Munich Startup: Who are you and what does Betterfront do? Please introduce yourselves!
Michel Geolier, Betterfront: My name is Michel Geolier, I’m French and I have been in Munich now for Ages. I’m one of the three Co-Founders of Betterfront and its CEO. My two other Co-Founders are Pung Worathiti Manosroi, who is our Chief of Product, and Sergi Case, our CTO. Pung is the former Co-Founder and CTO of Combyne, a B2C Fashion App based here in Munich, and Sergi is a former developer at Check24. And I am a former investor with Siemens. I used to invest in Venture Capital Funds for the pension fund of Siemens. Today we are eight people at Betterfront, and we are backed by the HTGF.
Pung and I first met when I was an investor at Wayra back in 2013 when he was starting his company Combyne. We tried to invest in Combyne and since then I kept in touch with him. And Sergi and I met four years ago, when we were building a product prior to Betterfront. In 2019 we all came together more or less at the same time as Pung had left Combyne and joined us after working for Pro7 and wanting to do something entrepreneurial again.
The idea for Betterfront came during my time with Siemens when I realized that there are trillions of Dollars being managed with excel and email. So I left the firm and we started Betterfront.
“We provide a data analytics platform combined with a fundraising platform”
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Michel Geolier: When VCs themselves go fundraising it is a very maddening process. It involves a lot of meetings, data exchange and offline processes. Being a Fund Manager in venture capital or private equity means that in general half of your business is making deals and investing in companies but the other half is building relations with investors, earning their trust and raising and investing their capital. We take care of that and help Fund Managers and Venture Capital Firms to attract, engage and retain institutional investors. For this we provide a data analytics platform combined with a fundraising platform that helps them having a very streamlined fundraising process with the goal of always building stronger healthy relations.
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Michel Geolier: Today the process is more or less the same as it was 20 years ago. The problem for VCs is they have to deliver a lot of information to potential investors without knowing what investors will do with all that information. You are sharing all your documentation, all that information but you get zero feedback on which parts they are actually interested in. We are solving this problem with our software. So, when a fund manager comes to us and uses our software to fundraise, we have to understand how potential investors will look at them and their data, how they will analyze the data, how they will position their fund against its competitors and then we have to connect that insight, data and track record with their own story. And we help them of course to share that story and measure its engagement and track what works and what doesn’t. And all that is completely new to the market.
Betterfront works with the Wayra community
Munich Startup: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Michel Geolier: We are a small company and we don’t have a lot of resources so we always need to understand the priorities in the product, because a lot of great things can happen when we focus our resources into one thing and make it great, solving one precise pain point. So, our biggest challenge has always been understanding what is that pain point, where are the problems and which product to build today, in a week, in a month, in a year and so on. But we had the chance to be part of the Wayra community of entrepreneurs in the beginning of our journey and so every time we had something small or big we could always rely on this community and they helped us out.
Munich Startup: Where do you see your business in one year, and where in five years?
Michel Geolier: In one year customers will be able to do the entire fundraising process with Betterfront, from start to end. Today it’s a process that involves a lot of documentation, CFOs, lawyers, consultants, many of providers and a lot of paperwork. The average fundraising time is 15 months and this whole process is quite expensive and it can cost up to half a million. Our idea is to make that process better, shorter, more streamlined so you don‘t spend that much time fundraising. That means you can go back to investing earlier, you can work more with founders and you can create better value which all will help you in setting up your next fund.
“Our vision is to become the single point of contact for your investors”
If you look at five years, our vision is to become the single point of contact for your investors. So if you have to raise a fund – may it be private equity, real estate, private debt, infrastructure, credit or anything else – we will help you build strong long-term relationships with those investors and streamline the process of data exchange.
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Michel Geolier: I started as a student, I actually did a master here in Munich, I worked here in investments for several years and now I am a founder in Munich, so I got the chance to explore the city from every perspective. Here in Munich you have good universities, a lot of financing opportunities, many DAX companies, startups and unicorns – so you really have a nice and attractive place to live and to work, there’s absolutely no doubt. For our startup this has been an advantage, we have some investors here and Munich has a good international reputation.
Munich Startup: Get up early in the morning or pull all-nighters?
Michel Geolier: Whatever it takes. As a founder you have to do what you have to do, so I tend to get up early, but if I cannot get all my work done during the day then it’s also long nights. Building a company is hard so you have to do whatever it takes.