December 14, 2022 + Anja Peter
5 Min read
Having a good founder/investor relationship is crucial to a company’s success. In December 2019, MTIP started investing in Oviva, which is an evidence-based digital solution to stop the progression of and reverse Type II diabetes and obesity-related conditions. We continued supporting Oviva in its development back in September 2021, where we participated in the company’s $80m Series C funding as the largest investor.
Kai Eberhardt is the CEO and Co-Founder of our portfolio company Oviva. He talked to us about the founder/investor relationship and shared what he pays special attention to in this regard.
What does a founder look for in an investor?
Funding is essential for any business and with technology,you often need significant investments up-front to get to market and reach enough scale to become profitable. However, solely evaluating investors from a financial perspective can be opportunity-limiting. You need to focus on how you will partner and if your long-term vision is truly aligned. If it is not, your relationship will quickly suffer. It’s important to understand that you will not be able to make big decisions alone as a founding team anymore, but will have this partner with you, typically for many years. A strong connection and desire to work together for the long term is key.
Why is it important to have a good relationship with investors?
Aligning on a vision, building trust, and working well together sets the tone for a good founder/investor relationship. The type of relationship you have with your investors is directly related to the sustainability of your company. Founding a startup and scaling your business can be challenging. There will be times when you need to deliver bad news. Support from your investors when the going gets tough is crucial. Good relationships with investors make these challenging times much easier, as they care about the business and want you to succeed.
How do you know the right founder/investor fit?
At the baseline qualification level, it is important for an investor to have relevant industry experience to your company. Next, you should evaluate the investor’s portfolio, specifically investment sizes, how they work with their investments and investment timelines to confirm their availability to support your company. Then it comes down to the relationship you feel and can build together over time. Ask yourself, do I want to work with these people for many years to come?
What questions would you ask a prospective investor?
I want to know why they are interested in my company and what value we can bring to each other. What are your expectations of us as an investment? Did you make different scenarios, and if so, what are they? What is the timeline for the investment and your fund? And also, after the investment process: can you share your investment memo or even just the core thesis of the investment for your fund?
What were the biggest surprises and challenges you encountered in the founder/investor relationship with Oviva? How did you deal with the surprises and how did you overcome the challenges?
Luckily, we have great relationships with our investors and are doing well. Not everything went to plan, which is normal. When it doesn’t go to plan, communicate early and openly. Do not sugarcoat or dance around disappointments/failures. If you want investors to be on your side, you need to have tricky conversations immediately and at best come to the table with potential solutions.
What’s your advice for building a strong relationship with investors?
Start talking to investors before you look for money. You’re putting in the groundwork for a solid, trusting relationship plus you will understand better what they are looking for. Second, understand what motivates them. Keeping your consumers and people at your company happy is always the number one priority; however, you must also keep your investors happy, so they continue to back you. Lastly, and most importantly, be transparent and open with them. When investors feel you are being honest and are giving them the hard truth, they will have more confidence and trust in you. The lows make the wins even more special.
Oviva was founded in 2014 by a multidisciplinary team of health and technology experts. Half of the European population is overweight and at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The three founders Dr. Kai Eberhardt (CEO), Manuel Baumann (CTO) and Dr. Mark Jenkins (UK Managing Partner & Medical Director) recognized that, despite this, there were no personalized, long-term treatment options.
Their solution was to combine personal advice by a dietitian with a smart app that people use to record relevant information such as meals, physical activity, or weight. In addition, the app enables a regular exchange with the dietitian via chat and provides the Oviva user with helpful learning content. Longer-term, Oviva helps its patients to lead a healthier life, relieves pressure on doctors to advise on weight and lifestyle, and ultimately leads to savings for the health system. Oviva works directly with statutory health insurers and national health systems and operates in Switzerland, Germany, the UK, and France.
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