Meet our member: JonatanMars
We would like to introduce you to one of our clubs’ members. They are special because they are a venture capital fund. This fund is currently the only formal open-end Slovenian venture capital fund, still investing, since others are in the exiting phase.
- Name: JonatanMars PRO
- Chief Investment Officer: Dr. David Vegelj
- Portfolio: 2 startups and 1 small company, among them Smart Cargo
- Status: open for startups to fundraise and investors to join
JonatanMars PRO was set up less than two years ago from the Vzajemci capital investment group, when Vzajemci investors wanted to diversify their portfolios with the exciting dynamics of the startup world. It’s an exclusive fund for professional investors with minimum 150k EUR commitment, however, it remains open for new professional investors to join at any time. A certified business appraiser evaluates the fund twice a year, and this is when new investors can buy fund points.
>>What’s JonatanMars’s investment policy?
The fund set out to invest in:
- minority stakes of
- Slovenian startups
- that try to solve frequent, big, expensive problems,
- have a global potential
- with defined product-market fit, motivated team, and clear business model.
The fund is sector agnostic and focuses on startups in early fundraising stages, including A-round.
>>But things rarely develop as planned, do they? Where is the fund now?
Unsurprisingly, JonatanMars’s main principle is flexibility – when the opportunity or a challenge (read: COVID-19) emerges, they must adapt. This is true both for the fund itself as well as for the startups. It’s not that they are breaking the rules. They are bending them to fulfil the funds’ ultimate goal: investing in great teams with great potential.
The fund currently manages three investments where in two startups, JonatanMars PRO holds a majority stake; all three investments are seed or pre-seed investments; and two of them are software companies.
David is constantly scouting for interesting teams at all startup events and online. Once they start discussions with a specific team, it can take up to 6 months to close the deal. “Half a year was necessary to warm us up for one of our current portfolio startups,” says David.
>>How does JonatanMars PRO work with portfolio startups?
David personally is very involved in the day to day operations of all three portfolio companies, especially in the two where the fund manages a majority stake. They practice complete transparency and the CEOs report monthly or at least quarterly to all JonatanMars PRO fund investors.
>>Is this scalable?
No. With such a high involvement rate, JonatanMars PRO will be able to only manage 4 to 5 investments at once. Therefore, in the future, the fund plans minority investments and if required, more professionals to act as advisors to the startup teams.
>>In the short time of the funds’ existence, what did David and his team learn?
The disproportionate importance of team quality. “I knew the team was extremely important before engaging in startup investments, but once we started working with them, we were surprised how important relative to the idea the team was. We couldn’t have imagined,” says David. “It’s important that the team has excellent leadership and that each team member has clear responsibilities.”
“I also learned that less capital on startups’ accounts leads to couscous spending and creativity,” says David. This is something to keep in mind for all investors, when deciding for investment tranches, possibly tied to key performance indicators, against one-time upfront capital injection.