Be fair and stand out – Pro tips for investors from investor
November 26, 2019
[BLOG] Christian Jantzen is one of the most active investors in the New Nordic region. After he lived in all the major cities in the region, he relocated to London to help his portfolio companies get access to the potential future investors. Read Christian's pro tips on how to be a successful investor while being founder friendly.
Hi Christian! Tell us about yourself
Hi there! I run Futuristic, which is a $4 million pre-seed fund investing at the very earliest stages in the Nordics. I have a background as an entrepreneur, starting a couple of companies before I started investing. I started my first company when I was 20 and most recently started and raised funding for a startup in 2016. It was after that experience that I decided to become an investor. I’ve recently moved to London, so a lot of the value I provide for Nordic startups today, is in helping them connect with international VCs for their future rounds. I’m always on the lookout for new deals in The Nordics and have to date invested in 5 Finnish companies (out of +20).
What made you become an investor?
When I started my fund in 2017, The Nordics was a very different place, and I’m constantly amazed at how fast things have developed. Back then, raising capital to get started was not as trivial as today, and I found it even harder to find people with entrepreneurial backgrounds who understood the ecosystem when I raised angel capital for my own company. That motivated me to start a different type of early-stage fund, that was geared to push the best founders in the region to be super ambitious and help them with the initial steps on their journey to build global category-defining companies.
What would you do differently now compared to your early stages as an investor?
I would have been more patient with making investments in the early days. As an investor, you need to meet hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs, before you start to get a feeling for what type of personalities you think can build great companies. Also, it’s essential to have a strong differentiator when investing today. Money is luckily no longer scarce, and it’s become a commodity for good entrepreneurs. Founders are the real superstars, and you are the one who needs to convince them to take you on board.
Today I’m a lot more critical when it comes to investing. I’ve made my mistakes and meet fewer founders, but focus my time on the ones I believe can build the next Supercell or Spotify. I spend a lot more time thinking about how I can add value to my portfolio, continually expanding and deepening my network of people who can help my entrepreneurs be successful. I believe that long-term, the best way to be successful as an investor is to obsess about adding value to your portfolio founders.
In a nutshell: your pro tips to Nordic investors
1) Stand out from the crowd. Being a member of an angel network is excellent, but after all, remember that you need your own brand to win the best deals. Things like being active on social media, having a website, sharing your thoughts via blog posts have all helped me a lot.
2) Have a long-term strategy. In this industry, getting to meaningful returns is going to take at least five years, and probably closer to ten. Don’t try to rush things by investing all your money in three months or by being impatient with your entrepreneurs. Good investors know that this is a long-term game where your efforts and values compound over time. Lean into that.
3) Remember: your reputation is everything. How you treat founders and other investors matter. Information travels very fast these days, so play nice and don’t screw people over, especially not founders. Before you know it, everyone in your city will know not to take money from you. On the contrary, if you behave well, everyone will know equally well to approach you for their next big company.
I’ve outlined a longer post on all the mistakes I made in my first year as an investor. Maybe there are some helpful learnings in here.
About the author
Christian Jantzen runs Futuristic.vc, a micro-fund investing in Nordic pre-seed companies. He has previously started a couple of companies, with Futuristic being his third. Graduated from Aarhus University with a masters degree in Finance and spent part of his degree at Stanford. He has lived in all major cities in the New Nordic region to gain deal flow and getting to know the ecosystem.