Season 2 Episode 7 – Dan Bowyer of Superseed

Dan calls in from the current Superseed HQ, in the middle of the British countryside, to tell us about his Fund that invests in technical founders building business automation platforms.

Or, as he tells his wife and people that don’t know the VC world, he invests in “the boring sh*t that goes on behind the Glaxo Smithkline – we love the platforms that go into that world, that corporate and change the way people implement Tech in areas  like Payroll, HR etc. This is where we invest at Scale”.

Dan’s a lovable English rogue of the UK VC, well regarded as a punchy artful dodger and consequently we have a good bit of banter talking about:
# The Future of Work: “I am never ever going back to the office full time ever again “ and Dan feels that “the Technology created so far hasn’t even touched the sides in most industries, especially Education, Healthcare, Insurance”!
He highlights:
“Covid-19 has just shone a light on the inadequacies in many  industries. Its all about need and burning underpants and those Corporations that don’t change, will still have burning underpants, which will inevitably lead to a lot of pain in future years!
The Retail and Insurance industries are classic examples of management’s wearing burning underpants,  because their industries are so old farty, with loads of dead wood. This is the opportunity for the great start-ups we back, to extinguish the burning underpants”.
Dan reckons Digital change is really still just beginning and some industries are still reticent to technology, even now, moving past Covid-19.
# On Industry 4.0: Furthermore, Dan argues that Mid-sized companies in manufacturing and energy need to change and engage with new start-ups that can help them change. Dan has not seen much evidence of this so far in business automation in Covid-19. The business leaders of these businesses do not think the same as the founders Superseed back.
# On Regulation: This is the big bear in the world because “Humans are stupid and greedy”. The Government need to regulate the new economy that we are building. Getting the regulatory framework set up in the near future will mould us into future world innovation leader!
# On Virtual: “No one talks about Skype anymore – WOW – what an opportunity missed in the pandemic by Microsoft here. Skype has become the MSN”
# On VC investing: In Dan’s opinion – Decisions to invest are roughly “50% data and 50% sentiment – driven by meeting people”. He asks founders for a widget on their website that says that they are a good match, which would save founders so much time. Apply here please founders. In future the VC will become more  automated, specialised and will be more mainstream – with the mass population having access to it.
# On Private Equity: “is just spreadsheet stuff, its all about the deal, sell the thing. So boring”
# On UK Start-Up scene: “I want the UK to be the springboard to the world, for start-up and catch with the US figures, where we have unicorns in a year, that they have in a month. Unicorns, smoothicorns”
# On US Start-Up scene: “Most of their unicorns are bullsh*t, they are all never never business models .. like Uber, WeWorks, SPACs” !
# On the day to day: They see 5000 decks a year, 1000 of which they take seriously, through their direct, partner or scout network. Dan says.. “You get very good at being a very quick filter and 12 step matrix.. which sounds a bit like AA. We are very short shrift, but invest within 8 weeks”

Quote of the Pod/Vod:
“When starting Superseed I said wanted a 60% success rate and my business partner said to me you are smoking crack, as 95% of start-ups fail. But we can do this, as we don’t want Unicorns, we want lots of Dragons exiting for £100m”.