In this episode of the Talking To Investors podcast, I'm speaking with Philip Haverkamp, venture partner at impact VC fund kopa (formerly Wi Venture).
- Why investors don’t want you to take the first equity offer, even if it was fair.
- How de-risking one massive investor concern can double your chances of getting funded.
- Why a higher valuation doesn’t mean it’s the best offer.
- The kind of investors you should NEVER make a deal with.
- The killer mistake that made investors hang up mid-call and almost cost Phil a great exit.
- How to stop wasting time sending your deck to investors who’ll never look at it.
- At what stage of a negotiation lawyers can do more harm than good.
- One simple thing founders almost never do but which would immediately get them more help from investors.
- and loads of other insights Phil brings to the table.
Listen now on Spotify:
Want to know more about Philip Haverkamp?
Philip and his partners at kopa invest in three verticals:
- Nature Tech
If you think Philip would be a great investor for your startup, you can reach out to him here:
Read the transcript (slightly edited for readability):
BEN: Hi, and welcome to "Talking to Investors: The Startup Negotiations Podcast."
Today, I'm speaking with Philip Haverkamp, a partner at the impact VC fund kopa, formerly Wi-Venture.
In this episode, we're discussing:
- why even investors don't want startup founders to accept deals without negotiating,
- at what stage of a negotiation lawyers can do more harm than good,
- and one simple thing startup founders almost never do, but which would immediately get them more help from investors.
- Plus, of course, loads of other great anecdotes and insights that Phil brings to the table.
So let's get started.
BEN: Hi Phil, and welcome to the podcast.
I'm very happy to have you here and thank you for making the time.
PHIL: Hi Ben, thanks for the invitation.
What is your position as an investor?
BEN: Maybe just say a word or two about what your position is as an investor?
PHIL: Right now, I'm a venture partner at Wi-Venture (now kopa), a climate tech impact fund in Germany.
How long have you been investing in startups?
BEN: How long have you been investing in startups, just to get an idea of the time frame?
PHIL: Around four years, yeah. When I really started at Wi-Ventures. And a little bit before, maybe like half a year. Yeah, around about.
How did you get into investing?
BEN: And how did you get into it?
PHIL: I think that the crucial thing is if you jump into the startup world, this was like 15 years ago, or even a little bit longer I was on the other side of the tunnel where I was looking for money.
Then went through this journey of asking for money, and afterward I got to know Matthias Willenbacher.
One day he asked me, "Do you want to be on the other side of the tunnel investing in purpose-driven people?" I was really into it and helping not only with money but with know-how.
That's why. Yeah, I jumped into this new world of investing.
How many startups have you invested in?
BEN: You probably invested in quite a few startups in the last four years.
PHIL: Personally, I'm trying to do like little business angel tickets. These are just micro-tickets, about four to five.
But in the last 4 years, with Wi-Venture (now kopa), with the team, we're at over 30 investments.
BEN: So, that's quite a few per year right? 7 per year, something like that, almost 8.
PHIL: Yeah. It's tough. Not only investing but more like sustaining and helping them.
And I think the work starts when you're invested. This is what I like.
BEN: And, since we've talked before, my impression is that your investments are smart money in the sense that you give a lot more than just the money.
PHIL: Yeah, we are trying to. There's always this talk about added value, for sure. And since we're investing in a quite early phase, like pre-seed, seed, sometimes series A, I think mentorship and coaching - as an investor or a board member - is crucial and helpful.
And for myself, yeah, I was sometimes really, really close to the teams, bi-weekly.
And not only the founding team, even with the newest employees scaling and challenging the business.
BEN: That sounds like a lot of work if you've got 30 startups on your plate.
PHIL: Yeah, I mean, since we're a team of some people, we could handle it and delegate a little bit.
And if they're growing and moving a little bit into the series B or A and B phase, it's not mandatory that they need that close mentorship anymore because they know what they're doing, and there are other investors as well.
But yeah, you have to try to focus. And in the end, in both directions, ask, “Do you need help?” And if they don't need help, that's totally okay, right? But sometimes, I have the feeling that the startups are not asking enough for help.
Sometimes, they're scared of asking an investor, "Can you help me?" Because maybe then they're not good enough, or they're missing something.
I'm always pushing, especially founders, to ask for help. For example, in a reporting, there has to be a highlight, but you should always put an ask in there, too.
Of course, if you have a low light, it indirectly tells us maybe something is not going in the right direction, or even if it's going in the right direction, maybe how we can accelerate it.
And normally, the investors already may have been in a startup and did this journey themselves.
I think it's the best way to interact.
In what stage do you invest in startups?
BEN: Now, you were talking before that you are usually investing at a fairly early stage. What would you say of the 30 startups that you've invested in, how many of them were pre-seed? How many seed? How many Series A?
PHIL: I think at Wi-Venture, it's like 60 % seed, maybe 30 % pre-seed and the rest, opportunity-wise, series A.
BEN: So that's a real strong focus on quite an early stage.
PHIL: Yeah, totally.
BEN: Do you focus on a specific industry?
PHIL: Yes. We have three verticals:
- and nature tech.
Since we are all more or less engineers coming from the energy space, worked in the industry there, having one contract. So energy and mobility is our strong suit. There's our foundation coming from.
And nature tech is just something related to CO2 games in the future and where we can really accelerate a better or different future for the world, as well. Which might not play directly in the energy or mobility space.
What's impact to you?
BEN: Which brings us to another topic and that's a focus on impact. And then the question, what's impact to you?
PHIL: I hope we're having an impact talking right now. And hopefully, some other people are watching it and getting some inspiration. This is already an impact, I guess.
But in the investment and startup industry, I think impact means somehow like sustainability, as well, like focusing on the future of our living, and our planet and trying to have an impact on our human race in a positive way, whatever positive means, right?
So, for us, impact measurement is looking at how we can accelerate a better tomorrow, let's say.
- Not emitting too much CO2 into the world,
- being more socially structured,
- working within the planetary boundaries, from ESG and so on.
I think there's so much to do in the investment and in the impact space, and there's nothing that says, "This is impact investment," right?
Right now, we’re learning and trying to find out how money and a healthy future, nature and society can work together.
BEN: Speaking of the future, I love that shirt you're wearing, “Future will pay you back.” I really like it.
And if you look at that critically, it cuts both ways, right? It'll pay us back either way: If we get it right or if we don't.
PHIL: Yeah. I didn’t think about it that way. And who knows what's ‘good’ or ‘bad’? What is a good investment or a bad investment for the human race? We have to try to figure it out.
BEN: And that's a very courageous step forward, to say, "Let's try to figure it out. Not just do business as usual."
PHIL: Yeah. And I think we have to jump over some boundaries and challenge ourselves on what really matters.
How do startups get in touch with you?
BEN: Now, let me get back to the questions that I know that a lot of startups will have, talking to investors. And I'd like to get into the process of getting to know an investor a little bit.
So, for you, usually, what's your first point of contact? How do startups get in touch with you?
PHIL: There are various ways.
You can write to us, or me, on LinkedIn. Many people do that.
We get emails from people visiting our website contact page and clicking on ‘apply.’
Or you can meet us at events.
I think these are the main sources.
But if you ask me what the best source is, the most efficient and helpful one, it's a warm contact from a friendly investor - a co-investor I know already.
If someone comes to me, for example, a fund I really like, and we're working together quite a lot.
And they say, "Hey, Philip, this is a good startup, have a look."
It's like an indirect contact, but this is really strong because I will definitely take a little bit more time for this pitch deck or the information because someone already pre-sorted it a little bit.
BEN: That means any startup that's got some kind of first contact to an investor who's willing to say, "Hey, these guys are really quite interesting," they're already a step ahead, right?
PHIL: Yeah, totally. It's a social business proof. Someone knows what you need.
It's so often I don't know the percentage of how many people really send me or us: This might be interesting for you and might be in the artificial intelligence field.
I really love it. It's super interesting, but we're not good at it right now, so it doesn't make sense to look at it because we won't be a good investor.
Sometimes I think the most important thing for a startup is to think about what this person or this fund or whatever - depends on the stage, as a business angel or VC fund or strategic investor - where's the smartness in this money, right?
And if on the website it says, "We are investing in energy, mobility, nature, carbon tech; AI could be in this space."
But if it's about health tech, maybe we are not the right person to go to.
BEN: So for startups to also really look at what it says on the website, right? Just study the investor.
PHIL: It should be quite easy to find.
BEN: It seems like such an obvious thing to do, right?
PHIL: Yeah, it's obvious, but on the other hand, sure, maybe some using crawlers and just saying, oh, this is a VC, you just fire it up and if it's an impact VC, maybe it hits something.
Sometimes it works, but normally it doesn't.
Important skills for founders before they get in touch with investors
BEN: We're moving on to what skills startup founders should have, before they contact investors. One skill seems to be figuring out, “who's the right investor for me,” right? Researching that a little bit.
What other skills would you say are really important for founders to have before they even get in touch with an investor? What skills should they have developed?
PHIL: It’s hard to say in a generic way for “a founder.” For me it's a founding team, it's more than one person. And if I think about a founding team, you need to have different people, right? With different skill sets.
Sometimes it's very important to focus on the investors, they really help you.
But maybe you need someone who is not so strategic but who's just going out and selling what you're doing and not thinking too much about anything or about what they do.
[Skill #1: execution]
This is a nice quote from a professor at RWJH, Mr. Brettel. He said: "Execution before strategy."
I think this is a skill some people have and some people don't, right? And if you overthink too much, you're only thinking, you're not doing it.
So, if you're an executor, that is something good.
I mean, us talking together, you already executed something. You already founded a company.
You have an idea, you’re running with it, and you’re passionate.
[Skill #2: endurance]
I think endurance and resilience. In this space, you have to be patient.
You have to try something out. You will fail a lot more than if you go the corporate job way, right? It might be easier.
[Skill #3: inner flame]
And you need to be curious. And if you do something, I've never seen someone who's not burning for something, right? Like super-motivated.
And if you have the skill to bring these inner flames for this product, what you're doing to investors, to your team, to potential customers, I think this is really, really strong.
[Skill #4: transparency]
It's not only about sales. It's about being honest, transparent and straightforward.
[Skill #5: accepting help]
And the most important thing, what I see, what I had to learn as well, is to be coachable.
Because many founders, I mean, you need to be a little bit crazy, right? You need to have a little bit more confidence and egoism than others. And so, some people think they know everything, right?
But if I have the feeling that the person I’m giving well-meant advice is not listening, or is not asking for advice because they feel they don't need it, then this might be difficult at some point in the cooperation between an investor and a startup.
Because there will be a time when it's not all going the right direction.
If they're not accepting help, not from me or maybe from someone else, it might keep going in the wrong direction.
BEN: Yeah, I hear that quite a bit: That coachability is a key feature that investors look for.
PHIL: Yeah, yes. I mean, I wouldn't say I'm good at everything, right? And I need other people to help me.
What is a typical thing founders do that makes you say "no."
BEN: So let's say you've got in touch. You've seen the pitch deck, or you've had your first little presentation, and now you've got a meeting with the founder team.
That might be roughly three people or something like that.
And one or more of the founders do something that just makes you go like, "Oh no, this isn't gonna work." Does that sometimes happen? And if yes, what is it? What is a typical thing founders do that makes you think, "Ah, no."
PHIL: It really depends. I mean, it's just my view, right?
If I get the feeling it's not focused on one point. If I'm asking a question, and they need 5 minutes to answer the question, or we end up talking about totally different stuff, this is awful.
[Skill #6: focusing on what’s important]
If you just have 20 minutes to talk, you should really focus on what's important.
If you're pitching for 15 minutes and I'm just saying nothing, this is not a good thing.
[Skill #7: creating dialogue]
The most important thing is to have space for questions, have space for dialogue and be really precise.
[Skill #8: preparation]
And killer features are:
- be well prepared
- and ask questions back.
[Skill #9: investor due diligence]
Try to get the investors to sell themselves a little bit as well.
And do your own due diligence, right?
So if you did your homework and see that they invested in startup XYZ which is active in the same space as yours, but without a direct conflict of interest, maybe you can help each other.
For example, ask the investor:
- Are you doing introductions or synergies?
- How do you help startups or founders in your portfolio by connecting them?
- Can I have a reference call with one of your startups, to know how you work with them?
These are good things. I mean, not right from the beginning, that's maybe sometimes too much to ask.
But if you're going deeper, and we (the inventors) are doing our due diligence on your startup, and we want to know if what you’re saying is the truth, and if at that time I'm saying, “Yeah, we really try to help our startups,” then you should try to figure it out somehow, if this is the truth or not.
BEN: Earlier, you were saying startup founders should be curious. So, they should also be curious about you.
They should be curious about the investors. I mean, they're going to be spending a lot of time with you, right?
PHIL: Yeah. It's going to be a kind of marriage.
What are some sticky points in negotiations with startups that weren't easy?
BEN: Moving on towards, you know, as the conversations get a bit deeper, and maybe you start also having some points where you need to negotiate.
Have you ever worked with some startups that you really wanted to invest in but there were some sticky points where you needed to negotiate something, and it wasn't easy?
PHIL: It's not easy. It's never easy. There are always negotiations.
But I have the feeling that, the more we're getting to the series A phase and other investors are coming in and thinking differently, and maybe even having [different] strategic thoughts, maybe are not so professional, this was sometimes a real struggle.
Because on the one hand, you need fresh money.
And then you need to think, do you take the highest valuation? But maybe the worse valuation will bring a smarter investor or a stronger investor.
Or you say, no, I'm worth, I don't know, double this valuation. And maybe you take in a strategic investor. And sometimes it can be and get really messy.
And what I've seen, what is the worst thing you can do in a really early phase, or in general, if you're negotiating, try not to bring anyone from the lawyer side because this can get really messy.
There was this one story back in our days when we were negotiating, when we were selling our company. [When Phil was still a founder himself.]
And we knew that there was their lawyer on the other side on the phone, who's trying to fight for his client to get a better deal.
Suddenly, our investor [who was on Phil’s side, as part of the selling party] said: "If you don't get rid of this person right now, we need to find a new time."
Because the mood was getting really, really bad. And in the end, our investors really hung up. They just hung up and we were like, "What just happened?"
We were really young and we didn't know what happened. But they said, “If they really want to buy your company, they will come back to you.”
So, never try to negotiate anything with your lawyers there in person, in the same room.
Let the lawyers talk to each other in a separate room and let them talk next to the showplace, but not “on stage” with the investors and founders.
Then again, it can happen that lawyers are in the same room, and nothing bad happens. But yeah, you never know.
BEN: It really depends on the mindset of the lawyer, right?
PHIL: Yeah, this is just what I've seen. And sure, if you're in the final discussion, even at the notary’s, and then the lawyers start to negotiate just seconds before we all want to sign, it can be really, really critical.
So yeah, good communication beforehand, and a term sheet, make it really clear what you want to do. And write it down.
And it must not only be startup-friendly, it must not only be investor-friendly. We always have to meet in the middle.
Never try to advance yourself too much because the other side will see it.
BEN: And it's risky, too, right? If you push your valuation too hard, get that valuation, but you can't show that you're good for it later on in the process.
PHIL: Yeah, and then maybe the next round might be a flat or a down round. And then you might have messed up.
BEN: So, finding that common ground is a really important part of it. And in that sense, lawyers sometimes have a very hard attitude when it comes to negotiating. At least some of them, That's what I was saying about mindset.
PHIL: And it depends on where they're coming from. If they're playing in the startup field, they already know it's maybe a little different game.
Equity negotiations: be careful of these investors
BEN: Let's take one of those kinds of situations, for example, you're negotiating equity. Do you usually go first when you say this is how much equity you expect? Or do you ask? Or what's your strategy on that?
PHIL: I'm really curious and always telling startups, be careful with investors who are trying to get, let's say, in total more than 30 % of the round.
Because if you dilute that hard, what happens in the next round?
And if you have a minority of your own company, where's your motivation?
So it should never be a motivation for an investor to invest in a kind of aticket, where the founders are losing too much equity, too many shares. It's like a rule of thumb.
Sometimes, you're trying to value a company and looking at the financials, but this is just future talk.
And who knows if this really happens, right? It’s super hard.
At the end of the day, it's a rule of thumb.
If you do an equity round, a real equity round, you need to have like 12 to 18 months of breath. You need to survive this time.
Because, in this time, you can maybe prove new stuff, you can prove your KPIs you're trying to hit.
And as I just said, don't lose too much equity, right? And maybe if the valuation is not eight million, maybe six million, maybe then you have to adjust the amount of funding.
Maybe you need to have a better strategy and a smaller burn rate.
Should you take an equity deal right away?
BEN: Have you ever come in a situation where you've seen the pitch, you understand what the startup needs, you understand how much money they need, and then you say okay we're going to give you so and so much, and we would like have, I don't know, 18 % equity, whatever.
So, you suggest the percentage, and they just say, "Okay, sounds good."
I mean, you're suggesting a percentage that you find fair, but they're not negotiating it at all. Has that ever happened?
PHIL: It happened the other way around. So when I was asking for money and in the end, I said, "I want to have 100,000 for a million (valuation)."
This was our first investment, right?
And they said, "Yeah, sure, okay, let's do it." And then the crazy thing happened. They said, "But then in half a year (because it was a small investment), we need an extra 100k or 200k, right?"
And then I said, "Yeah, but in half a year, our valuation will be double, right? "And then they said, "Okay, yeah, that sounds good."
So this was like in one minute, negotiating about these terms. But this happens in really early phases, I would say.
But as you just mentioned, it's not, it's never been that fast. It's not like, "Yeah, we just take it."
I think, it would be difficult if someone just directly says, "Yeah, that's okay." I think then I would argue, "Don't they have other options, too? Are we their last option?"
I want to see that they are trying to negotiate, as well, and being strong in their position. If they're not positioning themselves strongly in front of me, can they do it in front of their potential customers, for example, or someone in their company?
Maybe saying yes, not 18%, but 16%. But then you need to find out where the 2 % drop is coming from.
Negotiating equity is not like on a bazaar
BEN: Actually, the fact that they go into this negotiation mode and they don't just accept the terms, it's quite important, isn't it?
Because it shows that they've got a certain skill set.
PHIL: Yeah, sure. This is not to be taken for granted. But I don't want to say, “You have to play a little bit.”
It's not a bazaar, right? It's not like, "Yeah, okay, I give you 1 Euro.” - “No-no, it's 2 Euros!" It doesn’t work like that, of course.
But it’s always good to think about it, take the offer, let it sink in, and then try to figure out: Is this a good valuation? Or do we need to adjust it?
And it really depends (on the investor-side, too): Am I a lead investor, or am I just a co-investor? Normally, as a co-investor, I’d follow the lead, and the lead usually has already negotiated everything.
In the end, founders should never directly say, "Yes." Always sleep on it.
And the term sheet matters. Sure, it's not legally binding, but I think if you have it on a page where it says, “This is the valuation,” that’s a really strong sign.
What's your favorite risk management tool in a term sheet
BEN: Speaking of the term sheet, it's obviously not just about money and figures, right? Sometimes it's about control.
The way I understand many of the term sheet's control elements is that for investors, it's a way to manage risk. It's a way to also be supportive and take on responsibility, but also as a way to manage risk.
Do you have any favorite risk management tools you want to see on a term sheet?
I don't want to say "liq pref (liquidation preferences) and down rounds and drag-n-tag-alongs." I don't care about that, actually.
I want to see if the startup understands the risk that we are taking and that we are investing in them.
My biggest risk is that the founding team is not screwing up, but it's leaving, or it's just breaking up, right?
For example, something like a good and fair vesting clause should be implemented and should be very transparent. Like a good leaver, a grey leaver, a badleaver clause should be well discussed.
And in the end, normally, it helps the founder as well to tell them, yeah, we are investing in you, and it will be a time from at least four years.
Hopefully, much longer, right? But you should be committed here. I think this is the biggest risk management.
And as we discussed - and as I discuss with founders - we are serious about the social side, about founder well-being.
As kopa, we want to have well-being clauses in our contracts with startups. So not all of our money goes into the development and sales of a product.
It goes into the development of the people, of the founders. We want them to have money, like a money pool, so that they can help themselves, like getting coached personally, right?
Because of this stress, this change, and everything else that is coming their way. They need someone, a neutral person, who helps them, maybe monthly.
And this is something I really want to see that they think about and know about. That we are serious that they should stay healthy, physically and mentally.
BEN: So, like a personal development / resilience pool.
PHIL: Yeah. I hope they already have it in their teams, but it's always good to have someone from the outside who's calming you down.
Like someone calming you down saying, "Breathe a little bit. Don't think about your numbers now. Think about yourself and how you're actually feeling."
BEN: And it's interesting because, in my work with startups, I've also come across more and more very young people who take that quite seriously.
Who are not just all gung-ho and, you know, "We're gonna rock it, and we're gonna take off and scale and go all wild."
But who say okay, you have to be careful with the downtime, stay focused on your mental and physical health and things like that.
I think that's very, very valuable that you, as Wi Venture (now kopa. vc), and you personally also are bringing that into the startup sphere.
PHIL: I would really like to see a university or a paper that says that if you invest more in your mental health and in your people's health, the likelihood that the foundation, the startup will thrive is higher, whatever, right?
So this would be so great to see. So, like proof, like scientific proof. I mean, for me it's clear, but I haven't seen it yet.
BEN: Yeah, there's no academic research on it yet.
PHIL: Yeah. Maybe there is. Maybe someone will tell us.
BEN: If anybody listening knows about academic research in this field, please let us know.
What is the most important measure of success? Impact vs. money
BEN: Let's move on to the question of success one more time. Because, you know, startups want to succeed. Of course, there are different measures of success.
There's the financial success. There's the impact success, etc.
What would you say is the most important measure of success for you? And maybe it's not just one.
PHIL: The most important measure of success.
BEN: For the startups you've invested in or may invest in in the future.
PHIL: We're still in the investment game. And the first thing is money. I don't want to say it's bad because, as I'm saying, money rules the world.
We know there's a variable if we put good money into different projects, we can accelerate the impact, the positive impact. And the impact is positive.
You should earn money. You should grow a little bit to a certain point. Maybe not too fast or whatever.
You should be measuring your planetary impact, obeying the planetary boundaries and, on the other hand, being social and trying to have a fair outcome for everybody, for all the stakeholders, not only the shareholders.
But we, as a fund and me as an investment manager, I'm measured by how much money I earn from investments. This is still one of the most important things. They ask me, "If I give you 1 million, do I get 2 million back in a certain time frame?"
But it's changing to impact measurement where we say, okay, how much CO2 have we sequestered or not emitted?
How many people have been helped, right? What problem are we solving? Who's been solving it? Who's been helped, right?
So there's no one KPI where I would say it's the most important thing. Still, we are in the old world, and it's still money, right?
And sometimes don’t get why people who have millions or even billions of money need to get more money. Why don't they just say, stay at this, I don't know, "I have a billion, and this is enough. And if I get back my billion with some interest rate or whatever, that's okay.”
It doesn't need to be doubled or tripled.
BEN: That brings us kind of to an interesting conversation, which is not around startup founders alone, but in the whole investment game.
Is there a conversation that is possible with some types of - not all - but some types of LPs or GPs, that you could argue there's more than one type of capital?
You know, and maybe you won't be increasing just your financial - your money capital - but you might be increasing a different kind of capital, a nature capital, or an environmental services capital, or I don't know, you know, social capital?
PHIL: Yeah, it is out there. It's good that you said LPs and GPs. Because in the end, it's the GP who's driving or is telling where it goes.
And when the GP is pitching and in the fund's pitch deck, the second or the first sentence is, "I make you richer.” Then you will address these people who want to get richer.
But more and more people coming into the space from:
"I just want to get rid of all my money because I inherited all the money. I don't know what to do with it. I want to invest it in, let's say, social startups, and it's not important for me if I get back my money."
And this might be, maybe a too strong of a way, because we shouldn't throw away money. We should try to make something meaningful out of it, and sure, we should try something new.
But this is like the extreme way, right? But more people are coming in and saying it's no longer just about the money.
And I think that the team, the investment team, the GP team needs to think about this, as well, right?
How much money do THEY need to earn? Is it fair that they earn that much money? Maybe it should be a little bit less, as well.
And then maybe you can tell the LP, "Yeah, I think we need to change our thoughts on money, how we invest, and how we measure our success. It's not only money anymore."
And as you said, it should be nature capital, too, and we need to measure it in a qualitative and a quantitative way, and social capital, as well.
And there are people out there who want to do it. But still, I don't want to say it, but it's a pain in the ass.
BEN: It's difficult, right?
PHIL: It's really difficult, yeah. [laughs]
BEN: If you could look into the future and envision a future where some of your investments have just really really made a big difference. What is that difference? What's different in the future that you envision?
I think equality might be quite interesting. That all the people are coming together again more, communicating in a, let's say, more neutral way. Not so much hate is out there, as we see in the wars and so on.
That we talk again to each other and maybe in person, but in a more open way and in the end, if companies or startups accelerate this new work, this new living, this new payment of work, then maybe we will have a society where we are not dividing each other because we're coming more together. Because in the end, if a company wins, everybody wins.
It's more stakeholder-driven than shareholder-driven. That's what I said in the beginning.
So yeah, poverty might be going away as well. and we don't have all the money allocated to one percent of society.
BEN: So less of a divide, right? And I like that you said less shareholder-driven or more stakeholder-driven. I think that is one very important and key development that I also see many people driving towards in the sense of creating a more regenerative economy.
PHIL: Yeah, this is, for example, something I really like to see, and now in one of our startups as well.
Normally, the founders have their shares, and one day there will be a VSOP, a virtual pool of shares, where C-level, very experienced people get shares because you cannot pay them as much money as they normally would get to incentivize them.
And what I really like to see is to have a VSOP for everyone in the company, not only for the C-level, but for everyone.
And if you're leaving the company, you're not a part of this pool anymore. And if there's going to be the day they're getting sold, everyone participates in a way, right? In an equal way, right?
It has the advantage, for example, if you have like 10 people and they're sharing 5%, right? In the beginning, you have 10 employees, and you give them 5 % of the VSOP; everyone has 0.5%, right?
If a new employee comes in, there will be a dilution, right? But then the people will think about it, okay, we're now getting this new person in there. And I hope in the process of getting new people in your company, the whole team is involved, right? And they're having a vote for the decision of who's coming in and who's helping.
And then if they think with this new person, the valuation or the likelihood that the startup will thrive is higher - now even if I do dilute - it's wonderful, right? So you think like yeah we really need to take this person into our company because everybody will win.
So, you're much more connected to the person. You will think about it much more. And it's not like, "Oh yeah, there's someone new, okay."
And there's more involvement, and I hope more success.
BEN: Well, it creates a different kind of thinking model, right? It's a little bit more like welcoming somebody into your home and saying, “I've got this much food, now we all have to share it and that's okay, and it's a wonderful thing to do.”
PHIL: Yeah, because you like to see them eating your food or being around you because there might be positive energy in the conversation you will get or whatever.
BEN: So, I think it's time to wrap it up. I'm very, very happy. Thanks again for taking the time. Is there anything that you would like to say to founders? You know, do this, don't do that. I'm sure you've got a million things to say, but like if it's just one message, especially for impact founders?
PHIL: I mean, I said it in the beginning.
Today I don't have my cap on, which is saying, "Just do it." So it's execution before strategy.
But yeah, if you're going on this crazy roller coaster, take care of yourself, as well.
BEN: Thank you very much. Thanks for your time. Thanks for all your wisdom and insights. And maybe we'll have you back here some time. Thanks a lot.
PHIL: Thank you Ben.
BEN: Thanks for listening, and don't forget to subscribe and hit the bell button so you don't miss an episode.
And please do share this podcast with any impact founders you know who might benefit from better understanding the investor mindset.
And from thinking about what that really means. Impact. Let's start this discussion between startup founders and investors about impact in the spaces of circularity, sustainability, and regeneration. Thank you.