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People matter most: SEE investors share their lessons learned in 2021

SEE investors lessons
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Being an investor in 2021 has come with a lot of advantages and disadvantages. One is the excitement of new ventures, the other is the ever-changing market. In the young Romanian ecosystem, VC funding has been rising, with over €135M funds attracted by local startups in almost 100 rounds this year. 

To be able to move forward, it’s good to look at the past and see the importance of people, communities, and building harmonious relationships. So we rounded up five Angel Investors from the SEE region to share their key lessons of the year. 

Feel free to also share a key lesson in the comment section below.  

#1 Difficult times reveal strong teams

People matter most: SEE investors share their lessons learned in 2021,

“Corona was a blessing in disguise, even for businesses that took a hit during that period. The strongest ones adjusted, survived, and then thrived. Thankfully, most of our portfolio companies were in that category where the teams showed grit and emerged much stronger. The lesson is that difficult times reveal strong teams and help build great companies,” Apostolos Apostolakis, co-founder of VentureFriends.

#2 People make all the difference

People matter most: SEE investors share their lessons learned in 2021,

“All our companies survived, but the ones that did best, the ones that took lessons from the crisis and went on being stronger, were the ones with the best people, best teams, with strong, clever, and empathetic leaders, binding, gluing everyone together and leading with resilience through the bumpy road. So, people make a difference,” Stanimir Vassilev, investor and member of the Board of Directors at Easy Payment Services Ltd. 

#3 Building harmonious relationships

SEE investors lessons

“It’s possible to think up amazing plans and make them real in harmony with the ecosystem you’re part of. We’ve grown exponentially, as an angel group, more or less doubling the amount invested by our members every six months. We’re delighted to have met incredible startup founders as well as fellow investors, whose achievements and plans fully deserve all the support we can offer,” Ciprian Man, co-founder of Growceanu Angel Investment. 

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#4 You can invest without meeting in person, but deals take much longer to close

SEE investors lessons

“Not sure if I have a lesson learned this year; it was about being reminded about the continuing themes from 2020: a surprising number of interesting startups are being created each year; it is possible to invest without meeting a team in person, but it is not as desirable as deals take much longer to close than anyone wants; founders and investors valuations are often too high without plausible reasons; probably due to too much money in the market and too little pushback from investors,” Emmett King, co-founder of Transylvania Angels Network (T.A.N.).

#5 Founders need to valorize their assets and get endorsements

SEE investors lessons

“There are a few lessons that I’ve learned or validated this year:

  1. Investing in a startup is mainly investing in people, respectively, in good teams. When you look to invest in a certain startup you need to find the right team driven by passion and common goals related to ideas or products that are going to be scaled. 
  2. The most effective and smart founders are the ones that valorize the startup assets, starting with the stakeholders and advisors that have joined the startups, but also the image and network.
  3. Scaling a startup product cannot be done without some good and relevant strategic partnerships. Once you are new in a certain market as a startup, you need to have a “big brother” or a relevant name in your vertical to bring you endorsement and traction.
  4. Being in a young local startup ecosystem, I have learned to trust my gut about how to do things in different local startups projects because other advisors, investors, or actors in the market are more “mature”. Furthermore, I would like to syndicate with other investors from my ecosystem.
  5. The “Silicon Valley Path” is good, but it should be adjusted based on our deeply specific cultural and entrepreneurial mindset,” Florin M. Pop, founder of Primainvest Capital Management. 
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>>> Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn, as the American author John C. Maxwell says. Read here about a few founders’ lessons on failure. <<<

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive with 10+ years of experience as a freelance writer based in Bucharest, Romania. Her mission is to report internationally on the amazing progress of the local startup ecosystem while bringing into focus topics such as diversity in business cultures and women in tech; mental health, work-life balance, and the future. Of what? Everything! As a former solopreneur and a full-time mom, she strives to learn something new every day to share with the world. #nevernotlearning