Overcome fear with collaboration

START-UP SPOTLIGHT from The Invested Investor, published in partnership with AngelNews.

In partnership with AngelNews, this month’s Start-up Spotlight focuses on the experienced, dynamic and philosophical serial investor, David Gammon. Through his work as an Invested Investor and as the CEO of Rockspring, he has supported entrepreneurs through some extraordinary successes. In his podcast with the Invested Investor, he talks about how crucial collaboration is for investors, and how he works with his family to make investment decisions.

David founded Rockspring in 2002 after 17 years investment banking experience and was formerly an active member of the Cambridge Angels. Other than leading and administering Rockspring, David spends most of his time providing advisory services, and enjoying time with his family and friends. 

1)      Why/How did you become an investor?

I became an investor in deep tech as I was not educated enough, to be able to create a deep tech start-up myself. I was very fortunate to have been allowed into Cambridge Angels shortly after it was created. The constitution then allowed for one place to be taken up by a member, who did not have an entrepreneurial background. I somehow got that slot!

2)      What do you invest in and at what stage?

I invest from seed to pre-IPO - trying to take up as much of my pre-emption rights as possible all the way. Once the valuation of the company exceeds £100m I do not follow-on.

I only invest in software and sometimes hardware companies. I have made some, Med-tech investments but none in Life Sciences, as it requires a specific skill set, I do not have to invest in that area.

3)      What are the challenges faced when you become an investor?

The biggest challenge for me was overcoming the fear of failure. Only way to learn is to plunge in and get involved. Nothing like facing the threat of a complete wipe out, to focus the mind. I believe that learning from loses is a necessary part of the process to becoming an investor. It takes time.

4)      How do you characterise success?

Success is:

i)                    a return on capital invested.

ii)                   a meaningful number of full-time jobs created.  

iii)                 making a positive impact.

5)      Please give three top factors, that influence your decision to invest.

a)       Can the founder or team do “it”?

b)      Is the product or service a “must have” or “nice to have”?

c)       Is it scalable within a reasonable budget of capital?

6)      How do you view your relationship with your investees? What is a good relationship?

I view my relationship as being built, from the start, on mutual respect. That means the founders being honest and open. That means I am helpful and reliable.

7)      How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Good question!

8)      Who inspires you and why?

Who? Viktor Frankl

Why? His landmark short book “Man’s search for Meaning”. If you ever get tempted to feel sorry for yourself or, fret about how gloomy things are or, believe that you cannot get through your struggles – then be inspired by this man’s example.

9)      If you could offer an early investor one piece of business advice, what would it be?

Invest alongside others who know more than yourself.

To hear Davis’d podcast with the Invested Investor, please visit Collaboration, failure and the universe of numbers