These days it seems it’s all about the exit strategy. Startups often thinking about how they are going to get out and make a fast buck, before they've even finalised what it is they're selling. Jon von Tetzchner, investor and founder of browser-firm Opera Software and his latest project Vivaldi, talks about his role as an investor, and how he often has no exit strategy at all.
Unusual as it is - and especially so from a seasoned investor, who has to date invested in around a dozen new startups - von Tetzchner truly believes for him as an investor it’s the way to go: “If you want to build something for the future you don’t have a 3 year exit plan.” Coming from a man who built one of Europe’s browser success stories, one finds it a compelling alternative to the notion of an exit strategy.
Many investors fire exit related questions to startups seeking funding, but it’s something von Tetzchner sees as an invalid question to start with, seeing his relationship with businesses he’s invested in as one that should carry a certain amount of longer term commitment: "You should be going to an investor who wants to stay with you for a while,” he states without doubt.
Talking about his own philosophy on the kind of investor he wants to be, and drawing upon his own bad experiences, he reassures: "I go in to support them, I don’t have an exit strategy. I say I will not be in their way. My intention is not to control things, not to be in a driving seat.”
He highlights, although these relationships don’t always go smoothly, it’s down to the investor themselves to make a concerted effort: "I have had my experience with difficult investors, so I want to be a good one."
Although all investors have their own strategy, as a new startup you have to choose the one that works for you, and that fits with your company’s goal, if you both have the same strategy, the relationship stands a better chance of working.