“I am a rookie investor, but with enough management experience and willingness to invest as I see fit, so that I can contribute beyond just capital.”
Daniel Mereuta has made his career in two large business process outsourcing (BPO) companies and has more than 16 years of management experience. In his opinion, the most valuable lesson in the midst of the technology revolution is that the greatest untapped value still lies in people.
Since Daniel is one of SeedBlink's early adopters, we were keen to learn more about his perspectives as a startup investor.
What does "investing" mean to you?
To me, investing means learning, first and foremost. The process of analysing a pitch deck, listening to so many interesting ideas, and meeting with different founders always gives me opportunities to actively learn, but it also gives me joy and energy. When I invest or even just evaluate an opportunity, I like to think that I am already seeing a return on my investment. Please do not get me wrong, I still want to make great returns, but I have gotten into the habit of not making profits the main purpose of naturally risky investments, and rather viewing them as journeys with many other benefits.
When did you start investing in startups and how many companies do you have in your portfolio now?
I started investing in startups about two years ago, so I consider myself a "rookie". However, I do have some experience with startups from the perspective of the company itself, having had the opportunity to run a startup almost from the beginning and going through various stages of maturity over the next nine years. This helps me understand the challenges founders face a little better and identify possible paths and actions to take. I currently have 6 companies in my portfolio, one of which I have supported in a follow-on round, and another we are in the process of funding the next round and I am in the process of investing in the seventh company. My goal is not to have a large number of startups, but rather enough capital to pursue the best-performing companies.
Do you think it is important to have a diversified portfolio?
Yes, of course, I think that's one of the golden rules. But I value diversification not only in terms of vertical markets or industries but also in terms of potential roles. I think it's good for an investor to take a more active role in some of their investments at some point, to the extent possible.
What has been one of the most impactful investments you have made to date?
Without the intention of unfair promotion for the sake of the interview, I think my investment in SeedBlink was the most impactful to date. I was one of the early adopters of the platform, and I invested in a few companies, contributing whenever I had the opportunity. I also invested in the first round of SeedBlink, and I later invested in the Series A. Going back to my main learning objective, SeedBlink has helped me a lot with that and I feel like I am growing along with the company. But the time when I can turn a profit is yet to come, no pressure :)
What do you look for when evaluating a startup - what are the most important indicators for you that convince you to invest?
I think like most investors, I look at the founders and the team first and foremost. I am not going to list all the required skills and personal attributes, I think we are all pretty much looking for the same thing, but what I like to see in founders is a willingness to learn and a certain humbleness that should come with it. One thing that definitely raises a big red flag with me is founders who have no money invested in their companies at all. It may seem strange, but I have met founders like that. I have worked for companies that I would have loved to invest in but did not have the opportunity, so I have a hard time accepting founders who do not invest at all.
I'd like to say I have developed an investment thesis, but while I am working on it, I do not really have one yet. Of course, I have made investments in areas I am more familiar with, but I have also made investments in some areas where I have no expertise.
How involved are you in the development of a start-up?
I usually try to be involved in all of my investments, whether it's by referring potential clients or simply offering advice. However, it depends on the type of investment; obviously with some crowd investments it's more difficult. There are startups where I play a more active role, as an advisor or as a business angel, but they are usually within my area of expertise. However, this is an important topic because I think it is underdeveloped in our ecosystem. I think most startups fail or have trouble executing because the founders are often not as experienced and do not have the resources to surround themselves with the necessary professionals. I also do not see any operational VC active in our market. This is where I see an opportunity, and it is my dream to maybe build a small operational VC after this learning phase to fill this need.
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By Bianca Iulia Simion
PublishedAugust 23, 2021
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