Passion for your profession is an indispensable ingredient for success. Our Amotek founder Filip Smet considers it so important that he integrated it into his company name: AMOtek, the love of technological progress. But in addition to supporting companies in IT developments, funding and go-to-market strategies, Amotek Group takes an active role in investing in promising startups.
We recently sat down with our founder to hear how he selects the startups he invests in.
Filip Smet: "The startup team is without a doubt the first thing I look at. Who are the individuals behind the company? Is there a 'click' on a personal level? It is important that this click is there because we support the startups we invest in with the search for contacts and the optimization of their offering. You tie yourself to them in the long term. But commitment also plays a big role. Do the entrepreneurs show me that they are committed full time to their business? If not, I am less inclined to invest. They have to show me that they want to take a boat to an island, set the boat on fire and then hammer away at their success on the island. If they don't want to cut themselves off from other projects to focus on their business they are not taking any risk themselves. So why take a risk with an investment? Finally, there must also be some track record that the entrepreneurs can present: experience in the industry they are launching in or a business they have built in the past.'
Are there certain red flags for you?
‘A solo entrepreneur is a red flag for me. If you are alone, you are much more dependent on that one person and at greater risk. I do want to nuance this because it's not necessarily because there is only one founder that it's immediately a no-go. If a team is built, they have surrounded themselves with the right partners, then it is more than a solo story. Another red flag is the lack of a good exit strategy. Good agreements make good friends. A long-term vision is often hard to pin down. A business model evolves at lightning speed, and if the visions are too far apart, the possibility of ending the story must be provided.’
‘Another element I factor into my decision is the link to Amotek's services and my own expertise. I always ask myself the question: can I add value for this startup? Are there interesting contacts I can link them to? For us, the focus is mainly on B2B, possibly a B2C that can also be rolled out B2B. I also always ask the entrepreneurs the question: what do you expect from us? If they have unrealistic expectations or require actions that are not in line with our core, there is a smaller chance that we will invest.’
‘I certainly don't stare blindly at numbers. In fact, I would venture to say that I go forward on my intuition rather than the Excel with the financial plan. What I do find essential is that products/services have already been sold. If the founding team or the CEO themselves fail to sell anything, I don't believe a sales can do it afterwards.’
'When a startup approaches us with a funding question, we sit down with them several times. From those conversations I derive with what mindset they are in entrepreneurship. As a founder, you constantly have a lot of challenges. When one problem is solved, the next one presents itself. Good entrepreneurs think in solutions, not in problems. They also know which problems deserve which attention and can prioritize. When they fail to do that, I drop out. A successful entrepreneur is also someone who picks things up quickly and acts proactively. There must be progress between our meetings and more importantly, they must take the feedback we give them and work with it. If I pass my contacts on to an entrepreneur and they do nothing with it, I will never invest in them. For me, the degree to which things move forward and therefore the proactivity of the team is the key to success.'