Steve Schlenker, DN Capital Co-Founder, To Speak At FundingPost Event

Written by on July 29, 2014 in Blog, Events, Featured - No comments

Interview by: Lauren Fach

We are excited to speak with Steve Schlenker of DN Capital, our second confirmed guest speaker at the upcoming Phoenix FundingPost Investor Roundtable on Sept. 4, at ASU SkySong.

Schlenker was a FundingPost speaker this past February, at the Draper Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area and is happy to join the panel again for the first FundingPost event in Phoenix.

Schlenker is the Managing Partner and a co-founder at DN Capital, a venture capital firm based in London. He, along with a venture partner, works in DN Capital’s Palo Alto, Calif., office and the rest of the staff work from their main office in London. DN Capital will be recruiting for an associate to join in the US office.

DN Capital

GrowSW: What does DN Capital do?
Schlenker: We are a global Venture Capital firm with operations in London, Berlin and Palo Alto. Our key objectives are to identify, invest in and actively help companies achieve a global footprint by bringing European companies to the United States and vice versa. We have built a strong track record over the past 14 years with investments in a number of successful companies.

GrowSW: Can you give us an example of a company we may recognize?
Schlenker: Have you heard of the app Shazam? It’s a British company that created a mobile app that listens to and identifies a song instantly. The customer can also buy the song directly from iTunes or Spotify. We helped to bring Shazam to the global market and their customer base to 100 million active monthly users.

Shazam app funded by DN Capital

GrowSW: Oh cool! I actually have that app on my phone.
Schlenker: Shazam is continuing to grow and are making moves into TV, commercials, and working on opportunities with huge events like the Olympics, World Cup and Super Bowl.

GrowSW: What types of companies draw interest in DN Capital?
Schlenker: I like to invest in software that normal people can use to help their business run easier, software and services that a fairly non-technical business executive can understand and benefit from. An example of something I’d be interested in is software that can help businesspeople decide if data indicates trends or previously unforeseen connections and how to act on that data.

GrowSW: Which do you identify with more- the startup side or the investor side?
Schlenker: I’ve been an investor for 20 years. As an entrepreneur in setting up DN Capital from scratch, I can empathize with the entrepreneur; I also know that what they do is different from what I do.

GrowSW: What topics will you be speaking about at the Phoenix Investor Roundtable event?
Schlenker: The topics I am most knowledgeable in are how to expand businesses geographically, market rollouts, how to staff a team entering a new location, and how entrepreneurs should approach VCs.

GrowSW: What advice can you offer companies’ pitching the FundingPost event?
Schlenker: Concisely state the important points as quickly as possible. Make sure to touch on why we should care about the problem you are trying to solve, why you are the person best able to solve that problem, and make us feel like we should want to be your partner in solving this problem over potentially many years.

Avoid a long drawn out history and story; you won’t get to the important stuff in the 60 seconds allotted. Also, don’t forget to tell us how will you make money.

GrowSW: What have you learned from your history as an angel investor? Wait, are you an angel investor or a Venture Capitalist? What is the difference?
Schlenker: There is a hierarchy of investors.

  • The entrepreneur is either at the top or the bottom of the pyramid, depending on your perception. They are doing all of the work.
  • Next, is friends and family, where most startups receive their initial chunk of money.
  • Angel investors or seed investors are often wealthy individuals using their personal bank account to invest in a company. They get excitement out of being around a successful startup.
  • Institutionalized angel funds come from specific types of institutions with the goal of a financial return. They are usually high risk; early-stage companies and the institution may stay with them until the company goes public.
  • Venture Capitalists want to make returns for their investors while keeping risk as low as possible. They do this by choosing companies where they have an advantage like an experienced management with a history of success in startups and big contracts in the works. This helps reduce the risk without reducing return.
  • Above Venture Capitalists are their investors, pension funds, university endowments, who are allocating funds between venture capital and other asset classes including public shares and bonds.
  • At either the top or the bottom of the pyramid are the individuals who either donate to the endowments or contribute to the pension funds, which can be you and me, or the entrepreneurs when they successfully sell their companies.

GrowSW: Thank you for explaining the investor/entrepreneur hierarchy to us! That clears up a lot!

Register for the Phoenix FundingPost Investor Roundtable this fall where you will hear from Steve Schlenker of DN Capital and other great mentors from Silicon Valley. It will be a valuable experience for any startup looking to meet early-stage accredited investors.

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