Beth Engel is a partner at Dundee Venture Capital located in Omaha and invests in both Nebraskan and other midwestern startups. We asked her some questions to gain more insight on her experiences and expertise:
1) Tell us a little bit about Dundee Venture Capital and its goals.
Dundee Venture Capital is a seed stage venture capital firm that primarily invests in scalable technology companies across industries with the exception of bio, pharma, med devices, and hardware. We like to lead or co-lead rounds and write checks between $500K - $750K into businesses whose natural exit will be within 6-8 years, achieving a good return to our investors. We co-invest alongside other investors such as invest Nebraska. We like to work closely with our founders and focus on finding the best entrepreneurs with a strong vision and commitment that we feel can confidently handle the adversity that comes with running a startup.
2) How did you get involved in Dundee Venture Capital?
I was originally involved with two Omaha-based startups, so I was familiar with Omaha’s startup community. After a few years Mark Hasebroock convinced me to take a position as the twelfth employee at Hayneedle, helping manage the company’s growth. He, Doug Nielsen, and Julie Mahloch were leading the company at the time and had raised venture capital money from the coasts because there wasn’t really any venture capital money in the Midwest at the time. After Hayneedle was sold, Mark realized from his experience earlier that there was a large underserved market right here in Nebraska and the Midwest and decided to found Dundee Venture Capital. I had enjoyed my time at Hayneedle and realized this was a great opportunity for me. I joined the firm in 2013.
3) What are some things you hope to see in the startup community in Nebraska over the next few years?
Growth is the biggest thing that I would like to see happen in the startup community in Nebraska. I would love to see an increase in the number of startups and their access to funding throughout Nebraska. When we started fundraising for our first two funds, and even now, we’ve had to do a lot of teaching potential investors what Venture Capital is and how we’ll invest their money. It’s my hope that we are able to get to the point where our purpose is well-known, and we can make Nebraska a hub for talent and innovation.
4) What makes a startup company stand out to you?
Companies stand out to me that have a clear vision and purpose with the ability to execute. They fall in love with solving the problem and can separate their emotions from their product/service, because often times it needs to change. The best startups have strong leadership and incredible founders that are completely focused and very coachable.
5) What is some advice you have for new angel investors?
Get to know the founders and the genesis story of the company. Have a process, and invest in startups that are solving a problem that is big. A lot of times the problem these companies are attempting to solve isn’t big enough to warrant the type of funding that they’re seeking. Fact check to the extent you can, and do your due-diligence, make sure you’re getting the truth and know the whole story before you consider investing. Exercise control over your emotions and bias. Investing at this stage is very exciting but the amount of companies that actually make it is very small.