How Founding Teams and External Investors Drive Success : Entrepreneurial Guidance for Swedish Technology Startups and Their Investors
Abstract: Human capital assessment is an integral part of the in-depth evaluation conducted by Venture Capitalists (VCs) before an investment decision. Furthermore, an effective collaboration between external investors and the founding team can be vital for the success of a startup venture. This thesis aims to improve this assessment and collaboration by providing an empirical account of historically successful Swedish tech startups and their founding teams (FT). We employ semi-structured interviews with 13 entrepreneurs who in total have founded over 50 ventures in order to deduce patterns to the characteristics, compositions and views of successful founding management teams. We compile and discuss their views concerning aspects such as organizational culture, team performance and their relationships with external financiers. The focus of this thesis was in part guided by our commissioner, Almi Invest. Based on our interviews and literature review, we present several findings which may be of interest to both investors and entrepreneurs. Some of our key findings are that successful Swedish tech startups are generally composed of diverse teams where the founders share some previous association and complement each other with regards to both competencies and personalities. They view culture and vision as important aspects, with values acting as the uniting factor that drives cohesion and performance. We also find that their views are largely influenced by previous experiences. Finally, we highlight some perceived inefficiencies in the collaboration between investors and entrepreneurs, mainly with regards to post-investment activities and the process of raising capital. Our findings suggest a lack of transparency between entrepreneurs and financiers regarding the investor activity levels, where entrepreneurs generally feel that VCs fall short on their promises. We suggest some areas of improvement where VCs might tune their practices to better suit the needs of their portfolio companies and improve overall performance.
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