Unveiling the brilliance, Dr. Thomas Jetter Ph.D. is a visionary investor backing investment in B2B companies in the FinTech and IndustrialTech sectors. Dr. Jetter serves as the General partner at Digital+Partners, a Munich based firm founded in 2015.
He served as the Managing Director of Soros Economic Development Fund besides being an advisor to the impact investor Ananda Ventures GmbH. He also served as the Head of Chemicals Sector Team at Permira and was a partner from 1995-2008. During this tenure, he initiated and managed investments in numerous industries, chemical, and MedTech companies.
Prior to his tenure with Permira, he served as Senior Engagement Manager of Mckinsey & Company where he led projects on organization & strategy and cost optimization. He also worked as an Investment Banking Associate with J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. prior to Mckinsey & Company.
As a Director of Sirona Dental Systems from 1997-2004 as Permira Partner and Chairman of the Board, he focused on “Industries 4.0” approach to business to global leadership. His experience in manufacturing, finance, and strategy along with many years of working in corporate finance, consulting, corporate governance, and principal investing gives him an edge as a venture capitalist. This diverse experience has helped him develop an excellent international network across the financial and industrial landscape, particularly with those having a deep focus on digitization.
Dr. Thomas Jetter holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics and Banking and MBA from the University Saarbrucken, Germany. Besides that, he has also received a Ph.D. in banking from Universität des Saarlandes. He has also done Post graduation in International relations at The John Hopkins University.
Read on to learn more about Dr. Jetter’s views on the startups that he would want to invest and lots more.
What background and domain expertise do you have? And what makes you turning into an investor?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: The management team of Digital+ Partners has a broad experience base in Corporate Finance, Financial Services, in Manufacturing and Automotive Practices, in Private Equity and furthermore. This unique base makes Digital+ Partners an investor with a balanced set of experiences to review, value and finance the diverse investment opportunities that come to the market during each year.
As an investor, what kind of startups have you invested in? How did you find those startups to invest in?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: Riskmethods, NavVis, movingimage, Starmind, Truce, ChartIQ, Price f(x).
Many of the investment opportunities on our deal pipeline list come from our network, from existing portfolio companies or from introductions at sourcing events like Bosch Connected World conference, Numis, NOAH, etc.
What would be the core factors that you decide “Not” to invest in certain companies?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: Investment opportunities have to meet the Fund’s formal investment criteria for growth equity investments in the IndustrialTech and FinTech sectors. The Fund would not invest if the entry valuation and deal terms (e.g. senior liquidation preference) do not support the Fund’s return targets while providing strong downside protection.
We value highly entrepreneurial management teams who have the will and skill to scale up.
Potential deal breakers include high customer concentration, regulatory exposure that could have a negative impact on the business, any exposure to illegal or ethically questionable sectors, etc.
What would be the KPI that you usually check about the startups’ growth? It may diverse in each industry like LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. but would be helpful to understand more about your additional investment factors.
Dr. Thomas Jetter: In addition, a key KPI is ARR-growth.
What is the investment range and in a typical year, how many startups do you invest in? And S.Korea headquartered startups have a chance to get investment from you or should be headquartered in certain countries?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: Digital+ Partners invests into approx. 4-6 investment opportunities per year. The investment range is € 10 – 40 million per investment.
The fund focuses on growth equity to support the digital transformation in both B2B IndustrialTech and FinTech companies in Germany, although up to 30% of the fund can be invested in non-German investments. A South Korean headquartered startup could have a chance to receive an investment, if they have a strong connection to Germany, e.g. many German customers, a German subsidiary, etc.
Can you list one company that you have passed (rejected) investment before but think you should have invested in that company. If there is any, why do you think you have missed that investment opportunity?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: We cannot comment on lost opportunities. Given the fact that we are the only tech growth investor in Germany, we see all the opportunities.
What are the main factors that startups fail as per your experience after getting investment and how can they prevent mistakes in advance from your personal perspective?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: Not all founders with an excellent idea are also great managers for their businesses. Often it would be wise to hire a seasoned manager to support the founder in terms of leadership, know-how, and experience to leave the founder a good amount of time to skillfully develop the product/ idea.
Further often there is a need for good sales leadership to introduce the product in the market and make sure to expand the customer base.
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs who have a chance to meet investors like you? what are the top 3 questions that you always ask the founders?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: They need a good business plan and a clear vision where and how their business can and should develop the steps on how to achieve the envisaged development.
What’s your general thought about the term “Global” and What are the important factors (criteria) for Korean startups to consider for international expansion?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: For Korean startups, we would focus on a very strong and superior technological position which can scale in Europe and the US.
As you know, our company name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an investor or as an individual human being?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: Success is trying always to become better and improve your business, your portfolio and to make sure that you have everything on your mind that supports your investment strategy or goals. We also need a plan B to quickly react if something happens, that puts your success and efforts in danger.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: We would address the required management changes earlier and focus on a strong HR- function.
When you have a chance to come to Korea next time, what kind of Korean entrepreneurs and startups you want to meet?
Dr. Thomas Jetter: We have currently no plan to travel to Korea.
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