In “How I invest” we interview top Fundsup investors about their investing style.
This week we’ll feature a smart capital investor with a focus on life sciences: Victor Schut.
Hi Victor, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a life-sciences’ entrepreneur and investor with a law degree but I never used it starting my career in Singapore to work for Rabobank in risk management. I further developed my passion for spotting and investing in young companies at Antea Participaties working with a large group of informal investors from all different sectors and here I became familiar with the sector I’m most passionate about: biotech / life sciences.
There was 1 startup concept that grabbed my attention which became the first company I founded: ProteoNic. It has developed a technology that makes the production of medicines/drugs (e.g. antibodies) much more efficient and I thought had the potential to really make an impact. I saw a clear business case and I was able to re-design this initiative, that was little more than an idea and built a company around it. I worked at it for nearly 17 years – mostly in the role of CEO. I’ve left the operational side end of 2017, but am still a shareholder. Since then I’ve continued as an independent professional focusing on several startups.
Can you name 3 of your investments and how much time you dedicate to each venture?
- 1. Early 2018 I founded a company with 2 friends focusing on treatments for fungal infections, Mycology Solutions (3 days per month)
- 2. I am chief business officer at Annogen where we provide DNA information in support of gene and cell therapy and drug discovery (2 days a week)
- 3. VerpakApotheek – improving healthcare and its cost structure by managing the process, packaging and logistics of medication for chronically ill patients, till now, mainly in hospitals and institutions but we have started servicing these patients at home as well.
What’s your biggest contribution in a startup?
I always get actively involved, not per se adding cash but especially my knowledge and network very early on in the process. What I do best is turning a [startup] opportunity into a sellable story. I focus very hard on getting things done and structure the business outside the lab. Give me a proposition and I’ll work at it until it works. It’s a bonus if that’s managed off the beaten path.
What’s your passion?
I guarantee you that there’s nothing better than an entrepreneur on a mission to make the world better because of a personal (health) incident they experienced. For example: A friend of mine had lost a loved one to brain haemorrhage. Since then he’s successfully developed a technology that brings drugs efficiently into the brain.
I also like how Simon Sinek thinks. He has always preached that things can be done differently and not just at the expense of others and that business is a long term vision.
Moreover, I’m passionate about coaching entrepreneurs, helping them realize their visions. Especially in life sciences I often see that entrepreneurs drown in their passion. Not because they miss the stamina or the expertise; they just lack the business part and have troubles with putting their story in a structural (investment) order. I help to fix that.
How do you combine being an entrepreneur and investor at the same time?
My roles as investor and entrepreneur are actually all the same: building something from scratch! I like building companies from (nearly) scratch – being there at the beginning to create something that others can continue with. The mentality that is needed at the pure managing/optimisation phase is not for me.
This is how I can do more things at once. I also have a group of 7 experienced biotech entrepreneur friends who all are passionate about improving the biotech development from an entrepreneur’s perspective. It’s all about motivating and sharing insights to find a path to the end goal.
I often recall 2 sayings from my grandfather: “Every wall has a door” and “act as if it were impossible to fail”. Entrepreneurship is doing what you love and doing everything you can to achieve it. Doing this in several roles simultaneously makes it interesting for me.
So what exactly does AGILeBiotics do?
AGILeBiotics develops novel antibacterials. The company is committed to the fight against bacterial resistance with the aim to bring innovative therapeutic solutions to patients who are infected by multidrug-resistant (MDR) infections.
Did you know that almost 50% of all deaths related to Covid-19 also have a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or sepsis? Our drug is being developed to treat these infections. The WHO predicts that in 2050 over 10 million people a year will die of bacterial infections due to lack of new antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance. We hope to contribute in preventing that.
Is this company raising funding?
Yes. I’m involved of course (we’ve raised €2M in seed so far) and we’re now raising €4.5M of which €1.1M is already committed. We’re looking for new investors who are like minded (check out the AGILeBiotics pitch and chat directly with its founders here).
Of all your investments, what’s been your biggest screw-up?
My biggest screw-up has been my first but later also became a success. I have been facing bankruptcy several times. I spent a long time keeping the company in the air and I hung around too long I think.
I made some wrong hires, which limited the company’s ability to innovate and push forward (lack of entrepreneurship): standing still is going backwards. I caused a complete mismatch between entrepreneurship, shareholdership, and management. By hanging on and closing a few good deals just in time, the company is still around today and makes multi-million euros in annual revenues today. My learning: don’t compromise on quality of people you hire and hire those that are better than you.
What’s your biggest success so far?
The same company; Success also includes a degree of luck.
What will you invest in next?
I like to step into things I haven’t done before. It enriches my mind to learn new things. I’m always looking to create something, not simply move my money around to make it more aka invest passively. That’s why I’m also passionate and active in photography. It keeps the mind creative by looking at things from a different perspective.
And yes, I’m actively using Fundsup to explore new investment opportunities. I like the surprise factor. I get to see more companies that have a biotech component in it that I’d normally probably might not have looked into.
Good luck with everything!
Thanks! Looking forward to talking more with life-sciences entrepreneurs.
Are you also a hands-on early-stage investor like Victor and do you prefer to first digitally find and connect relevant life-sciences and/or other startups, before physically meeting up?
Then download the Fundsup investor app today!