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Investor advice with Owen Zammit

The Startup club is thrilled to feature Owen Zammit an investor at the PeakBridge, a foodtech VC firm. Owen shares his insight on his journey to his current role, how to attract investors, how startups can prepare themselves for succeeding in the present and more in this article.

The Startup Club: Tell us more about yourself.

Owen Zammit: I am probably one of the outsiders to the sector as I do not come from the financial/consulting world. I studied Molecular Medicine at the University of Sheffield and worked for a few years in healthcare diagnostics. I transitioned into grant funding as a Research & Innovation Executive at Malta Council for Science & Technology. This led me to my current role at PeakBridge, a foodtech VC firm investing from Seed-Series B in startups across Europe, US and Israel.

I consider myself to be a bookworm. Whether abroad or in Malta, I love browsing bookshops for the next good book. If I’m not reading, I’m probably in nature or working out 80% of the time. The other 20% is devoted to indulging in carbonara and washing it down with plenty of coffee.

The Startup Club: What do you usually want to see in a startup before you decide to look into it further?

Owen Zammit: For us at PeakBridge some of the general criteria we like to see checked include: Diversified team, Initial signs of traction, Proprietary and scalable technology and Moat vs Competitors.

The depth on each of these criteria will vary depending across startup stage.

The Startup Club: Based on your experience what are some of the frequent mistakes that startups make in their first steps?

Owen Zammit:

  • Focusing on wrong or vanity metrics such as number of competitions/prizes won and events attended might give the false impression that they are moving the needle.

  • Hiring the wrong people, especially at the early stages can be a make-or-break decision.

  • Poor deck and storyline

  • Lack of product focus – trying to chase multiple solutions at the same time.

The Startup Club: How did you get into this investment sector?

Owen Zammit: Despite my love for science, my pet peeve was the slow pace of getting scientific research in the hands of customers, so that actual impact could be seen. I started to have this itch towards seeing science being applied in the market. At the same time, I started developing a passing for investing & personal finance. Venture capital is for me the perfect overlap of both as I get to meet tons of technical founders, learn about their work whilst understanding whether the idea works from an investment perspective.

The Startup Club: Is there a trend that you have observed in the recent years in terms of the direction the startups choose to take?

Owen Zammit: I think as funding becomes more difficult to come by, more and more startups are putting efforts into driving revenues. Traction in the food industry might take longer to achieve, especially at a B2B level. Tapping into adjacent markets such as cosmetics and pharma has been a trend which we’ve seen in the space.

The Startup Club: How can a startup best prepare itself to succeed in the present?  

Owen Zammit: Given the current macro environment, where total VC funding is down year-over-year, it is indeed crucial for startups to have more runway than they anticipate needing. This means that assuming a longer fundraise timeline than expected should be the baseline assumption for startups.

To navigate this challenging landscape, startups should focus on being agile and lean. This involves streamlining operations, optimizing resource allocation, and prioritizing the key levers that can drive revenue growth. By honing down on these key levers, startups can demonstrate their ability to generate revenue and showcase their potential to investors.

The Startup Club: How can startups in the Pre-Seed stage increase their chances of attracting investors’ interest?

Owen Zammit: At such an early stage, the key determinants of success will be the founding team. Apart from this, having a minimum viable product and initial signs of traction are the other 2 area of focus for pre-seed teams.

The Startup Club is thankful for your participation in our Investor Advice Series. Thank you once again for sharing your experience and insights with our community. Follow The Startup Club on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for more updates. Visit our website here to RSVP for our upcoming events.

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