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The Path to US VC Funding: Tips from JC2 Ventures Partner Yvette Kanouff

Executive Summary

In this episode of, host Jörn “Joe” Menninger discusses optimizing VC pitches with Yvette Kanouff, Partner at JC2 Ventures. Yvette stresses concise presentations, simplifying complex concepts, and understanding VC perspectives. They explore the importance of networking, long-term relationships, and personal meetings. Yvette highlights key investment areas like AI, security, fintech, and clean energy, emphasizing disruptive technologies and financial criteria in pitches. They also discuss Yvette’s investments in anti-drone tech and the potential for European startups in deep tech. The episode concludes with advice on crafting compelling stories and the importance of networking for successful fundraising.

The Importance of Disruption in Today’s Market: “Creating a better compression to get just a tiny bit better signal is very less disruptive than changing an industry and changing the way that we would that we watch content. Right? So that disruption becomes more important. Today, people are looking for something big disruptive as opposed to moving an inch to a better product that was disrupted yesterday.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

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Building Relationships Before Seeking Funding: “It’s not something about where can I send my deck to or how can I get the right introduction when I need it? It’s it’s about, creating long term relationships with VCs at VC events, but being in the communities.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures


In today’s episode, we dive deep into the world of venture capital and strategic investments with our esteemed guest, Yvette Kanouff, Partner at JC2 Ventures. Join our host, Jörn “Joe” Menninger, as he explores Yvette’s remarkable career in mathematics and technology, her insights into the stringent financial criteria for pitches, and her invaluable tips for crafting concise, compelling presentations.

Yvette sheds light on her investment in a German company specializing in anti-drone technology and discusses the future of deep tech and green tech startups in Europe. She emphasizes the importance of disruption in technology and highlights Germany’s strengths in manufacturing, fintech, health, and clean energy.

Tune in as we unpack the essentials of engaging with VCs, the long journey of fundraising, and the power of building meaningful, long-term relationships. Whether you’re navigating the complexities of cross-country investments, leveraging AI advancements, or preparing for your next pitch, this episode is packed with actionable insights to help you succeed. Don’t miss out on this conversation that’s sure to inspire and inform your entrepreneurial journey!

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The Magic of Networking: “Practice a really tight pitch that’s 15 minutes and see if you get that follow-up.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

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The Importance of Networking in Business: “The job of a CEO is hard. Right? Because you’re trying to sell. You’re focused on your technology. You need to find the right product market fit.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

Questions Discussed in the Interview

  1.  Background and Career:  — Yvette Kanouff has an extensive background in mathematics and technology. How has her experience influenced her approach towards investing in startups, especially those in deep tech and clean energy

  2. Effective Pitching:  — Both Jörn and Yvette discussed the need for concise presentations when pitching to investors. What are some practical tips for boiling down complex ideas into easily understandable pitches?

  3. Investment Criteria:  — Yvette Kanouff mentioned the increasingly stringent financial criteria for pitches. How can startups effectively demonstrate their potential for growth and financial stability to meet these criteria?

  4. Technology Disruption:  — The podcast highlights the importance of disruption in technology. From your perspective, what are some of the most exciting disruptive technologies on the horizon, and why?

  5. VC Relationships:  — Building long-term relationships with VCs and companies is crucial. What are some strategies and best practices for maintaining and nurturing these professional relationships?

  6. Artificial Intelligence:  — Yvette is inclined towards AI investments. How do you see the role of AI evolving in the startup ecosystem, particularly in areas such as security and customer experience?

  7. Networking at Events:  — Networking at VC events was emphasized as key. What are your experiences and tips for making the most out of these networking opportunities?

  8. Regulatory and Geopolitical Factors:  — Understanding cross-country regulations is vital for startups seeking international investment. What resources or methods can startups use to stay informed about these varying regulatory environments?

  9. Germany’s Strengths:  — Germany is noted for its manufacturing, Fintech, health, and clean energy sectors. What other regions or countries do you think have potent startup ecosystems, and in which sectors?

  10. Fundraising Challenges:  — Fundraising is described as a long and challenging process with a high failure rate. Can you share a particular story or experience where persistence and multiple meetings led to eventual investment success?

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The Importance of Disruption: “It’s difficult that somebody every day comes up to me to say, I’m going to make streaming better because I have a better user interface, because I have a better compression, because I have a better this. I have I can we I have, technology to share videos, to do video parties. There are so many things to make it one step better, but is it disruptive enough like the first invention was?” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

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The Challenges of Securing Investment: “It is not an easy journey. And again, the financial criteria has gotten much stricter. You can’t just do yesterday’s thing better.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

The Guest

Our guest on this episode of is Yvette Kanouff (, a partner at JC2 Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley that focuses on transformative technologies. With a robust background in mathematics and technology, Yvette has carved out an impressive career path in the television and technology industries, earning her the title of a tech geek. Due to hear ground breaking work she was also awarded a technical Emmy award at the 71st Emmys ( She has a keen eye for disruptive innovations and has recently invested in Ditron, a German company specializing in anti-drone technology. Yvette’s deep understanding of the tech landscape, combined with her mathematical acumen, makes her a formidable strategist and investor in the fields of deep tech and green tech, fueling the current energy push in Europe.

In addition to her role at JC2 Ventures, Yvette Kanouff places a strong emphasis on the importance of concise and effective communication when pitching to venture capitalists. She believes in the power of being able to explain complex concepts in simple terms, something akin to explaining it to one’s grandmother. Yvette’s investment philosophy is deeply rooted in understanding and aligning with the VC’s perspective, focusing on growth and financial metrics while creating meaningful and long-term relationships within the industry. Her insights into the stringent financial criteria and the increasing importance of artificial intelligence, particularly in applications like drone triangulation, offer invaluable guidance for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make a mark in the tech world.

“Challenges in VC Investments”: “The VC community sees things as a slower payout right now and as a high risk with regard to regulatory changes.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

JC2 Ventures

JC2 Ventures (, founded by John Thomas Chambers, is redefining the model of the modern-day venture capital firm. John Chambers, the former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record to JC2 Ventures. Under his leadership, Cisco’s annual sales grew from $1.9 billion to $49.2 billion. Chambers’ extensive career includes roles at IBM and Wang Laboratories before his significant impact at Cisco. He continues to influence the tech industry through his involvement with various companies, including Quantum Metric and Pensando.

JC2 Ventures is built on the belief that startups are pivotal for economic growth, job creation, and innovation. The firm closely coaches disruptive startups focused on solving major global issues using digital technologies. Unlike traditional VC firms, JC2 Ventures provides more than just financial support; it integrates deeply with its portfolio companies, fostering a partnership that drives digital innovation for a better future.

The differentiators of JC2 Ventures are clear. With a team that includes award-winning experts like Yvette Kanouff, John Jason Chambers, Pankaj Patel, and Shannon Pina, JC2 Ventures leverages vast expertise to deliver exceptional value to each startup. John Chambers himself evaluates each potential investment, selecting startups with a passionate leadership, significant customers, and a track record of disruption.

John Chambers’ new VC model involves dedicating time to develop the next generation of business leaders. He conducts weekly calls with all CEOs in the JC2 Ventures portfolio, offering guidance on tech disruptions, scaling, and leadership. The firm is committed to hands-on management, especially during crises, exemplified by CTO Yvette Kanouff’s active interim roles in portfolio companies.

JC2 Ventures’ vast ecosystem spans public and private sectors, providing startups with essential tools and resources. Through events like JC2 Days, startups gain new partnerships and customers. The success of JC2 Ventures is evident, with 40% of its portfolio companies achieving unicorn status and two going public. This success underscores JC2 Ventures’ ability to identify and develop the brightest tech disruptors, positioning them for significant impact and growth.

The Complexity of Cross-Border Investments: “All of those are more difficult when you’re investing in another country to understand what those regulations are and how you cross those bridges. So there’s definitely another level of complexity.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

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“Expanding Your Business in the US”: “One thing that we do, Joe, is we we actually help with customer expansion. So we have a very, very, very large customer base that we’re close with, and where we know their their executive teams. And we set up jc2days. And in jc2days, we might invite between 5 10 startups to do this speed presentation to to to a customer with the goal to see which one the the the customer would like to follow-up with.” — Yvette Kanouff — Partner JC2 Ventures

The Interviewer

This interview was conducted by Jörn “Joe” Menninger, startup scout, founder, and host of Reach out to him:

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Automated Transcript

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:00:48]:

This is Joe from Startupradio dot Joe, your startup podcast and YouTube blog from Germany, bringing you another interview in startuprate. Io. But this time, we don't have a guest who has a big relation to Germany. But we do have Yvette here, a VC based, as I just learned, on the outskirts of New York City. Hey. How you doing?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:01:15]:

Hi. How are you? Good to have good to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:01:19]:

It's a pleasure to have you here. Be before we get into what you did, and there there's a lot of interesting stuff you did and what we can talk about, I would like to put the interview in perspective because a lot of German, Austrian, Swiss based Startupradio, tech startups, they need to look abroad when they want to raise serious money, serious a, serious b stage around that. So that's why we thought today we do an interview with a US based investor and get your perspective from the outside in, what is interesting in this industry, what is not interesting, and the few how we can approach investors like you.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:02:05]:

Happy to talk about it.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:02:06]:

Yes. But first, let me introduce you a little bit because, you are very interesting. You received numerous industry awards. I I have to look it up because there are a lot. 2020 lifetime Achievement Emmy for Engineering and Technology, National Cable and Television Association, Wengard Award for Leadership in Science and Technology, named industry pioneer and Emmy for your work in video on demand at c change, named an industry one of the 11 most influential women in television industry, and consistently being ranked as one of the top 100 industry executives. And I when I read this, I had two observations because first, what completely astonished me is you have 2 degrees in mathematics. No production, no filming, no camera. How did you end up in the, more or less, video on demand TV industry? And, of course, you're a mathematician.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:03:09]:

Can you tell us a good math joke?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:03:12]:

You know, by default, when you're a mathematician, you you have to have no sense of humor. They don't allow us to be able to tell jokes. It's one of the requirements before we graduate. We're very dry. So, but what I will say is that, I'm very much a deep technologist. I was working on AI long before it was cool recently, a very, very long time back when we had to do our own algorithms and we didn't have all the amazing AI toolsets that exist today to make it so easy to low code, no code. But, but I went into the television industry. I was working as a as a serious mathematician doing pattern recognition algorithms for the Department of Defense.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:03:58]:

And, and I heard that the that we were trying to, go to digital get digital signals and lay fiber. And, and and I thought well, I that's all mathematics to figure out how to get digital signals through fiber. And, and so that's what led me to the television industry. And I am very proud of having a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, which is usually people think of for actors and actresses, but mine is truly for television engineering and technology development. So streaming, DVD, App Store, many things that everybody uses today that I'm quite proud of having a piece of, of the development of.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:04:36]:

Just out of curiosity, you have a Emmy. How high would you rate your acting skills?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:04:41]:

I don't have any of those. Yes. I I guarantee that my acting skills had nothing to do with my Emmy. Yes. But I'm very I'm very proud of the academy because the academy is of television arts and sciences, and we typically watch the arts part on on, on the award shows. But the science is is very important, for for for signal, for compression, for delivery, for creating streaming, for for for, cameras, all of that, plays a role in the, on the sciences side. And it's the same Emmy, so quite proud of that.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:05:18]:

Yes. When when I read when I read all of that, I was expecting to see a lot of TV outlets in this v, like NBC, ABC. Okay. I have to admit I found Time Warner and PBS, but I was quite surprised that you started your career as a senior radar engineer for radar systems at Lockheed Martin. You also have been a senior VP, senior vice president at Cisco, and you have been a president at NASDAQ listed SeaChange, a supplier of video delivery systems. Would you say you're a tech geek?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:05:55]:

Yes. No doubt. I'm definitely I am definitely a geek. Yeah. That's for sure. But, but I, I start you know, I think that when you when you when you rise up to a president level from, from from pretty serious technology and it ties in with investments and being a VC as well. It's always good to really understand the technology, and it's really it's really good to be able to dive in deep with the technical teams. And, of course, if you're too technical and you don't understand the business and the finances and and and and those trade offs, that's not good either.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:06:32]:

So I I just I just learned the latter, later later in life, you know, to how to run a business, product management, of all of the all of the other aspects of of, running a company.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:06:44]:

I see. So I assume you run your your complete home on a raspberry pi.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:06:51]:

Yeah. Or or or, or or alternatives. Right? You have to have some, you have to have your fault tolerance built in.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:06:59]:

I see. So now that, we have kind of set the frame, who you are, what you did, pretty impressed. Actually, you're the first Emmy award winner ever on my show. I do have a lot of other winners of, prestigious award. But Emmy, that's the first one. I'm I'm still short of an Oscar winner, so maybe we can talk about this later.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:07:20]:

Yes. There's always tomorrow. You have, and and, maybe a Grammy. You should just really diversify.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:07:28]:

Oh, yeah. Yes. Exactly. You're here, because you're an US based investor and you already have an investment here in Germany. It's called Ditron. It's in Kassel in in the state of Hessen in the north. A little bit off the beaten path, but I do believe they are making some pretty cool stuff there. Can you talk just a tiny bit about what they are doing?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:07:54]:

So Ddrone is an anti drone company. Very, very interesting. You know, when we talk about drones, we think about this kind of drone or that kind of drone. We don't tend to think about the drone threat. And so what the drone is, if you if you, they, Menninger. So take an airport, for example. You remember that there have been several incidences where drones have have interrupted air traffic. An airport can can see drone activity in the area.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:08:21]:

They can actually triangulate the drone source. In defense cases, you could actually take action on the drone. Right? So so, the need for drone, realization, understanding, using artificial intelligence to do things like this tree triangulation. Very, very interesting company to as an anti drone, as an anti drone company. So they are based in Kasia and, and, very, very, very interesting technology.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:08:54]:

So we we can already tell you are interested in deep tech and green tech. Do you see a future for the German and overall European Startupradio in this direction?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:09:06]:

Well, I do. I think that especially in Germany, I mean, you have government subsidies and help for start ups in the green side. I mean, there's a big energy push, that that's very, very strong in Europe. And, so I I think that that that's a that that's a a real opportunity. I think that there are a lot of, there's a lot of focus on that both from the government and the start up side. So clean energy, I think, manufacturing optimization. There's certain things that I really think are are are strong where you're at, Joe. And, and I think that in general, in the world, it will continue to be to be more, and more important.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:09:48]:

And maybe a mix too. Let's let's be honest. Right? Maybe it's it's also, optimizing or automating or making more efficient and green energy. I think that that mix is also valuable.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:10:00]:

I see. We we here to talk about the StartupRadio from, your outside perspective as well as the outside in perspective, meaning the outside perspective, what you see of the German German speaking StartupRadio scene, and also how start ups from here can approach you. What are some interesting trends you see you kind of have an eye on if we talk about Germany or the the the broader area here in terms of startups. We we already talked about the drone, drone defense. Anything else? Maybe video compression, video on demand discussed.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:10:47]:

Well, I think that video on demand when when I was on the on the, team creating that, you know, think about it. We had nothing. It wasn't now streaming, everybody opens their phone and their laptop and starts streaming. Every time they do, I'm very proud. But at the time, you have to invent things before you know you need them. I remember very distinctly people telling me, Yvette, you're silly. People don't wanna watch video when they wanna watch it. People are fine waiting till 8 PM on Tuesday night to watch that show.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:11:21]:

And, and you have to believe and you have to to to to push for a change. So, and I'll talk about it in a minute, Joe, because it does matter. Creating a better compression to get just a tiny bit better signal is very less disruptive than changing an industry and changing the way that we would that we watch content. Right? So that disruption becomes more important. Today, people are looking for something big disruptive as opposed to moving an inch to a better product that was disrupted yesterday. So so the example you brought up is a good example, but we could come up with 1,000. Right? Which is, are you really disrupting a market? And, you asked me about Germany. So I think that, you know, things I think about with Germany, love Germany, by the way.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:12:09]:

Fun fact. I was raised in Germany. And, clean energy, I think, that you already brought up, I think is very strong in manufacturing. Matter of fact, Germany, the country, very strong in manufacturing and on the industrial side. Fintech. There have been a lot of Fintech focus and successes. And I think health also, also, I mean, as a as a United States based, just person, I would say beyond tech. Right? Everybody knows knows what, what happened there, some years ago.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:12:44]:

So so, you know, it's it's on the radar of, of of people in general, but I wouldn't say that, your Silicon Alley is is is yet is known as the Silicon Valley. Right? Joe, so that that that at a high level in terms of you know what? The other thing I think of consumer goods, you do a lot on on the, consumer delivery and optimization and even health care delivery. They'll you've had some successes there too. Mhmm.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:13:13]:

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Interesting perspective. You said

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:13:19]:

But, Joe, you have to tell me you can't ask me the perspective without commenting. Do you disagree? If you disagree with me, I'd love to know.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:13:26]:

No. No. I I I actually, would completely agree. BioNTech actually is not too far away here, in the city of Mainz, and they're using the tax proceeds to really build a biotech hub. And we already had 2 of the companies there, already established in the interview. 1 of them is already listed on Nasdaq, and the other one is very early stage. A very smart lady. She's a professor at University of Mainz, and she is working on a technology to, make it easier to transplant, organs, to transplant, stem cells, in order to therapy, leukemia, for example.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:14:14]:

But she's still waiting for her first for her first patient, at the stage of the interview. But there's a lot of activity going on. And I do believe that is something that doesn't always grab the headline attention, but it's something we do except for appearing on StartupRadio. How would a start up get your attention?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:14:38]:

Well, you just answered. It's you, Joe. But, I think, it's a really good question because because I think, creating that that that interconnection is magical. And and it's the right question to ask because, startups wanna know who who do I go pitch. Right? I have my pitch deck. How can I get in front of more people? And to your question of, you know, looking at the US VC market, how can I especially get into US VCs? Right? And, NVCs are bombarded with everybody. Right? You're always getting an email with somebody's pitch deck or a one pager. Right? And, it is impossible to keep up with all the people that email me and say, read this, read this, read this.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:15:26]:

So I think that that the the the the magic I'm gonna I'm going to give you the answer in a different form, which is instead of just trying to crowdsource or trying to just say, I'm I'm throwing it out there and seeing what will stick. It's creating meaningful relationships. It's the same as your customer base. How do I find customers? I have a great product. Why won't everybody buy it? Because you have to create meaningful relationships. And so you should look at UVC community the way that you look at your sales community. It's a network. It's something that you invest in long term.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:15:59]:

It's something you invest in before you need funding. Funding is hard. It's become more and more difficult in in the US as well as Germany worldwide. It's, it's it's it's it's, it's been it's been a very difficult, last year. And so, so being at all of the, being at the events, it's not something about where can I send my deck to or how can I get the right introduction when I need it? It's it's about, creating long term relationships with VCs at VC events, but being in the communities. I think that, take Germany, for example, and and, I'll take a couple of companies that I'm close with like Siemens. Right? And Siemens is very very, caring about the StartupRadio community, and they reach out to the start up community. But go one step further.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:16:49]:

Have relationships with your companies. By the way, many companies have have VC arms. Right? They do they do here. Right? And they and, they do there. So it's not just investing in them. It's it's networking beyond them with several companies and then extending that into the US market, into the VCs in the US. Most people just look at it at a very tactical way. You have to look at this strategic, and you have to grow that network.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:17:12]:

It's it takes time, effort, and it's worth it.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:17:18]:

And the the the kind of, the bottom line that I see, it's easier to get a, like, a first meeting in person at an event with you or one of your colleagues, then just, sending out, like, a gazillion of emails. Because personal experience, there there is not a lot of people who would reply to those emails.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:17:40]:

I think that I I I agree everything you said is is is exactly my point. But why do so many send the emails and go that route? I get so many a day and, Joe, you have to know what I'm talking about. I'm sure you see the same. Right? It is the easiest way. I do something once I put it into a into, you know, mail bombardment. But, many of these VC events, and, again, go start with the German one. Right? Because the German ones can expand. People know people.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:18:10]:

You have one person there. You'll get invited to 1 in the US. And I think that if you start that cycle and you understand how to network, many of these include speed dating, is is what we call it in the US. Right? Where you get 15 minutes with the Startupradio you actually take the time to say I'm doing 15 minutes, 15 minutes, 15 minutes, 15 minutes. Practice a really tight pitch that's 15 minutes and see if you get that follow-up. And those kind of events are magical and much, much better. And even if you don't get invited to 1 of the 15 minute sessions, be there at the dinners, be there for the for the discussions, Again, it's a long term investment, and everybody knows everybody. It's a small community.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:18:49]:

So, so so that network is very worthwhile.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:18:53]:

1st, did a a a a a little geeky detail here. I know speed dating works not only for online dating. Actually, I do have a friend who's a very geeky computer scientist. We gave him a birthday present to go for speed dating. Somebody had to watch him. That was me, and I actually met my wife there.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:19:11]:

Oh my goodness. Congratulations on that too. Well, this would be VC Startupradio dating, and let's assume it's the same.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:19:19]:

Exactly. Exactly. But for me personally, it was it will be also interesting to find the right events because as we talked about the emails, like, there there are a million emails, there are a million events. How would I find the right ones, the interesting ones?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:19:40]:

Right. And so and so, I have my I have my favorite. You have your favorite, which we we won't we won't share. But, but I think that, you have to get into the right area first. Right? It's the it's the same as networking. It's the same as as as sales. You get as close as you can and you leverage that network to get to the next step. So I said I would say, let's say for example, you're very tight with, a good venture group in Germany.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:20:11]:

You start with that venture group and go to those events and you really look at the attendee list and you see who's there that's in the group that you'd like to be invited to and then you go talk to those people and see if you can get invited to that group the next time. Let's say you're not in that venture circle in Germany, but let's say you have, a good customer circle. Ask to be introduced to your customers venture arms and go to their events, right, because they have the right people. All of again, it's a small community and, and and and it's and it's truly worthwhile to network in that community. The the job of a CEO is hard. Right? Because you're trying to sell. You're focused on your technology. You need to find the right product market fit.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:20:50]:

You're focused on marketing and you need to focus on your investments. You need to be looking at your prior rounds, always as as opposed to, you know, don't look at it just 6 months in advance. You should be close with that with that industry. So it's, something to add to your to your day to day job for sure.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:21:08]:

And when you attend those events, is it more important to have? I already know the answer, but I I I want to have it again from you. Is it more important to have 70 pages of pitch deck with you, a one pager or business card or both?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:21:23]:

I think that, now you just do an electronic LinkedIn connect. So so no business card. And, I think that, you wanna capture somebody's, interest. So the biggest thing is what you can say with your words. You don't need a deck. 1 pager to leave somebody with is fine, but it's all about the story. Have your story well and crisp. Joe, if I can just if I can just pivot for a second about that story.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:21:50]:

Right? Because the key is what makes a VC interested? Forget US or or or if you're if you're in India or if you're in in in Germany, why do I like you? Right? And and for for for us, our criteria, and I think for most VCs, the very first thing is, the people. Right? You have a I'm a serial entrepreneur. I've taken I have this many unicorns in my, in, in in my past. Right? Or I'm a first it's a first time and I just finished sending out 50,000 emails and they didn't work. So that's my first pitch to you and I'm not succinct. Right? All of those things matter. So you really need to get your story about the people right as to why I should trust you and your team. I have the best team.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:22:40]:

I have a proven team. My team has lots of experience and I and I believe in you. That's the first criteria. If you show up with a bad pitch or you show up with 75 pages to your question, Joe, it's a tough, It's it's an uphill battle. Right? You're probably not gonna get very far, and you're saying, I finally was invited to the party, and I failed. Right? So so do your homework for the party. Call Joe. Joe will Joe will help you.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:23:06]:

He knows what to do at the party. What, but I think the second part is that you have to be in a market transition. Right? The market transition is very important to us. So so, I say that because because you said earlier better compression for video versus versus inventing streaming. Inventing streaming changed the world. Better compression? I don't know if people care. I don't know what people would pay. Are you gonna pay more for your streaming every month because it's a better compression? Maybe, maybe not.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:23:38]:

Right? It's difficult that somebody every day comes up to me to say, I'm going to make streaming better because I have a better user interface, because I have a better compression, because I have a better this. I have I can we I have, technology to share videos, to do video parties. There are so many things to make it one step better, but is it disruptive enough like the first invention was? Right? And, and so that disruption is really, really important. You have to have something different. You have to differentiate yourself from everybody else, and then we go way deep. We we will go to the customer base. We'll talk to our friendly customers because we have a huge connection. I work with John Chambers, who's a legend in Silicon Valley, and, and we use our own connections to to to to say, is this a right market fit product market fit? Would you buy this? Even though you don't even know the Startupradio yet.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:24:31]:

So so all of those things matter, and you have to have all of the things that you're trying to accomplish in your pitch deck, in your mind, and say I have to have an elevator pitch. I'm on the elevator between floor 1 and, say, floor 5, not floor 25. Floor 5 floors. Do I have a pitch short enough to answer those questions? I'm super the best team. I have a disruptive technology for a market transition that's going to rock your world. Five stories. You gotta practice that. Then you've gotta do the 15 minute pitch, you know, for the, for, for that type of speed dating environment, right? Where you're doing VC after VC after VC and, and then have your longer deck.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:25:14]:

But if you always have the 80 pages, you you you you won't you know, you'll be lucky to get far. It's it's it's an uphill battle. But does that make sense, Joe? I mean, that that criteria

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:25:23]:

Yeah. Yeah. It does.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:25:24]:

It quicker and tougher.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:25:26]:

It totally makes sense. And actually, that is something that has gotten easier over the years because many people it it's very easy to come up with a 80 slide presentation. It's much harder to come up with an 8 slide presentation. But when I was talking about this, it's gotten easier. There are a lot of tools out there to help you first do an very impressive presentation. I know that matters a little bit. And secondly, also, tools like Chat GPT who help you just to summarize 80 slides into 8 slides. They can help you with that.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:26:02]:

Because if you're an entrepreneur by yourself, it's very, very, very hard to really cut down all the things you you thought about, all the all the details you want to include that highlights, what makes you different. But actually, a really good trick that, somebody told me, one of my former bosses, was try to explain it to your grandma.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:26:27]:

Yeah. Yeah. As a mathematician too.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:26:30]:

Yeah. She doesn't get the details here and there and this, and she doesn't even know Disney plus. But if you could explain it to your grandma that she'll understand, you're set.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:26:41]:

That is a that it that is good advice, Joe. That is very good advice. When I started, I I, you know, I started on the super techie, geeky side. And, when people told me I need to bring it to 1 page, I would just change the font size. I've learned much since then. You know? So the grandma is a good idea, and I think, Joe, the other thing that's really changed is the financial criteria has gotten, much more, stringent. So it used to be that, I would believe in you, Joe, and you're pitching to me, and I've and I've been through 2 startups with you in the past. And I think now there it's a show me instead of believe me stage.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:27:19]:

It's gotten worse over the last 24 months. You have to show me your growth. You have to show me your growth in much more stringent time periods. You have to show me a much more aggressive growth. It's, people would like to see a, I think that VCs in general are are, the you know, you you you know well. Right? The growth is is different for different size of of of of revenue. But, but, again, that that criteria gets gets stricter and stricter. And, and so I think really focusing on the financials in addition to the grandmother stories is is very important because a lot of pitches to me focus on how cool my technology is.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:28:04]:

And then I talk about the money, and they say, well, Yvette, you're gonna help me with that. And I just think, wow. If you don't have that ready and you don't understand that, that's a that's a big miss, especially on early seed.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:28:15]:

Mhmm. And, also, what what I've experienced in my life is a lot of the people who have, like, the technical details and all the stuff, the product hammered out, they completely believe you just need 1, 2, 3,000,000. You throw them into marketing. The marketing guys will do something with it and then you're good. That doesn't work anymore. Right?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:28:39]:

That is so right. You are so right. And which is why I say, think about all the answers before you do your presentation and make sure that you can give all those answers in the various sizes, extra small, like an elevator pitch to to to small, like 15 minutes to medium and large and extra large. And, and, and it's amazing how most of them will be smaller medium pitches. And you have to capture you have to capture a VC's, interest in that short period of time because your only goal is to follow-up. Your goal is not to let them understand the detail of slide number 157. It's really just to get the follow-up meeting.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:29:21]:

Actually, I do believe if you can make a VC sit in to slide 157, he or she is already very interested.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:29:31]:

This is true. I don't know if I've ever seen that, though, Joe. Have you? 157. That's a lot.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:29:37]:

He gave me a very, very new way to think about the pitches. So you have x s. It's like the one pager, you have the s pitch, the m pitch, and maybe somewhere there's the x l pitch. But basically, you just use it as, in German, we would say, as a collection of slides that you can throw together, to make shorter pictures.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:30:00]:

Yes. Yes. That's right. And and and, not just the sizes, but but know what your goal is of the meeting because many people think I'm looking for that technical depth. I need to get that into your head about how amazing my solution is. And, that should not be your goal. Right? So when we look at things, I gave you that criteria, the people, the market transition, the total disruption as to why you're gonna be successful and how am I gonna make money and how long is it gonna take. Right? Joe so so you have to look at it from my perspective and give that and and and think of that as you create those size sized, decks.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:30:36]:

Also, for me, many people, when they start out in the Startupradio scene, like the very first month of fundraising. They believe they have, like, as we talked about, a very long extensive pitch check. They have one scheduled appointment with the VC, and at the end of the pitch, the VC will get out his checkbook and write a check. That's not working anymore. How how would you say you should be prepared? Because for me, personally, I would approach it, get to know them in person, like attend the right events. Then you go and, do, like, an online presentation, like the s or the m pitch deck as we talked about. And then maybe you should also, kind of, get to know the the people in person. Visit them again, Silicon Valley, New York, Chicago, wherever they are.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:31:35]:

Yes. That's right. That that would make a lot of difference if you visit the VCs again. And and then at one point, they'll get out the checkbook, but it will be a long process.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:31:46]:

Yes. As a matter of fact, I don't I don't, I mean, we're a we're a very close community and and, you know, in the VC world. So we all we all talk to each other quite often. But, but but that is, that's not the way we do it at all. Right? So we have we have, you know, a 100 to 1, rejections of of ones that we even, show interest in. So you have to come in looking at a very high failure rate probability. And, and I think that what you do is you want in the first meeting, you want a second meeting. In the second meeting, you'd like to have a meeting with a larger team.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:32:28]:

Right? And in the third meeting, you'd like to have a second meeting with the larger team. In the in the next meeting, you'd like to have somebody that falls in love with this technology product, market disruption, whatever it is that's that's super exciting about your about your particular pitch. It's gonna take many meetings, and and and and it almost always involves a larger team. And and like I said, from our standpoint, we then wanna talk to customers and then we talk to our own customers that we know are are our friends and family and we'll say, let me introduce you to to to somebody that we're thinking of investing in and and tell me, what would you what what's your honest thought about their sales pitch, not not the investment pitch? So there there's a lot of steps there, Joe. It is not an easy it is not an easy journey. And again, the financial criteria has gotten much stricter. You can't just do yesterday's thing better. I mean, I'm not saying you can't.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:33:24]:

Of course, any startup can do anything. But, but but we really look for true disruptions in a market transition. It's it's it's, it's it's it's been a difficult market. And then if you wanna go outside of Germany and say, I would like to have that US, you have to do all the same things in in in the USBC environment.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:33:44]:

Mhmm. Yes. Exactly. Plus you have to show why they should invest because as you were saying, there are certain economics to VC fund. That means you you can't just, make 2, 3 times profit on your investment, then the economics don't work because a lot of failures are always included in a VC fund. That means the successful startups, they have to make up for all the other failures. So you're looking really for the big moonshot there.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:34:18]:

Yes. You are. Always. Always. Well said, Joe. That's exactly the way it works. You are you are spot on. You know, the only other thing I'd add to to to to this whole discussion of of Germany that you just brought up is that, and not specific to Germany, but but specific to the US.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:34:35]:

One of the big disruptions right now in the VC market is of course the economy. And the second one that's worth mentioning is of course, all of the regulatory changes, geopolitics and things that are happening. And so, maybe an important thing to to add to to the whole discussion we just had in terms of pitching is also those those two things. Right? Because, the VC community sees things as a slower payout right now and as a high risk with regard to regulatory changes. And in another country, you're dependent on the regulatory changes in that country and and what's happening. And, so much with with the geopolitics, with artificial intelligence, with the ongoing privacy considerations and trust, and, and it's just seemingly never ending as as to how regulatory changes are being implemented. So I would add that to a level of complexity for for, in a a cross country investment because you're making an investment not just in the technology, but in all of that as well.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:35:42]:

Never ever forget the taxes.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:35:44]:

Yes. Yes. And and and and, you know, if you have something that's that's you want me to invest in something that's strong in country that, had that that's, you know, in country that's a different country from where you're investing in, then, you know, is that something we're all familiar with? Is that is that regulatory risk going to, going to potentially impact your success? And so much on privacy even if you're doing grocery delivery. Right? You know, what do you do with the data? How do you address the data? Where is it stored? Can you store it in the cloud? You know, how are you addressing all of the privacy factors when you go across a country line? Are we technically savvy enough to address that? All of those are more difficult when you're investing in another country to understand what those regulations are and how you cross those bridges. So there's definitely another level of complexity. And I would think about we talked about Dedron based in Casa. You know, they were they were their their headquarters was in in in in, in San Francisco, and our headquarters is in San Francisco. Joe, or in, Palo Alto, I should say, Silicon Valley.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:36:52]:

And, so so think about, are you going to have a presence in the US? If you're if you're seeking US, investments, are you planning to expand? Do you have US customers? You have 2 US customers. One thing that we do, Joe, is we we actually help with customer expansion. So we have a very, very, very large customer base that we're close with, and where we know their their executive teams. And we set up jc2days. And in jc2days, we might invite between 5 10 startups to do this speed presentation to to to a customer with the goal to see which one the the the customer would like to follow-up with. And, and so we actually help with sales introductions so so much. But if you're only in country, then that so much of that would not be applicable. Right? So how how good of a fit are you with the culture of the VC and how they run? Because we take such an active role and we help with introductions.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:37:53]:

If you're only in country in Germany, then that would be very limiting.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:37:57]:

I see. To get towards the end because we're talking for over 35 minutes for now, That will be on the little bit longer side, but I do do believe there's a lot of entertaining and also interesting content in here. There are a lot of there there are benchmarks out there, in terms of series a sizes, valuations, and so on and so forth. If you Google a lot, benchmarks, how much investment do series a stage Startupradio, what at what valuation, the same for series b, valuation investment size. Would you expect the founders to know that and not be completely off the charts?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:38:39]:

I think that founders would behoove themselves to look up some of the art there are some great articles out there on on what your multiples expectations are, what the ranges are for it, what what is the right, growth expectation on various aspects of growth, right, for for various sizes of revenue. I think that all of that is something that that that, I would recommend you you familiarize yourself with because that's what you'll be compared to, for sure. Joe if they don't know, I mean, Joe, you tell me if they know or not, but but, but they should.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:39:17]:

Yeah. They they should. And, as you said, it's just your homework you need to do. And, getting finally to you guys, what kind of startups are you looking for and how could startups pitch? We we already, we already noticed you you get way too many emails. But I've seen you have security and trust engagement, energy infrastructure and sustainability as broad investment topics on your website. Could you elaborate a little bit what you guys are doing and how start ups can make the first contact there?

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:39:54]:

Joe, so I would say that we're highly biased towards AI, have been for for many, many years. You know, since the beginning, we've been very biased towards AI and transformations as an underlying technology. The areas that you just mentioned, I would say security. There's so much happening in security and with the change of quantum computing and and, and and and new technologies that really affect cyber, cyber risk quantification and and and things that address some of the SEC regulations that are happening here. Lots of interesting things on the cyber side, and that has to continue to change because, with AI, we now have AI driven cyberattacks. So that is going to continue to be top of mind for for a very long time. So so that's one area. The next I would say is AI for, customer experience.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:40:43]:

I think the call customer experience needs a complete transformation. I think AI is gonna drive call calls to a call center. Bots are gonna become better. They're gonna be more speakable as opposed to the the the IVRs that exist today. Lots of transformation happening in that, which is a big interest. And then I think that you can't get rid of our roots of infrastructure, probably continue to to stay in there and things like network as a service. I'll stop there, Joe, but there's a couple of ideas.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:41:12]:

Right. And everybody who would like to learn more, you can go down here in the show notes. There will be, of course, a link to your LinkedIn profile and to Joe investments. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure having you here.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:41:24]:

Likewise. Thanks for having me, Joan.

Jörn "Joe" Menninger [00:41:26]:

Totally much. Pleasure. Have a good day. Bye bye.

Yvette Kanouff - Partner JC2 Ventures [00:41:28]:



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