Angel investor Vera Kretschmar knows a speculative fundraising pitch when she sees one. And it’s all good. “If you’re in the business of getting a big valuation for your tech start up and exiting without ever building a product, then that’s fine,” she says. “But it’s not always for me. I look for something more old school – people who believe in their product and have already developed it in some way and shown that it can make money.”
Brands need to be real when looking for venture capital money, adds Vera. “There’s a big difference between being a professional fundraiser and being the passionate founder of a company you are truly invested in,” says the German-born Chinese Indonesian, whose journey through corporate and on to personal entrepreneurial projects has seen her build several successful businesses. “The difference I look for is true passion in a project that has shown its potential through actual results and offers a path for growth,” she says.
As a Managing Director for Singapore-based boutique investment banking advisory firm Ivory Capital Asia, Vera focus on Ivory’s real estate investments and assignments.
“I think there are several ways to look at investing in a company,” says Vera. “You can straight up look at the numbers, but I always look at the founder, and where the business could go. And I typically tend to invest in things that I like.”
Women-Run Start Ups
Included on Vera’s radar are women-run startups. “I feel that it is a little disingenuous to try to promote a business that I have zero knowledge of,” she says. “I prefer to have something to talk about that I’m actually interested in. So I found that, for me, my niche is just things that I personally like.”
These investments to date have included Vie – Live Life Better, founded by Sabrina Villard, which helps users set consistent habits, interprets daily moods and encourages a better mental, emotional and physcial wellbeing throughout the day. “Vie delivers awareness and strategies to make your day better”, says Vera.
“From waking to falling asleep, Vie acts to help you better organise your world as you feel it, prompts you to take actions and make time for yourself. Especially at those times when we all forget to take care of ourselves.”
Fashion brand Perfect Moment is another of her ongoing investments. “Perfect Moment was born in the mountains of Chamonix. It’s a technical sportswear brand masterminded by a former French World Cup skier turned extreme sports filmmaker. Perfect Moment offers high-performance luxury ski wear that makes a major style statement – for perfect moments on the slopes and in the city.”
What She Looks For In A Start-Up
“I have been investing in women-run startups for some time,” says Vera, “because, you know, most of the time it’s the chemical plants that are very boring and unsexy that make money, but I just feel that my strategy is what works for me. If I like the product, my thinking is that others will like it too.”
Foreseeing future trends is also imperative in angel investing, she adds. “If it’s a product that I think is going to be really useful, like, let’s say, plant-based foods, then I can see it will fit with our collective move into a more healthy environment.”
Founders and shareholders are key. “I spend some time with the founders and look at the products,” says Vera. “I’m looking for a good shareholder group that is in tune and passionate about their product. What’s their vision? Does it scan with future trends?”
Best Ways To Seek Investment from An Angel
“There are many ways to approach an angel investor,” says Vera. “What I look for is a general focus on the business first. If you’re looking for risk-loaded venture capital funds, and your primary goal is fundraising for a big market play, then that’s not always for me. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Generally for angel investors that is not key. What is key is a demonstration of the ability of the product to generate revenue based on its appeal in the marketplace.”
How should we approach a pitch to an angel investor? “Whatever you are looking for in terms of investment,” says Vera, “I think the best way to get funding is to be honest, be transparent, and be real with where you are in terms of your product.”
“What’s your go-to-market strategy? How are you going to make money, what are the next stages and who are your partners? Do you know your business inside out, do you know your competitors and your market landscape? How are you going to differentiate yourself in that market, and what’s your strategy for that?”
It’s a cold hard world out there, says Vera. “At the end of the day, I’m risking my money to give it to someone who maybe isn’t risking theirs. So I need to know that the product and strategy are good, that the team is on it, and that they are also invested in the success of the venture. After that I’m in.”