On our way to

technological singularity

We offer an Human Venture Capital Analyst Internship in Berlin 2017

An internship at a Venture Capital firm is a pretty good start into the industry. You will see from a high level the newest ideas, meet amazing founders and get a great overview at markets. From there on you can build your career in Venture Capital, go back to university or start your own company. 

We offer an internship in Berlin for 2017. See below for more details.

You will learn how to become a VC

You will look at a few hundred young companies and learn to evaluate deals. You will understand how to asses markets, how to analyze business models and what to look for at teams. Furthermore you will understand the fundamentals of running an early stage investment company and its operations. You might even become an expert for Artificial Intelligence. We would like to see that.

You should work with us

You will mainly work with Fabian, our CEO (his blog, linkedin). He is driven, full of energy and charming. His partner is Dirk Westerheide; we are a family owned Venture Capital firm. We invest our own money.

Working with us has several advantages. First we give you a lot of liberties. We do not care, when you work or where you are. We will have personal meetings once or twice the week, and in between you are on your own. We prefer to communicate on the phone, whatsapp and using emails. We also use several SaaS solutions for our workflows.
Second we are very focused on Artificial Intelligence. Rather than being mediocre in everything, you can dig deep into one field of the future and have an impact.
Third we are a small team. You work face-to-face with the CEO. No layer between. Additional we love to share our experiences. You can learn a lot from us if you want.
Fourth we are all entrepreneurs. We have started companies before, we have invested in even more. We often act fast and execute things our own way.

You will see a lot of deals

First you will start to analyze deals we send you. You will learn how to evaluate them (market, product, team, competition, financials). The goal is that you help us to make investment decisions. Your opinion will be very important for us. You will have a huge influence on what deals we will consider closer. Second you will meet founders, go to meetups and increase your network. Third you will work on our brand, strategy and support us with possible fundraising for Asgard or our portfolio companies. Fourth you will help us to organize the most inspiring AI conference: Rise of AI (www.riseof.ai).

We look for quick thinkers

We like it, if you are a quick thinker. You should be curious for new technologies, new solutions and new ideas. Being analytic helps a lot. Additional if you like to meet new people, that helps with networking. We are looking for A-Players. That means you are highly intelligent, driven and ambitious. You can work hard and are result orientated. You also should keep to timelines and can organize you own work day. However it should not feel like work for you. You should enjoy it, because we believe that being a VC is a really cool job.

You should speak english. German is a nice to have but not mandatory. You don’t have to live in Berlin for now or ever. However we like to meet you in person once a while, therefore it is recommended to be close to the German capital at least for the first months of your internship.

Most of you will have a business background, but this is not a must. In contrast we even prefer that you have a degree in computer science, philosophy,  mathematics or physics. If you mix that with some business skills, you are good to go.

Additional we highlight, that we support more female entrepreneurs and female Venture Capitalists in the industry. If you are a woman, please apply. You have good chances.

For legal reasons, I have to state that we consider each application neutral for gender, race and age. 

The basics you need to know

This internship will happen in Berlin + remote work. We will pay you enough for rent, food and living. It shall start in 2017, however we are flexible on the actual day. We also consider to make a full-time offer after the internship, but that totally depends on you. The duration should be between 3 and 6 months.

How you can apply

We recommend that you read a bit about us before. Check our website. Check out our portfolio. Maybe check the Partners profiles. We are interested in people, who would like to invest in the most amazing AI companies. If you see a fit and have read the above text, then send us an email to talents@asgard.vc (Fabian will receive your message) or apply directly here.

What will come next?

We will screen every application for completion and internal criteria. The best will receive questions, which you may answer within a given time. An video interview will be the next step. Afterwards we may make you an offer.

About Asgard

Asgard provides early stage Venture Capital for Artificial Intelligence. We are family owned and based in Berlin and Potsdam.

The Difference between Hardware and Software Startups

Hardware is expensive to build, complex to produce and has to be perfect from the beginning. Additionally, hardware is often merely a Trojan Horse to sell software. Software, by contrast, is boring, abstract and has to endure more intense competition. An article about the differences between hardware and software startups.

A few days ago I gave a podcast entitled “Why Hardware Is More Complex Than Software”. Click here to listen to it (podcast in German). I subsequently promised people I would write about it in more detail. I will describe the differences in products, teams, business models, sales, operations and funding.

Hardware Has to Be Faultless – Software Can Have Bugs

The difference between hardware and software is easy. Hardware startups build physical products – software startups have virtual products. Furthermore, hardware companies have to build a complete 1.0 version and then decide whether to develop a new product (like iPhone 5 and iPhone 6) or improve on the existing one (like iPhone 5S). If the products don’t work properly, however, they could experience significant backlash from their customers.

Software startups have it easier. They can develop their products in iterations. They start with an alpha version, have private or open beta and then a public 1.0. Most software products are buggy; perfection looks different. Software can be constantly improved and developed. It is an ongoing process with releases.

Hardware Teams Are Bigger

It’s easy to start a software company. You need 2 developers and a part-time business guy. They should be able to cover front end, back end and machine learning. Don’t worry if you don’t have the business guy. Most SaaS teams make it pretty far without them. If you do e-commerce or online marketplaces, it is often the other way round. In such cases, it is common to have two ex-consultants who then hire a CTO to start.

For hardware companies, it is more difficult to put the team together. You need a product designer, a hardware engineer, two software developers (front end and back end) and a full-time businessman, since the processes are complex right from the beginning.

Hardware Companies Try to Sell Software

Business models for software companies are well known: e-commerce, online marketplaces, lead generation (advertising, affiliation), platforms, SaaS and APIs.

There are fewer ways to earn money with hardware.

Sure, you can always sell the hardware. However, you then have no customer lifetime relationship and no returning revenues. Everyone who once earned money with software and enjoyed MRR (monthly recurring revenue) struggles with this.

With hardware-as-a-service, you charge on a monthly or yearly basis, comparable to software-as-a-service (SaaS). Most often you rent your hardware to you customer and provide them with services on top. These can include analytics or access to cloud services.

Using hardware-enabled-services is an additional way to increase revenues. On top of selling the hardware, you can upsell with premium features. Fitbit takes a yearly fee if you wish to see more detailed statistics and data. If you want to store the videos of the surveillance camera Canary, it costs extra. It also costs more if you wish to have 3G mobile Internet access for independence from WiFi.

The final business model is hardware-as-a-platform. In this case you sell software, effectively using your hardware as a Trojan Horse to do so. The hardware is merely the access point to an app store where users spend their money. Take Oculus Rift. First you buy the hardware and then you have access to their app store, where you can buy virtual reality applications. Facebook also has two revenue streams. Or consider the Amazon Kindle. Without buying eBooks, the hardware itself is useless.

Hardware Companies Make Money before They Produce

One of the few advantages of hardware companies is in sales. Hardware startups can use the existing infrastructure of retailers, wholesalers and online marketplaces. It is also possible to pre-sell your product on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Even if you don’t have a product yet, you can generate paid pre-orders.

Software is most often sold over marketplaces and platforms. This usually entails the use of social marketing, content marketing and performance marketing.

When a company is doing B2B (business-to-business) sales, there is no way around picking up the phone and cold calling customers.

Hardware Is Complex

 If you develop software, it’s easy to get it tested by your users. Either you have a demo server, use TestFlight for Apple apps or give people beta access. And once you are live, you can steer your company with KPIs (key performance indicators) like conversion rates, DAU (daily active users), churn, retention, CAC (customer acquisition costs), CLTV (customer lifetime value) and MRR (monthly returning revenues).

 Hardware, by contrast, is very complex. You start with a working prototype, usually no more than a shoebox with cables and an Arduino board. Then you start to 3D print your first casing. After months of developing, you start to source suppliers and look for producers. Once you have negotiated all the contracts, you get quotes and timings from the producers. You then have to worry about assembly and logistics.

Next you start your series-0 of the first ten to fifty produced parts. You have to pre-pay for tooling and start with testing. You will most likely realize that many parts of your product need redesigning. As a next step, you start with testing and grapple with inventory management, working capital, supply chain management, customs, taxes and local regulations.

Hardware Is Expensive

It is cheap to develop software at the beginning. At my former company, Wunsch-Brautkleid, we invested less than €1,000 to have an initial MVP (minimal viable product). Thanks to WordPress, GitHub and AWS, developing software is cheaper than never. However, speed is still of the utmost importance.

Software teams can find a product/market fit with less funding – usually between €100,000 and €300,000. Great teams often need even less.

Money is needed to improve on the product and for marketing purposes. The general rule is that more funding equals faster growth. Since it is often “winner takes all”, speed means survival.

It’s easy for a software company to collect money. Everyone is investing in digital.

For hardware companies, however, things are tougher. The first prototype may well be simple (less than €100 for some boards, cables and sensors), but to test a product/market fit, you have to produce and sell something. For that you need at least €500,000. Most teams burn between €2m and €5m before ever delivering their first physical product to customers.

A further hurdle to overcome is the fact that without money, you can’t build stock. Without money, no suppliers or producers will work for you. If you wish to grow, you have to finance your sales before generating any cash.

There are a few groups, however, who do finance and support startups. To name them: HAX, Hardware Club and Bolt.

 Why Should I Start with Hardware?

Hardware is expensive, difficult and complex. There are good reasons many avoid it. Why should you start a hardware company? For starters, you reach customers you won’t reach with software. There are plenty of opportunities to earn money with hardware. Hardware is exciting. People love hardware. On the flip side, software is subjected to more pressure through tougher competition. The slow ones lose.

 Ultimately, the choice is based on how you would rather spend your lifetime.

Venture Capital Summer Analyst 2016 – Internship in Berlin

Since I started as an intern in Venture Capital myself years ago, we wish to give back this opportunity. Therefore we look for a Venture Capital Summer Analyst 2016 here in Berlin / Potsdam (link).

What will you learn?

We will teach you, how Venture Capital works. That means, how to generate deal flow, how to analyze deals, how to come up with valuations, how to write Term Sheets and Deal Memos. You will gain insights into Business Models, Startups and Markets. You will understand the fundamentals of entrepreneurship better and have an excellent overview, if you wish to start your own company one day.

How you will work?

You will work mainly with me, Fabian. That means, you can pick your own spot to sit & work. We don’t provide you with a fixed office seat, since we don’t believe in offices. I run my companies mostly virtual, since I am most of the time on the road meeting startups in Berlin.

Additional we won’t tell you, when you have to start or end. The harder you work, the more you learn. However that is up to you. We aren’t your parents and prefer to be your mentor & coach instead. If you have questions, please ask. Otherwise I assume that you can solve the tasks within your responsibilities on your own.

Your Profile

Well, we do not care so much about your age, gender or ethnicity. It is more important that you are driven, ambitious, smart and have a positive energy. There are two roles: winning dealflow or analyzing and closing deals. Few people are both. That means, you might go out, meet hundreds of people, network all day and discover great teams. Or you sit wherever you want and can think the whole day. Yes, if you like to think fast and intense, this internship could be great for you. I never get bored in what I do. Every day is different and new business come up.

How to apply

Just send an email to talents@asgard.vc. Please add your linkedin profile and words of motivation

The process

Once we received your email, I will send you 3 + 1 questions. We will read your answers and then invite the best 10 people for an interview either in Berlin or via Skype/Facetime.

Venture Capital internship Berlin

Rise of AI 2016 – Videos & Summaries

25/02/2016 we were host to Rise of AI – the Singularity might be closer than you think. It was a great evening with 100 invited guests from various fields: researchers, investors, thinkers, corporates, journalists and developers.

It was a pleasure to meet old friends and new faces. For everyone not able to attend, we have recorded the evening.

Introduction by Fabian Westerheide

What is the Singularity for you?
Why do we humans invent machines, which shall replace us?
What do we do, if we have nothing to do?

Ronnie Vuine – Intelligence Automation

It is hard to talk about singularity, if you can’t see it. For the last 300 years humans are riding the exponentiell curve of techno capital. Intelligences are necessary to manage complex system. Therefore technocapital leads to perfect intelligence automation.

Prof. Dr. Danko Nikolic – AI-Kindergarten

Danko is a brain scientists, who started to work on AI. He claims, that humans will not achieve human-like artificial intelligence near term, since we lack 9 billion years of evolutionary learnings.

Ehssan Dariani

Ehssan talks about social and economical impact of AI. He says, that change takes time and we need patience. In 20 years, the bottom 99 % will live like the top 1 % of today. Therefore billionaires need to pay more taxes, the unconditional basic income should be introduced and drugs will be legalized.

Jan Klauck

Jan speaks about integrating AI into society.

Panel discussion

Samim Winiger and the speakers talk about:

Do we need to understand the nature of intelligence to build AGI?
How will the world look like in 50 years?
How does technology influence policies?
What are the implications of the slowdown of Moore’s law?
What are the consequences of increasing automation for human jobs?

Startups to face hard times – keep your money together

In recent months I have seen several startups struggle with their pre-seed and seed rounds, since they lack the traction to raise a Series A round. I predict challenging times ahead for these high-burn-rate companies. Getting investors to part with their money will get harder and harder. I therefore highly recommend keeping costs low and accepting moderate valuations.

Let’s start with the bad news

Tech IPOs in 2015 performed worse than the average market and lost 30% of their value (a second look at the 2015 Tech market).

Several prominent Unicorns have and will face down rounds (the end of big Venture Formula).

There is talk in Silicon Valley of Business Angels investing less in early-stage companies (As Angel Investors pull pack, valuations take a hit).

Seventy-eight percent of tech CEOs agree that in 2015 it became harder to raise additional funds.

On top of this, we are currently experiencing a bubble in stocks, bonds (corporations & states), and real estate. The market is flooded with liquidity and the returns for investors are terrible.

The world economy is facing a global recession (6 factors that point to global recession in 2016). Here in Germany, we are already seeing an 80% reduction in advanced bookings for plant engineering. This means other countries have stopped investing (KKR 2016 outlook – adult swim only).

In a nutshell – it’s never been easy to raise money and it’s not going to get any easier in the near future.

We’ve had seven good years. What will the next seven bring?

The good news

Three billion people are connected to the Internet. This number will double in the next 10 years. This means plenty of customers for you all. Alongside this, over 50 billion new devices will come online.

It is easier, cheaper and safer to start a company than ever before. There is plenty of support, early-stage grants, professional investors and free knowledge.

There are countless great technologies in the pipeline: virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-moving objects, DNA medicine, the Internet of Everything.

Those who have a strong product, paying customers and sustainable growth will always get the money they need (Summit Partners invests 31 million € in the Berlin based Software company Signavio).

Don’t use Uber to drive to your penthouse office

Starting a company is just the beginning. Many first-time founders receive money from early investors and now have more cash in their (startup) bank accounts than they ever had before, and so they start spending it.

There is no reason why the founders have to use Uber to get to their penthouse office, with their company burning €600,000 a year without making any turnover.

To make it clear: burning money is NOT an accomplishment.

I have seen valuations which I no longer consider healthy.

For a concept alone and no entrepreneurial track record, one founder wants a pre-money valuation of €3,000,000.

A hardware startup with a prototype and a lot of Kickstarter liabilities (Kickstarter is debt), expects €12,000,000 as a current valuation – without having made a single sale.

Another young company is asking for a valuation of €20,000,000 for their third seed round, also without making sales.

I have seen a startup with 180 (part-time) Business Angels which raised over €2,000,000 during a friends & family round.

This is not Silicon Valley. This is just Berlin.

Startups should always be lean

These are extreme examples. Not every startup is overvalued.

However, just as a reference, if you start with a company builder, they keep 99% of the shares and you get 1%. If you apply for an accelerator, you get €25,000 for 10% (that makes €250,000 post-money).

Most experienced (full-time) Business Angels invest in startups with valuations below €1,000,000 pre-money.

The consequences of overinflated valuations during friends & family and seed rounds are easy to observe. Many startups struggle with pre-seed and seed rounds. They have the financial need for a Series-A round, but lack the traction (sales and growth).

The next 7 years aren’t going to be easier

What you can take from this:

Stay lean. Stay focused.

Be humble with your valuations. Be visionary with your goals.