A Polish who studied and worked in Germany (and in the UK), a multilanguage speaker, a tech lover, a blogger, Pawel Chudzinski of Point Nine Capital is one of the most active startup investors on the Berlin scene. He accepted to answer my questions.
FinSMEs: Who are you? What’s your background?
Pawel: I come from Poland and I went to Germany when I was 17. I studied here in Germany. After I started working for a bank, then Frankfurt, London, which I left in 2009. I’ve always loved technology and during my studies and my professional life I had the opportunity to meet with people linked to the startup envirnments.
In 2009, I had the opportunity to transform my passions into a work co-founding Team Europe.
In 2011, I co-founded Point Nine Capital along with Cristoph Janz.
FinSMEs: What’s Point Nine Capital? Which is the investment strategy?
Pawel: Point Nine Capitat is an early stage investment fund based in Berlin. We invest a few hundred thousands euros in any company. We are very interested in startups working on online software, software as a services, marketplaces, financial services, etc.
FinSMEs: Was it hard to raise the latest fund in this particular time for Europe? The crisis, you know…
Pawel: It took some times, and of course it did’t happen overnight, it was challenging but we got it.
FinSMEs: Was it harder than raising the first fund?
Pawel: Yes, it was different because this latest fund is much bigger. The first fund was €6m. This one amounts to €40m. Some investors are the same, but there are many new investors.
FinSMEs: Which is your personal approach with founders? What do you want to see in them? What don’t you want to see?
Pawel: Very hard to say. They can be young or old, we don’t care. We work with people with no or a lot of experience but 100% committed, who really want to do something meaningful to build a great company. We tipically work with teams so it is very rare we invest in one single person. We also like distributed teams, people who work from home. We are very flexible on that. We want to see guys who are very good on what they do, ready to focus on something for many years.
FinSMEs: What do you think about startup failure?
Pawel: The majority of startups fail. It’s part of the game somehow. It’s not nice but it’s like learning for everyone.
FinSMEs: Berlin is taking the lead as a community to grow startups in Europe…In your opinion, which are the reasons behind it?
Pawel: Berlin is a big city, it is the capital of the biggest economy in Europe. It has a long time of tradition of creativity. It is the right place for creative people, not for standard people. It has been attractive for this kind of people for a long time, artists, designers, a lot of crazy guys. It’s also very cheap and nice to live, attractive for lots of clubs and museums, and over the last five/ten years it has been increasingly attractive for entrepreneurs and startup founders. It’s been going for many years but in the last three years we can see it has reached the critical mass and it is becoming to work as a cluster. The availability of capital helped this process.
FinSMEs: Capital or people. What matter most?
Pawel: There’s need of both but people are more important!
From Pawel’s blog: Approaching VC’s – DO’s and DON’Ts