At FON we are very proud of our growth. FON has tripled in size in the last 3 months. But while I thought this was pretty unique, I was just looking at Meneame, the Spanish Digg like site, in which I invested in, and I was super impressed with their growth. They doubled in size in the last 3 months. And other companies I invested in, like Netvibes, Wikio, Vpod, Xing, Gspace,, Technorati, Plazes, Zudeo and Joost are all growing very

Personally ,I don´t consider myself a VC, but in a way I am, since I am making investments in all these companies. I guess what’s different about me and the reason why I am invited to invest, is that I not only invest, but spend time with the entrepreneurs advising them on how to make their sites more appealing. To be fair, many times they give me great advise or are on the FON advisory board, as in the case of Tariq Krim of Netvibes.

But right now this is how my investment activities work. I get sent a ton of investment ideas in the form of beta web sites, I test the services myself. If I like them I move on to see if I find the entrepreneur compelling. If I do, then I look at the market, competition and business model with the help of people at Jazzya, my holding company. If all those planets align, then I invest. What I wonder is whether I should invite others to invest along with me.

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Paul Reigersmants on February 5, 2007  · 

That would be a good idea, Martin!

I’m sure that there are many people who would invest their savings in some of these start-up projects following your advices, but how would you manage these investments, through a fund?

Then, you’d become a venture capitalist, and you have started this post making clear that you are not a VC.

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euronerd on February 5, 2007  · 

I beg your pardon, GSpace ? Click the link, and see what you need to change…..

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Euronerd on February 6, 2007  · 

Link corrected. It was an obvious but funny mistake 🙂

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Vincent on February 6, 2007  · 

a sort of VC community (vc 2.0?) I like the idea!

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Mariano Ruani on February 6, 2007  · 

I suppouse you are thinking about a simple guy to invest with you,(if you want to join a VC I guess it would be easier).

If you want a regular guy to invest in this kind of companies there are a couple of issues
1. Every one needs to know that is a “really risky” investment
2. How much will be the minimum $$ amount invested per person (how many persons would make a difference)
3. exit strategy?, how much time would take to realize the investment.
4. You would need a trust kind of legal instrument (even could set a secondary market, though not much liquidity)

That wouldn’t be difficult for you. We are doing something similar at the Business Angels Club ( at IAE Business School in Argentina.

Something better in your case I think, would be a kind of approach where people join in groups and invest with you. That would be great!

PS: even could fund some seed capital in Argentina. 😉

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Paul Jardine on February 6, 2007  · 

I posted some thoughts around this area a while ago. It does seem that there are a lot of people out there who would like to invest, and those who invest successfully become an inspiration. So, many people would like to invest in the companies that you invest in.
That perhaps gives you an extra responsibility to be detached about your investing. E.g. if you invite people to invest, should you also tell them when you are going to disinvest?

Anyway, the link is

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Timo Heuer on February 6, 2007  · 

I’d be interested 🙂

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Cem on February 6, 2007  · 


You should create a fond for those investments.
VVF (Varsavsky Venture Fond 😉

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Marcelo Levit on February 6, 2007  · 

Martin, do you invest in projects that are in a beta stage ONLY?

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Mark on February 6, 2007  · 

Sounds like a very interesting idea. I would most likely take part. I think you would have to set up some kind community to be an interface between the small investors and the companies. So that the companies can communicate with one person, and that person informs the community. Bridge Investment Club does something similar with pre-ipo growth companies, not seed financing though.

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Nadim Saad on February 6, 2007  · 


I would be very interested in such a proposition! The advantage of pooling several active business angels who have a good experience and a large network can be very beneficial for the companies you would invest in. I am part of several business angel networks here in the UK but the quality of dealflow is average and certainly not comparable with the one you have thanks to your extensive network. What deal strucuture are you thinking about: 1.Simply offering people you would have preselected to invest individually alongside you, 2.Syndicate these deals through Jazzya or 3.Create an investment vehicle for each deal?
I hope you will take this idea forward.



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Fernando López de Ayala on February 7, 2007  · 

I’ve criticized you many times in this blog, but I recognize that you know how to make money, and I’d also join you in some of these ventures.

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Luis Martins on February 7, 2007  · 

I think the answer to your question is a strong positive.

Of course there are a few edges to be rounded in that idea.

First, it’s a matter of confidence: people are willing to rely on your judgment on what might be a good investment, as look as you are commiting yourself, too. Clearly, you score this point.

Secondly, it’s a matter of investment agility: how is your idea different from any other capital raise attempts? Should you create a VC company and then float it? But… this not the kind of flexibility that a investment “follower” might pursue.

Indeed, your post is very thought provoking.

I’m sure you will find a way of staying a VC, without being a VC, which is the feature of your career I admire the most, since I’ve been following your blog.

– Luis

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Euronerd on February 7, 2007  · 

No investment in yet? FON appears to be partner/customer.

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Antoin O Lachtnain on February 8, 2007  · 

Do you think you would be able to move as fast and do the types of deals you like to do if you were responsible for other people’s money (and therefore would need to be in a position to show rationales and paperwork for what you had done?

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Martin Varsavsky on February 8, 2007  · 


Not only, but mostly

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Martin Varsavsky on February 8, 2007  · 

Yes Antoin, that´s a good point.

Right now I do whatever I want and don´t have to answer to anyone…but then succeeding in a group is more fun! (failing is not 🙁

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Luis Martins on February 8, 2007  · 

Indeed the point here is the implicit confidence and the avoidance of paperwork.

Either the “followers” trust the “leader” intuition (and rationale) or they don’t. If the would-be investor needs reassurance, rationales and paperwork then they would better buy a fund, or go trade by themselves.

Now, the point is how is the leader going to show commitment to the enterprise in a way that makes “followers” adhere? How will it show commitment in a way that is so strong as to appeal to a range of investors who are predisposed to his ideas? This the key point here; that’s what needs to be worked out.

More on this issue latter.

– Luis

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gilles amsallem on February 16, 2007  · 

Very interesting idea ..
A virtual “Silicon Valley” type of ecosystem
I have started Emergent Network in Bangalore for planning and operation of the activities high tech ventures
The idea is to set in motion a new wave of success by founding promising venture enterprises, attracting advanced business resources. Here , we have incredible ideas , technologies and people … and many brilliant and successful Indian from US are willing to come back and start new ventures.
My objective now is to engage in a both effective and continuous activities to find, assist, and fund professionals engaged in entrepreneurial activities driven by science & technology
· I will be focusing on Internet telco and I want also focus on Life Sciences because we can’t imagine the future of billion of people without solutions for healing , feeding and cleaning the planet !!!
· Gilles

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Juan Navidad on February 17, 2007  · 


I write from Spain. I am trying to create some similar development, but with the aim to support web projects with a virtual basis, this is, creating a structure that could mix the talented people from all the world who would like to create start up companies.

If you want some more information… navidad(@)

Juan Navidad

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Pablo on July 2, 2007  · 

Definitely yes. Martin, there are some ideas/project that only successful entrepreneurs (as you are) can implement. Your vision of the business and trustiness of “what are you capable to do” can move people, and therefore money. Indeed, I dare to say that few people can start such endeavor and succeed.

Even more interesting would be a project in which you can act as an Innovator catalyst in where you not only collect money, but also manpower/creativity from whom is really interested in invest money and time. There are a lot of ideas and potential to harvest, and you could create the momentum through a common shared medium in which communities can interact and create success business.

I would be more than happy to develop better the idea.

Best Wishes.

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Ross on August 2, 2007  · 


Clearly there are many who would be interested in piggy-backing on and complementing/empowering your continuing success.

I really love the concept as Mariano mentioned earlier.
Allow the co-investors to determine the project type and amount invested from a range of projects you or your group present to the “investment club”?
Investments pooled from many who could individually invest small or large amounts. This would allow for participants having varied levels of net worth to join the fun, risk and reward.
Perhaps a “risk rating” 1-10 for each project?

Would your strategy be to invest in startups hoping to collect users and then be bought-out? or longer-term in stable profitable companies? both?

If done well it couldn’t be much more frightening than dealing with the vagaries of a stock market, for instance.

I would most likely participate at some level.

BTW: Could someone point me to a site for not-for-profit groups?


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Mr talbot on September 29, 2007  · 

would anyone like to invest in me….i would like to set up a property company rangeing from selling houses to repo`s/conversions / in fact every part of the property sector.20 yrs exp in the industry.lacking business partner …..interested.??

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Juha Karttunen on January 8, 2008  · 

Nice idea. Lets see how it could work…

Joining could be very cheap.
Simple payments e.g. via paypal could make the number of investors very large.
Investors could form a large community on a dedicated web service, discussing the business options and risks / strengths on the company. Thus, large number of investors would turn into large amount of ideas and and could support the company itself.

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hitesh on February 23, 2008  · 

i have a idea of business
whoud you like my idea so invest my business
i give you back your money with inrest
contact me fast

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