Is it the idea or the team? Answering big questions about scaling up with Capnamic Ventures


One of the things I’ve observed in my work with CEOs of some of the world’s fastest growing companies is that the difficulty of scaling often comes when moving between funding rounds – when the success of the company no longer depends on those who envisioned it into being. The real challenge then comes from allowing that vision to be executed by the rest of your team. 

This is where Rockefeller Habit Number One is crucial: getting your leadership team focused, excited and aligned. 

It may sound simple, but the execution of this habit is key. To paint a better picture of what it takes, we invited Olaf Jacobi, Managing Partner of Capnamic Ventures, to join our most recent special edition VC episode of the ScaleUp Valley podcast. 

Listen to the whole episode here or read my highlights from our conversation below.


Scaling with Capnamic Ventures

Since 1999, Jacobi has been involved in the German startup ecosystem, where he now works with a broad portfolio of B2B tech companies at Capnamic Ventures. As an early stage venture fund with a current fund of 115 million, Capnamic Ventures normally invests in series A with some seed and B rounds as the initial investment phase – but they tend to follow through to every investment round. 

The way Jacobi put it, they like to invest in technology that they understand. With a focus on enterprise software and B2B SaaS, they also look for businesses that create what they call ‘enabling technology.’ 

When I asked him how companies can best align their team during the big changes that come with receiving outside funding, in relation to Rockefeller Habit Number One, he felt it was important to address one of the most asked questions in the startup world.

Is it the team or the idea?

What makes a company successful: the team or the idea? If you had asked Jacobi 15 years ago, he would have said the idea. However, after his experiences working in this field, he’s learned that it’s without a doubt about the team. 

According to him, “A good team is agile; its flexible and able to pivot. And most importantly it’s able to attract the best talents, which is extremely important.”

From there, Jacobi went on to explain how, from a CEO perspective, there are 2 main phases in the lifecycle of a startup. The first consists of building the best technology possible, then – after receiving a Series A – comes building the best organization. Because almost every founding team, even one with 6 people, isn’t exactly complete. 

Most founders come out of school having studied how to build technology – so where’s the gap? In Jacobi’s experience it’s often in Sales. “Enterprise sales is not something you can study, you have to learn it in practice,” he said. 

If you’re interested in hearing more on his perspective on building an organization, listen to the whole episode. Then, join us for more of our conversations with leading CEOs, investors, and more by signing up to our newsletter

Finally, keep listening and keep scaling. 

Mike Dias