No buzzwords, please!

16 Aug 2019

No buzzwords, please!Insights from our first Czech VC

Rockaway Capital

Rockaway Capital is the first Czech investor in Deutsche Börse Venture Network. In an interview, Martin Konop, investment manager at Rockaway, talks about what distinguishes the venture capitalist.

What is different about Rockaway Capital than about other VC investors?

Martin Konop: First, we are a long-term investor since we do not operate in a typical fund structure and are not constrained by investment horizon, investment size, etc. Our founders know that we go ambitiously after utilising a given market opportunity, not after overoptimising portfolio exit returns based on internal rate of return. We do not shiver when things go south and are patient and diligent to find the right paths to success. 

Second, we take our investments very seriously, meaning we usually employ a hands-on approach and we cooperate with the founders to set the right strategy at all levels. Third, we do have deep expertise in e-commerce, e-travel – generally any kind of combination of the offline and online worlds, which is a common denominator for most of our investments – but also blockchain, where we are one of the top-tier global players for blockchain foundation-layer innovation.

Rockaway Capital is one of the most active VC investors in the Czech Republic. What is special about the Czech VC and start-up ecosystem? 

For our venture investments, we typically look at Series A+ stages. The deal flow of such opportunities in the Czech market is not so strong, so we look at the overall CEE as well as DACH regions. Companies from the Czech ecosystem often look to expand into Germany and further in Western Europe, so we can bring these projects as co-investment as well as business development opportunities. Vice versa, German companies who feel either the CEE market is relevant for them and/or like the approach and track record of Rockaway are welcome to get in touch with us.

What do you expect from your membership in Deutsche Börse Venture Network?

We already have relationships with the larger German funds like Rocket Internet, Project A, Cherry Ventures, Earlybird, etc. With some of them we already co-invested. Still we believe that Deutsche Börse Venture Network might improve our involvement in the ecosystem and help us participate in the German market more extensively.

What should and what shouldn’t growth companies do before approaching an investor like you?

We are generally allergic to buzzwords. We like to understand the core of what a company does better and/or what a start-up brings new to the market, rather than just using trendy vocabulary without having a strong subject-matter expertise. We love entrepreneurship and most of our team have been themselves before joining Rockaway. That’s where we come from and that’s why it is always a good idea to demonstrate how you will solve a real problem or will monetise on something that is unique.

Top 3 fact about Rockaway Capital

  1. We were the first investor into Productboard, a product management SaaS company founded by Czech entrepreneurs Hubert Palan and Daniel Hejl. The company recently raised Series A led by Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures totalling $18 million. Rockaway participated and remains to be the largest Czech investor along with other Czech VCs like Credo Ventures and Reflex Capital. 
  2. We invested and have managerial control over Mall Group – the largest e-commerce player in Central and Eastern Europe with over €700 million yearly turnover, as well as Invia Group – a pan-European leader in e-travel with over €1.5 billion yearly transaction volume.
  3. Our Rockaway Ventures portfolio currently includes roughly 15 companies, 5 companies we already exited – recently Brand Embassy (sold to NICE Systems, traded on NYSE) and SQLdep (sold to Collibra).

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