Since 2000, the Keiretsu Forum has been providing a space for investors and investment opportunities to come together in order to create a global investment community. Through its membership that boasts serious investors, business leaders, venture capitals and many more, Keiretsu offers and supports portfolio companies and entrepreneurs with ways of locating equity and other resources.
KITE Invest: Please give a brief background of Keiretsu’s founding and some of the major milestones since its launch 19 years ago.
Miquel Costa: Simply, there was a lack of investment forums for entrepreneurs. The major achievement has been facilitating investment for 200 companies during the years within 2007 to 2013.
KITE: Keiretsu has 31 chapters on 3 continents. What are some of the main differences and the main similarities Keiretsu sees amongst the investors and investment opportunities? Is there a cultural dynamic that plays a part?
MC: The process is very similar in all chapters. The entrepreneurs introduce their own projects by an application form on the web and Keiretsu staff chooses the best in order to be introduced in a selected committee (Deal Screening). Then, the entrepreneurs are able to introduce their startups in person to experienced investors.
KITE: Beyond serving to bring investors and investment opportunities together, Keiretsu has several initiatives such as the Angel Capital Expo, Women Angels, and EUREKA! Berkeley. Please shed light on the Keiretsu initiatives and as the investment climate has changed through the years does the focus of initiatives tend to mimic the trends? What types of initiatives do you foresee Keiretsu being involved with in the future?
MC: All it is kind of the same; although, we prepare specific Forums for different current needs. For example, last week we organized with Womenalia, a Forum headed by women entrepreneurs. In addition, we hold Forums dedicated to Health care, Tic, Industrial products, etc.
KITE: Has Keiretsu witnessed any investment shifts within its global contingency since the start and (near) end of the recession?
MC: Mostly in the last few years, the number of startups created during 2013 and 2014 increased, which in turn created a greater need for investments to fund their projects. Due to the recession, some people start to believe in entrepreneurship as an alternative to working for some company.
KITE: Keiretsu has three chapters within in Spain, in Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastián, with Barcelona being the first European chapter, opening in 2007. Please briefly shed light on the history of Keiretsu in Spain, and in particular the reason for Keiretsu launch in Spain.
MC: It all began because entrepreneurship in Spain was minimal and we wanted to imitate the American model, which put investors and entrepreneurs together. We were launched thanks to the ‘La Caixa’ institution, the law firm Roca Junyent, and the University of La Salle, and we had Xavier Casares as a leader.
KITE: How would you evaluate the investment climate in Spain nowadays? Has there been a shift in terms of investment since 2008?
MC: The evolution has been successful. We have spread throughout of all Spain. Starting off with the offices in Barcelona and Madrid, and most recently opened two chapters, one in San Sebastian and one month ago in Andalucía. In 2013, our members invested in fourteen companies and the total amount increased by two million euros.
KITE: What is the main piece of advice you give to investment opportunities and, as well, to investors?
MC: I would say to entrepreneurs to see funding as another step in their project. Also, I would recommend them to be more focused in business and sales, because the more they sell the easier they will find investors. I also think, it is basic necessity to have an experienced and hard working team.
For investors I would recommend them to invest in startups, which have a track record and think with the project in mind, but also in the members of the team. The team capacity and experience will drive the project when difficulties come.