In a fireside chat with Olga Yaroshevsky, taking place today at the AIBC Europe conference in Malta, Vinicius Carvalho, Investment Partner at Ikigai Ventures delved into his journey in the investment field, and the unique strategy behind Ikigai Ventures. He also offered valuable insights for startup founders looking to attract attention from VC funds.
Vinicius starts by highlighting his transition from traditional investment banking and private equity in Brazil to venturing into entrepreneurship. After successfully launching and selling his own FinTech company, his interest in blockchain led him to Ikigai Ventures, where he currently serves as an investment partner.
Ikigai Ventures’ Strategy
Vinicius sheds light on the Ikigai roadmap, which evolved into a venture studio model alongside traditional VC investments. The fund incubates projects within its ecosystem, leveraging its marketing strength. He introduces Quantum Games as their first successful venture and outlines four ongoing incubation projects, spanning areas like B2B platforms, slot studios, crypto payment solutions, and live studios for IBM.
“Our journey was a pivoting one. When we set up the fund, our idea was basically to do minority investments as a regular VC fund. We realised that our strength and our potential lies with the conference, this marketing powerhouse that is SiGMA.
“So right now the strategy of the fund is basically split in two. We still do minority investments for startups. We still push the project forward, but we also have a somewhat of a venture studio mandate, so we incubate projects inside the fund. We are launching our second project right now.”
Choosing Projects and Teams:
Vinicius emphasises the importance of the team, especially in the early stages where strong metrics may not be available. Trust in the founder’s vision, engagement with the market, and complementary skills within the team are key criteria. As projects progress, metrics and financial performance become more crucial.
Navigating Challenging Market Conditions
Vinicius acknowledges the challenges posed by market conditions, inflation rates, and fluctuating interest rates. However, he underscores the long-term nature of venture capital, spanning 8-10 years. By entering the market during downturns, Ikigai Ventures aims to secure projects at lower valuations, anticipating higher returns when market conditions improve.
“You have to think that venture capital is a long term game. It’s not something that we’re going to liquidate next year if things are not great.”
Advice for Startup Founders
Vinicius provides valuable advice for startup founders seeking VC attention. He recommends building relationships early, with a focus on transparency and trust. The investor-founder relationship is likened to a marriage, requiring a strong bond to navigate challenges effectively.
Reflecting on his journey, Vinicius discusses the gradual transition from a company founder to an investor. He emphasizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all trajectory for becoming an investor, citing examples of successful investors with diverse backgrounds.
His journey, coupled with practical advice for startup founders, adds depth to the narrative of navigating the complexities of the investment landscape.
The AIBC Europe conference is being held at the MMH, Marsa, Malta between the 14th and 16th.