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Angel Talks #5. Elena Aster. What startups will be in demand after the pandemic?

Angel Talks #5. Elena Aster. What startups will be in demand after the pandemic?

3 Dec 2020

Sergey Beliaev and Ivan Lomakin, the hosts of Angel Talks, discuss what startups may be in demand after the pandemic and what venture production is together with Elena Aster. 

Elena Aster is a venture producer and founder of Aster Venture Studio. Since 2010, she has been actively engaged in entrepreneurship. Since 2017 she has also started investment activities in high technology industry on AI, BioTech, FinTech, AR / VR, Power & Energy, Cyber Security, Big Data, MedTech & Pharm, IOT. Aster Venture Studio raises investments from private investors, family-offices and VCs in Dubai, Russia, Asia, China, USA and Europe.

Startup Jedi

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How to get into the startup industry?

I launched my own startup when I was a 5th year student at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Business portal Executive wrote an article about me that my partner from Profi.ru saw. Profi.ru is a search service for professionals in various fields. This is how, after graduation, I got into one of the largest startups on the Russian market. During 3 years of work there, I managed to study the venture market very well. It was just emerging back then, angel business clubs were just being formed.

After Profi.ru, I launched an auction platform and Marketplace for luxury goods, which Russian and Canadian investors got interested in. After that, I realized that it is important to combine interesting projects and the right target investors. By the way, fundraising is one of the tasks.

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What is venture producing?

Venture producer is a new term on the market, people often misunderstand it and ask what it means, because it is not included in the international terms dictionary.

Venture producers focus on 3 areas:

  1. Product packaging. Startups often offer a very interesting technology / product, but with irrelevant design, while proper packaging is very important.

  2. Preparation for the investment round. This includes a package of documents: presentation, financial model, One pager.

  3. Fundraising. Finding an investor quickly, organizing a large number of targeted meetings.

Fundraising is a rather complicated operational part. Let’s say you wrote the first letter to a venture capital fund. It may get into spam or get lost. In this case, you need to “knock on closed doors”, trying to show your product and make an appointment. And it is the venture producer who can make this process much easier.

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How does a venture producer work with investors?

We do this according to the venture fund model. A pipeline of projects is formed based on the specific request of an investor and their budget for venture investment.

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Cheating by startups and investors

One of the startup specifics is that after signing an NDA with their potential partners, they cannot disclose certain information. Startups often deliberately overestimate their real revenue, ahead of events that have not yet happened, like partnerships with large companies. A startup may declare that the agreement has already been signed without actually signing an agreement of intent with the company. In this case, the information must be rechecked.

On the part of investors, it happens that the documents indicate the total amount of investments, but with a breakdown into tranches. And if during the implementation of the project the startup does not develop the way the investor would like, they can simply refuse to pay the next tranche. To avoid such situations, a Term Sheet that describes all possible basic situations is compiled (find more about Term Sheets in the article on the Startup Jedi).

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What is the trend in startup industry development after the pandemic?

The coronavirus has made big adjustments to the startup ecosystem: closed borders, remote work, Zoom deals. As the growth of Amazon and Zoom shares has shown, online platforms and everything related to logistics and delivery will be in demand in the near future. This market has expanded enormously during the pandemic, but there may be a decline after it.

MedTech has become the most popular area amid the pandemic, and a large number of startups have proven themselves in the marketplace. Here are some of them:

Babylon Health — accessible medical assistance online, receiving medical advice via video chat.

Blue Ocean Robotics — development and production of professional service robots, especially in the healthcare sector, for example, for disinfection of hospital rooms.

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Which startups are currently the most attractive to the investors you work with?

Artificial intelligence that helps to optimize certain processes is now the priority. Oddly enough, investors from the traditional sector are also interested in projects related to artificial intelligence — and they began to consider this direction. Investors from Dubai, UAE have a request, in addition to artificial intelligence, for Agriculture, Smart City, MedTech. Europeans prefer MedTech. There are also three investors who love Fashion Tech.

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Will VR / AR technologies be popular?

It’s the next trend, in the next 2–3 years AR will see a new wave of popularity while it is underestimated. AR can be used in many different ways, including marketing and advertising. This is a completely new platform for product placement, for advertisers.

VR was popular in gaming 4–5 years ago. I had the Anvio project among my clients, we prepared them for an investment round for $ 4 billion, and they launched several locations in 7 countries.

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What motivates investors to go venture?

First of all, making money. There are certain investment trends: blockchain investments for example are popular among oligarchs.

It is better for investors to come to venture capital when they already have a formed conservative portfolio, 10% of which can be allocated for alternative investments, including venture. This is a risky investment, and investors should be morally prepared for the chance to win or lose everything.

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The directions of work of Aster Venture Studio

One of the main directions is “packaging” a startup (this area accounts for about 60% of all agency tasks), and preparing startups for investment rounds (about 40% of all tasks performed by Aster Venture Studio).

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Would you advise founders to follow trends or do what they are keen on?

Do what you love, but at the same time be aware of your place in the global market!

Check out the link for the full article:

 

3 Dec 2020

 

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