Y Soft Ventures Junior Partner Lukáš Konečný appeared in the Late Collection list of Forbes magazine at the beginning of the year. He narrowly missed out on a spot in the famous 30 under 30 list by one year. Internally, Lukáš has been leading our list of exceptional YSofters for the fifth year in a row. Working closely with Miloš Sochor, he runs Y Soft Ventures, the investment platform at Y Soft. They take care of the development and support of a number of interesting startups. Lukáš says he doesn't know exactly why he made it onto the prestigious Forbes rankings (although he may be keeping it a secret from us). Here you can read all about what he does and you can work out why it attracted the attention of the editors at Forbes.
"It's a pity they didn't notice me a year earlier," Lukáš comments on his placement in the Forbes Late Harvest with a smile. He is happy with the news and considers it a result of a number of successes that have accumulated over the last few years. "This kind of media attention is great for me and Ventures, but we create real value elsewhere," he says. The goal of Y Soft Ventures is to seek out exciting start-ups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that need some help to grow under Y Soft’s wings. Sometimes the startups reach out to us directly and other times we find them first. If the company is a good match for Ventures we invest in exchange for a minority stake. Ventures take on a partnership and mentoring role, sharing knowledge and experience we’ve gained over the years. Lukáš states “If everything goes according to plan, the startup should start to grow”
Supporting the business ecosystem
Ventures is not just about investment or profit. "It is a way for Y Soft to contribute back to the business ecosystem and support the next generation of entrepreneurs who have the potential to build global companies from Central Europe," explains Lukáš. Together with Miloš Sochor, Managing Partner at Y Soft Ventures, they provide startups with guidance in strategic management, finance, and fundraising. They also help them to connect with other experts from Y Soft such as sales, marketing, HR, and manufacturing. Lukáš enjoys working with startup founders, "Discussing their plans with them, revealing what obstacles they may encounter, and finding the right pathway for growth will never bore me," he says enthusiastically.
Global potential and innovative approaches
Ventures looks for B2B companies with global potential that would benefit from support, mentoring, and investment. We tend to work with companies that have products combining hardware and custom software. "We focus on investing in projects that help other companies operate smarter using elements of Internet of Things, cybersecurity, big data, or virtual and augmented reality," says Lukáš. Companies must also offer a product that has been validated by the first customers and the market is hungry for it. An investment of between 10 - 25 million crowns should be sufficient to kickstart the company. "Basically, we say that if a startup has a solution that helps other companies operate smarter, we want to know about it," Lukáš summarizes the list of criteria for selecting startups. He adds that the human connection with the founders is also important. "After all, we are still talking about a business partnership that can last 10 years or more," he explains.
A strong value proposition is the basis of business success
We asked Lukáš what the foundation for a successful startup looks like. According to him, the path to success begins with a strong vision and the ability to achieve it. “A good choice for investors is a project with a unique product and a clear and non-copyable value proposition, showing why the customer should choose this product,” Lukáš explains. From a practical point of view, however, he says it is necessary to think about money as well. One piece of advice that Lukáš offers to new entrepreneurs is "Cash is king, so keep your finances under control". Don’t forget: every successful entrepreneur is backed by a good lawyer, bookkeeper, and accountant. According to him, there is, unfortunately, no universal or quick recipe for success.
What is next for Y Soft Ventures?
After 5 years, Y Soft Ventures is slowly and surely entering a phase where they will manage the first of the invested company sales. Does this mean we are looking at a business success story? "We can only talk about a real success story when the life cycle of an investment closes with an exit, and we are only slowly getting to that. Until then, anything is a partial success. However, we have definitely started writing stories with a potential for a happy end,” concludes Lukáš.