Global Ventures Summit is coming to Luxembourg on November 20th -21st, and with it will come more than 40+ seasoned Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists, looking to find opportunities in the European startup ecosystem.
One of these investors, Alex Estevez of Accel, sat down with Lisa Burke of RTL Today to discuss his background, Accel's approach to investment, and what he'll be looking for in Luxembourg.
"The academic studies, and the reality of capitalism and entrepreneurship, has demonstrated how important entreupeneurship is to an environment's socioeconomic well-being, and to the improvement of the socioeconomic status of regions like Luxembourg."
Alex, can you tell us a little about yourself and about your role as a Venture Partner with Accel Partners?
Well it is my privilege to be part of this great conference and gathering that you invited me too and I am very excited about attending Luxembourg for the first time.
As Venture Partner for Accel, my role is twofold:
One is to help source opportunities for the Accel family of investments, primarily on the East coast of the United States. Secondly I leverage my range of experience in terms of operating software companies, and best practices in that regard, to help these great companies that have joined the Accel family to scale to the potential they represent.
I spend the majority of my time helping our CEOs and executive teams find opportunities for expanding growth and scale.
You've been quoted as saying "the capital moves where the opportunity is". What do you hope to find here in Luxembourg?
Accel is heavily focus on the entrepreneur over the location or the brand. We have investments all over the world, from Australia where I was CFO at Atlassian Software, to Flipkart India , to Supercell in Europe. UiPath is another one where I have been recently involved. We really have a passion for pursuing the entrepreneur - wherever that opportunity may be.
What excites me is - part of Accel’s thesis - that there is a great deal of opportunity in Europe with this next wave of evolution of SaaS companies. So we've been more assertive than perhaps in the past in pursuing those entrepreneurs that reside in Europe.
Do you think that Europe lags behind the US or China in some of the tech industries?
Well I don’t think it is a fair characterization. I think that some of the things that Europe has done around digital rights and privacy is actually perhaps more progressive than in other areas. There have been some systemic inhibitors to entrepreneurship and risk taking that Europe is starting to see differently now and we welcome that opportunity for increased entrepreneurship in the European region.
Where do you think the inhibitors were that are now being lifted?
Well there are a combination of different factors. There is definitely a cultural ramifications, a long history of perhaps less risk appetite than in the US for example, where pioneers have defined part of the US experience. The academic studies, and the reality of capitalism and entrepreneurship, has demonstrated how important entrepreneurship is to an environment's socioeconomic well-being, and to the improvement of the socioeconomic status of regions like Luxembourg. And so I think there is more and more evidence of the importance of entrepreneurship to a regions socioeconomic quality of life.
What type of people do you want to meet in Luxembourg? What kind of introduction should they approach you with? What kind of business are you looking for?
I think at Accel we are pretty open-minded in terms of opportunities that are presented to us. Taking that humble, open approach and being listening-oriented is important to us culturally. It’s very difficult with entrepreneurs to really boil-down the problem that they are solving and why they are the best in the world at solving it. It is very difficult to be succinct on those points, but I would work as getting it down into 30 seconds, and then evidence to support the thesis. The more established the idea or the opportunity is, the more seriously we can take it. We love to look at things across the spectrum, but if they're at a point of 10 million ARR in euros, or some kind of critical mass in terms of usual adoption, that certainly gets our attention, that it’s more than just an idea - that there’s been market adoption that is supporting that thesis.
Thinking back to your journey, how do you in your role figure out the right choices, the right decisions are? What do you process in your own mind to make the best choices?
The 3 things that are important to me as either an operator or as an investor:
- The first is that you have customer passion. That this is a company where customers have a real excitement about the solution. I see those as data points. I don’t care where they are and I don’t care how big they are. Customer enthusiasm is critical especially in this environment of transparent information. Bad news travels rapidly, and good news travel quickly now so I think that that customer embrace is a very important indicator
- The second point is around product. Every company I have been with has started with a very strong product team, and I think product excellence starts with great engineering. There is a trash heap of great products on the Bay Area that were never able to sell, so I think it is necessary but not sufficient, but I always start with product excellence, I think that is really important.
- And the third one is a management team, and particularly a CEO, that is listening oriented, that listens carefully to the customers, not just what they want, or say they want, but what they actually need. That bias toward helpfulness and empathy and listening orientation is usually an ingredient for success.
Thank you for your time and we will see you in a few weeks!
Watch the full video with Alex here:
The Global Ventures Summit was created to connect influencers of the highest growth start-up ecosystems in the world. We enable innovative start-ups to access venture capital professionals, funded technology start-up founders, and policy makers in the freshest tech scenes on the planet. GVSummit is a business unit of Parkpine Capital.