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Jasper Masemann on how to build a successful company from the VC perspective

Jasper Masemann: “Founders who don’t have their ego under control have the big problem that they don’t listen to their customers and create a bad product. Especially if you want to convince a VC, I recommend a more modest approach – but of course you should also be bold. To have that combination in the right balance is really important.”

From being an Entrepreneur to Supporting Other Ones as a VC

Jasper Masemann knows the ‘nitty-gritty’ of the startup world from various perspectives. Since 2015, he is Principal at one of Germany’s most iconic venture capital firms – Holtzbrinck Ventures. Like many founders and VCs before him, Jasper first worked as a consultant for several years, learning the ropes of the ‘classical’ business world at the Boston Consulting Group, before becoming an entrepreneur himself. In 2011, he founded, a leading text production platform facilitating copywriting in 18 languages for thousands of renown clients worldwide. After four years as CEO of his own company, he switched sides and joined Holtzbrinck Ventures where he helps founders to achieve their companies’ growth potential – something that he had already been doing ‘on the side’ in the past as a business angel and supporter of the ‘Entrepreneurs’ Organization’ in Berlin.

As one of the most successful European venture capital firms, with more than 735m€ under management, Holtzbrinck Ventures has been supporting exceptional founders in building market-leading internet companies for over 16 years. The VC firm is widely known for having identified and invested in some of Germany’s most successful online startups like Zalando, Delivery Hero and FlixBus early on.

Two of Holtzbrinck Ventures’ latest investments include Zeitgold and Lingokids. Especially Zeitgold is a startup that Jasper Masemann highlights for its way of doing things and growing successfully. It helps SME’s to save valuable time by taking care of some of their administrative tasks like accounting and payroll management. Lingokids is an EdTech startup developing language learning services for early childhood. It is also backed by well-known US Venture Capital firm ‘500 Startups’ and has created some buzz lately through, among others, a new distribution agreement with educational publisher Oxford University Press, the largest university press in the world.

Jasper Masemann on Startup Notes

In this episode, Jasper talks about his work as a VC, shares great tips for founders that are seeking funding, explains why Zeitgold as one of Holtzbrinck’s latest investments is an exciting role model for other startups and tells where he sees the current development of the European startup scene heading towards to.

These are the topics that we cover with Jasper who shares his experience of having gone from consultant to founder to VC:

[01:35 – 03:06]   On what a typical day in his life as a VC looks like
[03:07 – 04:56]  Why Holtzbrinck Ventures is such a popular VC firm
[04:57 – 07:31]   On the most impressive company he has seen in 2016
[07:32 – 10:45]   On the hottest industries for starting a company right now
[10:46 – 13:15]    On the difference between a ‘great’ entrepreneur and an ‘average’ one
[13:16 – 14:46]    How a founder can impress him during an investment pitch
[14:47 – 16:26]   On the ‘Don’ts’ when talking to investors
[16:27 – 18:27]   When to contact him if you are looking for funding as an entrepreneur
[18:28 – 20:54]  On how he sees the development of the startup scene in Germany and Europe
[20:55 – 22:43]  On the ideal setup of a founders team
[22:44 – 25:51]  His best advice to first-time founders
[25:52 – 28:12]  On making the decision between startup and corporate world when graduating university
[28:13 – 29:26]  Open positions at Holtzbrinck Ventures and their portfolio companies

Podcast host: Emil

As mentioned in the beginning of the episode with Jasper, Startup Notes did a video interview with one of the founders of a company that Holtzbrinck Ventures had invested into in the past – Gerald Heydenreich of PIPPA&JEAN. Sit back and watch which unique advice for entrepreneurs and first-time founders he has to share. Holtzbrinck Ventures also invested in well-reputed cleantech startup Thermondo – click and listen to our episode with its Founder and Managing Director, Philipp Pausder.

For more VC insights, make sure to also check out our episode with Christian Miele who is Principal at In our interview from March 2017, he speaks about the virtues of outstanding entrepreneurs and the status of digitization in Germany.

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