Marloes van Leersum: Your Are Nowhere Without Smarter People Than You Who Push You, Help and Make It Better

Marloes van Leersum

Marloes van Leersum of Fundsup.

Tell us about yourself.

On a ski trip with friends ages ago, the question going around the table was: what would you do as a job if you won the New Year’s lottery this year? Which is 30 million euros. My answer was to invest in starting entrepreneurs.

After 7 years in telecommunications marketing (brands comparable to BT and Virgin) and the same amount of time as a freelancer, I gained experience in the marketing of membership-based business models.

Currently, I am combining all elements, memberships, marketing, and early-stage financing, in my role as Chief Community Officer at Fundsup.

A platform matching early-stage tech startups looking for external financing somewhere between 200k and 2mio EUR and informal investors.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

That it is mostly fun, a startup is hard work and takes loads of perseverance and luck.

You constantly need to find a balance between being tenacious in your ideas and being able to pivot your thinking. It is an enormous personal growth engine.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

Take more time to think. Schedule it in even.

There is always a load to do. However, 20% of your efforts will create 80% of your gains. So, going at it by being smart and thinking things through will be important for your energy, creativity, and success overall.

And stay calm when you watch competitors. Everyone is on their own growth path.

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What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

The team You are nowhere without smarter people than you who push you, help, and make it better. A team stands out, in my opinion.

A startup will work if luck in timing is combined with a rare combination of people who have chemistry.

And there is just so much you can influence to achieve that. I don’t believe it’s all about the individual entrepreneur. You are only as strong as your weakest team member.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Schedule time for deep work. I love to have meeting-free mornings to get work done so that I have the afternoons to talk to people.

Monday mornings are for team meetings still. I am still lobbying to shift that to the afternoon.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Fundsup was founded in order to open up a fairly new and closed community in Europe: that of informal investors.

By opening up an old boys’ network, we aim to accelerate innovation. It was founded with the idea that the VC industry is maturing here, but that early stage is still lacking.

Where do you see your business in five years?

In five years, we have built a startup index in Europe.

We are active in all European countries and are a central actor within the early-stage financing ecosystem.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

There are always loads of challenges.

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For our investment class, since it is high risk and dependent on the personal economic success of investors, the largest risk is risk-avoidant investment behavior due to uncertain economic outlooks.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far.

Every investment made in a team working on an innovation that benefits society is a big success. Since we have been primarily involved in matchmaking and not in the investment itself, we don’t hear about every success story.

When we do, we feature it on our website: https://fundsup.co/category/success-stories/.

Success in the long term means that the companies that scale due to our platform produce new entrepreneurs, re-investing in new startups.

Not only with their capital but with their knowledge and network as well. The world needs smart people working on smart innovations.

And there is unsurpassable strength in numbers. If we get more successful former operators in specific industries to work directly with new founders, we are gaining so much.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

People find us mostly through word of mouth in their own network. Posts and ads on LinkedIn or mentions in the news help as well. On rare occasions, we advertise in the local Financial Times of a country.

The product and value proposition account for much of the sales effort on their own. A community associate screens all incoming leads. We do that with founders, investors, and partners such as INSEAD; YES! Delft, and EPFL.

I personally feel I could grow my own sales capabilities since I have little experience in it. I do believe I am a sound storyteller. That is sales as well, in my opinion. And luckily, we have a good story to tell.

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What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

Be curious about everything. Processes, customer needs, team members, Curiosity, and listening well are superpowers in your entrepreneurial journey.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally and your business?

Personally, I hope that I can play a small but significant part in the early-stage investing community.

Business-wise, I hope we can be a true offline and online clubhouse for the brave patrons of entrepreneurship in Europe.

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