Meet the investor - Nethanel Sztrum

We spoke to Nethanel, Investment principal at Deutsche Telekom VC, and asked him our quick-fire questions to hear more about him and his work. Here is what he had to say:

Deutsche Telekom VC is a dedicated early-stage fund (Seed through series A) of Deutsche Telekom with multiple offices worldwide.

What piece of advice would you give yourself when you started? What advice would you ignore? The best advice I would give myself is to find the right mentor as early as possible. Having someone with many years of experience and a great personality, someone who will inspire and motivate you to grow and guide you along the way will ultimately take you very far.

What piece of content (book/podcast/Ted Talk) is your favorite or has influenced your life?

I’m an avid reader. One of the books that had an impact on my life is Principles by Ray Dalio. The autobiography is split into his life and work principles from a personal account. Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater in 1975 from his two-bedroom apartment and turned it into a successful investment company. In 1982, he placed bets on a global recession, but he ended up being wrong. Ultimately he had to let go of all of his employees and borrow $4,000 from his father. Today, he’s still one of the most successful hedge fund managers and philanthropists - essentially proving that overcoming failure is always possible! I also recommend Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, I love to travel and explore new cultures, and Santarem provides a fascinating glance into India.

What is the most valuable investment (time, money, energy, etc.) you’ve ever made? On a personal level, sports and world travel are two of the most important investments I make. When I’m not working away at my computer, you’ll find me outdoors, either running, playing tennis, kitesurfing, or snowboarding and daydreaming about the next destination I want to visit.

Is there a quote, mantra, or message you live your life by and that you resonate with?

I believe in hard work, common sense, being open-minded, and being kind to people.

What have you failed at, and what were your takeaways? Reducing my coffee consumption - I’ve learned there are simply bigger fish to fry! A double espresso is just too good to pass up daily.

What kind of entrepreneurs inspire/ catches your eye? Entrepreneurs that are focused, ambitious, and create unique technologies that solve significant problems.

What was your first job? I started my career as a legal intern in corporate law at Amit, Pollak, Matalon & Co. I learned a lot about both the law and business and realized that I rather focus on solving business problems than legal ones. As a lawyer, I worked closely with startup teams, which gave me a basic grounding in technology and an opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. These experiences forced me to understand the core problems founders face, what they are solving, and the value they provide their customers with.

What was the feeling after your first investment? It was a fantastic feeling. I was super excited to start working with the founders and their teams. I also felt a big responsibility to build a new, scalable business. I equally like the follow-up after an investment, as I enjoy providing hands-on support and working closely with founders.

What piece of advice would you give any founder looking for his/her first round of investment? Know the VCs you approach and make sure to highlight this in your email (or LinkedIn message ☺). Learn everything there is to know about how they invest, what kind of business models, what region, and what stage they focus on. It will save both you and the investors a lot of time and effort. Also, avoid “spamming” VCs with pitch decks they will not be interested in since it’s not in their focus area.