"Our B2B Saas experience supports founders on their journey from founder-led sales to scalable sales organizations"
A partner who brings more to the table than just money: this is exactly what the German early-stage fund Senovo offers. This fund has been investing exclusively in B2B SaaS since 2013, because "This specialization enables us to offer real added value to our portfolio companies. With our deep understanding of B2B SaaS business models and their scaling, we support startups in the areas of go-to-market, organization building and internationalization, among others," says Mona Müller, Associate in the investment team.
Why do you focus on B2B SaaS in particular?
"That's hardly a question by now," Mona laughs. "But when our partners Dr. Alexander Buchberger and Frederick von Mallinckrodt put their focus on it eight years ago - in the heyday of B2C eCommerce - it was even less obvious. Back then, they recognized the developments in the cloud and the opportunities this presented for B2B startups, and built Senovo specifically with this focus in mind."
Mona describes two aspects that play a decisive role today as follows: "By identifying correlations, key performance indicators (KPIs) and important success drivers in B2B SaaS business models more quickly, we go into depth with founders after only a short period of time and thus develop a particularly strong investment thesis. In addition, B2B SaaS companies usually have very similar challenges. This has also enabled us to build a strong community in the portfolio that actively shares learnings and best practices.
And the feedback from entrepreneurs confirms that our value added approach is well received. Our deal flow has been growing disproportionately since our inception, and the best channel is entrepreneurs recommending us to each other," she emphasizes.
We are now a team of seven, investing from our third fund, having 26 portfolio companies and three exits.
At what stage of startup development does Senovo invest?
"We invest in the late-seed and Series A phase, which we call the initial scaling phase."
Mona describes three key phases of scaling: "The first is the product-market-fit phase, where the key is to develop a product that solves a real problem and thus win first customers. In this phase, sales are usually in entirely in the hands of the founders. This is followed by the initial scaling phase, in which the focus is on building a scalable, data-driven organization. In Sales, for example, this means building the so-called "SaaS Sales Machine", an important prerequisite for growth rounds with international VCs. Exactly this phase is our sweet spot.
With our B2B Saas experience, we support founders and startups on their way from founder-led sales to a scalable sales organization.
Mona then cites the third phase as the growth phase, in which Senovo participates even further as an investor, but larger, mostly international VCs also join as funders. "With our current fund, we participate with initial ticket sizes between one and three million euros. In total, we allocate up to seven million per startup to further support the companies in follow-up rounds," she adds.
What are the requirements startups should meet for Senovo to consider an investment?
"For our investment focus, startups of course need a B2B SaaS business model and should have first revenues and customers (product market fit). We usually see this sweet spot starting with a Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) of 30,000+ Euro as well as 5+ customers. This is not a hard and fast rule, but a good benchmark that we usually use as a guide," says Mona.
We have heard you guys love pitch decks?
"Definitely," Mona laughs, "we are happy about every founder and foundress who wants to get in touch with us. In this case, please just email us directly. On our website you can find the email addresses of our entire team. My recommendation is to send an email with a pitch deck directly to the person to whom the topic fits best in terms of content.
We read and respond to every email, for sure.
It's best not to do it through Linkedin, because messages go down quickly there; that doesn't happen with email."
How is the chemical and pharmaceutical industry relevant to you now?
"Well, since we invest in B2B software, those industries are highly relevant to us," she points out.
Many of our portfolio companies have customers in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
"The application areas are very broad; from Riskmethods, which enables better supply chain risk management, to Synfioo, which brings visibility to intermodal logistics, to Archlet, which makes purchasing processes more data-driven and efficient. In addition, we see great opportunities for solutions that address the specific challenge in these industries."
Senovo also believes that software will become more and more important in these industries and, accordingly, promoting these areas is of great importance.
"Subsegments that we currently find enormously exciting are, for example, computational chemistry and value-based healthcare. We see enormous potential here and great opportunities for us to make an investment in one of these areas in the future."
Strengthening entrepreneurship - the collaboration with 5-HT
Referring to 5-HT, Mona believes "having a strong partner for startups, industry and investors to drive innovation." She continues, "A platform like 5-HT's is enormously important, especially for startups in the early stages. Because they can not only network with like-minded people here, but also still get support and motivation to take the next steps."
But Mona also emphasizes the importance of bringing startups together with potential customers as well as investors. "Of course, this can be achieved directly through your match-making, because 5-HT knows its partners very well and knows who goes well with whom. But your events are also always an exciting opportunity to make new contacts and exchange ideas.
The exchange and proximity to the industry is enormously important for B2B startups. They are customers and valuable partners. 5-HT is an important link here, connecting that ecosystem.
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