Updated: Feb 25, 2020
Current roles: Venture Partner at Fortrino Ltd; CEO at ‘The Planet Calls’ CLG;
Hails from: Originally Cape Town, South Africa; Resides in Dublin Ireland
Education: BCom Business Administration & Accounting
First Job: Merchant Banking Financial Controller
Work Attire: Blazer, Blouse, Jeans and heels
Hobbies: Reading, drawing, collecting art, photography, long walks, picking up marine litter, weight lifting and yoga.
Most admired entrepreneur and why: Elon Musk, he has no limits, always pushes the boundaries. Innovates quietly and then surprises the world with his game changing product.
How you began angel investing?
Your first Angel investment: We began investing in a digital media platform in South Africa called Ad Dynamo in 2006.
What is your last big pride as Business Angels: Investing in a Quantum Encryption company called Crypta Labs which in fact was found through LBAN. The team are driven and have an incredible vision and the growth of the company since we invested in 2017 has been phenomenal.
Your almost unmentionable secret as an investor: I am always ready to walk away from a deal if necessary because desperation can make you do strange things. Leslie & LBAN Why did you decide to join LBAN? I knew LBAN was the right business angel network to join since Luxembourg has fast become an exciting hub for business opportunities. Due to its size and location, Luxembourg is very agile and has the ability to move very fast when needed. This coupled with the can-do attitude of its people, makes it easy to do business with the country.
What benefits did you find in LBAN? The networking aspect was extremely valuable at events as well as the close connection to EBAN. People were very approachable and open to discussing deals and opportunities.
Your Investment with LBAN?
The motivation behind your investments: We look for early stage startups to invest in. The earlier, the more discount you get for backing the startup which, if its successful means a higher return on exit. We generally invest over a longer period such as 5-10 years. We focus on innovative, ground breaking product at MVP stage which for example are performing paid for pilot projects and have the ability to scale globally. We focus on Cyber security, Digital platforms, SaaS products and most recently Impact investing in environmental technologies and solutions.
How you evaluate LBAN deals: This year I haven’t been watching the deals due to my focus on Impact investing so I can’t comment accurately.
Pieces of Advice
Lessons learned due to investments which failed if there were such in your life? I always say “if you’re not failing, you’re not learning”; In my life and with my daughter I encourage failure because at least you can grow this way. One failed investment I can recall was an imbalanced stakeholder relationship and the fact that there was no ROI from the relationship between the various partners. In other words, lack of a circular effect in terms of give and take. We didn’t lose any money or make any money on the deal but we gained valuable experience. As hard as the journey was, I am grateful for the lesson.
Advice for new angel investors: If you’re starting out, it’s imperative you join an angel network to start networking, attending events and educating yourself with the startups on the portfolio. Also be sure to attend all pitching events to get familiar with deals and the community. You have to know what numbers and criteria are important to look at.
Your one last piece of advice to conclude? Start with the end in mind, be clear on your appetite for risk, be clear on your limits and how much you are willing to invest, and know that most of the time you’re investing in a team that has a certain magic to it. You will know it when you experience it.
Next project and invite to collaborate
It’s my job is to talk to startups, innovators, academia, investors from all over the world to find solutions and act fast to turn the plastic crisis into a Plastic REVolution. One where a circular economy approach is adopted, one where we deal with plastic waste at source, one where plastic has become too valuable to throw away!
We are currently engaging with just under 50 Cleantech startups with the mission of accelerating solutions to get this ocean cleaned up by 2030 and also stopping the problem at source.
The Planet Calls interacts with leaders in all areas of business and political spheres, to help assess needs and establish goals. We are in discussions with affiliate partners to join our Dublin based initiatives that focus on accelerating early-growth stage startups that develop innovative solutions to reduce plastic pollution and plastic leakage into the ocean. Connect with me to join us.
Thank you very much, Leslie, for such insights!
I hope our readers will also enjoy this interview. Sonia FRANCK for LBAN