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April 21, 2020

Investor insights from Lead Investor – Marko Oolo

A Funderbeam exclusive interview with Marko Oolo, who is an investment manager in Superangel and founder of Investeerimisklubi in Estonia. In April 2020, he started with the lead investor role for Barking campaign on the Funderbeam platform.

As an early stage investor, what questions do you always ask when looking at a business and its management team?

1. Why has this founder chosen this business?

2. How committed is this founder?

3. What are this founder’s chances of succeeding in this business — and in life?

4. What does winning look like in terms of revenue and my return?

5. How excited am I about the team and business?

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in investing in early-stage companies?

Look at enough deals and meet enough founders to form an understanding of the market. In venture capital, the rule of thumb is to invest in 1% of companies that you see. It is a lesson I have learned without having to make this mistake.

Are you sector agnostic when it comes to making investments as long as they meet your criteria?

When it comes to sectors I am pretty much agnostic, but only invest in businesses I can understand and grasp. Having navigated in the tech space for 6+ years I have had a chance to learn about many different sectors — fintech, mobility, sharing economy, big data, iot, and sustainability.

Investment decision comes down to 5 main criteria — team, traction, technology, market, and my excitement.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite companies in your portfolio?

I have invested small tickets in around 10 companies, most of which through the Funderbeam platform. To bring out a few of them — Cleveron, Xolo, Bikeep, Ampler Bikes, UpSteam, and now Barking.

One of the reasons why I’ve invested in the previously mentioned companies is all are doing business internationally and have the potential to scale globally. Founders’ ambition and scalability is something I am looking for when it comes to startup investments.

What areas do you think will present the most opportunity for early-stage investors over the next 18–24 months?

In the short term 1–2 year perspective I think the keyword is sustainability. More than before investors are looking for companies that can sell their products and grow revenue. All businesses that are operating lean and have a low-cost base are more attractive.

From sectors, I see all health-related companies are interesting.

Where are you seeing the most exciting early stage opportunities? What are the ‘ones to watch’/ most currently underrated?

I think the most exciting early stage opportunities in the near future are in the green technology and sustainability space. We could see a trend forming which was interrupted by the current health crisis but I see this trend getting even stronger after the pandemic is over.

Another trend I see is in contactless and online services. The health crisis is heavily supporting the trend and essentially being online is a scalable solution to building a global business.

From companies listed on Funderbeam, I see Ampler BikesXoloGrim, and Barking benefitting from this trend.

How did you discover Funderbeam?

Being active in the investment scene most of new local opportunities arrive to my news feed sooner or later. About 4–5 years ago we held an event in Investeerimisklubi with a couple of people from Funderbeam to introduce the platform to retail investors.

One of Funderbeam’s key strengths is our ability to put together investors from all over the world in one syndicate. What are your favourite cities and why?

One of my favourite cities besides Tallinn and Tartu is Lisbon, which stands out from the rest as I had an opportunity to live there for a year. I chose to go there mostly because of the weather — it is the hottest capital in Europe. Spent the year studying, surfing, and playing basketball.

What book/podcast do you most frequently recommend to friends and family and why?

In the context of startups and investing I would recommend a book that every startup investor should read — “Angel” by Jason Calacanis. Overall there are classics that every person should read — “Why we sleep” by Matthew Walker and “Factfulness” by the Rosling family.

From podcasts, I run my own podcast, called “Investeerimisklubi Podcast”. Therefore this is something I would recommend.

Tell us something people are surprised to learn about you.

I have been running a charity fund for the last 4 years. We are supporting youth financial and entrepreneurial education.

Investing in early-stage and growth companies puts your capital at risk. Please read our Risk Disclosure Statement.

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