Investor insights from Lead Investor – Thomas Padovani
A Funderbeam exclusive interview with Thomas Padovani. He is an entrepreneur and investor. Thomas co-founded the Webinfluence Group in 2007, then went on to found the globally successful online media advertising platform Adcash. Stepping back from the Adcash CEO position in 2018, Thomas now focuses on building and investing in new aspiring startups with growth opportunities. Now he is a lead investor for Punch Drinks funding campaign.
As an early stage investor, what questions do you always ask when looking at a business and its management team?
The thing is that I have been through the same stage as they would experience during their growth, therefore it’s quite natural to ask yourself what I would do if I would be in their shoes at the moment. Seeing similarities, affinities, or familiar behavior is something that would make you confident to make the investment.
BUT! That’s not enough, bringing things too close to your heart will lead to emotions. Emotions are very important; but decisions resulting strictly from our emotions can lead to mistakes. This is what Elon Musk calls “wishful thinking”.
More rationally, going through these stages also brought me a lot of experience that I’m using to understand, in a better way, the challenges that the team will face.
Sectors are different; but challenges can be categories in the same way. The industry, the people, the regulation, the trends, and the economic situation. Financials and business plans are important in the rational part of the decision making.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in investing in early-stage companies?
Two words, “Human factor”. Focusing only on the potentials that the market is giving or the financial data at a certain point give a shortened and misleading overview. Bottom line the humans behind the idea, concept, businesses are the ones that will make the mistakes, and there, nothing is taken for granted. Pick the right humans with the right ideas.
Are you sector agnostic when it comes to making investments as long as they meet your criteria?
We have usually a preference for SaaS and Softwares, but we are looking as well in a wider range of opportunities.
What is the tipping point to you when you decide in favour of investing?
The momentum is basically between Company potential/growth versus current valuation.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite companies in your portfolio?
What areas do you think will present the most opportunity for early-stage investors over the next 18–24 months?
Softwares, health, entertainment, finance.
Where are you seeing the most exciting early stage opportunities? What are the ‘ones to watch’/ most currently underrated?
Estonia provides quite a lot of opportunities for investors in different sectors.
What are your fears as an investor?
Human Factor as described earlier
A book to read or a blog or podcast to follow…
How did you discover Funderbeam?
Through media coverage and successful fundraising of the start-up that was looking at.
What is Funderbeam to you?
A good tool for a start-up to get known and raise funds.
Questions from Kaidi Ruusalepp, Funderbeam CEO and Founder:
1) If you could be a founder/CEO of any company in the world, what would this be and why?
IKEA, because the model is close to perfection.
2) Would you like to win the Nobel prize, Oscar or Olympic gold medal? Why?
None of the listed above but 1st position at 24h of Le Mans would be a great achievement.
Why? Because after all we love winning and all entrepreneurs must be competitors in their soul.
3) If there’s 1 question in the world where the universe provides you the correct answer, then what would this question be?
What happens after we die.
Question from previous respondent Madis Müür:
1) What’s your superpower or secret sauce, how do you help your companies?
As an investor, we must first help people not investing in companies that we believe will not work. It saves time for every one.
Otherwise, when we invest in a company we share our contacts, experience, and whatever is necessary but we don’t interfere. We provide the fuel when necessary the engine is the team.
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