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OurCrowd Managing Partner Dan Bennett Shares his Experiences on Investing in Startups from All Around the World
By Lauren Fowkes
Get ready for another episode of the “Perfect Pitch Show” where Brandon Burns, Head of Community – Runway Virtual, has interviews small business founders / entrepreneurs about secret sauce to their successful start-up journey.
Today we get to know Angel Investor and Managing Partner at OurCrowd, Dan Bennett. With nearly 20 years’ experience globally, Dan understands all the challenges that come with investing and venture capitalism. OurCrowd is a platform that aids entrepreneurs fulfil their dreams and comprised of investors led by co-investing and focuses mostly on deep science and deep technology. They then support those investments and mentor the founders of the start-ups to provide as much support as they can.
Dan talks to us about some of the brilliant start-ups OurCrowd have invested in and the criteria needed to join their portfolio. It is our hope here at Runway that our regional and remote entrepreneurs find a spark of inspiration and get in contact with Dan at OurCrowd to reach your full potential.
An Overview of OurCrowd
OurCrowd was started back in 2013 and is a leading equity crowdfunding platform designed for investment in global start-ups. They are a platform for accredited angel investors and allows them to invest in hand-picked, vetted start-ups alongside the team at OurCrowd. They have a number of offices all around the world, including Australia, Europe, the USA, and Canada just to name a few. Their goal is to help entrepreneurs live out their dreams and fulfil their mission by connecting them with investors and high net wealth who share common interests and goals. This allows for investors to make the decision to invest based on opportunities that resonate with them. OurCrowd will look at around 3,000 to 3,500 deals in a year but will only invest in about 20 of them! They have invested in over 200 companies in total with 40 exits when they were bought out by larger companies such as Uber, Oracle, Snapchat etc. and they have raised about $2billion in the last 7 to 8 years.
What Kind of Start-Ups do OurCrowd Invest In?
Dan and his team at OurCrowd are heavily focussed on deep science and technology and this is reflected in the types of companies they invest in. Dan listed a few of the specialised areas they look to finance; agriculture tech, drones, AI solutions, healthcare and cyber security are just a couple. Getting into the more detailed criteria, OurCrowd look at a variety of different attributes, from the quality of tech to the business model, from the quality of the market size and how the company is going to make money. But the most important standard is the quality of the founder. Are they hungry? How much experience do they have? Are they flexible? These are all questions that Dan has in the back of his mind when he is deciding whether to invest in an idea or not. While there are many other elements that come into play, Dan stresses the importance of getting along with the business founder, he says that a partnership is “like a marriage” and that the most vital thing to him is that this is a person he can connect with. Dan describes himself as being a super active angel investor, he is very hands on with the team and the founder of the company. These kinds of investors are highly desirable and extremely hard to find. This is where the importance of connecting with the founder comes from, because as an active investor Dan plans on spending a lot of time with you.
A classic example of the type of business OurCrowd will invest in is that of a start-up named Edgybees. Edgybees creates virtual worlds and HUDs on top of any real-world scene using augmented reality tech. Recently the technology was used to help the with the NSW fires, able to project dynamic imagery and key location points to the firefighters so that they could still manoeuvre around active fires with smoke obscuring their vision. The technology could also help them understand a scene and judge where another fire could begin, which direction they were spreading and help track the location of the firefights themselves. It was vital in securing the safety of the firefights, and this project was originally pitched for videogames. Edgybees is a key case showing that it pays off for a founder to be flexible and open-minded when it came to the direction for their business.
Another great project Dan is excited to be a part of is Safewill, an app that is “bringing will writing into the 21st century”. With Safewill users can create a fully functional will within 10 minutes then simply print it out and sign it. It’s a great platform for our regional and remote readers because they can prepare a will without having the burden of travelling to a lawyer and incurring their heavy costs. There has been a lot of law changes and it’s entirely possible your current will may be out of date, Safewill makes it easy to track these changes and edit your will.
Dan’s Biggest Challenges and The Ask
We all have problems to face all of the time, but Dan’s biggest challenge is ensuring he keeps balance in his life. When you love what you do it doesn’t really feel like work, which is a good thing but you can fall into a trap of only working from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep, and this is something Dan knows too well. He is addicted to start-ups, supporting and investing in them and providing the best service to the investors as well. His challenge is keeping mentally healthy and making sure he still makes time for the other important aspects of life. Exercise, eating healthy, catching up with friends and family and other recreational activities are still a vital part of life, even if you absolutely love your job.
Dan encourages our readers to seize their dreams and just go for it! The worst-case scenario is that there will be other jobs waiting for you on the other side if it doesn’t work out, but if you’re passionate and work hard at it you’d be surprised at how successful you could be. Don’t be afraid of the obstacles on the journey, because they will help you learn and grow as a founder.
You can contact Dan here: