The SAATCHiNVEST Manual: Who We are And What to Expect
SAATCHiNVEST is the tech investment arm within M&C Saatchi PLC.
We are a seed fund that loves to be first money in. We invest up to £300k and our sweet-spot tends to be 10% — think £100k @ £1m or £300k @ £3m.
We like to lead but can also follow fast. We make quick decisions. Alex Dunsdon and Leo Castellanos run the fund and we choose who to back in a in a 20 minute partners meeting with Jeremy Sinclair and David Kershaw.
Why we do this
M&C Saatchi grew into a global force by investing in entrepreneurs in service businesses. We now do the same in high growth tech businesses.
Busting four big myths
1. I heard corporate funds may take me down a path where I may end up conflicted?
We don’t. Think of us like a super angel that makes its own choices and does not make “strategic” investments. There is no requirement to integrate, work with or be a ‘strategic fit’ with the Agency. It is a totally a standalone fund.
2. You must do adtech / martech?
Nope, we are a standalone fund that invests in crazy huge ideas from obsessed tech entrepreneurs.
3. Can you follow on though?
For sure…generally we go up to Series A when the bigger boys take over. We’ve followed over 90% of our investments.
How We Help
1. We are operators not financiers.
All four of us have run our own businesses. David and Jeremy are part of the founding team who have built a £300m+ market cap global business. Alex and Leo are both founder operators themselves (The Bakery & Compara Bien)
2.We will care.
Above and beyond. We don’t have a mega fund that will do 40 investments and abandon entrepreneurs when they are struggling. We are super people focused. You can throw a dart across the entrepreneurs we back and they will say the same thing. Examples are here and here.
3. We know our role.
If you have chosen the VC path, the game is to help get you to Series A. This means a product users want with the metrics VC’s want. We keep things simple. A lot of people over complicate early stage, we stay super focused on getting to a product people love. Most other things are distractions.
4. We are super linky
We have stellar networks. Primarily in enterprise, marketing, brand, and investors.
We use Standard Seed Summit as the basis of our deals. The right to pre-empt in later rounds is our strongest principle. If we lead: we will ask for the option of a board seat and consent on major decisions. We generally ask for 1 x liquidation preference (in case you exit early).
We need to be (and remain) viscerally excited by the opportunity. This is difficult to quantify as early stage investing is more art than science but
2. We love people who get brand and product: Very few in tech understand the intangible power of brands — check out the voices of Dojo and Technology Will Save Us. They get it. We desire great product. We are seduced by it. We fall in love with people who are obsessed by it. You can hurdle most of our criteria if you are obsessed and good here.
3. We are ruled way more by ‘need’ than ‘sector
We have great instincts on how customers behave. If we feel that you are solving a real need we are happy to be contrary. Having said that, here are some themes we like:
1. Anything that makes the complicated simple: especially if it’s about making lots of data simple and usable. Ometria and Citymapper do this.
2. Enterprise. If it ‘obliterates’ rather than ‘automates’: We like systems that don’t just automate processes but introduce a totally new interaction, insight or behaviour. Gluru, Evrythng, Touchcast and Picasso Labs are all examples here.
3. We do consumer when it is a product that can become a habit: Building product that becomes a daily habit is really hard. Dojo and Citymapper have achieved this.
What To Expect: The Process
TL:DR An email & 4 meets = a term sheet
The below is typical. Because we are human it will not always be like this. It also may take a bit longer if you have a lot of data (ie you are ‘seed extension’ or late seed stage’)
Ideal looks like: a demo with your vision, a clearly stated problem and a product to play with. This is 1000 times better that a deck.
Tips: If you do send a deck this is what ideal looks like to us: Hustle an intro from someone we know. Include a demo / prototype / product to play with. Make it look something like this
2. An Initial 20 minute meet
with no laptop with Alex or Michael or Leo.
Tips: We want to get to know YOU. The best meets are where founders are real and not selling. We need to know if we can hang out on trains together.
3. A follow up 20 minute meet
1 hour with Alex or Leo (whoever didn’t meet you first time)
4. A Decision meet:
20 minutes with Alex Leo David and Jeremy
Tips: No Presentations. Paint your huge vision of the world. Tell us how you are going to start. Convince us you are the guys or girls to do it. Keep it super simple.
If We Say No
It’s because we know our criteria well and respect your time. Please understand. We have to say no more than 99% of the time. It’s hard. But your job is to grow resilient. You will get crushed daily but bouncing back again is what the very best, and most courageous do.
Some of Our Core Philosophies For When We are Partners
Though no two businesses are the same:
1. We need to like each other. Lots. This is like a marriage
2. We like teams to raise burn low until they have product market fit. We will likely urge you to focus on little but product and users in the first instance. We believe that financial constraints encourage good decisions and that too much money too soon makes you fat. In most cases money doesnt compensate for time. Generally you need 18 months to get to the next milestone.
3. We tend to ignore long-term financial projections (except to the extent that they show what the “unit economics”) but we do want to know how you will get a small group of customers to fall in love with you.
4. Early boards. At the very early stage this is not too formal. Its more about how we can take on the world together.
That’s most things…and best first advice is to hustle your way to an intro from someone we know ;-)