Startup Perspectives – Commonroom Ventures

In this Startup Perspectives interview, we spoke with Daniel Conti, Managing Director of Commonroom Ventures, a consultancy focussed on helping businesses to scale through improved business performance. 

Name: Daniel Conti
Role: Managing Director
Company: Commonroom Ventures

In a sentence, tell us what Commonroom Ventures does.

We help to accelerate growth and improve performance in businesses that we have investments in, by effectively acting as their COO and/or CFO.

What’s the most common problem you solve for your clients?

We help turn client’s ideas, visions and problems into executable plans that we help manage and work with the team to deliver required targets.  These targets are typically linked to what’s required to achieve a successful follow-on funding round that we would help to lead. 

And at what stage on their journey do potential clients approach you for help?

Typical stage they approach us is between seed and Series A.  That’s the hardest period where delivery of performance in a short period of time is essential. They also need to demonstrate that the business is ready/knows what it’s doing for an injection of a large amount of capital. That’s where we can help. 

CRV is sector agnostic, but do you have a favourite sector?

No favourite sector, but instead a favourite business model being SaaS.  We like the large margins that come with this business model, which increases the chance of success (i.e. you can afford to do less to achieve just as much).    

Your business partner and yourself come from opposite sides of the same coin (buy/sell side), do you ever disagree on how to solve a problem?

Yes it occasionally happens and it forms a healthy discussion to then formulate a robust solution, a process in which we will happily include our businesses.  Our differing approaches are typically complementary rather than it causing deadlock, though.  The balance of the promotional/risk taker vs. the more conservative analytical view allows us to be comprehensive with our advice.    

Despite Brexit and Covid, the rate of new business registrations in the UK is accelerating. Are you seeing a similar rise in the number of startups looking to raise funding?

We haven’t seen much increase in startups looking for funding above the usual norm (which is already a lot).  What we have seen more of are companies being a bit more mature in their journey before reaching out though. 

At a minimum they have bootstrapped and already raised a round with family and friends (typically used up the SEIS allowance already), hence opportunities already have had an element of some product market fit testing with small amounts of revenue, rather than just the initial ‘idea phase’.

How has Covid impacted your own business in 2020, either positively or negatively?

It has made it harder for us to find companies we would like to work with, as we like to meet the founders several times when determining whether we are able to help and it’s important to us that founders like us too.  On the positive side it has allowed us more time to focus on our existing portfolio to help them grow/pivot in the current climate.  

Venture Capitalism is big business at the moment, what does the next few years look like for Capital Markets?

There is still a lot of capital available to be invested with more capital being released as there continues to be more successful exits.  As a result, the capital markets will be very busy and easily accessible for those companies with product market fit, decent revenue growth and improving margins.  In fact we are seeing companies that are able to raise a lot of capital at healthy valuations at the moment because of the fast pace that some of the venture funds need to deploy capital given the hiatus of investing caused by COVID.  

If you could offer one piece of advice to budding startup founders, what would it be?

Know when to realise when something is not working and get to that realisation as fast as possible.  It’s not failure, it’s progress.  

Favourite book or Podcast to recommend?

 Book:  Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh 

Keep an eye out for the next interview in our Startup Perspectives series over the coming weeks.