Read the Dutch version on Emerce.
In this How I Invest, I interviewed Maurits Roose, investor, co-founder of venture (patient) capital and “friend to an entrepreneur”. Maurits presents a highly personal approach to every investment he’s made and explains why quarterly PowerPoint meetings are not his thing.
Who are you?
How did you start Royalis Investments?
It started out of a friendship, at the bar in Montfoort. We have known each other for a long time and have the habit of having a sandwich once a month to talk about the things that really concern us: Do you still love your wife? Are you still playing with the kids? How is your work-life balance and are you still doing the right things?
At the time, Bart and I were in a similar phase. Bart quitted at Coolblue and I quitted at LEF. We both recognized the “mourning of letting go” of something you’ve put your heart and soul into. At the same time, a new idea was born: “How can we help tomorrow’s market leaders with patient capital, personal attention and expertise in scaling?”
How is Royalis Investments different?
We don’t want to be different just for the sake of being different, we want to be ourselves, Rotterdam-based, down-to-earth. For the past three years, we have consciously stayed under the radar to get a good view of what drives us and what working method suits this. Today I can name three major elements that create our value: patient capital, personal attention and expertise in scaling.
1. Patient capital
Building tomorrow’s market leaders takes time. Coolblue has also been on the road for over 20 years. Fast money is often not the solution. You often sacrifice long-term victory for short-term success and that is a shame. There are many good entrepreneurs who are first movers in their market with the potential to become the authority. We are happy to contribute to that with a little more patient capital. For example, we have no drag-along clause or a short term exit strategy.
2. Personal attention
Entrepreneurship can be lonely, we have experienced that ourselves. The things that keep you awake at night are not easily shared with your MT. Logically, there is often not enough room for this at home either. So we like to drop by and hang out with entrepreneurs. “Do you still love your wife? Do you still play with the kids? How is your work-life balance and are you still doing the right things?” We ask them the same questions we ask each other.
3. Expertise in scaling
Money is plentiful in the market, experience is scarce. I wish I had had more experienced entrepreneurs beside me. We hope to contribute by taking a proactive approach where we bring a network of experienced experts who are supportive of the ventures. Developing good tech is great, but building an international company around it as a founder is even better. This requires a shift in mindset from “making the tech even better” to “orchestrating a robust organization around it”. In 9 out of 10 cases, the latter turns out to be the differentiator for sustainable success.
“Winning outside is starting inside…”
What is your role?
We promote “accountability over control” and “value creation over capital maximization”. If you make that concrete we take two roles towards the entrepreneur:
- Friend to the Entrepreneur – “because it’s lonely at the top”. Very practically, we do a monthly sandwich where we discuss the most important issues and yes, that is also about the entrepreneur. It suits us a little less to ask you to come and present Q3 results in a trendy PowerPoint as you can email those too. You should be working on your business and not burning your time on managing shareholders.
- Director of Scale – because winning outside is starting inside. If you are growing fast you need to think about how to strengthen the backbone of your company. Only then will you be able to bear the weight of what is coming at you through traction in the market. We are happy to support you in this endeavour by speeding up with a team of specialists in the areas that need attention.
What investments have you made in 2020?
- Zens, the first mover in wireless charging. They were not even looking for venture capital, but mainly for a partner to help them with strategy and scale. Extraordinary to see that there is a growing demand for their technology from all over the world.
- Newcompliance. An innovative software company in healthcare. It has just completed its first deals in the US and is accelerating internationally.
What is your passion?
Building meaningful companies together, that’s what makes me really happy. Entrepreneurs, other investors, specialists who are involved. Building something together that is not only good for shareholders but for all stakeholders. This includes staff, suppliers and customers. An ecosystem of winning, in other words.
What has been your biggest screw-up?
As a rule, going too hard. I often say: dream big, start small, go deep and multiply ;). A mistake I’ve made myself is dreaming big and then starting big. Immediately full-throttle on all opportunities, because you want to move forward as an entrepreneur. The result is that your strategy becomes diffuse and you fail because you are not able to deliver the speed and quality you want.
“There is little braver than letting go!”
What is your greatest success to date?
Choosing to let go. I remember well that I started to get increasingly irritated with the organization and the organization with me. I discovered that LEF needed fewer new ideas and entrepreneurship, but much more oversight and management. For me, the question was: do I choose for control or for success? Give things room to grow and flourish. There is little braver than letting go!
What do you want to invest in now?
Tomorrow’s market leaders. Innovative companies with a turnover of one million and more, that are looking for a partner to accelerate internationally. I don’t look so much at a specific sector, rather the stage a company is in. Product market fit, significant traction, and from there explore together how you can get stronger and go faster. We look mostly at SaaS, sometimes hardware or a hybrid model. We do not invest in CapEx intensive businesses.