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  • Writer's pictureLumus Investment Collective

Angel Talk with Anna Podkowinska

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Anna Podkowinska is based out of Warsaw where she is the Chief international Business Officer for Everli, Chairwoman of the supervisory board for Mindgram, and an angel investor. 💡

How and when have you learned about angel investing and how started your journey?

My interest in angel investing came after my interest in startups generally based on my professional experiences from corporate life. I started work with startups as a mentor and supporter and I found out these projects have the perfect potential for angel investing. The first project was launched by my friend and I´m still in. I don't prefer one industry, I am more focused on purpose. I think that important aspects of a project are not only focused on business potential but also potential to improve the environment around or better future. Another important aspect of potential to be successful is the quality of the team's concretely open mindset to getting feedback from other stakeholders, especially from the consumer market and investors or supporters.

How many investments have you made and do it individually or in syndicate?

Eight. Some of them are by a syndicate or the group may be fifty to fifty, but I prefer to do it in syndication. It's a lot of fun to challenge yourself with other people and it depends on the face of the project.

How do you find these deals?

Some of them I know thanks to contact with founders, some of them came to me from others and some are from the fund that is called (Black Swan) Recently a lot of projects came from LinkedIn.

How close do you work with startups?

That also depends on the kind of project. I have some investments where I support the founders but it varies by situation. In some, I'm on an advisory board to support on a regular basis and advice. Some places I am working ad hoc like looking for some contacts or advice and my aim is to choose investments where I can bring something to the table. It is a kind of profession therefore it is important to set how much time you will be working with founders.

Do you have experience with something that doesn't work as you expected?

Yes, this is really important. This is important for the team, it is about the capacity of management to adapt to the current situation and it is this key value for the project. Every business model can be changed in time, covid can change the situation and other factors. If the team is capable of understanding and knowing how to react it will be successful. I think it is important, in the beginning, to consider the diversity of the founding team, because there are different competencies and that there is not a big conflict based on values. If those criteria are fulfilled the team will be successful.

And all of these investments are still alive?

All of the others are alive and one is new. There are some promises for the future.

I think these are good statistics if you don't fail anyone.

Not yet, because everything changed from the start to today's condition. On the other hand, you surely must have something lacking because without them you obviously can't be successful and I also think that with time you become more and more willing to take risks as an angel investor.

In the beginning, the decision process is longer, probably some of the potential opportunities I’ve lost were because I was too conservative.

What would be your advice to someone who has never invested before, because we have a lot of women who want to start but don't know how to start.

I advise three things.

The first advice is to do it with syndicate or with other business angels, simply in the group because it is much easier and also there is the field of learning new things about investments and the opportunity to find out how to make decisions.

The second one is about investing in products you believe in, it could be misleading but give you pleasure in investment. Obviously, it could be a mistake but I would advise that.

The third one is to invest in people because startups are really people's businesses.

And in terms of region, you´ve invested only in Polish companies or also in others?

In that international fund, we invest more internationally. For example, two Polish startups from our portfolio have international interests to expand, but in the majority, it is about Polish focus. I think it is a mistake. It is obviously important to support local people but the local market is always smaller than the regional one. There are different points of view and perspectives and I would like to explore the other markets.

In terms of the CEE, do you observe some attractive trends as an investor?

I think there is a difference between markets. There is a different focus, education or general growth. There are some markets that grow much faster than others for example Romania, potentially Bulgaria where the market grows much much faster than other countries in the region. Some markets, for example in Czech maybe also Slovakia, are much more advanced consumer behavior and the expectations from the product are much higher which can bring to the table better solutions.

Do you have as angel the preference of the sector or some trends that follow?

I invest in projects which I understand. Projects that are simply close to my professional life, what I understand from the business. Also quite important for me is kind of the purpose of the project, it is about how they can change people's life. For example, my recent investment was about a psychological platform to support employees, it is really relevant because of the pandemic. This is a more important criterion than the kind of industry.

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