Interview with Alexander Stoeckel

We continue our “International Spotlight” series with Switzerland, where we have interviewed Alexander Stoeckel, who is also an accredited faculty member at the Business Angel Institute.

First, please tell us a little bit about yourself so that our readers get to know you better.

My name is Alexander Stoeckel and I am one of the Partners at b-to-v Partners AG, a Swiss-based venture capital firm that works very closely with a dedicated network of private investors, the b-to-v Circle of Investors.

At b-to-v, entrepreneurs invest privately in companies of other entrepreneurs. That is our mission, our philosophy, and the basis of our investment strategy. Each b-to-v member pays an annual membership fee to get access to b-to-v’s investor network, to see b-to-v’s deal-flow of about 2’000 investment opportunities per year, and to invest alongside other entrepreneurs/members. Each of our members has an entrepreneurial background and career, and therefore each member brings an unique set of management experiences, industry know-how, business acumen, and contacts to the table. Our job at b-to-v is to make these incredibly valuable qualities of the individual investors accessible for all our portfolio companies, our members and our funds.

How well are business angels organized in Switzerland (clubs/networks etc.)?

I think that there are two answers to this question. The first and more general answer is that business angels in Switzerland are well organized. We have several professional and semi-professional business angel organizations in Switzerland. And from what I can see and what I hear in the market, all of them are doing a good job. They have different strategies, preferences, and structures, and they certainly offer different services to their members. But most of them have been active in the market for more than five years – in other words, they are much more stable than most business angel networks in other European countries.

The second answer is that Switzerland is trying to do more in the sector of early-stage financing of companies. Various national organizations are actively and constantly trying to further improve the availability of financial resources for young companies and entrepreneurs. To foster business angel activities is one part of this ongoing effort. b-to-v contributes to this strategy and hosts training events for business angels in Switzerland, in which we explain our investment process. The idea behind these events is to inform people about the opportunities and risks of venture capital investments, and to speak very openly about our experiences, challenges we had to face in former investments, various types of risks that are related to early-stage investments, and learnings from such challenges. Furthermore, we demonstrate how we analyze investment opportunities, how we structure investment terms and conditions, and how we support portfolio companies after the initial investment.

Do individual business angels tend to behave differently in Switzerland than elsewhere?

No, I don’t think so. Generally speaking, there is no such thing as an “average business angel”, is there? Hence, there is no such thing as “average behavior” or “deviations from such behavior”. I do believe, however, that business angel investments have certain characteristics in common. (1) Many business angels prefer to invest in companies in their region because they prefer to be able to meet with the team from time to time without much effort. (2) Many business angels prefer to invest in industries or businesses to which they can relate, e.g. based on their own professional career. (3) Many business angels are ready to take much higher investment risks than, say, venture capitalists. (4) Many business angels do not base their investment decisions just on facts, but also on their personal gut feeling.

Which kind of training for business angels do you have in Switzerland?

I am not sure that I know about all available business angel trainings. There is an event called  Angel Day which is hosted and supported by a number of Swiss business angel organizations. And there is our own b-to-v Private Investment Academy.

What would be your most important advice for future business angels?

I think that a business angel – prior to the first investment! – should define his or her own investment strategy. One aspect of that strategy is to think about quantitative aspects, i.e. what is the total capital that I would like to invest, what will be my investment per deal, what is my capital reserve per deal for follow-on investments, how many deals can I manage and how many deals can I finance. The second aspect concerns qualitative aspects, i.e. what are the characteristics of a suitable investment for me, e.g. in terms of phase, capital need, region, industry, product, service, valuation, form of investment etc. Moreover, I think that a business angel should familiarize himself with the general mechanics of venture capital investments / direct investments in companies, i.e. where to get access to relevant deal-flow of investment opportunities, how to screen, analyze, and select investment opportunities, how to structure investments (e.g. due diligence, term sheet), and how to manage portfolio companies in different stages.

UPDATE: Globaltechbox did a great interview with Alexander Stoeckel, offering some new insights.

#83: Digging into Venture Capital and b-to-v Investing with Al…

Welcome to the latest #StartupShow – Episode No.83!GlobalTechBox visited btov Partners offices in St. Gallen, where we had the pleasure of interviewing Alexander Stoeckel, who is a Partner there. Stoeckel has an MBA from the University of Oxford and previous experience in the world of banking and consulting. Today, he is responsible for the business angel network at b-to-v, which consists of about 220 members.btov Partners was founded back in 2000 by Universität St.Gallen (HSG) alumni who saw the potential behind connecting talented students with successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. Seventeen years later, b-to-v is developing investment solutions for private, corporate and institutional investors, with about 3.000 investment opportunities per year!“The interesting thing about venture capital is that you get to work with intelligent and driven people every day”Stoeckel shares with us eight significant aspects of the startups that b-to-v evaluates and a lot more. We discussed topics that will be gripping for both entrepreneurs and investors!Website: http://btov.vc/Enjoy the video!

Posted by Global Tech Box – Startups, Tech & Innovation on Sunday, July 30, 2017