Yoram Wijngaarde is on a mission to reshape Europe's start-up and venture capital dating scene.
The Dealroom founder wants to eliminate time-wasting meetings between ill-matched start-ups and venture capitalists. He also wants to eliminate proprietary VC deals that restrict start-ups’ options and lock others out. But most of all, he wants to end that frustration he often felt throughout his decade as an investment banker at not being able to find information on Europe’s most dynamic tech companies.
In August, Wijngaarde left NOAH Advisors, where he had been a director since 2009, to set up Dealroom. The new site, a platform where investors and tech companies can connect and share information, launched on October 22nd.
“The goal is to use my experiences and frustrations from 10 years in investment banking to build something more efficient,” says Wijngaarde, who worked for Lehman Brothers and Nomura, focusing on the technology, media, telecommunications sector, before NOAH.
Dealroom aspires to be a community for companies in all investment stages, from seed stage to late growth. Wijngaarde hopes entrepreneurs will use their profiles on the site as an official channel for sharing information with future investors. Dealroom, he says, can help them field incoming investment interest more efficiently. Meanwhile, investors can use it to better track target companies and know when to approach them.
Wijngaarde started laying the groundwork for the platform while he was still at NOAH. An earlier version launched a year ago as NOAH Insider. “It’s such a big ambitious project that it needs full-time attention — not just from me but from the whole team. That’s why I decided to leave NOAH and do this full time,” he says, adding NOAH Insider’s profiles have migrated to Dealroom.
TechCrunch’s CrunchBase, the free database of tech companies, people, and investors that anyone can edit, also offers profile services similar to Dealroom’s. And f6s.com, a European site, connects start-ups to programs, conferences, jobs, deals on things like free software as well as angel groups.
But like NOAH Insider before it, Dealroom is perhaps best described as Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley’s AngelList, which has helped more than 1,300 start-ups raise over $200 million and hire some 3,000 employees. (AngelList, which was founded by serial entrepreneur and angel investor Naval Ravikant, just completed a round of fund-raising, raising $24 million in September from 116 investors including the Kauffman Foundation, Atlas Venture, Google Ventures, Yuri Milner, Chad Hurley, David Sacks, Max Levchin and Evan Williams.)
“If I have only 10 seconds to explain what I do, I also make that comparison [to AngelList], but there are a couple of big differences,” Wijngaarde says.
Unlike AngelList, Dealroom covers late-stage companies as well as start-ups — late-stage companies have been a particular personal focus for Wijngaarde. And Dealroom also doesn’t offer fund-raising and recruiting services that AngelList does.
“Dealroom is more focused on the business development side, it means we also cover companies that don’t do fund-raising; some of the best companies out there don’t want to fundraise and some of them are highly profitable,” Wijngaarde says. “They are sometimes the most interesting companies for investors.”
Companies that are not courting VCs are the kind he would especially like to attract to Dealroom. He envisions them using the platform as their main communication tool to future potential investors. “They can say, ‘Follow us. Connect with us on our company profile and you will not miss anything and if the opportunity comes to buy shares in our company, you will be the first to know’.”
For start-ups, it’s useful to start building a following of investors early and educate them over time so they don’t have to start from scratch when they need capital, he says. “If you already have a following of people who understand your business, the time it will take to do a process will be reduced from three to six months to one to three months.”
He hopes Dealroom can ultimately open investment opportunities to a wider group of investors.
“It eliminates proprietary deal flow. I’m a bit hesitant to say it because my customers are VCs and they like proprietary deal flow but it’s not good for the start-up because you’re excluding others who might offer better terms. So you’re giving a monopoly position … that’s not good for the market as a whole.”
For VCs, Wijngaarde thinks Dealroom’s biggest benefit is they can increase the exit potential of their existing portfolio by encouraging their portfolio companies to keep their profiles updated. He wants to make the site a resource for corporate development teams of large companies who are scouting for investment opportunities. “We actively push those good performing companies to the newsfeed of any potential buyer,” he says.
Dealroom’s immediate priority is to expand its community of users and add editorial content to ensure that “every technology company in Europe that really matters can be found on the website.”
Eventually, Wijngaarde would like to emulate AngelList and offer a way to invest in companies through the site. “We’re obviously thinking about it and we hope this feature will come,” he says. “It might take six months or more — it’s quite complicated. For now it’s just discovery and if you really want to do due diligence, you will have to take it offline.”