Building a €500k angel investment syndicate for the Slush100 winner - Interview with lead angel Pontus Stråhlman
Europe’s largest investment event Slush held in Helsinki 30 Nov. - 1 Dec. ended with a massive pitch final, presenting four startups which were chosen from 100 competitors. The finalists were Shipwallet, SendBird, SketchOn Inc and the winner CybelAngel from France, Paris, creating Big Data solutions to solve cybersecurity issues.
For the third year, the winner is offered an equity investment prize of 500 000 euros arranged by the Finnish Business Angel Network and the EVLI Bank. In addition, PwC and Mäkitalo Rantanen & Co support the winner by providing their services to the value of 10 000 euros each. The angel syndicate consists of over 40 business angels lead by FiBAN’s board member business angel Pontus Stråhlman.
First, what are your feelings about the winner CybelAngel?
I’m really excited about the team and I also think they are a perfect fit for angels as well. They seem to have a killer execution skill and have already found a proper way of solving their customer problem giving them competitive advantage. The figures are already impressive, though they still have a path to go before profitability. I also find that they had by far the best pitch.
We had a great dinner after the finals with the team and our investor group celebrating their victory and getting to know each other better. We had a great evening with good discussions.
What was the background for you offering an investment award of €500.000 in the form of an angel syndicate?
Three years ago, Slush contacted us with their interest to spice up the finals and we came up with the model to offer the winner an investment award, that time lead by our previous FiBAN chairman Riku Asikainen. It really made the finals magical and FiBAN has continued with that now for the third year. This year I had the honor to lead the building of the syndicate and naturally I’m excited to discuss the possibility to invest in the winner of such a big event as Slush. This is also our way to support Slush and highlight the major role of active investing at Slush, it is truly the best investment event in Europe, even in the world!
Was it a difficult task to gather the syndicate, when you didn’t know the winner?
We have more than 40 angels on board which I’ve selected. I was able to gather some of the leading Nordic angels to join and together with them we gathered a group of several experienced business angels (see list below). The last investors in the syndicate were closed already 5 minutes after Slush’s pre-event Investor Day had started and after this I had to turn down several interested.
Of course, I had to do my scouting in the beginning to get the group together and there were several who weren’t able to fit this investment model in their portfolio as they don’t know the investment target. There are similar kind of investment awards around the world and with the reputation of Slush, the investment is considered an excellent way to diversify your portfolio.
The angel syndicate will also actively communicate with each other through our internal communication tool sharing the latest best practices about business angel investing.
How does the investment process go on after the winner is now chosen?
We are now discussing the closer details with CybelAngel and will announce closer details separately.
How do you see that the angel syndicate and the €500k will help the company in their growth?
CybelAngel already has an angel investor previously so they have the culture for angels. There is more and more cross-border angel activity and I believe our international angel syndicate could be very helpful especially in their goals for international growth.
We’re really looking forward to this!
Some of the angels joining the investment syndicate
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