Today we speak to Erena Estellés, an early-stage investor at Plug and Play Tech Center who covers a wide range of sectors within B2B SaaS solutions, including brand, retail, and logistics as her “guilty industries”.
Enthusiastic about collaborating with ambitious teams willing to define and create new categories within new and existing markets.
As a people-oriented person, she invests time in fostering strong relationships.
Which sections of the pitch deck do you pay more attention to?
Erena: In assessing pitch decks, I tend to focus closely on a few key sections. Firstly, the problem statement and solution. A close and clear understanding of the pain point and a compelling solution is crucial. Next, the market opportunity and competitive landscape are pivotal. I want to see a startup's unique value proposition and how it positions itself. Team dynamics, expertise, and background are critical; I want to know who is driving the ship and why they're the right people. Finally, financial projections are important, but I pay equal attention to the assumptions and rationale behind them.
A consistent story across all of these sections provides a holistic view that helps me assess the startup's potential for success.
What are the biggest challenges that startups usually face in their very first steps?
Erena: In the startup game, gaining traction in the early stages is a marathon, not a sprint. It's like planting seeds. You need the right soil (product-market fit) and the perfect season (market timing) for results to flourish. Product-market fit is about nailing what customers really want, and timing is about hitting the market when it's ready. Get these two in sync, and traction follows. It's the sweet spot where your startup gains momentum and starts turning heads.
How did you get into this investment sector?
Erena: Since my childhood, I have seen the journey of building and nurturing businesses created from scratch by my mother, who with great admiration successfully raised two businesses in the same sector. This early experience always fueled my interest in entrepreneurship, driving me to lead a profitable project that promoted the circular economy.
However, it was during my MBA at EDEM Entrepreneurship School that my perspective took a significant turn. Inspiring talks by investors awakened my fascination for the world of venture capital. I discovered that my true place was on the other side of the road, as an investor, contributing to change and impact on society and the economy. My motivation lies in supporting entrepreneurs and backing innovative solutions that not only generate financial returns but also leave a positive footprint.
What are the top 3 traits that startups should have to be more appealing to investors?
Erena: As investors, we seek for:
Scalable business models. Low capital consumption and high operating margin companies to facilitate sustainable and rapid growth.
Founder market fit. Team dynamics and expertise in the field they are operating in are key; I want to know who is driving the ship and why they're the right people for the job.
Clear differentiator. This could be through innovative technology, a unique product offering, or a disruptive business model.
Do you have any piece of advice for startups that are trying to navigate the current environment and present themselves?
Erena: Have a clear idea of your WHY on each decision you make. We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. But do not forget that for passion to survive it also needs structure. A WHY without HOW has little probability of success.
Connect with Erena on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erenaestell%C3%A9s/