Beginner's Mind

EP125 - Dan Bowyer: Revolutionizing Ventures: Dan Bowyer's Blueprint for Disruptive Success

February 19, 2024 Christian Soschner Season 5 Episode 5
Beginner's Mind
EP125 - Dan Bowyer: Revolutionizing Ventures: Dan Bowyer's Blueprint for Disruptive Success
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Show Notes Transcript

πŸš€ Revolutionizing the Game: Dan Bowyer's Vision for the Future of Venture Capital!

In this compelling episode, join us as we unravel the insights and strategies of Dan Bowyer, a pioneering force in the venture capital world with SuperSeed VC. Discover how his unique approach is not just reshaping, but revolutionizing how startups navigate the journey from conception to global impact.

πŸŽ™οΈ What's in the Episode:
1️⃣ Disrupting Traditional Enterprises: Dan shares his mission to challenge the status quo, focusing on startups that enhance productivity and efficiency.
2️⃣ The SuperSeed Approach: Learn about SuperSeed VC's innovative strategy in investing early in technical founders, transforming how the world works.
3️⃣ Building Impactful Businesses: Insights into how Dan Bowyer and SuperSeed VC are fostering companies that prioritize both profitability and positive societal impact.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’Ό About Dan Bowyer:
With over 20 years of entrepreneurial and investing experience, Dan Bowyer is a co-founder and partner at SuperSeed VC, focusing on B2B, European AI-first startups. His passion lies in aiding technical founders to navigate the early stages of their journey, ensuring they not only achieve financial success but also make a meaningful impact in their sectors and beyond. Dan's philosophy is centered around making money and doing good, setting a new standard in the venture capital ecosystem.

πŸŽ₯ Tune in to this insightful episode to delve into the visionary world of venture capital with Dan Bowyer. Discover the future of startup success and innovation with SuperSeed VC.

πŸ’‘ LINKS TO MORE CONTENT
Host: Christian Soschner

πŸ“Œ Quotes:
(00:06:18) "My passion is reflecting to founders the realities of raising capital."
(00:20:55) "I discovered a thousand ways not to build a lightbulb."
(00:36:52) "I just want to mess with enterprise, to truly disrupt the productivity and efficiency."
(01:02:49) "We care that it transforms sectors, not about the sector itself."
(01:04:24) "We use client engagement as a diligence process to gauge market pull."
(01:22:37) "Solve problems. If you're not solving problems every board meeting, it's wrong."
(01:32:02) "Make money and do good. Whether you're a founder or investor, improve the world."

⏰ Timestamps:
(00:03:00) The Genesis of a Venture Capitalist: Dan Bowyer's Diverse Path
(00:10:31) Tech Transformation: From Pop Star to Tech Savant
(00:18:57) The Paradox of Success and the Joy of Building
(00:21:17) Navigating Failures: The Pathway to Innovation
(00:27:16) Europe's Reluctance to Risk and Its Global Impact
(00:32:56) Harnessing European Talent and Innovation for Global Leadership
(00:40:01) Bridging the Gap: Venture Capital and Societal Change
(00:46:24) Defining True Entrepreneurship: Disruption and Transformation
(00:51:49) Transforming Enterprise: Beyond Destruction to Innovation
(00:59:23) The Evolution of Industry Giants: A Look Ahead
(01:04:24) Validating Market Pull Through Founder Diligence
(01:09:55) Deep Tech: Defining the Future Beyond Traditional Business Models
(01:14:11) Betting on World-Class Teams to Solve AI Challenges
(01:22:37) The Core Role of a Board: Problem Solving for Growth

Dive into this transformative discussion on venture capital, innovation, and making a positive impact. Remember to like, comment, and share to help grow our show and bring more insightful content like this to our community.

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00:00:00:00 - 00:00:14:03

Christian Soschner

Imagine a future where our startups not only strive for profitability, but also make a significant positive impact on society and the environment.

 

00:00:14:03 - 00:00:26:00

Christian Soschner

This vision isn't just aspirational. It's a reality that today's guest, Ben Boyer, is actively shaping for all strategic venture capitalism.

 

00:00:26:00 - 00:00:31:20

Dan Bowyer

It's about probabilistic thinking. Will they do it? Probably not. Is there a chance that they will solve this problem?

 

00:00:31:20 - 00:00:32:17

Dan Bowyer

Yes, there is.

 

00:00:32:17 - 00:00:39:04

Dan Bowyer

No problems. That's it. So if you're not solving problems every single board meeting, it's wrong.

 

00:00:39:05 - 00:00:40:07

Dan Bowyer

Change It

 

00:00:40:07 - 00:00:48:13

Christian Soschner

whether you're a founder, do good. If you're an investor, invest good, do good things, make the world a better place.

 

00:00:48:13 - 00:01:03:03

Christian Soschner

Then Boyer, a partner at Superset we see is an investment maestro with over two decades of experience in building, exiting and investing in startups.

 

00:01:03:05 - 00:01:26:18

Christian Soschner

Simplicity B.C. is at the forefront of championing European artificial intelligence first business to business startups, focusing on technical founders who are not just chasing profits, but are also dedicated to solving massive business problems and making the world more efficient, productive and generally a better place.

 

00:01:26:18 - 00:01:38:15

Christian Soschner

This episode is a treasure trove for chief executive officers and investors alike as we delve into five pivotal areas with ten

 

00:01:38:15 - 00:01:47:24

Christian Soschner

the significance of sales in the early growth of startups and the standing product market fit beyond conventional wisdom.

 

00:01:48:01 - 00:02:08:06

Christian Soschner

The evolving dynamics between founders and venture capitalists, exploring the potential and pitfalls in the realm of deep tech and dense, compelling vision for businesses to simultaneously generate profit and contribute positively to the world.

 

00:02:08:06 - 00:02:26:22

Christian Soschner

If you are a CEO or investor looking to align profitability with positive societal impact but cannot afford to miss this episode, make sure to subscribe, comment and share this podcast.

 

00:02:26:24 - 00:02:35:12

Christian Soschner

Your engagement is in when you are able in helping me to provide more insightful content like this free of charge.

 

00:02:35:12 - 00:02:43:01

Christian Soschner

Prepare to be inspired by the full episode where Den Boyo shares his invaluable insights and experiences.

 

00:02:43:01 - 00:02:53:01

Christian Soschner

This isn't just about venture capital. It's about crafting a future where business is frightened by being forces for good.

 

00:02:53:01 - 00:02:56:23

Christian Soschner

Super. Let's get rolling. It's good to see you here. Yeah. So starting to.

 

00:02:56:23 - 00:03:07:01

Dan Bowyer

Livestream doing this. What's what's your. Why did you start? What was that? What was the kind of the moment in the in the pub when you do you know what I'm going to start a book.

 

00:03:07:01 - 00:03:41:19

Christian Soschner

The I was playing around 50 set year for some time before 2020, but the thing was I'm an executive in life sense companies. I help founders grow into businesses into hopefully IPOs or sound acquisitions. And in the P2P environment, basically before 2020, nobody was interested in doing podcasts or anything. And social media, the general reception, whenever I tried to push in this direction, the general response I got back was We do serious business.

 

00:03:41:21 - 00:04:06:12

Christian Soschner

The Internet's my friend, is for kids and what should I do? I mean, you just can't go with the flow and don't pursue some ideas when there is no market, then the pandemic hit, and in March 2020, I think the first lockdown was in Australia. It was around March 1617. Yeah, and a week later there was the bio Europe in Paris.

 

00:04:06:16 - 00:04:35:23

Christian Soschner

Grant Bio Europe is one of the largest gatherings of the farm industry, life science industry, digital health and everything around that. And meanwhile also artificial intelligence. And people were confused because mean nobody in the industry or almost nobody had any experience with some cards, video cards, podcasting, social media. But they still had the need to engage with people to connect and I just used that dynamic in the industry.

 

00:04:36:00 - 00:05:04:01

Christian Soschner

Bio and digital went virtual. They had a lot of some cars. I saw that sometimes when someone opened a camera on a very old laptop, the camera was pointing up. I had seen their nostrils, so basically it was not a very nice picture in the headlights. It's just strange to just try it when we have the conversation. Anyway, since we are on Zoom now, I recorded I publish it on LinkedIn and some podcast platforms.

 

00:05:04:03 - 00:05:07:00

Christian Soschner

Eventually maybe something comes out of it.

 

00:05:07:02 - 00:05:08:10

Dan Bowyer

But are you enjoying it?

 

00:05:08:12 - 00:05:09:18

Christian Soschner

I'm enjoying it very much.

 

00:05:09:18 - 00:05:14:16

Dan Bowyer

It all matters, I think. I think as long as you're enjoying, I don't think anything else matters. To be fair.

 

00:05:14:18 - 00:05:26:12

Christian Soschner

I can invite great people, superstars like you to my podcast, have a conversation, learn from your experiences via your own podcast.

 

00:05:26:12 - 00:05:28:06

Dan Bowyer

I the

 

00:05:28:06 - 00:05:49:21

Dan Bowyer

reason that I'm in venture capital is that I wanted to change it so maybe we'll talk about this later, but then realizing that I you can't change your venture capital is a very specific beast for a very specific purpose. But what I can do is having spent 24 years on the other side of the desk, I can reflect to the founder community because I'm a founder by heart that

 

00:05:49:21 - 00:05:51:03

Dan Bowyer

this is what's going on.

 

00:05:51:06 - 00:05:53:08

Dan Bowyer

This is what it is. This is what it isn't.

 

00:05:53:08 - 00:06:11:04

Dan Bowyer

This is when you should take venture capital cash. This is when you shouldn't take venture capital cash and just completely reflect that constantly. All my learnings, I write, I write every day and I share three or four times a week. I don't share everything because some of it is doesn't end well and some of it is a bit too contentious.

 

00:06:11:04 - 00:06:15:15

Dan Bowyer

And I don't mind being content. Yes, but some of it gets a little bit too edgy

 

00:06:15:15 - 00:06:31:02

Dan Bowyer

and I just try and reflect it. So that's all. So anything that my audience is, is the founder community and startups, anything that can reflect anything about raising capital. And that's that's my passion. That's, that's why I exist.

 

00:06:31:14 - 00:06:41:06

Christian Soschner

You have quite a unique journey from in the nineties. You've already tried from modeling music industry to tech. Yeah, to venture capital.

 

00:06:41:14 - 00:07:03:18

Dan Bowyer

Yeah. Run random as hell. I mean, I've always been unemployable, so I've never been I've never been able to get a regular job work in a bank. I'm not academic, so I don't have that very path driven. I'm going to study economics, I'm going to get into politics, I'm going to go and study whatever. I never had that.

 

00:07:03:18 - 00:07:25:16

Dan Bowyer

I never had any of those paths. So I'm pretty unemployable. And I've got a fairly fizzy brain where it's kind of bouncing around all over the place. So I've only ever been able to work for myself and I've only ever been. I've had the opportunity to do weird and wonderful things, like I was dating a girl who's sister was a photographer, took some photographs of us on holiday.

 

00:07:25:18 - 00:07:43:16

Dan Bowyer

Her best friend was a super high fashion photographer for Vogue, very famous for so I don't remember. She was allegedly a very famous cook for. And she said, I like that guy that's dating your sister. You should be a model. And so she said, look, why didn't you go to some of the agencies like I was 16? I don't want to do that.

 

00:07:43:18 - 00:08:04:04

Dan Bowyer

She said, No, go. I'm going to make you go. No, no, I'm fine. So I went to one agency once, which was models one where Davina McCall, if you look pretty, that no Davina McCall, But she's quite a famous celebrity in the UK. She was she hosted Big Brother, which I'm sure was a, was an Austrian and a German European product as well on TV.

 

00:08:04:06 - 00:08:16:12

Dan Bowyer

And she became my agent. She said, right, we're going to she basically took a Polaroid picture of me that was back in the days before. Digital is like what it was 1988 and kicked me out the door to go and see photographers. And I basically

 

00:08:16:12 - 00:08:21:20

Dan Bowyer

became an accidental teenage kind of kids tween model. And

 

00:08:21:20 - 00:08:28:05

Dan Bowyer

then I got an opportunity to go for a pop video, which wasn't A pop video is actually an audition for a pop band.

 

00:08:28:07 - 00:08:51:19

Dan Bowyer

And then Simon Cowell, who became an All Men all kind of all record company representative, said, Right, you're in a record. You're in a band. I mean, okay, fine. But I'm 18 at this. I'm 18 and 19. So all of these opportunities, weird and wonderful opportunities kind of came my way and I just took them. I'd always been raised to take every opportunity that comes, so I'd show up in a band.

 

00:08:51:19 - 00:09:07:11

Dan Bowyer

Sure, I'd be a model and say I didn't really want to be in the public eye. I've got no interest. I can't really sing or dance. I've got no interest in being on stage. But it happened and it was a wonderful opportunity and I did it for four years. And then I got to the point where I just couldn't live with myself and, I can't do it.

 

00:09:07:13 - 00:09:27:00

Dan Bowyer

This is not me. I don't enjoy this. I was starting to become quite successful. I mean, in France, we then we were starting to have number one hits in France and across Germany and in Japan was like, If I'm going to leave, I have to leave now because otherwise I'm going to be platinum handcuffed to this industry. So that was the early stage.

 

00:09:27:00 - 00:09:42:18

Dan Bowyer

And then I left and then I was like, What the hell do you do? And I was I was. I was lost. I had broken up with my girlfriend. She got the house and the car, and I had to give all my money back to the record company because I'd left our contracts early after one album. Not five.

 

00:09:42:20 - 00:10:05:19

Dan Bowyer

So I was poor and unpopular. And I went back and I moved back to my mum's house. I was like, Jesus, that was like four years of crazy and had to start again and then worked in bars, restaurants and ended up helping a friend build a build a learning center, set building networks and installing computers and and then teaching people how to use them.

 

00:10:05:23 - 00:10:24:10

Dan Bowyer

And then I went in and did my certifications and became a Windows and an Apple engineer. So I did both. Both strings and then just that was it. And then I was in love and this is like mid mid to late nineties. Now I know that was it. And I was just, I just love tech and this is what I'm supposed to be doing and here we are.

 

00:10:24:17 - 00:10:39:24

Christian Soschner

That's quite it. That's quite a journey. I was drawn to your profile because of your posts about venture capital and investing and learned during the preparation for this podcast that you were part of a band Multipart, which was basically I was a famous in Austria.

 

00:10:40:05 - 00:10:43:17

Dan Bowyer

Was that I we would go to countries and sometimes we'd

 

00:10:43:17 - 00:11:01:21

Dan Bowyer

have like crowds of ten 20,000. I didn't even know we'd released a single in France. So it was the weird. First time we went to Germany, I didn't even know that I thought we have to start again and there was already a following. It was quite unusual. Yeah, I mean, it's a different it's a different person, a guy.

 

00:11:01:21 - 00:11:22:15

Dan Bowyer

I'm 51 on Sunday and I was 18 to 22 in those crazy days and it's a whole different person. It's an E on a go. It's so it's, it's now nice to look back and it was fun and exciting and interesting. But at the time when you leave and you're in the roar of it, it was very it was quite it was quite troubling.

 

00:11:22:15 - 00:11:26:01

Dan Bowyer

But what an experience. I'm very I'm very grateful and privileged.

 

00:11:26:03 - 00:11:26:07

Christian Soschner

To

 

00:11:26:07 - 00:11:29:20

Christian Soschner

be in the same age group. I'm 49 and the nineties.

 

00:11:29:22 - 00:11:31:15

Dan Bowyer

We're young.

 

00:11:31:17 - 00:11:43:06

Christian Soschner

Yeah, that's absolutely true. It's absolutely true. And then after that, after the music industry, you moved towards Apple and Microsoft Tech. But what what was so attractive in this part for you?

 

00:11:43:06 - 00:12:02:21

Dan Bowyer

I mean, I kind of again, fell into it, but realized that tech I mean, obviously the Internet was very embryonic, like 90. I got my first kind of computer that was connect to the Internet, I think, in 95. And it was just so clumsy and useless and dial up. And it was it was like it was almost almost useless.

 

00:12:02:23 - 00:12:31:04

Dan Bowyer

But I was I was helping companies install equipment and then help their teams use it mainly for, you know, 10 to 100 employees. So they kind of they asked to the ends of the semi or SMB market, depending on your terminology. So I was installing networks installing what would primarily email systems, Microsoft exchange, the office suite. And then there were some weird and wonderful early early CRM tools and ERP systems.

 

00:12:31:04 - 00:12:54:23

Dan Bowyer

And we did a lot of satellite comms, so we installed a lot of the after, I think it was the second Iraq War, we installed a lot of the the rebuild SAT systems for the for the companies that went into Iraq to then go and rebuild all the infrastructure. So my business part of once was on on a roof installing satellite equipment for for for Internet access.

 

00:12:55:00 - 00:13:12:13

Dan Bowyer

And there were shots going through. So insurgents were shooting at the satellite dish as he's installing the holes in the dish. And it's like shit. And then went down. And then obviously when it hit away for a period of time and the teams as it had, it happens, they just shoot at us or they'll throw a bomb over the gate.

 

00:13:12:13 - 00:13:39:05

Dan Bowyer

And that was like their normality was like, This is absolutely nuts. But I'm digressing. So we did. Yeah, that whole hardware piece. And then very quickly I realized that the tin doesn't matter. The physical laptop, the physical network is all going to be pushed into the ether. It's all going to be cloud based. So early 2000 we started transitioning to selling selling i.t as a service, so literal equipment on a monthly fee and then helping teams manage it.

 

00:13:39:05 - 00:14:01:15

Dan Bowyer

So giving them a dashboard to then manage their whatever they had into that laptops, networks, files, storage, whatever it might be. And then I sold that to my partner in 2007. No, maybe slightly later, 2009 maybe. And because I kind of wanted to do other things now, I realized that the hardware was irrelevant and I didn't really like the business.

 

00:14:01:15 - 00:14:22:05

Dan Bowyer

All you can do is get people back to a state of normality or neutrality. You can never improve. So I wanted to use software to kind of improve and create productivity and efficiency, and that's when I kind of flipped into the startup world and the building software and the building B to be software world. And that was about two.

 

00:14:22:07 - 00:14:32:02

Dan Bowyer

Yeah, 27 to 10 was that kind of okay. Kit Doesn't matter anymore. It's actually cloud, it's actually software. And that's where that all began.

 

00:14:32:17 - 00:14:53:19

Christian Soschner

That is for fun time in the nineties, I remember that I tried to build something similar to Facebook with a friend that grew up in Syria. It was my rural areas and then we tried to pitch it to banks and people with money. They were quite confused because they said, We don't need that, we need the website. Can't you build a website for us so I can start out there?

 

00:14:53:21 - 00:15:08:14

Christian Soschner

But I'm curious to learn from your hear from us. I mean, in the nineties, why did you found a company about it to become an entrepreneur? I mean, wouldn't it the easier way you have been just an employee going to a car. Yeah my five stay home and in the evening.

 

00:15:08:19 - 00:15:33:10

Dan Bowyer

You're right I mean but then that's there's it fun. I mean that to me was never an option. Like, like I said, I'm unemployable. No one would employ me and I don't play nicely with other people. I'm quite hard to work with. I'm obnoxious and and strong willed and my brain bounces around from topic to topic. So I'm not I'm not easy and I don't fit in that box.

 

00:15:33:12 - 00:16:00:00

Dan Bowyer

So it was never an option. I mean, I, I just couldn't work. I mean, a lot of the companies that I served were serving corporates, so I would go in often as their tech rep and and be part of GlaxoSmithKline or American Express or Santander and see that head operations like there is no way that I could work in these little cubicles and do this microcosmic, part of this tiny cog in a massive pie is like I just couldn't do it.

 

00:16:00:00 - 00:16:14:15

Dan Bowyer

So it wasn't a choice. Not like I wanted to go. Do you know what? I really want to take a load off? I want to just go and work in corporate and earn a good salary and get a pension and get a health care plan and buy a nice house and marry Doris and move to the country. I couldn't that wasn't an option.

 

00:16:14:15 - 00:16:32:05

Dan Bowyer

So the only other option, I think a lot of entrepreneurs are like this. The only other option is to start your own business or build something new or try something new. And that always appealed to me. Always, as always, only ever appealed to me. So I've never I've never known any different and my brain doesn't work that way.

 

00:16:33:02 - 00:16:36:05

Christian Soschner

You have to build for companies. Yes. Yes.

 

00:16:36:07 - 00:17:00:05

Dan Bowyer

So we've done I've done more than four companies, managed to sell four. And listen, I mean, not for huge cash, but enough to travel the world, buy some things and have a nice life. But I think the the challenge that I have is that as soon as a company becomes operational, I get bored. So I tend to sell companies way too early to get involved, try something new, nothing to something.

 

00:17:00:07 - 00:17:19:11

Dan Bowyer

But then I'll sell them when they're doing a million or 2 million in revenue. And and in one night I literally pretty much gave away because I just I lose interest. I'm not really this is a bit of a funny thing to say as a venture capitalist, but I'm not really motivated by money. I'm motivated by founders building the next degree, the next level of innovation.

 

00:17:19:11 - 00:17:46:04

Dan Bowyer

The next thing is the later stage investors post me that will help them make money, take them to Series B and C and beyond, and hopefully healthy trade sales, hopefully IPO's. But I don't really care. I mean, I figure if my job is to get the bedrock of innovation supported the early early stage from nothing to something or kind of mid-stage seed I don't really care about anything else.

 

00:17:46:04 - 00:17:59:09

Dan Bowyer

So the businesses that I've sold were I mean there was nothing impressive in there. I sold a 90 services, I sold one business twice at a video interviewing platform, twice I built the VIP ticketing system for the Olympics. That

 

00:17:59:09 - 00:18:11:03

Dan Bowyer

was through Who were the big I.T. provider. really? Yeah. So I did. I built up almost like a social media war room for an advertising agency and

 

00:18:11:03 - 00:18:12:11

Dan Bowyer

then sold that to them.

 

00:18:12:13 - 00:18:28:19

Dan Bowyer

But I like messing around. As soon as a business becomes operational and it's coins in coins out and employ more people to do more things, I don't care, I've got no interest. So I obviously use the the four times actually, because it sounds impressive. It's really not impressive. It's just me dicking around.

 

00:18:28:22 - 00:18:50:01

Christian Soschner

well, I think it's impressive. I mean, we have similar experiences. I went to university. I was at the dream to have a degree of something and then decided to work for companies to learn better cooperation sense. The first shop I got in was Atlas. Basically after the merger. We been in 2000 right before the Internet bubble burst, and it wasn't M&A.

 

00:18:50:01 - 00:19:18:10

Christian Soschner

And instead of building a huge company and being part of that event straightaway laying people off, it's okay. Which leads me to the next question to failure. But I look in the corporate world, failure is absolutely negative. I mean, when people make mistakes, it's a huge problem in defined processes. You need to do things a certain way. When you look at the startup world, failure basically is the fuel for startups.

 

00:19:18:12 - 00:19:24:13

Christian Soschner

They need to go to certain kinds of development processes and it's not a frictionless

 

00:19:24:13 - 00:19:27:18

Christian Soschner

process. How do you see failure in companies?

 

00:19:27:20 - 00:19:53:01

Dan Bowyer

It needs a healthy dose of context. I think failure and not so much now. The failure had been and it was the I think it was the Zuckerberg era, like kind of mid 2000s where, you know, move fast and break things and fail fast and all these kind of super cool, trendy phrases came out of Silicon Valley. I don't think it's the whole picture.

 

00:19:53:01 - 00:20:23:18

Dan Bowyer

And I think it needs health, healthy doses of context. So we all fail every day, don't we? I mean, whatever we do, there's going to be failure points in any task that we take. And it's sometimes our own fault. Sometimes it's a third party, sometimes it's something completely out of our control. And so building a startup is about multiple mini failures or mini nose giveaways so that you can then start to test, iterate, direct, and then and then implement and then start to build out now.

 

00:20:24:05 - 00:20:49:01

Dan Bowyer

So the challenge you have is that, you know, failing as in closing a business is okay, and then you just start another I think it became it became too hackneyed and too cool and too sexy and it lost all meaning. But failure is a massive part of the startup world. It's it's I like being told no, I like failing at, you know, selling or failing at building a product or feature I think is important is it's what Edison say.

 

00:20:49:01 - 00:21:09:24

Dan Bowyer

I found a thousand ways not to build a light bulb or whatever that famous quote was all failures, but not really. It's about it's about navigating a road elsewhere. The no's are over here, but you start to navigate the tree of success. So failure in that context, I think is really healthy. This whole move fast break things, I think is died a bit now.

 

00:21:10:03 - 00:21:35:11

Dan Bowyer

I think that whole that whole essence I think is really unhealthy. But I don't hear founders or the startup community talking those terms so much. And also especially at the moment where lots of lots of startups and also lots of VCs are closing doors. So that whole, that whole kind of failure, being great, lauded in bold times is fine, but now we're in bad times.

 

00:21:35:11 - 00:21:43:19

Dan Bowyer

I think it's being suppressed and quite rightly so. It's not. It should never have been that. It should never have been that cool, sexy thing in the first place.

 

00:21:43:21 - 00:21:49:08

Christian Soschner

That that that the Times feel similar to 2000, 2001 or 2007 2008.

 

00:21:49:08 - 00:22:04:13

Christian Soschner

And I think there is a difference in culture between Central Europe where I am located. And you're in London, if I remember, right? Yes, yes. Yeah, I think the the environment in the United Kingdom is much more entrepreneur friendly than in in Central Europe.

 

00:22:04:15 - 00:22:34:00

Dan Bowyer

It's changing. I see the German government starting I mean, the French government have really stepped up their game and the German government because love or hate governments, we need that level of infrastructure support like tax incentive tax schemes, entrepreneur and found friendly business environments. And so we need we need government support, even though, you know, I'm quite negative about government on the whole, but we need that structure.

 

00:22:34:00 - 00:22:55:18

Dan Bowyer

So I think my sense is the Central Europe is starting to become more found a friend in starting to wake up to the fact that technology is going to save us from ourselves. And governments want their local all their people to be the center or part of the center of that universe. So we're all part of the solution.

 

00:22:55:20 - 00:23:18:19

Dan Bowyer

So I think that's a great thing. I think central is got a long way to go in England is we're so risk averse. I mean, we can keep doing it. The yeah. I mean, it may look different from the outside, but because London is the center of the financial universe, but just we've got the Footsie, the Footsie is all propped up with oil and fossil fuels and a little bit of pharma and it's just and tobacco.

 

00:23:18:19 - 00:23:46:24

Dan Bowyer

I mean, it's just it's like we're living in the eighties or the seventies. We still have to list in the States. So all of my companies we sold to this year, so far they've sold to American corporates. It's because we just don't have this culture, we don't have a sales culture, we don't have a listings market. Which technology company in their right mind is going to list on the Footsie or the or the German market or a Parisian market?

 

00:23:46:24 - 00:23:52:21

Dan Bowyer

I mean, it's not we're going to, if you want to make it, you know full well, you've got to go to the states. And that's just a crying shame.

 

00:23:53:02 - 00:23:56:04

Christian Soschner

I mean, since we are in the same young

 

00:23:56:04 - 00:24:12:18

Christian Soschner

age group. Yes. Why did it change? I mean, when you remember the nineties, you worked in tech in the nineties. I worked in tech in the nineties and there was this this, this spirit of entrepreneurship. You go out, found a company, start something, get in the streets.

 

00:24:12:20 - 00:24:19:03

Dan Bowyer

It was to me when I was telling people this they just found it weird. I mean I think and also when did I mean I don't know if that

 

00:24:19:03 - 00:24:28:13

Dan Bowyer

that was the same in industrial Central Europe, but at some point the term entrepreneur came, became founder. Nobody really talks about entrepreneur ownership anymore. They talk about founding a business.

 

00:24:28:13 - 00:24:51:08

Dan Bowyer

And I think entrepreneurs were a bit weird and a bit uncool and a bit unsexy. But founders are the opposite and I think that was it. To me, that change was maybe, I think mid 2000. So I think I tell me how it was for Uber in the nineties. Being being a being a being an entrepreneur was just, was odd and just unusual.

 

00:24:51:10 - 00:25:17:11

Christian Soschner

I think the I remember the eighties the Usher training was finish school go to university. Yes but a degree get a job and make a career. Then in 1993, 1994, I mean CERN posted w w w protocol in the public domain. The internet started, Amazon hit it. And in grad school I studied everything was about the internet and the mobile industry.

 

00:25:17:13 - 00:25:20:19

Dan Bowyer

And you're much more progressive than we were then. Austria.

 

00:25:20:19 - 00:25:39:22

Christian Soschner

Austria was a playground for the mobile industry. Basically. It was a small country. We have mountains, we have one big city, and it's a challenge for mobile, for the mobile industry to to build an infrastructure that works in the mountains and also in big cities and also in rural areas outside stimulants.

 

00:25:40:00 - 00:25:44:18

Dan Bowyer

So there was a need, a needs driven industry. Perfect. Yeah, but well, better.

 

00:25:44:20 - 00:26:09:03

Christian Soschner

And there were a lot of entrepreneurship spirit. Then came 2000 and a lot of companies shut down. So basically before Uncle falls and a friend of mine was a fund manager and I once asked him, What's your investment criteria? And he said, Internet strategy, is that what you mean? And he answered, The only question I have to ask nowadays is where a company has an Internet strategy or not.

 

00:26:09:03 - 00:26:12:17

Christian Soschner

If to say yes, it can invest. If they don't, it is a no, I can't invest.

 

00:26:12:19 - 00:26:15:08

Dan Bowyer

How easy it has an easy.

 

00:26:15:20 - 00:26:39:01

Christian Soschner

Deposit burst after that. So basically it's it's been stone. And then in my opinion, we lost it in Europe. The whole digital revolution that also was partially started in Europe, in my opinion. We also had emotions back then in the nineties or early stage Amazon's ideas around Facebook, but with the best of the public, nobody wanted to invest anymore.

 

00:26:39:04 - 00:27:04:15

Christian Soschner

Yeah, and the anti digital revolution that came after that I mean every founded every produces the iPhone which basically shuts down Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson all these companies that started in Europe and were replaced by the iPhone. We didn't move forward with projects similar to Google. We didn't move forward with projects similar to Amazon. My question to you is, what's your opinion?

 

00:27:04:15 - 00:27:09:03

Christian Soschner

Why did it change so much in Europe? Why did we did we not keep up?

 

00:27:09:06 - 00:27:11:12

Dan Bowyer

It's just risk. It's really don't know.

 

00:27:11:12 - 00:27:38:20

Dan Bowyer

Europe doesn't know how to sell it, doesn't know how to invest, it, doesn't know how to take a chance. We know that technology is going to absolutely transform the world. Everybody intellectually knows this, but we look to America or Silicon Valley specifically to become the the instigator, the birth, the birth place.

 

00:27:39:00 - 00:28:00:14

Dan Bowyer

And it's just a bit nuts. I mean, if there's one thing we've learned from China and the rise of China over the last two decades is that this stuff can be done, okay. They've basically mostly ripped off other ideas and other and they haven't there's no such thing as a new ideas, but they haven't really they haven't really progressed it.

 

00:28:00:14 - 00:28:23:00

Dan Bowyer

They've just taken what was working elsewhere and applied. I might be being a bit mean there, but what they have shown is that you can create the infrastructure for innovation and Dubai is doing it now. The Middle East is doing it now. I mean, you've got Saudi with Neom, you've got Dubai. And they're trying, but they're doing so much investment in the tech world.

 

00:28:23:02 - 00:28:52:04

Dan Bowyer

Will they make it or not or will they add, you know, add much value on top of what's going on across China, Europe, the states? Who knows? But do you know what they're putting themselves out there trying to divest from oil and get amongst it? And all we're doing in the UK is bloody safety in alignment. We've got the Bletchley Park guys who are doing, you know, air safety that, come on, we need investment, we need, you know, trading zones, we need government support, we need pension companies to be told to invest because they've started.

 

00:28:52:04 - 00:29:17:14

Dan Bowyer

But it's just it's just almost too little too late or nonsensical stuff. We've got something in the UK called the Mansion House Compact where a number of I think it's eight pension companies have been suggested to by government that they invest 5% of their assets under management into venture into technology. But I know what's going to happen. It's all going to be super light private equity stuff that's super safe.

 

00:29:17:16 - 00:29:42:18

Dan Bowyer

That's up there. It's not going to move the needle. It's not going to support innovation or support startups. I might be being a bit cynical, but it's just it's them. And then Jeremy Hunt, our chancellor, launched a Β£1 billion fintech fund. It's like, who cares? Β£1 billion is a rounding error. So we're just not we're not doing I'd like to see the UK and Europe know that if the UK is European, you my guess is not.

 

00:29:42:18 - 00:29:59:18

Dan Bowyer

But I'd like to see the whole of our region do more. I think France and Germany stepping up might well give a kick into the UK to go Hang on a minute. We don't want to be outdone by the continental Europeans. We've just had Brexit so we can do what we want so let's do I. I'd love to see that.

 

00:29:59:18 - 00:30:30:09

Dan Bowyer

But we also just don't have the money covered. I mean, the UK government has been awful and covered as you know, scoured the coffers of cash. So there's there's, there's a, there's a challenge that we have. It's not like we're in good times, that there's lots of money swishing around that they can make these choices. But I think unless and I'm Robert holding and running all over the show here, I can't even remember the original question, but I just ultimately wants to put Europe on the map.

 

00:30:30:09 - 00:30:51:23

Dan Bowyer

I want to see much more investment from across business supported by government into a fusion new technology that we cannot. The technology is interesting. We just need to do more, right. It's a this is a this is a fascinating moment to be alive. It's so much stuff that can be done and we haven't even started. We think that there's an app for everything, but there really isn't.

 

00:30:51:23 - 00:30:53:20

Dan Bowyer

We've got so much today.

 

00:30:53:22 - 00:30:55:05

Christian Soschner

I couldn't agree more. I mean,

 

00:30:55:05 - 00:31:20:06

Christian Soschner

Valley paved the way and showed what's possible when the ecosystem evolves and works together. I totally agree that we lost it in Europe somehow in the last 20 years. And one reason definitely is the one that you mentioned pension funds. A lot of capital is locked up in Central European foundations, in pension funds, and they have zero incentive, zero interest to invest anything in venture capital, anything in technology.

 

00:31:20:08 - 00:31:36:15

Dan Bowyer

Yeah, but, you know, the worst thing is now we're fighting fixed income. If you can put money in the bank and earn 6%, you know what? Where am I going to go? Why? Why am I going to take any risk? And I think people don't fully understand that venture capital is the one asset classed as a the highest performing it has been for decades.

 

00:31:36:17 - 00:32:05:08

Dan Bowyer

But be nobody needs to invest in venture capital, no high net worth, no family office, nobody needs to invest. They can all do other things and make healthy returns. DC is the least loved and the most lucrative asset class by quite by quite a margin. It's just it's just a super weird thing. So there needs more mechanisms to create to create tomorrow's innovation, which isn't late stage private equity, it's early stage venture capital.

 

00:32:05:11 - 00:32:07:05

Dan Bowyer

That's where that's where the magic happens.

 

00:32:07:07 - 00:32:07:21

Christian Soschner

And very quick

 

00:32:07:21 - 00:32:13:17

Christian Soschner

research anyways. I mean, the UK, Continental Europe has a lot of great universities, but it needs to have.

 

00:32:13:21 - 00:32:19:05

Dan Bowyer

All the talent. We have all the R&D, we have all the software developers, they just go elsewhere. I mean, look,

 

00:32:19:05 - 00:32:35:07

Dan Bowyer

look at know the Nasdaq, look at top tech. I think 30% are run by Indians. I mean, we have we have all of the talent in Europe. We just don't have any of the throughput. There's no there's nowhere for the talent here to go.

 

00:32:35:07 - 00:32:49:21

Dan Bowyer

So they all end up in the States or in other countries or doing other things. But if we can embrace and engage the unis and engage the incubators, the accelerators, and also engage a culture of entrepreneurship across Europe, it'll be a very different story.

 

00:32:49:23 - 00:33:16:09

Christian Soschner

With I'm curious to hear your opinion before the headwinds that you have in Europe. I mean, when I left the corporate world in 2005, 2006 to help with our spinout from Novartis, which was basically a great thing, I mean, funded by the world's best wishes back then. And let's berhad's going back to data from the CRISPR Terapeutica this Emmanuelle Charpentier who got the Nobel Prize

 

00:33:16:09 - 00:33:17:21

Christian Soschner

with Emily said, Are you nuts?

 

00:33:17:21 - 00:33:31:23

Christian Soschner

Are you crazy? But by doing that, why do you give up your career and go down this path? I'm curious to hear from you with all these challenges that you perceive in the industry, why did you want to become a venture capitalist?

 

00:33:32:00 - 00:33:36:05

Dan Bowyer

I didn't. I didn't want to become a venture capitalist. I

 

00:33:36:05 - 00:33:57:16

Dan Bowyer

was angel investing. I was interim CEO and working with startups and running out of money. Didn't have much cash left, just kind of messing around in startup land. And then I met my business partner who is a he's another X, an entrepreneur founder, and he's a natural VC.

 

00:33:57:18 - 00:34:20:23

Dan Bowyer

He was born to be a VC. He took a very traditional route Uni, MBA, IBM started one company, so, so very kind of traditional, proper structured path through into startup land. But we took it I mean, we're, we're completely with two sides of the same coin, both in B2B software but a completely different paths to it. I'm more feelings he's well facts.

 

00:34:20:23 - 00:34:24:06

Dan Bowyer

He's a kind of legal and structure animal people and energy. So

 

00:34:24:06 - 00:34:29:13

Dan Bowyer

completely different people and he wanted to start the fund and I was running out of money. And if

 

00:34:29:13 - 00:34:40:15

Dan Bowyer

you want to support startups in cash, how do you do that? Will you raise a fund? Right? So go and take other people's money and invest it. So he wanted to start a fund, as I sure you know, you're the most impressive man I've ever met.

 

00:34:40:15 - 00:34:58:14

Dan Bowyer

I'll start a fund with you. So we started our first fund in 2018. We started working 1617 and then and then started our first fund then. Yeah. And in 18 six, yeah, it would be six years. In February we registered super super seed as, as our, as our venture firm. But I didn't want to and I still I'm a very reluctant.

 

00:34:58:14 - 00:35:22:12

Dan Bowyer

DC There's a lot about venture capital that I don't care for most of it. Most of it he often mathema and often moans at me for being a misery about about the industry and stop being such a sourpuss about venture capital. But venture capital serves no 1.0001% of new businesses or something. It serves literally no one. And it's an ugly, brutal mechanism.

 

00:35:22:12 - 00:35:41:09

Dan Bowyer

And not everyone should take venture capital. So I'm always torn. I mean, I'm I am a VC. I will stay a VC. I'm going to try and contort it to the version of venture capital that I want to create being a be part of the solution that you want to see in the world or whatever Buddha said or what it was.

 

00:35:41:11 - 00:36:19:08

Dan Bowyer

So I want to there's not much I can do to change venture capital as a as a structure, as a financial vehicle. But I can do it in smarter ways. We can definitely do it in different ways and we can we can be a new version. My partner's quite empty some of this because he is very traditional, but I think I can slowly contort him into, you know, changing a lot of the ways that we invest and support teams in different ways and invest in slightly different sectors and spaces, because I think there's stuff to be done and most of my job will be automated by air.

 

00:36:19:10 - 00:36:38:18

Dan Bowyer

It's already happening now, which is fabulous, and I want my job to disappear to a degree. I want I want my job to be completely automated away and for the right founding teams to get access to the right capital at the right time and in the right way. So I'm going to create all of those systems behind the scenes to enable that.

 

00:36:38:20 - 00:36:58:12

Dan Bowyer

But going back to the question, I know I don't I only care about founders and startups and innovation and effectively messing with big business. I just want to mess with enterprise. I want all of the startups that I work with because I only invest in productivity and efficiency. I want them to truly, truly disrupt the enterprise. That's that's what I want to do.

 

00:36:58:12 - 00:37:05:13

Dan Bowyer

But the VC part of it, I could take leave. I don't I don't care if it's a silly industry with a city name.

 

00:37:05:13 - 00:37:13:08

Christian Soschner

What's what's your vision of venture capital? I mean, if there was an ideal place you could model leads the way you want it. What's your vision?

 

00:37:13:20 - 00:37:36:23

Dan Bowyer

I don't think I would change the vision of venture capital. Venture capital is parallel driven. It's a very specific financial vehicle. What I would like to do and I will do at some point is bridge the gap between friends, family, Angel and VC. So I want to create a new form of business, build a new form of accelerator, which which we're kind of doing already at the moment.

 

00:37:36:23 - 00:38:13:12

Dan Bowyer

My VC firm operates in a very specific platform way that some VCs do and some VCs don't, so it's a very specific form of venture capital I'm already in. But what I would like to do is it come slightly downstream, which again we're slightly doing, but come further downstream into business building. And I my sense is that especially and there'll be other technologies that support this will enable more of us to be able to do more, more easily and more quickly without the need for large organizations.

 

00:38:13:12 - 00:38:37:24

Dan Bowyer

I think the day of the behemoth enterprise in some context is is is on the way out. So technology's already made massive inroads. I mean, I read the Gartner report for 24 the other day and it's all about the rise of the builder. So basically anybody can build really impressive platforms now to support their business. Or we could stitch together the API.

 

00:38:38:01 - 00:39:04:15

Dan Bowyer

It kind of let that let let the road here you can build things and stitch together systems and platforms to to do business. And I think we're going to go a layer higher where is going to enable not only that, the inference to be made or the conclusions to come, but also to automate the action. So the difference that we have now with the platforms that are coming through now is that you don't really you need a human in the loop, but you can do so much more without a human.

 

00:39:04:17 - 00:39:23:18

Dan Bowyer

You know, as soon we'll have your your agent will be speaking to my, my agent to arrange a podcast or, you know, build a thing or, you know, go for dinner or do a thing. So we're kind of almost at that level now where it's not about actionable insights, but the insights are actioned. So it's not about information, is it about platforms or dashboards?

 

00:39:23:18 - 00:39:39:08

Dan Bowyer

It's actually I don't care about the dashboard. Just just make the change, just tweak the manufacturing plan or, you know, respond to that email or find that that, you know, new cell, that new client and the agent, wherever it is, will go and do that. So I think

 

00:39:39:08 - 00:39:44:12

Dan Bowyer

venture capital will be automated. Lots of industries to a degree will be automated.

 

00:39:44:14 - 00:40:09:12

Dan Bowyer

And what I want to do is to create a funding structure in the gap between Angel and VC that creates not necessarily unicorns. I don't give a shit about unicorns. That's the that's the parallel model I care about more people moving into entrepreneurship to solve more societal problems, more business problems, and build substantial profit making businesses because there's nothing wrong with money.

 

00:40:09:12 - 00:40:37:14

Dan Bowyer

It's just that humans are greedy and stupid, right? We just we're mean. We do nasty things. But money is a notional token isn't brilliant, as you know. Given us all the things that we have. Capitalism works, you know, to a degree. It's just humans that are that are the weak link in the chain. So if I can enable more people to become entrepreneurs to solve more problems in the world and to constantly be part of that circular mechanism, that's that's where I want to end up.

 

00:40:38:09 - 00:40:43:24

Christian Soschner

What's the gap that you mentioned between venture capital, family offices, business?

 

00:40:43:24 - 00:40:46:13

Dan Bowyer

And there's a gap between I think most founders

 

00:40:46:13 - 00:41:07:21

Dan Bowyer

think that there's a natural progression between better bootstrap. Then you go and get some debt or friends and family or raise a small angel round and then it's just natural to go and raise venture capital. It's not venture capital doesn't serve 99.9% of the people that are on that path or think they're on that path.

 

00:41:07:23 - 00:41:28:04

Dan Bowyer

So there's a gap between angel investing and venture capital, and it's kind of been filled by a few accelerators, a few incubators that kind of they've kind of moving into that kind of angel. Then they go and take grants. So a bit of philanthropy money, which I don't agree with. I think you become a great entrepreneur and I think that screws your business but not always.

 

00:41:28:06 - 00:42:02:11

Dan Bowyer

I'm being a bit mean, but it's not always a healthy option to take too much money. You don't have weights and measures. I don't think so. But there is a gap. There is a gap there to build really, really well. Changing substantial portfolio businesses where you are. I would like to have a portfolio of ten, 20, 30, Β£50 million companies that have started from nothing where there are more people, more stake holders rather than one behemoth that goes IPO in ten years time or seven years time.

 

00:42:02:13 - 00:42:26:16

Dan Bowyer

You know, the Ubers, the wheel works. It's just part of the parcel of venture capital, more, you know, just basically subsidizing the clients. I mean, those days are over for now, but that's what venture capital creates. It creates non business model business models, business models that shouldn't exist in the real world because venture capital is subsidized the route all the way through to to create the monopoly and be the Peter Thiel in the and crush it.

 

00:42:26:16 - 00:42:49:04

Dan Bowyer

It's like that's not good for people. That's just not good for us as a society. So I want to I want to take up that middle gap, that angel to VC, where rather than one out of 30 companies becoming a unicorn, I have 20 out of 30 becoming 50 or Β£100 million substantial, employing supporting businesses, doing good things and changing the way

 

00:42:49:04 - 00:42:50:15

Dan Bowyer

that business is done.

 

00:42:51:10 - 00:43:08:24

Christian Soschner

Why did that change? I mean, when I think back 20 years ago, the normal way to start a business was start a business, get customers and grow their business with the cash flow that comes in. You need to be careful with growing your customer base and serving them well so that they allow you making a profit that you can reinvest.

 

00:43:09:01 - 00:43:28:01

Christian Soschner

And when you have a case that can significantly scale faster with investment capital, then you go to investors and part of it is venture capital, basically. When in your opinion, did this attitude change too? I mean, now it feels to be like everybody wants to raise venture capital. So to start a company.

 

00:43:28:01 - 00:43:32:15

Dan Bowyer

Yeah, I think I think you can blame, you know, Mark Zuckerberg for that. I think when you're

 

00:43:32:15 - 00:43:39:11

Dan Bowyer

obviously when did he start Facebook? 24 I think so if you're if the news feed

 

00:43:39:11 - 00:43:51:19

Dan Bowyer

is feeding you stories of 24 year old entrepreneurs becoming billionaires, that becomes very sexy. And then the very platform that he invented, he didn't I mean, he wasn't the first social network.

 

00:43:51:19 - 00:44:14:24

Dan Bowyer

I think it was the eighth or ninth popular Social network. So Google was probably the 13th, the 14th search engine. But everyone thinks that they were the beginning, but not they know these things have been around for decades or both, many years before you. But when you have those stories amplified through the news cycles, it becomes sexy and cool and everyone thinks they can just start a business in their garage and become a billionaire.

 

00:44:15:01 - 00:44:43:06

Dan Bowyer

I mean, the truth is that most successful entrepreneurs are in their fifties the okay that they are white men. They tend not to be women and they tend not to be people of color. And that's changing but slowly. But I think that that whole epoch has kind of created this cool, you know, billionaire. I'm going I'm going to start a startup and get rich.

 

00:44:43:06 - 00:44:59:14

Dan Bowyer

And it's not like that, as you know. It's it's it's the hardest job on the planet and probably the least lucrative. I would have made more money had I stayed investing in property than in stocks. Yeah, I have. I have no doubt. Maybe maybe that would change as a VC, if I make the right bets, maybe that would change the VC.

 

00:44:59:14 - 00:45:21:02

Dan Bowyer

But had I carried on investing and I used to be a property developer, I'd buy property and and convert and sell and twist in, do up and sell side. And I loved that. But I stopped when I got more heavily into tech and I probably would have made more money had I done that or invested in the S&P at a pretty putting made more

 

00:45:21:02 - 00:45:24:14

Dan Bowyer

compound money it just right yeah 8% a year.

 

00:45:24:16 - 00:45:52:17

Christian Soschner

I totally agree. And when you just invest in Apple, Facebook, Google I think it was much better then than investing in some start ups. I mean, when you look at the facts mentioned, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, this is a handful of people. And when I look back at the last 50 years, how many people I met started a company, didn't work, started the next company, didn't work, started the next company, but it didn't become this shiny billionaires.

 

00:45:52:17 - 00:45:53:24

Christian Soschner

It's just it's just a few.

 

00:45:54:02 - 00:46:17:12

Dan Bowyer

But yeah, I think that's 90 9.9. 9% of people that start businesses. I mean, I think there's a there's also a difference between business managers and entrepreneurs. I think people look at people who've started a business as an entrepreneur, but really they're not. They're doing something that's always been done and they're just doing that. They're becoming an accountant or setting up a, you know, a marketing agency.

 

00:46:17:14 - 00:46:33:16

Dan Bowyer

They're built. To me, that business manages a founder or an entrepreneur is looking at that industry and doing it in a whole new way and transforming that industry. That's what a founder or an entrepreneur is to me. So and there's nothing wrong with either or both. I mean, each have their space in the world.

 

00:46:33:18 - 00:46:57:19

Christian Soschner

So sorry to interrupt you. How do you how do your how do you find out which personality a person has when you invest, whether it's this kind of entrepreneur that you mentioned? Yeah, set up, set out venturing out into the world to disrupt an entire industry or just a regular business, What makes the difference in your opinion?

 

00:46:57:21 - 00:47:00:24

Dan Bowyer

I think I mean, I have a kind of a

 

00:47:00:24 - 00:47:26:13

Dan Bowyer

a trifecta, a3a3 pronged kind of personality test in my head when I meet people and it's charmingly disagreeable and determined. So are you going to sell me wax my ears tell me everything that I want to hear. Brilliant. Are you a little bit obnoxious, a little bit disagreeable? I don't want you rolling over to everything I say just because I'm holding the checkbook.

 

00:47:26:13 - 00:47:51:01

Dan Bowyer

It is a little bit disagreeable. Not for its own sake, but, you know, just No. Damn, that's wrong. I think of this in a different way. And so there's a there's a healthy kind of debate. And this determination, which is normally driven by they've lived in a world or they've been in a domain in business where they're just upset and irritated by how by the status quo.

 

00:47:51:01 - 00:48:08:10

Dan Bowyer

So this has got to be done in a different way. So if they have this charmingly disagreeable and determined personality and they've lived in a world for five years maybe, and they've done the same thing over and over again, or dealt with the same idiots over and over again, say, I'm going to change this.

 

00:48:08:10 - 00:48:16:09

Dan Bowyer

Then they go, I'm starting a company that's going to transform how marketing is done or procurement or supply chain management, or the back office or whatever it might be.

 

00:48:16:11 - 00:48:43:07

Dan Bowyer

That's the stuff that I find really interesting. So they're the people that change the world. Then you get the entrepreneurs or you get the noisy entrepreneurs. But you know, when you meet people that are going to they're going to go out. And obviously my lens is the VC lens is the power lowlands. So I have a very specific view on on how obnoxious and how determined and how disagreeable people need to be.

 

00:48:43:09 - 00:48:55:21

Dan Bowyer

And it's pretty can be fairly, fairly psychopathic at times that I can sell my grandmother. I'm going to make this I'm going to I'm going to take this in global and go big. So that's what you look for as a VC.

 

00:48:56:04 - 00:49:06:06

Christian Soschner

How do you handle this? People you mentioned disagreeable, determined and obnoxious. Yes, Basically it's challenging personalities.

 

00:49:06:09 - 00:49:09:06

Dan Bowyer

Yeah. I just describe myself as well. So.

 

00:49:09:08 - 00:49:10:21

Christian Soschner

So

 

00:49:10:21 - 00:49:14:03

Christian Soschner

how do you get along with these people then? At the end of the day, I mean.

 

00:49:14:05 - 00:49:30:03

Dan Bowyer

Like, I don't need to like you, I need to respect you. There needs to be a working relationship. I would like to like you. I'd like to go to the pub with you. I don't drink alcohol anymore, but I would like to spend time with you. Go for dinner. But we don't have to. We have to get on a mission and.

 

00:49:30:05 - 00:49:46:06

Dan Bowyer

And be professional and make something happen. We're going to make magic together. It's like a marriage, but it's. It's not like a marriage insofar as we're going to, you know, collapse in a fight and out on the sofa and give each other a cuddle. Not we're not going to do that. So I just want to you're here to do your job.

 

00:49:46:06 - 00:49:59:07

Dan Bowyer

I'm here to do my job. I'm here to connect. Give you money, connect the dots, help get things out of the way, put some things in the way and watch you fly. And that's that's my job as a venture capitalist.

 

00:49:59:23 - 00:50:16:10

Christian Soschner

There are so many discussions currently on social media about how to approach a venture capitalist. What's your way? How do you handle this initial stages of building a relationship with nobody entrepreneurs is what do you want to see?

 

00:50:16:15 - 00:50:41:15

Dan Bowyer

I just I mean, I want to see. I want to see thought. I want to see. I don't need to see everything. And nothing is to be perfect. So I invest very early about pre-seed and seed. So some traction or no traction. Some clients sometimes no clients, but there's there's working product and there's a really hungry team who've got a working product and, and they're trying to do something in a new way in business.

 

00:50:41:17 - 00:51:04:09

Dan Bowyer

But for the family, for the early interaction days, I just want to see joined up thinking. I want to see a healthy understanding of their purpose, why they get out of bed, what they're trying to achieve, their mission, what their vision is, how they how they see the world changing in ten or 20 years time, and what they think their position in the market is today.

 

00:51:04:09 - 00:51:32:08

Dan Bowyer

What what is the bit that's missing? What is the differentiated space? What are they? Where's the magic sauce? Where's the Trojan business model? What's the thing that's going to change? Or give them the first step to give them a chance to change the vision that they have or create the vision that they have? So there's an attitudinal piece, there's a bit of a practical piece in there, and then there's just some joined up thinking where they they know I can ask them anything and they'll they'll have a really sensible, considered thoughtful answer.

 

00:51:32:08 - 00:51:33:14

Dan Bowyer

That's what.

 

00:51:35:12 - 00:51:42:20

Christian Soschner

You mentioned that you would like to see companies to transform towards disrupt industries and ideally destroy the big corporations and replace.

 

00:51:42:20 - 00:52:06:05

Dan Bowyer

Necessarily destroy. I would like to see their their methods destroyed. I don't think they will be around in the same way in ten, 20, 30 years time. But the enterprise is going to radically transform. That said, I and I may I maybe destroy that, but I think I want to destroy the shitty bits. There's a lot of stuff that goes on about how they behave, what they get away with, how they treat their employees, whether the rich still need to transform.

 

00:52:06:08 - 00:52:18:15

Dan Bowyer

Things have changed massively, right? We're not living in boxes where nobody talks about mental health and you've got to work 9 to 5. You hate it. You leave those worlds all majority free over. But there's still so much more to do.

 

00:52:19:06 - 00:52:43:00

Christian Soschner

But I mean, in hindsight, it's always easy. I mean, Facebook now it's quite obvious that it's a great story. Google's the same now it's quite obvious when this started in the nineties, I mean, it's a number of 13, 14 by two you'll start another search engine. The same with Apple, basically. I mean when I saw that Steve Jobs wants to put another mobile phone on the market in 2007.

 

00:52:43:00 - 00:53:06:11

Christian Soschner

It's just looked he's nuts. The question that I have to you is finding this transformative ideas and founders is obviously malkani a little bit tricky because to do something that nobody else does and the majority of people think it's crazy to do that. What gives you the confidence to invest in those people when everybody around you says,

 

00:53:06:11 - 00:53:07:21

Christian Soschner

Don't do it?

 

00:53:07:23 - 00:53:09:08

Dan Bowyer

Yeah, well, I'm a gambler,

 

00:53:09:08 - 00:53:24:16

Dan Bowyer

so. And every VC thinks that they're the smartest person on the planet. And because you have to as a gambler, you have to get to a state of conviction where you go, this has got to be massive, but we're going to kill it. We're going to crush it because you have to. Otherwise you do nothing.

 

00:53:24:16 - 00:53:57:07

Dan Bowyer

You would invest nothing but to get there to take that path. For me, there's only two vectors. It's either the well, it's the team and the market. So do I believe you as Mr. Mrs. Founder? And do I believe that there are enough of them to care about you? And you can either be brownfield or greenfield, right? So you can either be doing something in a new way, but in an existing industry or in an existing you're supplanting something or it's greenfield and it's a whole new way of doing something that's never been invented before.

 

00:53:57:09 - 00:54:19:00

Dan Bowyer

And I will invest in both. I will invest in the replacement of bad process, bad technology, bad people, whatever that might be, or a whole new way of doing something that's never been considered. All all saying that even the stuff that I think is the most transformative stuff that we've invested in, there's like we said before, there's no such thing as a new idea.

 

00:54:19:00 - 00:54:42:00

Dan Bowyer

I mean, it's not like the iPhone wasn't it wasn't even a smartphones were not a new idea. It was just the fact that there was this touching glass multi-functional device that you could have in your pocket that became a supercomputer in your pocket. It was I mean, I remember I got my first smartphone, I think it was a Nokia communicator.

 

00:54:42:00 - 00:54:45:19

Dan Bowyer

I think it was about 91. Was that 99?

 

00:54:45:19 - 00:54:50:19

Dan Bowyer

Maybe so eight years before I know. Then I had all the horrible Microsoft

 

00:54:50:19 - 00:55:05:04

Dan Bowyer

devices and then all the BlackBerrys throughout that kind of the late 1980s, thousands. So I don't think it needs to be that much to be transformative. I think actually the actual technology play, I don't believe in moats anymore.

 

00:55:05:04 - 00:55:07:10

Dan Bowyer

I think technology moats are dead.

 

00:55:07:10 - 00:55:23:05

Dan Bowyer

But there is there is a there's always that execution play, either the technology or something quite transform all those in execution, play with something quite simple, but it absolutely transforms how an industry is done. I mean, look at Airbnb. They came out of the last crisis.

 

00:55:23:05 - 00:55:27:00

Dan Bowyer

I mean, there are loads of rental platforms for holiday homes.

 

00:55:27:00 - 00:55:52:00

Dan Bowyer

Wasn't that I mean, how how did Airbnb and you can deconstruct that, but it wasn't a cosmic piece of technology or a cosmic business model or something. Mega changed. It was pretty much what had always happened before. I mean, how many, how many ride hailing companies, whether before Uber? I mean, Uber was just venture capital crashing. It just used is VC money to to crush markets and own own territories.

 

00:55:52:02 - 00:56:15:06

Dan Bowyer

And we work I mean that's a horrible business from the off they just they just subsidize beautiful office spaces with with SoftBank's cash. So I think I again I'm I'm digressing but I don't think there needs to be that much to be transformative, but it needs to be really considered and thought through and completely client driven, completely client centric, also ignoring faster horses because most clients will tell you

 

00:56:15:06 - 00:56:20:01

Dan Bowyer

what they think or lies because they think you need to hear those things when really what they really want is something else.

 

00:56:20:01 - 00:56:22:11

Dan Bowyer

But sometimes it's quite something quite simple.

 

00:56:22:19 - 00:56:35:05

Christian Soschner

That creativity is a good thing. I mean, maybe stay a little bit with the Apple story. In hindsight, it's clear back then. I mean, mobile industry was basically oversaturated. Everybody had, yeah, here in Central Europe who.

 

00:56:35:07 - 00:56:41:03

Dan Bowyer

Thought they could supplant BlackBerry, right? Who would have thought, Yeah. And BlackBerry were laughing, no one's going to touch this. Could that be silly? I mean, it was

 

00:56:41:03 - 00:56:43:16

Dan Bowyer

it was laughed out of the boardroom. It's just crazy.

 

00:56:43:18 - 00:56:59:11

Christian Soschner

But. But what was this what was this difference? I mean, we had also you mentioned Nokia. We had Siemens had similar devices on the market. And there were a plethora of Microsoft devices with similar functionality. What made the difference in Apple, in your opinion, instead of.

 

00:56:59:11 - 00:57:02:13

Dan Bowyer

Just human centric? I mean, obviously, Steve Jobs was the you know,

 

00:57:02:13 - 00:57:19:13

Dan Bowyer

is the fundamental marketing and sales person on the planet. I mean, he's these the the world leading what was his phrase at the end of all of his talks? Just one more thing. and there's one more thing And you had this he had this pattern of delivering talks that took you on this emotional rollercoaster.

 

00:57:19:15 - 00:57:37:13

Dan Bowyer

So, I mean, I tune into two Apple events now, even though I mean, Tim Cook's in accounting, right? I mean, what the Frick is he going to do? Nothing exciting. But the how he how he sold, how he talked he waxed in your execution this emotional journey and it didn't get old. Right. He got a lot of things wrong.

 

00:57:37:13 - 00:58:04:20

Dan Bowyer

I mean, if you look at a lot of the Apple products that failed under his control and then in that, you know, the Tim what was his name, the other Tim, the Pepsi guy that sacked Steve Jobs for ten years and then they had an 80% product failure or something. I mean, he did they did a lot of crap, but they learned their craft and there is just so elegantly customer centric.

 

00:58:04:20 - 00:58:34:11

Dan Bowyer

I mean, the iPhone doesn't even come with an instruction manual. I remember getting the box for a BlackBerry, and the instruction manual was this thick. So they just they are just absolutely elegantly customer centric and incredibly beautiful and incredibly powerful. And you can't you can't supplant that. You can't. And none of that was in the market. So you could say on one hand it's saturated and on the other hand, you know, it.

 

00:58:34:13 - 00:58:53:12

Dan Bowyer

They were just so much more to do, a bit like Skype. Who would have thought that Zoom would supplant Skype? Skype was just the personal and the business platform. And then Microsoft bought them and they they screwed the pooch, Right? I mean, I think to be fair, they just wanted it to be part of the they wanted it to become part of the the, the commercial suite.

 

00:58:53:12 - 00:59:24:10

Dan Bowyer

And they didn't really care about, you know, people using it in a particular way. They just wanted effectively to, to, to distribute teams. So maybe they, maybe they bought it to get rid of their own competition, maybe that was deployed. Then just remove that from the market while we distribute our own, our own voice calling manager. But yeah, I mean there are there are going to be we'll have this conversation in ten years time looking back at my God, who would have thought that Google would have been supplanted by ding dong or that Facebook I think is dead anyway.

 

00:59:24:10 - 00:59:30:11

Dan Bowyer

But this all of these things that we think are normal and natural today are probably going to not be in ten years time.

 

00:59:30:21 - 00:59:54:05

Christian Soschner

I don't know. I think Facebook is a good place here in Australia for mental health. People can just tell us about what they don't like and what should change. And I pay a lot of people here around your state to hear that it's different. In in the United States, customer centricity is definitely one thing that's extremely important for entrepreneurs, and especially here in Germany, Austria.

 

00:59:54:05 - 01:00:18:15

Christian Soschner

I think people feel around too much with with the tech. Which leads me to the next question to you as a CEO, invest in early stage companies, basically, and to seed pre-seed rounds where people have an idea and then start fiddling around with tech and sometimes maybe forgets about customers and just say, let's invest money to build the next catch it.

 

01:00:18:17 - 01:00:30:11

Christian Soschner

And don't look at the market, which might bring some tension to the relationship between risks and founders. How do you manage building relationships with your founders to keep them on track?

 

01:00:30:14 - 01:00:53:18

Dan Bowyer

Well, I don't invest in founders who think like that. So our value piece of the platform that we run at Super Seat is helping founders commercialize, helping founders focus on clients, obsess about clients, and that's in our DNA. So if any founder, if I get a sniff from any founder that they're going to go and want to build

 

01:00:53:18 - 01:00:59:01

Dan Bowyer

build widgets in a dark room, it's just is just a no.

 

01:00:59:01 - 01:00:59:14

Dan Bowyer

So

 

01:00:59:14 - 01:01:05:07

Dan Bowyer

they know exactly what we stand for because it's all over our website is how we talk.

 

01:01:05:07 - 01:01:25:22

Dan Bowyer

It's how we have our initial phone calls, it's how we engage. So I don't invest in those kinds of founders. And then or and when we when we agreed to invest, we come up with a budget. We come up with a plan. And that plan is often hiring a lead sales VP of sales and building a go to market engine.

 

01:01:25:22 - 01:01:48:04

Dan Bowyer

So there's there's never a question that this is about anything apart from taking this incredible technology to market because all that matters. I mean, you can have the second or third best technology and still win. There's a lot there's a there's a plethora of examples where the best technology hasn't. One is good and is good enough. A functional look at YouTube.

 

01:01:48:04 - 01:02:10:13

Dan Bowyer

YouTube was probably one of the worst video sharing platforms going when Google paid whatever how many billions for it. So and VHS, Betamax, Betamax was a superior format of the CD format. I mean, a lot of these things, they weren't the best. So commercial, commercial and distribution wins. And so we only we only focus on that. So there's never a it's never a debate.

 

01:02:10:13 - 01:02:15:16

Dan Bowyer

It's never a question. And it gets weeded out in the process very early.

 

01:02:15:18 - 01:02:23:03

Christian Soschner

And it's summarized it in a way that supersede your fund. Is commercialization and customers first.

 

01:02:23:05 - 01:02:43:23

Dan Bowyer

Yeah, we are the value piece of the platform business all around commercialization. How do we how do we get you to market? How do we build a global business? How does this become venture scale, global change the world? How does this truly transform business and become the way that the next layer of efficiency and productivity for business that's that's on star is how how efficient can you be?

 

01:02:44:04 - 01:02:51:08

Dan Bowyer

How much productivity can you create in business across across whichever sector? I don't care about the sector. Just candidates transform it.

 

01:02:51:10 - 01:02:59:17

Christian Soschner

Look at the right in the standing when you invest in pre-seed companies, I mean, very often they don't have a prototype yet or they don't have. It's just.

 

01:02:59:20 - 01:03:19:16

Dan Bowyer

They do. They do. Even the even the we don't invest in nonworking product pre-seed. We don't invest at ideation, we invest at working product. That's our line in the sand. It doesn't have to be pretty. It has to be something that's working that's in a client's hands that they go, there's value in this. That's, that's the that's the line.

 

01:03:20:01 - 01:03:40:05

Christian Soschner

So basically we stay in the podcast example. It's just a blanket topic. I don't know if any of you if you have a betting supplement, you want to see a product with hundreds, hundreds, 200 episodes on the market already, something that's tangible that people can touch. Yeah, that's there. Yes Okay, it's a prototype. And then you take your founders through

 

01:03:40:05 - 01:03:44:04

Christian Soschner

a default process in which they are challenged to think about.

 

01:03:44:08 - 01:03:57:01

Christian Soschner

Now how do we get it to the customers? What would the customers need? Is it really what we have, what they need? How can we scale it? How can we expand it? How can we be conquered? But if this product, then at the end of the day.

 

01:03:57:03 - 01:03:58:12

Dan Bowyer

That's exactly right. I mean, it's

 

01:03:58:12 - 01:04:17:14

Dan Bowyer

what we do as part of our investment process is set up ten new client phone calls for our founders. So we get to see how they behave and if clients, you know, buy them and buy it. But also fundamentally, we get to see what kind of pull from the market there is for this offering.

 

01:04:17:14 - 01:04:39:24

Dan Bowyer

So we're we're using it as a diligence process to to work together. No founder has ever said I don't want more sales. So that's just you know, that's just not happening. So it's a very easy process to run is like, Christ, you're going to give me ten new customers. Yep, where do I sign? So that's the beginning of the process.

 

01:04:40:01 - 01:05:05:10

Dan Bowyer

It's all about where where are the soft spots in the market? Obviously, that changes over time, and the last year has been a massive transformational shift with our client behavior. But is yeah, is there a pull is there a pull in the market for for this thing? And that's that's all that matters to to to new businesses is you don't need pushing water uphill you want it you want a a go to market process or at least it can be clumsy to start because they always are.

 

01:05:05:12 - 01:05:14:16

Dan Bowyer

But you need some way of knowing that there's a there's a there's a hunger for the thing that you're building. And the only way to do that is to get in front of clients. But that's it.

 

01:05:14:23 - 01:05:24:03

Christian Soschner

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I mean, it doesn't matter if it's a deep tech company or a tech company. That's always the must. I mean, if it's a company, they must be a customer. This is just a given.

 

01:05:24:08 - 01:05:27:19

Dan Bowyer

The be has to be. I mean, deep tech is a funny one. I don't even know.

 

01:05:27:19 - 01:05:46:00

Dan Bowyer

I was sat at a roundtable with a bunch of VCs the other day and I asked a very famous deep tech investor to to define deep tech. And he couldn't. And it just made me smile. I mean, to me, deep tech is and I said, I gave him my definition and he

 

01:05:46:00 - 01:05:47:20

Dan Bowyer

shot me down in flames, but he didn't give me that.

 

01:05:47:20 - 01:05:48:20

Dan Bowyer

Like.

 

01:05:48:22 - 01:05:49:19

Christian Soschner

What's your definition?

 

01:05:49:22 - 01:05:52:21

Dan Bowyer

I said, Deep tech is a really

 

01:05:52:21 - 01:06:13:05

Dan Bowyer

transformative, smart new technology with no discernible business model. Yet. So, you know, Quantum is going to be transformative. You know, fusion is going to be transformative. They are deep tech operations, but you don't quite know how they're going to make money or who they're going to serve or what the outcome offering is going to be.

 

01:06:13:05 - 01:06:16:07

Dan Bowyer

So that's how I that's how I define deep tech.

 

01:06:16:09 - 01:06:27:20

Christian Soschner

And with that, I totally agree with what you say with that, with a scientific background. So basic. yes, yes. The ideas evolve out of some sort of university scientific background thought of basically, maybe.

 

01:06:27:20 - 01:06:29:05

Dan Bowyer

I'm not I'm not as wedded

 

01:06:29:05 - 01:06:31:06

Dan Bowyer

to that. I think somebody else is kind of throw that in.

 

01:06:31:09 - 01:06:32:20

Christian Soschner

It's it's it's my definition.

 

01:06:33:01 - 01:06:35:11

Dan Bowyer

So it's your world, right? So, yeah.

 

01:06:35:17 - 01:06:55:05

Christian Soschner

I mean, I started in 2006, and most of the time when people ask about what do you do? I mean, in 2008 we had a financial crisis that I've now believe it wasn't about been out and started helping scientists. It was just a natural environment struck together. And every time when people ask people what to chop, what we do is, I don't know.

 

01:06:55:07 - 01:06:56:07

Christian Soschner

I help scientists.

 

01:06:56:11 - 01:06:58:01

Dan Bowyer

In deep tech.

 

01:06:58:03 - 01:07:07:01

Christian Soschner

This was this was, I think 2018 or 2019. I read this term deep tech on the Internet. Yeah, we can claim that.

 

01:07:07:01 - 01:07:13:08

Dan Bowyer

It's I think I think everyone has a slightly different definition, but I think that's a fair one.

 

01:07:13:24 - 01:07:39:23

Christian Soschner

Now for a minute, types of framing a little bit tech, deep tech, say, okay, when an investor says he invests in tech, normally don't assume that he's very much into this long shots. So in five, ten, 15, 20 years, especially in Central Europe I see it Maurice 2 to 3 years to create a significant return for investors when we talk about tech, I think it's about 515 years, many more.

 

01:07:40:03 - 01:07:55:01

Dan Bowyer

it's more, I think Deep two. I think my sense is deep tech is ten year plus and in reality, in reality, I think, you know, you can you can shave. But I think the reality is it's you know, a fund cycle is on average ten years. And I think deep tech

 

01:07:55:01 - 01:07:56:16

Dan Bowyer

is longer than an average fund cycle.

 

01:07:56:16 - 01:07:58:00

Dan Bowyer

I would I would argue.

 

01:07:58:10 - 01:08:07:20

Christian Soschner

And I would add business to business. It's more products that are selling to other businesses are corporates or to governments.

 

01:08:07:20 - 01:08:10:07

Christian Soschner

This is also something I don't see it so much.

 

01:08:10:07 - 01:08:23:07

Dan Bowyer

Yes, I can't ever see the tech that's fair. I can't ever see deep tech being consumer, even though it will end up there or elements or spin outs or sub products will be. I think that's right. That makes sense.

 

01:08:23:09 - 01:08:43:08

Christian Soschner

Which makes it a little bit challenging and tricky because most industry is still very it's a challenge to access the right people in the industry. Yes. To find the customers and to really talk about the real needs of this industry and not some artificial intern that has some ideas.

 

01:08:43:10 - 01:08:54:22

Dan Bowyer

You've just got to go for having you come up with deep. You kind of got to have complete conviction in the technology and just just just keep at it. I mean, it's just I think that's that's the reality of it.

 

01:08:55:04 - 01:09:23:03

Christian Soschner

It's the I think for me, the challenge in deep tech is working with scientists who are very much into developing products. I mean, it's it's the nature and it's doing basic research, being all over the place, being creative. Then they have to first transition to a development company where they get plants steps and where someone tells them don't move left or right, which just needs to be very fast at this point because then we can talk to the industry.

 

01:09:23:05 - 01:09:28:04

Christian Soschner

Yeah, and then the next thing is to get them to go out on the market and sell.

 

01:09:28:13 - 01:09:36:23

Dan Bowyer

Yeah, that must be, that must be a complete mind melt for most, for most very technical academic people to go and do that.

 

01:09:37:00 - 01:09:48:22

Christian Soschner

I think it's a mind melting. To the other hand it's, it's a lot of traveling, it's still there at this conferences you don't meet the customers anywhere in a pub nearby. You just Yeah. Travel the world.

 

01:09:48:24 - 01:09:50:23

Dan Bowyer

Yes. Yes.

 

01:09:50:23 - 01:09:56:06

Christian Soschner

A great Would you would you invest in keep tech companies which supports it. Yeah. Yeah.

 

01:09:56:06 - 01:10:04:20

Christian Soschner

But what's the competition that you wants to see. What's the frame that you want to see When someone says I'm a tech founder, I want to pitch to succeed?

 

01:10:04:22 - 01:10:06:18

Dan Bowyer

Well, I think I

 

01:10:06:18 - 01:10:46:09

Dan Bowyer

I'm not convinced anybody would say I'm a deep tech founder. I mean, it's a bit it's a little bit like when Web three kind of became popular and it just annoyed the hell out of me for so long. And crypto I find offensive. I think it's just theft. And there was this big wave of, you know, distributed ledgers and I'm a web3 entrepreneur and I'm a web3 founder and I never I never we've we've done one blockchain business, which is all about intraday bank liquidity where banks, massive banks lend to massive banks for the compliance because people don't know that JPMorgan needs to lend money to Goldman Sachs so that they

 

01:10:46:09 - 01:11:17:05

Dan Bowyer

can trade. They don't understand the mechanics that go on. So they've got a blockchain based platform that that transaction. But I don't care about the technology. I just I find the human application of it sometimes offensive, but nobody would come to me and say, I'm a deep tech founder. I think they would say I'm solving this problem. And it's, you know, I was speaking to a lady the other day who's got a new way of they're building a platform to scan for cancer, you know, scan scans for cancer, but they've got a whole new way.

 

01:11:17:05 - 01:11:44:21

Dan Bowyer

And she said it's going to take two or three years to develop the technology to a to a significant enough level. I'm not convinced that deep tech I would put that in the deeper tech bucket because it's it's effectively taking a punt that this technology will work and this team is the right team to create that technology. But she didn't punt herself as a deep tech offering, although you could argue that she wasn't.

 

01:11:44:22 - 01:12:03:20

Dan Bowyer

So we don't do we also don't do things like there's a lot of space stuff going around at the moment. You find utter nonsense in how we're going to manage, you know, rockets or satellites or mining operations on, the moon or whatever it might be. I think you could put some of that in the deep tech bucket. I guess it's kind of not.

 

01:12:03:20 - 01:12:29:22

Dan Bowyer

I mean, we do we did see a quantum startup last year that was doing the network piece for quantum computers, even though some of the quantum computers don't exist yet. They were out there building the network and the security around the network that would support those kinds of computers. We get out of whatever, 400 cubits and into the thousands that we need for it to become a useful, a useful platform.

 

01:12:29:24 - 01:12:54:07

Dan Bowyer

So but they didn't pump themselves as a deep tech offering. They you know, there was just, you know, quantum networking or whatever they call themselves. So I don't know if I'm answering your question, but I as as there is a real world application or an adjacent real world application of something that is just going to be amazing. And whether that's quantum or fusion or something that is slightly outlandish I would still back it.

 

01:12:54:09 - 01:13:04:20

Christian Soschner

But it needs to have some component that explains to you that at the end of the development roads, there be a customer who benefits from.

 

01:13:04:20 - 01:13:07:15

Dan Bowyer

You know, walk in those in in some instances,

 

01:13:07:15 - 01:13:23:08

Dan Bowyer

no, I would say 90% of the time you're right. I would I would feel comfortable taking punt if if, for example, we've just invested in an Israeli startup who are effectively stopping a algorithms

 

01:13:23:08 - 01:13:35:23

Dan Bowyer

hallucinating. They're creating the way to to effectively produce

 

01:13:35:23 - 01:13:42:20

Dan Bowyer

proven results from from from from A.I. algorithms I outputs or alarms at the moment.

 

01:13:42:21 - 01:13:56:18

Dan Bowyer

So that's a I mean, that you could almost put in the deep tech bucket, but the team were probably, I think in the top five people that could do this in the world. And on that basis,

 

01:13:56:18 - 01:13:58:11

Dan Bowyer

I mean, like I said, I'm a gambler.

 

01:13:58:11 - 01:14:04:06

Dan Bowyer

It's about probabilistic thinking. Will they do it? Probably not. Is there a chance that they will solve this problem?

 

01:14:04:06 - 01:14:05:03

Dan Bowyer

Yes, there is.

 

01:14:05:03 - 01:14:27:21

Dan Bowyer

And are they the team to do it? Yeah, they're right up there with the top ten thinkers or maybe top 100 things in the world are doing this solving this problem, solving the problem of A.I., being smarter and secure and more compliant. So so yeah, I and they sometimes, sometimes I wouldn't do it as a day job, but every now and then I don't mind games.

 

01:14:27:21 - 01:14:33:20

Dan Bowyer

You know what? You are impressive. This is something that absolutely needs to happen. Let's go for it.

 

01:14:33:22 - 01:14:40:01

Christian Soschner

But the two different that you stepped away a little bit from your principle.

 

01:14:40:24 - 01:15:10:20

Dan Bowyer

They haven't done it yet. This is the challenge. They are just the the prob possibly I'd say top five impressive teams I've ever met and. The way they work together, the skills that they have and then the skills that the others three founding members and this complementary skill set of just I mean it's I normally run for the hills for example when it's a team of academics because academics don't know how to build a business.

 

01:15:10:20 - 01:15:35:08

Dan Bowyer

Just to be rude, just for a second, but they've got the commercial, they've got this unbelievable science, academic science background and also the team that's been built behind them of world class brains. But they haven't built they've only built, you know, parts of the thing. So we haven't, you know, it's a complete punt. It's a it's a gamble very often.

 

01:15:35:08 - 01:15:48:11

Christian Soschner

But we stay with this deep tech academic companies that you were talking about. When I look at teams, I see scientist one, number two, number three and number four, Weekend MBA.

 

01:15:48:13 - 01:15:49:06

Dan Bowyer

Yes.

 

01:15:49:08 - 01:15:55:16

Christian Soschner

He's the commercial guy. He's the commercial guy. Then what skills do you want to see in a company, in a team.

 

01:15:55:18 - 01:15:58:14

Dan Bowyer

As a B, I back technical and domain founders. So

 

01:15:58:14 - 01:16:16:05

Dan Bowyer

I need to know that you've lived to know the problem and that you are brutally smart and but the Smarts don't necessarily need to all live in the domain. They I've just backed a guy who is an ex surgeon. Incredible brain surgeon, never wanted to be a surgeon, was kind of forced through the family.

 

01:16:16:10 - 01:16:34:08

Dan Bowyer

The family part became a surgeon. He's also working in recruitment, which is an industry that I said I would never get into an investment. I hate wreck tech and h.r. People tech, i think is a folly like edtech. I think it's just it's just a vacuous, empty money pit. But he's he's a non domain expert in wreck tech.

 

01:16:34:08 - 01:16:56:22

Dan Bowyer

But the team was so impressive and they had commercial, they had the smarts, they had somebody who's from the domain they they've at it's an early, early stage gamble, but sometimes you need to create the rules and sometimes you need to break the rules. So that's that's part of the 8020 I think is fine. 80% follow the rule, 20% break the rules.

 

01:16:56:24 - 01:17:03:12

Christian Soschner

So he wants to have a team before there was a skill set and not with the same.

 

01:17:03:14 - 01:17:32:00

Dan Bowyer

Yeah diverse skill set I if they don't have commercial will hire in commercial because it's the one senior function that can be bought in you can't buy in more you put can do any of them but you can't really buy in domain. You can't really buy in kind of that hunger to solve the problem. The entrepreneur you can't buy in the founder, the founder level, you can't, I don't believe, but you can buy in the commercial functions.

 

01:17:32:00 - 01:17:53:11

Dan Bowyer

You can buy in somebody who's who's lived in that problem set or an adjacent problem set and has taken a company from, you know, 50 or more to 5 million more. You can buy that in. And they either become part of the core founding or core management or core team or they don't and they move on. They they do their job and then they move on to the next gig.

 

01:17:53:13 - 01:18:04:21

Dan Bowyer

And that's okay. But that's quite a functional role that that leads sales at the right time to bottle found ourselves in transition. It's quite a functional role, but everything else has to be inside.

 

01:18:04:21 - 01:18:05:00

Christian Soschner

I

 

01:18:05:00 - 01:18:28:09

Christian Soschner

think that that's true. I mean, Apple had a similar story. I read it in the book. The pilot by Sebastian was composed similar be they needed to hire at least one sales guy, one guy with a business background so that obviously some are motivated to invest in the company. Yeah and it leads me to the next question on your LinkedIn profile.

 

01:18:28:09 - 01:18:49:18

Christian Soschner

I read the post, That's why you stated. Khosla I mean, you do a lot of work with your founders and it sounds to me that your activist and Vinod Khosla made the statement that 90% of startup investors at zero value. Yeah, so a company and 70% at negative value. Yeah. How do you see this statement in a cluster?

 

01:18:49:20 - 01:18:52:08

Dan Bowyer

I think. I think he's, he's spiking,

 

01:18:52:08 - 01:19:15:04

Dan Bowyer

he's spiking the, the algorithm is to, to present news and to present headlines. I agree that I mean let's look I have, I, I'll take it personally. Have I ever added negative value in a strategy or a board meeting. Yes. Have I have I have I have been an oxygen thief in meetings.

 

01:19:15:04 - 01:19:44:22

Dan Bowyer

Not often, but every now and then. I've I've not added value to most of the meetings that have with other VCs or investors at board or at strategy with founding teams add value. I would say it's about a 5050 hit rate. So 50% either do or do regularly or do generally, and 50% just don't. I mean, some of the boards I'm on are just updating old people and they're miserable and I'm not leading them and it's not my place.

 

01:19:44:22 - 01:20:12:20

Dan Bowyer

But I resent being on them because it's just not adding any values to the to the founders at all, which is not cool. I think any board meeting that is not creating a change or adding adding marginal gains at the very least I think is bad. So I struggle with that. Most VCs have never worked in a startup, so how if you've never worked in a startup, can you advise an early stage founder to build a startup?

 

01:20:12:22 - 01:20:33:11

Dan Bowyer

You can't. We can patent match to a degree, so you can look across the portfolio, what books you've read and stuff, and you can match and you can reply. And a lot of VCs do that thinking, that they are world class and they then, you know, they know everything and they don't. And it is I've been on board meetings where founders have been given advice by other VCs, and I've just sat there going, That's bad.

 

01:20:33:11 - 01:20:43:02

Dan Bowyer

I mean, there's there's stuff that doesn't make any difference and it's kind of nihilistic. So what on there's bad advice. There's bad things today that happens

 

01:20:43:02 - 01:20:57:14

Dan Bowyer

So the 9070, who knows? But I think he's just you know, he's just making a play and I'm sifted and TechCrunch will lap it up, right? Yeah. But I would argue that many early stage

 

01:20:57:14 - 01:20:59:02

Dan Bowyer

investors are just not additive.

 

01:20:59:02 - 01:21:22:09

Dan Bowyer

They don't want to be. They're just not they don't any value. And that's obviously going to make up the 90 and those that are actively damaging. I don't think it's 70%. I think there are a number that that try and do good. But a founder's job is to be the best filter in the world. So sometimes my best intentioned advice or support or frameworks are not going to work.

 

01:21:22:09 - 01:21:45:01

Dan Bowyer

And just because it's worked in the past doesn't mean that that is going to work in the future for them. In this scenario right now. So you could argue that the 70% adding negative value, that's the founder's fault. I mean, you shouldn't just listen and blindly follow. You should listen a lesson, a lesson and then be the best filter in the world to go, You know what?

 

01:21:45:01 - 01:22:02:03

Dan Bowyer

I know what I'm saying, but I don't agree. And I think this and I'm going to do this this way. And I'm all for being wrong. I love being wrong. I think a lot of the magic that happens in my industry is when I'm wrong or when when other other investors are wrong. But most people would never admit that because we've got egos the size of planets.

 

01:22:02:05 - 01:22:13:18

Dan Bowyer

So I think his statement is fundamentally wrong. Bullshit in the bullshit bucket, but I think the essence of it is absolutely right.

 

01:22:13:20 - 01:22:21:15

Christian Soschner

Yeah, not every not every investor makes a good board member. You mentioned the term, but what is the ideal role of report in a company in Europe?

 

01:22:21:15 - 01:22:28:02

Dan Bowyer

No problems. That's it. So if you're not solving problems every single board meeting, it's wrong.

 

01:22:28:03 - 01:22:29:05

Christian Soschner

Change It

 

01:22:30:08 - 01:22:45:08

Christian Soschner

I mean, I can connect the the quote from being a counselor to my experience, especially with early stage companies, with with business angels where everyone basically wants to be on a pilot role after they invested €5,000 in and claiming it. But yeah.

 

01:22:45:14 - 01:22:49:17

Dan Bowyer

Yeah. Can I have all the updates? Can I have a board seat. Can I information. No, piss off.

 

01:22:49:19 - 01:22:57:19

Christian Soschner

So very often said not everyone who invests in a company needs to be on a board because it's not a function, it's a process.

 

01:22:57:19 - 01:23:01:17

Dan Bowyer

I can't wait to sack myself from boards and find people that are more

 

01:23:01:17 - 01:23:14:13

Dan Bowyer

impressive. They're going to take the team to the next stage. Most people want to hang on as I just don't agree with it and boards should never lost. The board structure should never lost more than a year. Every year the board and the board structure should be challenged.

 

01:23:14:13 - 01:23:22:05

Dan Bowyer

Is this what we need for this next phase of growth? Are these right people for this next phase of growth? And I'm super happy to be sacked.

 

01:23:22:07 - 01:23:43:15

Christian Soschner

This is something that is also my opinion when I look at board this. I mean look at the what what's the platform which people should be on a board. They would like to hear your opinion on that. I always said, look at the next goal of the company. Look at the next milestone. You people who already did that and put these people on board to help straighten things out in the company.

 

01:23:43:15 - 01:23:46:21

Christian Soschner

You hope to find a certain figure to the company. How would you structure what.

 

01:23:49:01 - 01:24:09:22

Dan Bowyer

I think the only fundamental structure that I would always apply is that the investors can never out power. The founding team. So if there's I mean, you don't want to be in a board, it's too early stage to be too unwieldy. It cannot be too big. It could be three, five people, I think, Max maximum, maybe a fourth.

 

01:24:09:22 - 01:24:37:14

Dan Bowyer

But then obviously the voting oddness is the governance is incredibly important. Having a strong governance structure, even in early, early businesses, it is hyper important. But the only the only structural thing I think that I would I would enforce is a balance the investor and the founding team in voting. Right? So there's an energy balance and then having a third party as the as the third or fifth member a non.

 

01:24:37:14 - 01:25:16:24

Dan Bowyer

Exactly. Or some form of character who's going to bring in the skill that as you've mentioned, is going to get you to the next milestone. So have they built a SAS business? Do they have a big network? Can they help you solve a specific problem? So I think balance, balance and then and then having that the magic, the magic sauce, that network piece, that money connector, that network connector, that problem solve, I think that's that's how that's the only the only structural advice I would give to founding teams is that and then just be rigorous that everything that you do for boards should be no more than what you do for a management meeting.

 

01:25:16:24 - 01:25:37:00

Dan Bowyer

You should be producing no more content than you do foots just to run the business and then make sure that every board meeting for solving a problem, even if it's just a marginal gain, that's fine. But every single time this you bring something to the table, how do we and there's got to be some form of executable, something you can't just be bullshit talking bullshit.

 

01:25:37:00 - 01:25:44:00

Dan Bowyer

It's got to be some form of, I can action that and I can filter on that and I can do something with that. As long as you're doing that, I think you're fine.

 

01:25:44:02 - 01:25:48:19

Christian Soschner

Now, I have an agenda and a clear goal for a board meeting. It's not just chit chatting. Yeah.

 

01:25:48:21 - 01:25:56:16

Dan Bowyer

I'm on one at the moment, which is just chit chat and I'm posturing and VCs being egos and it's a shame.

 

01:25:56:18 - 01:26:19:16

Christian Soschner

I would like to use the last minutes of our conversation. It seems to be about talking about boats in the air to talk about openly. I mid-November I was very surprised. I mean, I man, my opinion was a winning company. They got Microsofts. They got, yeah, two months, 200 million users and. I just thought this is the next $1 trillion company IPO.

 

01:26:19:18 - 01:26:28:07

Christian Soschner

Somewhere around smart money is what would make it And then suddenly hiccup put it. How do you see the events that happened at air?

 

01:26:28:07 - 01:27:03:10

Dan Bowyer

I mean it's and yeah it's the it's it's an unusual beast for many reasons insofar it was obviously set up as open source. I nonprofit and to counter Google and I mean Sam Altman doesn't even have any shares in the business he has no in the mothership at all. So there's this kind of misalignment of what is an identity crisis in what open air is.

 

01:27:03:12 - 01:27:28:22

Dan Bowyer

And then you had a board that served the original intent around open source and open air. So if you have a board that is not good for function and you have a misalignment in what the hell you stand for and what your purpose is, and, you know, open is now closed for profit, it's that you can't you can't you could never square that circle.

 

01:27:28:24 - 01:27:52:19

Dan Bowyer

So who knows what's going on behind closed doors? Maybe we'll never know. But it has to be. In the camp of Sam Alia, others are trying to take the company in this direction. The board is hell bent on that direction. There are challenges around safety in alignment. I mean, a lot of it. I'm not in a safety and alignment expert, but I don't.

 

01:27:52:19 - 01:28:12:17

Dan Bowyer

I'm not a demon. I don't buy it. I don't buy it for a second. I don't I'm much more than the cons count of, you know, I didn't have an intent to kill the human race. I mean, even a superintelligent, I you know, there's no malevolent requirement to then, you know, twist your mustache and then kill all of humanity is why why would a technology to do that?

 

01:28:12:17 - 01:28:33:04

Dan Bowyer

So I'm much I'm not a dreamer, but I do think there are questions to be answered around. You know, we're on the edge of this general intelligence. So my sense is that there was pushes and pulls on alignment and therefore the misalignment is evident in the company and the direction of the firm. And there was a that wasn't fit for purpose.

 

01:28:33:04 - 01:28:44:20

Dan Bowyer

I think. I think they're the only two things that that create. What the hell do I know? I mean, I know nothing. I am an early stage VC from London. I, I'm not even in Silicon Valley, although I don't know. I mean.

 

01:28:44:22 - 01:28:47:24

Christian Soschner

I mean, the advantage of the advantage

 

01:28:47:24 - 01:28:55:18

Christian Soschner

of early stage companies is stand not in the public, basically. I mean, when something happens, it doesn't really matter. You can write an email and that's that's so true.

 

01:28:55:18 - 01:29:01:10

Dan Bowyer

And we are that we are the definition of insider trading. I mean, we we we have all of the data because

 

01:29:01:10 - 01:29:10:22

Dan Bowyer

companies are private, right? So we know everything that's going on in our in our startup. So it's it's often it's often a nice place to be when you're when you're in the private markets.

 

01:29:10:24 - 01:29:23:24

Christian Soschner

When you think back to my time in public markets, in public companies, there was always a clear direction. Negotiate behind closed doors. Yeah. And then there is one line of communication Yeah, and everybody must have a shiny happy face.

 

01:29:23:24 - 01:29:30:23

Dan Bowyer

I had the same story. I would just. I would just want to blur the truth and I can I can I don't think I could function like that.

 

01:29:30:23 - 01:29:38:20

Christian Soschner

I mean, coming from that direction, I was very surprised about the communication that went out from me. I just simply said that we don't trust smart man anymore. Yeah.

 

01:29:38:20 - 01:30:00:14

Dan Bowyer

And his statement right, That's a crazy statement. We know he's become Miskin. What was it? Uncommunicative and untrustworthy or not? That's. But that's true. That that's just a it's just a weird thing to say. I can understand them discussing the outcome of a thing. But not that he's lying and misleading. I mean, it's just what did he lie and mislead?

 

01:30:00:16 - 01:30:12:01

Dan Bowyer

What's the outcome of a is it a new strategy direction? I mean, that's just is it is it I just I don't like you very much anymore. It's just a it's just a really weird. But then you're always going to have problems

 

01:30:12:01 - 01:30:28:20

Dan Bowyer

when you don't have an energetic connection with cash because Sam's not has no ownership in the business. I don't understand how you can manage that energetically when there is I've got nothing I don't have I don't own one share in this business. I just feels it feels completely misaligned from

 

01:30:28:20 - 01:30:30:16

Dan Bowyer

the off.

 

01:30:30:18 - 01:30:37:24

Christian Soschner

Yeah, maybe something that needs fixing and they want it to grow further so that they align the interests with at least stock options.

 

01:30:38:04 - 01:30:53:08

Dan Bowyer

I think. So it has to be weights and measures, right? There has to be some kind of balancing act between I have got skin in the game. I mean, Sam Walton is a very wealthy man in his own right. But there has to be some form of, you know, I think in the new board structure. I think I don't think Sam was even on the board.

 

01:30:53:08 - 01:31:05:24

Dan Bowyer

I mean, it's just it's just how can you not have the leader of the company? And I was like, this is this is no good. And Microsoft, I think have got observer, right. So this isn't going to end well. This is not going to end well.

 

01:31:06:01 - 01:31:24:01

Christian Soschner

They have a lot of challenges that I totally agree then and after conversation with you, and I think we could go on another hour. But yeah, I want to value your time. One last question. Founders or investors, listen to this episode. What piece of advice would you want to give them At the end of this call.

 

01:31:24:03 - 01:31:55:09

Dan Bowyer

Founders and investors advice. I think it's a cheeseball one. It's a bit it's a bit cheesy, but the next wave of commercial activity will be about making money and doing good and creating change. So maybe not advice. More of a statement or more of a kind of a a maxim or a request, which is make money and do good.

 

01:31:55:09 - 01:32:12:08

Dan Bowyer

Now, doing good doesn't mean saving all the babies or making malaria nets or curing AIDS Do good can be in a multitude of ways. And it's more than just not being a dick. So we've moved on from don't be a dick to do some good. So

 

01:32:12:08 - 01:32:20:14

Dan Bowyer

whether you're a founder, do good. If you're an investor, invest good, do good things, make the world a better place.

 

01:32:20:19 - 01:32:26:03

Dan Bowyer

And that's that's a cheeseball and it's cheesy, but I don't care. That's that's the reality.

 

01:32:26:05 - 01:32:31:15

Christian Soschner

That's a great statement. I think we have to work on that to make the world a better place. Live it better than you found it.

 

01:32:31:17 - 01:32:33:08

Dan Bowyer

Yeah. Yeah.

 

01:32:33:10 - 01:32:40:09

Christian Soschner

Dan, thank you very much for this conversation. I enjoyed every single minute and I'm sure we see chat on LinkedIn.

 

01:32:40:11 - 01:32:42:16

Dan Bowyer

Yeah. And when you're in London, let me know.

 

01:32:42:18 - 01:32:46:08

Christian Soschner

I will. I will then have a great stay. Have a great weekend.

 

01:32:46:10 - 01:32:50:23

Dan Bowyer

Just take care. Bye bye. Bye. Bye bye.

 

01:32:50:23 - 01:32:55:14

Dan Bowyer

as we close this episode with Ben Boyer.

 

01:32:55:16 - 01:33:26:03

Dan Bowyer

We've chosen it for the heart of venture capitalism and often the dynamics of impactful investing and the roadmap for tech startups aiming for monumental success. From the strategic significance of sales and product market fit to the profound insights into deep tech and the ethos of doing good while making money, then expertise has offered a beacon for CEOs and investors alike.

 

01:33:26:05 - 01:33:46:15

Dan Bowyer

A huge thank you to you, the listener, for joining me on this enlightening exploration. Your engagement is the fuel that powers my show. If dance, vision and insights have sparked inspiration or curiosity that's amplified this conversation.

 

01:33:46:15 - 01:34:01:20

Dan Bowyer

For those tuning in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any other podcast platform, I am immensely grateful for your ratings and reviews. Your positive feedback doesn't just brighten my day.

 

01:34:01:22 - 01:34:09:22

Dan Bowyer

It helps others stumble upon the podcast, enriching the community with more avid listeners and future visionaries.

 

01:34:09:22 - 01:34:20:07

Dan Bowyer

Don't keep these insights to yourself. Share these episodes with peers, friends, or anyone poised to make a difference in the world of business and technology.

 

01:34:20:07 - 01:34:36:04

Dan Bowyer

Your support is crucial in the mission of the podcast to bring more fourth leaders like Dan Boya to the table, sharing invaluable knowledge and shaping the future of innovation, entrepreneurship and investing.

 

01:34:36:04 - 01:34:49:22

Dan Bowyer

Be sure to stay subscribed for more episodes that promise to inspire challenge and to crypto for the exciting growth ahead. Until next time, keep pushing boundaries, keep innovating and continue to grow.

 

01:34:49:22 - 01:34:57:24

Dan Bowyer

Together, let's build a future where business success and positive impact go hand in hand.