Capital On Stage is a global conference series about funding, where investors pitch to growth stage startup founders. It’s on a mission: to demystify venture capitalism and pollinate emerging startup communities with international investments.
Since Amsterdam hosted the first edition in 2011, Capital On Stage has gone global; in the next year alone the
conference will be held in ten cities around the world. During the Amsterdam Capital Week the conference is back to its mother city.
Founder Arjen Strijker: “We are slowly transforming Capital On Stage into a deal making machine: a long term quality broker between investors and company founders. In Amsterdam, on the 24th of September, we will bring together the biggest VCs in the scene. It’s extra special to me to be realizing such an amazing event on Dutch soil.”
Spotlight on investors
As Strijker explained in a Forbes interview, Capital On Stage is designed to be a conference in which investors get the spotlight; to elaborate on what they have to offer startups in terms of non-financial means, and to help lift the anonymity and mystery surrounding VCs. Strijker refers to startups as (growth) companies, which to him does more justice to the serious business that all parties are involved in. During Capital On Stage these young companies get exclusive insights into investors’ personal views and experiences.
The conference is crafted with hosts such as Goodwin Procter, Norton Rose, Hengeler Mueller, Herzog Fox & Neeman and Google.
Top 3 characteristics that make a great investor
It’s not just handing out money that makes for a great investor. Three things that Strijker believes are top qualities for an investor to have:
- The ability to listen.
- People skills.
“An investor needs the skill to find the right investment. It’s the investor’s people skills that will guide him in finding the right, personal match with a startup founder or team.”
- The ability to build bridges.
“The investor needs to build bridges between the company
and other worthwhile connections to establish top-of-class advisory boards or adding additional investors to the next investment round.”
Top advice for founders
When he was a head hunter for private and investment bankers, Strijker realized his clients were often describing a copy of themselves when describing their ideal candidate. The same often applies for VCs that are looking for their next big investment: they’re looking for a founder who resembles them in terms of skill-set and character. Strijker advises:
- Make sure to let personality and character shine through in your pitch.
“The tech scene is a cowboy market. Be clear what you want when talking to investors, and make sure you share your vision in a chronological way.”
- Have a tight, talented team that can deliver on the product.
“It’s the team that needs to be the investor’s opportunity. When you meet with an investor you need to have a confident attitude, don’t just tell him what he wants to hear, but make sure you can deliver on your promise. For that, having a great team in place is crucial.”
- Stop thinking like a startup
“All companies attending Capital On Stage should stop thinking like a startup. It’s not about building some website or about being in the scene. As a startup founder you’re building a company. That desire should be motivated by two reasons: the first being that you want to make a dent in the universe; passionately changing something for the better.”
Any self-respecting founder should put their money where their mouth is
“The second is that you see a great model for financial success. Any self-respecting founder should put their money where their mouth is. So stop talking and start doing. Have a USP, immediately, and don’t think you’ve made it once you have launched in the Netherlands. Set yourself goals: in two years we’ll be there.
When pitching at Capital On Stage you need to demonstrate an amazing product and show you have a global vision. If you have traction but are only aiming at the Benelux, a VC might invest once but not again.”
For some concrete preparation check out the more than 300 videos of VCs pitching at Capital On Stage.
Be ready for funding
“To get invited you need to prove your company is actively ready to receive funding between 500.000 euro and 10 million euro. We want to see a neat pitch deck, a tight team, and an innovative, disruptive product. It’s up to the VCs if they want to invest in that. Young companies may be risky business but the chance to make that 60 times return is irresistible.”
Amsterdam: sexy brand of the Netherlands
Strijker sees great opportunity for Amsterdam’s development as a startup hub: “The city has an amazing sexiness to it. Amsterdam is the no. 1 brand of the Netherlands.” However, not all is cool in Amsterdam. “It’s lacking a culture of venture capital: Dutch investors tend to talk but not give (much). We need to encourage them with a dash of internationality. Bring international investors to the Netherlands to set the right example.”
Amsterdam has an amazing sexiness to it
“Boost the investment climate: parties, company founders and investors should think bigger. Bringing together influential Dutch people with international investors is a great way to initiate a change of culture. I think the Amsterdam Capital Week can make that difference, and must retain to that effort on a long-term basis.”
Josephine Meijer works at marketing & communications at StartupAmsterdam.
Frontpage image: Flickr