"I thought I could just be enthusiastic and sell my vision - but it didn't work like that!"

At the end of March, Printler, a Skellefteå-based startup offering a digital marketplace for photographers to sell their work, announced a SEK 2M ($220k) injection of venture capital.

Printler, which is based at The Great Northern, was launched by Sven Burman and we met up with him recently to hear his advice for other startups looking to attract venture capital.


Get an introduction

“First you have to know how to meet venture capital people. But it’s not always good to approach them cold. They get so many people approaching them.

We’re lucky that in The Great Northern we have Arctic Business Incubator who have a big network of venture capital contacts.

They act as both a filter for the venture capitalists and a kind of validation for our business.

They also know the right investors to approach. So we started going to pitching events with them."

Ask for advice

"I spoke to other Skellefteå business owners such as Leif Rehnström from Hello Future and Harry van der Veen from Nuiteq.

I asked them, ‘What will the investors want to know?’

‘What questions are they going to ask?’

‘How will I approach them?’

They gave really good advice. Sometimes I think we’re wary of asking for help and advice but we shouldn’t. These guys have such rich experience.”

Do your homework

"I thought I could just walk in front of these venture capital guys and be enthusiastic, sell my vision and they’d just invest - but it didn't work like that! My first presentations were not good. They needed real data.

These people are really into numbers. They want to know exactly what's your mean order value, how many orders have you had over the last years, how many photographers have registered with your site.

I must admit, I didn’t know a lot of what they asked me at first and I struggled.

But it made me focus on learning all the relevant data.”

Don’t be afraid of feedback

“I found most of the potential investors to be nice. They really wanted to help us out with feedback and advice. They wanted us to succeed even if they weren’t going to invest.

They always wanted to leave some kind of feedback and give us ideas of how to do things better.

I made progress in my pitching skills and I started to know what kind of metrics they wanted to be presented.

And that was all because of great feedback.”

Remember you're in a bubble

“Because I was so immersed in Printler, I forgot that others won’t necessarily know about my company. When you’re in the bubble you just assume everyone will just get the idea, like you get it.

But why should they?

So, I really had to learn everything about my business so that I could answer all the questions. And there were lots of questions.

But a lot of the strategic work we have done over the last year was based on the questions we got from investors. It's been an extremely valuable journey and I’d recommend it for anyone.”