What It Means To Be A Product-Driven VC
Over the last three years, we have reviewed more than 4500 projects and met with over 1500 entrepreneurs spread across Europe and the US. Having a rather small investment team, we consider ourselves lucky to have been able to see so many diverse and inspiring companies. One of our key assets to attract great entrepreneurs is our in-house, kick-ass platform enabling entrepreneurs to apply for funding with us. Yes, we do have developers working at daphni.
At first glance, you could think that an automatic process minimizes the human touch and that it’s just an excuse for us to practice our foosball skills while having the job done by machines. On the contrary, we are deeply convinced that the platform allows us to meet with more entrepreneurs and create better relationships with them. The platform is a pure value-added element that enables us to evolve as a VC and differentiate ourselves within this competitive industry.
I assume that the word application form doesn’t ring bells of joy for you? Well, I promise that we made it smoother than applying for a social security number (we can’t compete with India on this, but still…). Entrepreneurs spend only minutes filling out our form. That’s basically quicker than shooting us an email! This is not even the best part — what I love and am most proud about with this process is that it allows us to give quick answers. Decks won’t get lost in a full inbox and entrepreneurs will receive unbiased feedback from the whole team within two weeks. Based on feedback about us — this is one of the aspects entrepreneurs appreciate the most, even if we decide not to move forward with them.
Moreover, our platform is accessible to our community, aka. the daphnipolis, of 300+ investors, portfolio founders, sector experts and academics spread across Europe, the US and Asia. Having highly skilled experts onboard, who share their insights on the market, product, management and team, enables us to truly qualify all deals we review. As a result, we can improve our decision making and remove personal biases. For entrepreneurs, this means that they have the opportunity to catch the attention of sector experts, find potential individual investors or customers and leverage their knowledge about a specific market or competitive landscape.
I may be biased but, I’m a huge fan of our community as the members’ willingness to help entrepreneurs and share their market expertise, experience and network are stunningly high. Even if daphni declines an opportunity, the community can and do, engage with companies we have explored. This by sharing ideas and raising questions, helping entrepreneurs to avoid mistakes, solving daily issues as well as getting up to scale quickly.
Now, you’re probably thinking that an entrepreneur could hesitate about applying if our whole community gets access to the information. There might be competitors in the community who could display and leak valuable information. Guess what? We thought about this too. All members need to declare themselves as non-conflicted when opening a project, so there is nothing to worry about — the privacy of the entrepreneurs is of outmost importance to us.
We strongly believe that collective intelligence through transparency and collaboration will improve our investment process and our capabilities to qualify the deal flow. Not only does it help us to grow as a VC, but it also enhances the process for the entrepreneurs looking to raise money.
Last, but not least, data makes us better. We are operating in a constantly changing market where we need to broaden our mindsets and expect to be surprised. By reviewing tons of projects on the platform, analyzing the data it contains and meeting with inspiring entrepreneurs, we are constantly updated about current and upcoming business trends. All together, this means we can, with a humble heart, envision future innovation and spot details and patterns we otherwise wouldn’t have. We think that this strengthens the human aspect of our work as we ask ourselves questions that otherwise would never have entered our minds. If you’re asking me — I think that this is what makes daphni strong.
Aurélie Van Peteghem.
Head of Community // daphni