After personally traveling to 36 cities in 10 months, Ton van ‘t Noordende, the new CEO of 01Ventures realized that ‘deep tech’ and fundamental emerging technologies are the future of European startups. Having founded e/d/t Global, an independent organization built to facilitate the pioneers in emerging tech, and working as a partner at Keadyn, a Dutch-based seed/early stage venture investment company and B2B enterprise-focused fund, Ton has assumed the role of 01Ventures’ CEO. We reached out to Ton to ask him about the investment philosophy of 01Ventures and how he fits into the new role.
What motivates you to join 01Ventures?
“I believe that the venture game is changing – for the better. It’s no longer a play that requires solely financial engineering capabilities. It requires in-depth knowledge of the technology at hand and a more diverse skillset in order to be able to add value to the companies on a continuous base.
I’ve been looking all around the globe to find like-minded partners with diverse backgrounds and have found this in the partnership with the 01V team: our combined experience ranges from engineering and entrepreneurship to more traditional investment management and Global CTO roles.”
How do your previous roles at Keadyn VC and e/d/t global help you lead 01Ventures as the new CEO?
“It almost feels like everything I’ve done in the past 10 years has been leading up towards this role. I greatly benefit from the experience as a startup CEO myself, having experienced firsthand how intricate and complex the whole journey from inception to exit actually is.
Furthermore, my time at Keadyn, and now e/d/t global, has allowed me to build a strong network of forward-thinking innovators which I am able to bring to 01V. In leading any organization it is important to be able to draw on valuable insights from a vast network but never more so than in the emerging and deep technology space.”
What is it that 01Ventures will be able to provide to deep tech startups to stay in Europe and not move to the US to seek out investments and growth?
“This challenge is one that we’re passionate about and one that is larger than any one player. While we are excited to be a part of the growing pool of investable capital available in Europe, which is a key step to keeping our innovations here, we are more excited to be a part of the new generation of tech-forward investors who bring a fundamental understanding of the technologies and their applications rather than just merely their financial forecast.
By bringing this depth of technical understanding and combining it with our operational experience we believe we represent the new wave of venture capital in Europe which is well positioned to provide US style support here at home.”
Tell me about your investment thesis. What do you look for in a company before investing?
01 Ventures intends to invest in companies taking on big global problems with very bold ambitions. From a technology perspective, we are interested in companies who have developed solutions that fit our thesis on the tech trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, etc. Beyond that, we are particularly interested in companies where the product over the medium and long term can be applied to multiple sectors/ geographies. Most importantly, we look at the founders and key management. The success of the business will be down to them, and beyond the makeup of the team, we only need to be sure that we (the investor and them) can have a good working relationship.
What are some emerging trends/areas in the deep tech space that Silicon Canals readers should be paying attention to?
“Blockchain and AI are the hottest topics right now, but looking beyond that we are very keen on the trend to do more computing “at the edge” and on the next evolution of human-computer interface.”
If we zoom into Europe, what do you think are the existing problems that entrepreneurs should look into (rather than trying to become the next Airbnb and Uber)?
“Europe is a key player in inventing core technologies over the years. We have an amazing R&D and engineering heritage that we can build on. The world is facing several big challenges, which some of these technologies can help with. Founders in Europe should focus on building and applying these technologies, such as AI and blockchain, on big problems.
There is a tendency to apply these powerful technologies to finance or marketing problems, but I’d encourage entrepreneurs to look at other large opportunities in fields like medicine, education, resource management (environment) etc.”
What will be 01Venture’s approach towards Blockchain startups and specifically ICOs?
“Although we welcome ICOs as an addition to the funding landscape, we are unlikely to invest in an ICO in the current format. However, we are optimistic about the outlook and think with regulation and better structuring, we will be more open to investing then.
More broadly, our view is blockchain is a very promising technology that is in its infancy. We are keen to invest in companies that are evolving the technology beyond its current limitations with a particular interest in its application outside of cryptocurrencies.”
What’s your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who are on the lookout for more investment?
“It is important for a founder to begin by considering whether they need venture capital funding. There are many types of funding, and the venture capital is just one category. A founder who sincerely wants to build a business that fits the profile that venture investors look for should approach us.
Beyond this hurdle, it is important to remember we are long-term investors so a founder must be clear in the vision of what they want to build over this longer period. Translating this to the practical, a well thought through short and medium-term plan that is on the path to a big vision is key; think through the key milestones you will achieve with this funding and where the company will be 18-24 months after funding.”