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Exploring Life & Business with Danny Cortenraede of InStudio Ventures

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danny Cortenraede.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My father and grandfather were both entrepreneurs. I grew up seeing what it takes to build successful companies. The hard work, dedication, long hours, passion, entrepreneurial mindset and big thinking.

For ten years, Danny Cortenraede worked in the telecoms and consumer electronics industry. He spent six years working at Vodafone before joining Sony and then T-Mobile.

Ready for a new challenge, he left his high-paying corporate job to venture into the unknown world of entrepreneurship, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Cortenraede created media firm Enterprise Media, and after a successful sale, continued to found and invest in various other businesses.

In 2015, he struck gold by co-founding Wannahaves, a digital media agency, which handles content creation, branded content, graphics and more for sister company 433. 433 shifted its focus to Instagram a year later and hasn’t looked back—today it boasts 55 million followers across all platforms and roughly 5 billion monthly impressions.

My latest project is InStudio Ventures – a venture studio. We are building the next generation of media, tech and sports companies.

As a team of seasoned entrepreneurs, marketers, and designers we understand the principles and challenges of building a business in today’s world. Through our high involvement approach, we merge our expertise and experience with the founding teams. For us, investor partnerships go way beyond the numbers.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As an entrepreneur and investor, I face obstacles on a daily basis. That is just how it is! The question is how do you react to these obstacles? It starts all with your mindset. I use those moments to learn and grow – what is the bigger picture? What is the thing that you really want to achieve? Keep that in mind and you can move mountains.

Besides this, I believe in having the right network and surrounding you with the right people. These people can give you valuable insights, people who have done this before and are not afraid of your relative “small” problem.

As you know, we’re big fans of InStudio Ventures. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
InStudio Ventures, based in Los Angeles, combines start-up expansion expertise and private capital to conceive, cultivate, and scale next-generation media, tech, and sports companies.

Having built multiple companies myself, I have also had a lot of setbacks – just like all other entrepreneurs. There are a lot of great entrepreneurs in the world but more than 80% of them are failing. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, it takes so much more than just a good product idea to become a successful business. 32% is failing because of the incorrect team, 28% poor market fit (idea), 14% no funding, 24% business (lacking business model, outcompeted) and 42% timing (no market need, product mistimed, etc..) As the data shows, there are many aspects that have an impact on success. A more holistic approach to the business is needed. That is where we come in with our venture studio.

Getting start-ups on the right track by testing and eliminating all assumptions on their customer, product, market and industry in four steps to create the ultimate value proposition for growth.

InStudio’s global team brings a proven track record of start-up expertise to discover, craft, test, validate, and scale next-generation business initiatives into highly-visible, highly-profitable market leaders. With our revolutionary venture studio model, we disrupt the conventional approach to VC funding, focusing more time and effort on developing innovative business models and maximizing traction in our partners’ market space.

Extra info:
On average founders waste 60% of their time fundraising

We’re building a digital platform, or ecosystem if you will, with digitized securities, smart contracts and business intelligence to manage the investment process

We’re breaking with the traditional ‘2 and 20’ business model, and move towards, what we hope passionately will become the new industry standard, a ‘1 and 30’. We decrease investor cost of the capital and therefore risk through leveraging our digital platform.

Digitalization of startup supply chains

Seed and early-stage companies are constantly trying to keep many balls in the air: talent acquisition and management, fundraising, legal issues, business and product development. This not only comes with a hefty price tag but requires the very best people to ensure founders can ‘hit the ground running’. Our industry-changing venture capital platform fully digitalizes this supply chain, creating an ecosystem that reduces the complexities of startup funding and the friction between entrepreneurs and investors.

Legal process digitalization

As I’ve previously mentioned, founders spend a staggering 60% of their time securing investment. This equity investment challenge is magnified by the notary system complexities in non-Common Law countries (all EU states, aside from the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta). In helping startups breakthrough this complexity, we’ve built a straightforward legal framework that uses a co-operative structure to issue, manage and sell shares with ease. This can be used in almost any country within the EU. By taking advantage of permissioned DLT, it provides full assurance and compliance (KYC/AML/ATF).

Progress-based automated funding

Our goal is to empower startups to focus on what really matters most, creating a product that their customers will love, and our 72-step ‘venture development programme’ gives them the tools to do this. We go further, bringing them into our network of independent professionals (including designers, executives, engineers, academics and more). These experts impart their knowledge and, through the carry of the fund, are rewarded for the success they help create.

Phase A: For the initial investment of 50,000 EUR at the pre-seed stage, founders must be able to put forward a minimum team of two people and demonstrate the necessary complementary soft skills. We use the best HR Team assessment tools for this since we believe in Team first, this is mandatory. We also ask for a first draft of the startup’s business plan, together with TAM/SAM/SOM supported by thorough market analysis. At this first stage, personal assurances to ‘get things off the ground’ are sought from the founders.

Phase B: For the 150,000 EUR investment, we ask the company to demonstrate its experiment velocity, which we qualitatively assess using three professionals. We expect qualitative and quantitative measurement of customer development metrics, and we assess the quality of the pitch itself.

Phase C: The third 500,000 EUR investment phase is about milestones and tracking progress. The company must be able to showcase several pilots (or proof of concept exercises) and demonstrate that a viable number of acquisition channels for new customers have been tested. Lastly, we want to see the team’s development monitored in real-time through user activity (DAU or ARPU depending on the business model).

Phase D: The final sizeable 1,500,000 EUR investment is the cumulation of all the work up to that point. Sales projections must be depicted in detail through an average weighted estimate pipeline. A favourable LTV to CAC ratio must be presented to demonstrate the strength of the business model, and validated acquisition channels will be finalized using the testing from Phase C.

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Photo: Devin L’Amoreaux @devinlamoreaux

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