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The Key Ingredients for Entrepreneurial Success

Janiina Lammi, Investment Director at Vendep Capital Introducing Janiina. An Investment Director at Vendep Capital, an early-stage B2B SaaS investor in the Nordics and Baltics. Janiina’s path to becoming an investor has been exciting, with some surprising twists and turns along the way.. She has an extensive background in marketing leadership and is a former B2B SaaS founder. She believes that it probably was her founder background that led her to be chosen to lead marketing and portfolio value-add services at Vendep Capital 2,5 years ago. A year ago she was offered an opportunity to join the investment team by the 

fund's General Partners. Janiina believes that they knew that by bringing a person with a very different profile and background into the investment team, they could diversify their expertise

What are some of the key skills or qualities that you think are essential for success as an entrepreneur?

To me, one of the most crucial skills is the ability to execute. There are countless people who create strategies and action plans but fail to execute them. 

No plan unfolds exactly as envisioned. The ability to execute it is based on: determination and perseverance, rapid learning, the ability to read and analyze outside signals, and to act according to them. 

There are many different paths to success. It's important to be able to discern when to persist with the plan and when it's time to pivot. A good executor also sees things on two timelines: what needs to happen now and what needs to happen later.

What are the key factors you consider when deciding to fund startups? What is the decision-making process behind it? 

As an early-stage investor, I put a lot of emphasis on the team and the market opportunity. The team must have relevant experience in the industry whose problem they are solving. They should have diverse and complementary skills and backgrounds. The relationship between the founding team members and their roles should be evident in investor discussions and should also be reflected in ownership stakes. 

Another important question is: Is the problem you're solving truly significant and painful enough for your customer – and does it have a large enough market – when being realistic about your reach?

What advice do you have for female founders regarding building a strong founding team and leveraging their unique insights to drive business growth?

Build a truly diverse team and always choose the best experts for each role. Diversity can arise not only from gender but also from professional backgrounds and expertise, age, and other factors. An all-female team is not more gender diverse than an all-male team. An all-in-their-twenties team lacks age diversity. An all-engineer team lacks relevant skills, even if the company is a technology company.

How do you view failure in the startup world? What advice do you have for female founders on overcoming setbacks and turning them into opportunities for growth?

As a former startup founder, I know that building a startup is damn hard. Every founder makes mistakes, and it's not worth it to spend too much time worrying about them, – instead learn from them. A valuable lesson I learned is: "Never take anyone's advice or views as a single source of truth, whether it's a customer or an investor. Seek advice from many sources; gather information and process various perspectives on the matter, and eventually, you can form your own opinion."

How can female entrepreneurs build strong relationships with investors and secure funding?

The relationship with an investor can last longer than most marriages. So, do your homework: make sure the investor aligns with your growth strategy and values. 

Before reaching out, check the investor’s investment scope (from their website, i.e.), – don't waste your time on the wrong investors. A VC won't change their investment strategy no matter how great your company is. 

Be honest about your challenges, ask for thoughts and advice. 

We are people as well: please don't spam with marketing automation (updates are ok if investor asks to be added to your mailing list) and remember that "NO" means "NO". If you are not sure if it was a "NO" or "MAYBE LATER", don't hesitate to ask.

What are some common mistakes or misconceptions that first-time female founders make when fundraising, and how can they avoid or overcome these challenges?

Fundraising is time-consuming – and it always takes longer than you’d expect. So start discussions early.  Getting introduced by a trusted person helps. So, if you can get an intro, use it. 

When presenting your goals and predictions – be ambitious yet realistic: Presenting the global market as your initial market is probably not realistic, but focusing solely on the domestic market may seem unambitious. If you have a reason to define the market in a specific way, explain it to the investor.

Founders often face the challenge of prioritizing personal well-being amidst the startup grind. Can you share some specific strategies you would like founders to implement to create a healthy work-life integration while managing the demanding schedule of a startup founder?

Do sports. Get enough sleep. Eat well and spend time with your loved ones. Work doesn't love you back. The start-up journey takes years; you won't last if you don't take care of yourself. Long ago, I found myself in an unhealthy situation where my co-founder and I competed to see who worked harder. Neither of us was well, and eventually, neither was the team. But it was difficult to break the cycle because both co-founders operated in the same way. Make an agreement with your co-founders to take care of each other!

Janiina’s message to you early-stage founders is: Believe that you are enough and will find your way. No one expects you to be ready and know everything at the beginning of your journey.

Interview series by Riga TechGirls for TechChill 2024

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