to say risk is at every startup, but sometimes it’s not just in numbers, sometimes that gut feeling is good too. As far as my team and I, we are always open to work with startups and investors, especially with working together with OPN, and other organizations around the world. We can all help each other out in one way or another.

Jeffery:
I love it. Well, I got like I always do. Lots of notes. You’re a good man. Thank you very much for the insight. And I like that line. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Guillaume:
Definitely, definitely.

Jeffery:
All right, Guill, we’re gonna touch base later, but thank you again for time today. Oh, that was great. Guillaume, working in the Netherlands really just taken down business all over the world. So fantastic! Big fan of everything he’s doing working in the pre seed and seed round, helping early stage companies focus on sales. Big, big, big need! And making their investments and helping companies grow. Really, there’s not much to complain about there, it’s all fast and it’s making things happen. So I joined one of their events. They did a great job. It was really exciting and a lot of fun. And they brought in a lot of great people into that conversation. And then again, his line, which I had to reiterate the back, is, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, go after it, and risk is always gonna be there, but find a way to jump in and be part of that. So, yeah, great conversation. So they bring a lot of experience and resources to help the startup to succeed. So as he mentioned, he’s got a starting event for two weeks, December 15th, and then they do their next co-work for three months in January. So, Guillaume, thank you and everybody enjoy your day!

Contact us

Are you interested in meeting Guillaume, we will be happy to make an introduction!

Are you an angel investor and would like to participate in an upcoming show?