Nicolas Wittenborn started working for the Team Europe Seed Fund as an intern in early 2011 before becoming an Associate at Point Nine Capital in 2012.

Having lived in New York and Singapore, he now lives in Berlin to be closer to the lively startup scene and pursue his passion for young technology ventures.

We caught up with Christopher to find out what VCs like him are looking for in startups and entrepreneurs…

Simpleweb: What do you love most about working with startups?

Nicolas: I have to say it’s the entrepreneurs that I get to work with every day. These are mostly young, smart and incredibly hungry men or women that want to change the world one way or the other. It’s a great inspiration for me and there is a lot to learn from them.

I’m also fond of the fast pace of the tech industry. New products, trends and ideas emerge every day and it’s a lot of fun to keep up with all of that while trying to assess what’s relevant and what’s not.

SW: What makes a good startup idea?

NW: In most cases, the idea alone is not worth much. So we are instead looking for the right teams to pursue these ideas and ideally some first proof in terms of progress on the product / user / customer side.

At Point Nine, we especially like the SaaS sector and everything that benefits from network effects. So that’s typically the cases that get us most excited.

SW: What are the characteristics of a good entrepreneur?

NW: I think there are different kind of entrepreneurs, so it’s hard to generalise too much. There are some ‘patterns’ that seem to give some founders an edge though. One of these is having some kind of insight (or domain expertise) in the industry or market that he is solving a problem for. Another trait is the ability to recruit great people, because ultimately they will determine the company’s odds to succeed. If the co-founders and /or early employees are all very impressive, it’s a great sign.

SW: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?

NW: “Hard work pays off, you get out what you put in” – Juelz Santana

SW: What advice would you give to anyone taking their first steps into entrepreneurship?

NW: It’s really hard to built up a company from scratch and even harder to make it successful. To make it, you have to be 110% committed and passionate about the problem you are solving. If you are not, chances are high that you will give up at one of the many road blocks on the way.

SW: Do you have any tips for startups seeking funding?

NW: The more traction you can show with no (or little) funding, the more attractive you become for an investor. If you create a sense of inevitability and prove that you can get things done, your chances to close funding increase significantly.

I think it’s important that you are aligned with the investor when it comes to goals for the company (e.g are you building a 10M, 100M or 1B business) and the strategy to get there. You should also get along on a personal level, as it’s a long-term game and you want to make sure that don’t hate to spend time together for the next 5-10 years of your life. 🙂

SW: Do you have any extra advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

NW: Although the lines between your private and professional life will most likely get blurry, you should try to have some kind of balance to your business. Don’t forget to spend time with friends, your husband or wife, read, do some sports or whatever else floats your boat. Your startup will take up a huge part of a life, but it should not control it 100% at all times.

If you’d like to discuss your startup or project, get in touch with Simpleweb today.

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