A good investor must have a flair for the innovative spirit
I am an all cards on the table kind of guy.
Radu Dimeca, who founded Gafoprint, the first private printing house in Romania, has joined our investor team and is making the most of the fruitful exchange with entrepreneurs and the other investors. In this interview, Radu talks about the joy of being an investor, the advice he has for young business founders, what makes the experience of being an investor compelling and valuable, and much more.
What drove you to join Growceanu?
I wanted to walk in an investor’s shoes, add this to my portfolio of professional experiences. I needed this perspective in approaching an exit, for one of the companies where I am an associate, as it greatly adds to my expertise and gives me a distinctive opportunity to contribute.
What prompted you to think investing in start-ups would be a good idea?
The entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm while they are in full creation of their business is refreshing, recharging, it’s always a joy to be around. Sharing my personal experience is also a great joy. The prospect of multiplying the initial financial investment is another reason, as well as the desire to not put all my eggs in one basket, as they say.
An investor must be willing to share their experience and expertise, and enjoy doing so.
What do you think are the most important qualities an investor must have?
An investor must be able to incorporate and synthesize the information they receive. Positive thinking is key to having an inspiring and empowering vision. A good investor must have a flair for the innovative spirit – must be able to detect it, as well as support and empower it. Being open to the new and to some risk-taking is essential. None of the above is possible without broad-mindedness and openness to the new. Last, but not least,an investor must be willing to share their experience and expertise, as a mentor and a coach, and enjoy doing so.
What are the abilities/values that make you perform,as an investor?
Apart from the experience and expertise my 30 years as an entrepreneur have equipped me with, I have a great appetite for knowledge –to both gain it and share it – and I can stomach a certain level of risk,consistent with what investing in a start-up calls for.
As an investor, what are your challenges? How about your joys?
Choosing the right start-up in terms of financial performance, scalability and the prospect of international growth –these are challenges a good investor must learn to enjoy.
A start-up needs a team that is well structured, well fused together, formed of people who are mature and perceptive.
How do you recognize a start-up with a future? What are the green flags, so to speak?
The founders’ enthusiasm is a great fuel for innovation, stamina and resilience. Scalability is another important element, provided that it shows in the numbers. Credible numbers.
What keeps a start-up from moving forward?
Excessive diamond polishing impedes innovation and creativity, and often causes tunnel vision. Overconfidence can be a booster, but, taken too far, it affects good judgment and leads to bad decision making. And then there’s the team – which is a defining, determining factor. To move forward and perform long-term, a start-up needs a team that is well structured, well fused together, formed of people who are mature and perceptive.
Not everything high tech will fly sky high!
What are some myths about success? What about failure?
Not everything that glitters is gold. Not everything high tech will fly sky high! Not being high tech doesn’t make you bite the dust.
What are some traps (mental or otherwise) you seen founders fall into?
Founding a business takes confidence, courage,stamina and the strength to push back against resistance. In doing so, one can at times push too far, and end up not being open to different points of view,not growing the circle of competence, not asking for support to check the rationale and firmly believing their concept is infallible.
How do you support a start-up, post-investment?
I am an all cards on the table kind of guy. I am very clear about my expertise and abilities and I offer them, on request. This a powerful exchange, we always learn from one another.
An investor should keep going, and also keep their eyes on the road!
What is the most courageous, impactful project you have invested in?
What does an ideal investment portfolio look like?
I’m still working on it!
What would you say to a start-up investor who’s only starting out on this journey?
I would tell them to keep going, and also keep their eyes on the road - pay attention to the milestones and keep an eye out for the need to reconfigure the route or change the initial parameters.
You are talking to a young founder. You can see his eyes sparkling with joy and the beginner’s enthusiasm. What do you want to tell them, what’s your advice?
Jump into the water and start swimming! After they’ve checked the water temperature and learned how to swim. What they should definitely NOT be doing is sit on the side of the pool and read about swimming until the pool runs dry. :)
Start-ups give people a reason to believe in what they can do.
What makes the investor-entrepreneur relationship work?
Communication and transparency are crucial –nothing can replace, or make up for them. Equally, in order to thrive, they must both take interest in a win-win partnership.
How do you see the start-up ecosystem in Romania?
In Romania, the start-up ecosystem is also just starting up – which comes with its own set of advantages, as it makes it flexible, adaptable, responsive, learn from the others and grow.
What is the social impact of start-ups?
Start-ups give people a reason to be self-confident, to believe in what they can do. They multiply the number of positive examples people can learn from and be inspired by, knowing that they can make a difference, so they should contribute and build a solid future for themselves, for the community, for our society.
The entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm is refreshing, recharging, it’s always a joy to be around.
In your view, what role does Growceanu play in this ecosystem?
We educate, we pioneer, we train, we stimulate, we multiply. This is a meaningful and powerful position to be in, one we take great responsibility for.
How do you keep your thinking fresh?
By using it! I pay attention, I stay informed, I explore and learn, I am open to diversity, I read and surround myself with interesting,thought-provoking people.