Gastbijdrage Stan Jeanty | From Founder to VC: Navigating the Steeple Run of Entrepreneurship

When On Good Terms asked me to write about my transition from being a co-founder to becoming a VC, I was not sure how to approach this. My journey with, the shared mobility platform I launched back in October 2019, resembled a steeple run more than a smooth race.

However, the lessons I learned from my time as a founder have proven to be incredibly insightful as I navigate the world of venture capital. So, in this article, I’ll delve into:

1. Market Timing matters

In October 2019, we unleashed upon the world. Fuelled by successful seed funding and MVP development, we sprinted into the market, forging alliances with renowned Belgian and European event organizers, as well as major employers. The track ahead looked promising, much like a steeple run bathed in sunshine.

But as we prepared for our first victory, a formidable hurdle loomed: COVID-19. In the blink of an eye, our entire TAM (Total Addressable Market), SAM (Serviceable Addressable Market), and SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market) were locked down. People were confined to their homes, events canceled, and the daily commute became a distant memory.

The lesson was clear: Market timing can either propel you over the steeple or trip you up. Yet, it’s not just external factors that matter; it’s also how you react when the market doesn’t favor your stride. Do you pause at the hurdle or leap towards the next one?

This leads us to lesson number two.

2.Runways run out.

It may sound simple, but when your cash reserves dry up, so does your race. Tight control over your bank balance and burn rate, and finding creative ways to manage these factors is imperative.

When COVID-19 struck, we optimistically thought, “This will blow over in a few weeks.” We couldn’t have been more mistaken. Thankfully, we made the tough decision to stem the financial bleeding, cutting expenses like subscriptions and freelancers. This prolonged our runway, giving us time to plot our next moves.

In our case, we weathered the COVID storm and waited for the skies to clear before taking the next steeple.

3. Team. Team. Team

The third point can’t be emphasized enough: assembling a strong team is vital.

Venture growth demands time, effort, sacrifice, and endurance. If you bear these burdens alone, the steeple run can be exhausting. Sharing the journey with a co-founder changes the dynamics drastically.

The same applies to celebrating victories and milestones. Without someone to share these moments, they lose their luster.

So, my advice is to seek out a (complementary) co-founder and begin the race together. As a VC, I find myself wary of investing in startups with solo founders, as I know from experience how isolating it can be.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, the lessons from my co-founder days continue to steer my course as a VC at Volta Ventures, a B2B SaaS seed and early-stage investor, as I navigate the steeple run of entrepreneurship.

Door Stan Jeanty, principal bij Volta Ventures.

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