Investor spotlight: Christof Wittig on why “the average venture partnership lasts longer than the average marriage”2012-10-23 5
Christof Wittig is the German-born Managing Director of Kii Capital, an early-stage venture fund based in Silicon Valley that focuses on investments into mobile consumer apps.
He has more than 15 years of experience starting and running software companies and is on the Board of or a strategic adviser to multiple companies in the technology industry including conject, Metago, Synphonie, Hornet Networks, Keep Safe, and Cambria Technology Group. Christof holds a Master of Science in Management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
How did you get involved in finance?
I started three companies myself, one in Germany, two in Silicon Valley and I felt ready to move to the other side of the table to help the next generation of entrepreneurs to make their mark.
Also, my background is in B2B and I felt I didn’t have a really great idea in the consumer space, which is the one to be in today, but I could still help entrepreneurs, who have these ideas, to build their businesses.
When I entered finance, being a founder by heart, I started a new fund of my own, with a differentiated business model. Kii Capital invests exclusively in mobile consumer apps. We’re a micro fund and write small, sub-$1M checks. But we do check that the company’s apps have gained user traction before we invest.
What’s your biggest success?
Our first investment in Enish (formerly: Synphonie), a mobile gaming company in Japan, has grown to over $50M in revenue in just over two years.
What do you look for in an investment?
Consumer traction. There are a lot of smart people with good ideas, but few survive the relentless filtering through real consumers actually using the apps on a day-to-day basis. We can help to build a team. We can spend money to improve the technology. But we can’t help finding a consumer need and a market if they don’t exist in the first place
Who or what inspires you?
Mark Leslie, founding CEO of Veritas. He has been my mentor ever since I came to the US. He taught me leadership, showing respect for others while being laser-focussed on the strategic needs to grow the company.
How do you focus or prioritise your workload?
I am always responsive and try to have my inbox basically empty at any point in time. I do all transactional stuff immediately and mostly use email. For curating relationships I do face-to-face. I don’t use the phone very much because it is insufficient for either. I make sure to not waste my face time with people with mundane stuff which can better be dealt with by email.
What’s your catchphrase/motto?
Go beyond the vanity metrics.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Move on faster if things don’t work out.
What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Spending too much time in Lala land. It is tough out there. Be intellectually honest, it is no shame to make mistakes or have weaknesses, as long as you’re aware of them and can correct or deal with them.
Do you have any advice for dealing with investors?
Disclose as much as you can to build trust and rapport. The average venture investment partnership in the US has a longer duration than the average marriage. So choose your partner wisely and build that relationship to last in good as well as in bad times.
What can you learn from emerging talent?
Everything. (Nearly) every person surprises me with something new. Therefore I am always super curious to meet emerging talent and invite you to see me up!
What transformative technology or market force do you think has made the most difference?
Mobilisation of the Internet.The mobile app economy excites me most in future tech too. It is the fastest-adopted technology of all times.
Which single device could you not live without?
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