Interview with Matan Bros of Grove Ventures

Matan is part of the investment team at Grove, meeting with start-ups, assessing and analysing investment opportunities and performing due diligence. Prior to joining Grove, Matan worked at The Ministry of Finance in the Budget Division where he promoted new structural reforms in the trade and industry fields. He managed a broad de-regulation project with a potential saving of $15B to the Israeli market. Matan previously held positions in several startups in business development, sales, and marketing positions. Matan is a Captain (res.) in the IDF and served for 5 years in various roles as a combat officer with many soldiers under his command. Matan holds a BA in Economics and Business from IDC Herzeliya (Cum Lauda), and graduated from it’s Honours Program.

1. How did you get into Venture Capital?

I grew up in a very “Techy” home: My dad worked in tech companies and startups and tech was always around. I always had the passion to combine tech with business. After my military service, I worked at my family’s company, and for two startups (on business research and development), until I had the honour to join the Ministry of Finance’s Budget Department. After a year-and-a-half of working in another field, I felt that I missed the technology aspects, and I thought about moving to a startup.

The role of VC always seemed like the exact combination of all my interests, so I started talking to several people from the field to understand the nature of the role of an investment team.

One of the people I came across was Omri Green, a Partner at Grove Ventures, and the click between us was immediate. I went through a through process that included multiple interviews and sessions with team members, as we believe that it is very important in a venture capital fund to find the best match and dynamics between the team. Eventually, I finally found myself as part of the Investment team at Grove Ventures.

2. What is the startup scene like in Israel?

Israel itself is a startup!

The Israeli mentality is that everyone has to find a better way to get the job done, whether in the line at the supermarket (everyone tries to find the shortest, fastest and most special waiting line) or on the road (it is a very special experience to drive around Tel Aviv or Jerusalem 😊). The Israeli mentality is definitely at its best when it comes to technology and innovation.

The ecosystem here consists of young entrepreneurs who have graduated from special technology units in the military; graduates of well-known universities (the vast majority of which have entrepreneurial clubs); and mature, experienced entrepreneurs graduating from multinational companies operating in Israel (over 200 MNCs are operating in a country of less than 9 million people).

The combination of experienced entrepreneurs who “already did it” and young, inspired entrepreneurs alongside lots of VC money attracts the best of talents, great accelerators, brilliant ideas and constant hunger to succeed. This builds Israel’s strong, vibrant tech ecosystem that continues to come up with the next big extravaganzas.

3. What is the future of Venture Capital and the startup scene post the pandemic?

I always try to speak within the boundaries of my area of ​​expertise, so to be honest: I don’t know all the outcomes of the pandemic.

I can say that we are already experiencing a change in the way work is being done. Even though there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings with entrepreneurs may improve productivity: the meetings are focused, limited in time, and very exhaustive.

The definition of the future of VC is a derivative of the VC’s type. Grove Ventures specializes in early stages and focuses on finding deeptech technologies and entrepreneurs. In a fund as such, in principle, we should not be affected by macro events. Even when there is a pandemic – we continue to meet amazing entrepreneurs, companies and ideas that will change the world.

Certainly, VCs are adapting to changes and adopting technological tools that enhance funds’ capabilities (e.g. sourcing, HR, DF, etc.). However, I believe that there is no substitute for experienced funds and partners that assist early stage startups in establishing great companies and helping their portfolio succeed.

4. What is your investment strategy when investing in startups? (How do you choose the good from the bad)

Grove Ventures was set up with a very clear strategy.

We are looking for young companies which focus on technology as the core of their business. We search for companies that we can lead or co-lead their first significant round of funding. We leave money aside for each company, so that we can keep our pro rata (at least largely) in follow-on rounds and join to the journeys of the best founders.

Of course, there are exceptions, but there are things we do not compromise on, our core values which are also written on our wall:

The first one is people first. We understand that we invest first and foremost in people. We will not invest in a team that we do not like or strongly believe in. When you understand that the road is long and complex, you want to have people you see eye to eye with.

The second is value creation. We understand that both the entrepreneurs we partner with and we, as their partner of choice must constantly see how to add real value to the entrepreneurs and their companies. Be it building new products or features, meeting new customers or building a meaningful career path for employees – we want to be by their side in every way we can.

5. What is the most common issue startups have when they pitch for funding and how can they resolve it?
Understanding exactly who the investor in front of them is.

Entrepreneurs will win points if they arrive with prior knowledge on the fund’s investment thesis, its portfolio companies, and exactly why her/his/their venture is the best fit for the fund.

Furthermore, when we, as investors, see a serious entrepreneur who has done the homework and comes with a deep understanding, it would be much more convenient for us to connect this person to other funds, if their venture is less suited for us.

6. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs?

Market – I know it is very cliché to say that a venture should start in the market, but if I had only one advice to share, this is it.  As an entrepreneur, you should build your venture in relation to the market. If possible, don’t write one line of code and go speak with the customers, speak with the champions within big organisations, understand the pain and then solve it. The best startups I met came from people that felt the pain and decided they must solve it.

We would like to thank Matan for speaking with us.

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