Interview with Andreas Pennervall
Andreas Pennervall, Investment Director at Fairpoint Capital
Tell us a bit about Fairpoint Capital
Fairpoint Capital is an investment fund that focuses on business-to-business technology companies. We have our origins in SEB Venture Capital which gives us almost two decades of experience from investing in technology companies.
Our focus is to invest in unique technology and business models that are scalable and offer sustainable competitive advantages. The products preferably address global markets and have a strong growth potential.
We join as minority investors in the earlier stages and then work actively to grow the business into a medium-sized company in a few years’ time. We are a small but growing team, going from 4 to 6 team members this year.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role?
I work as Investment Director and I’m currently also the CFO of the company. I started as a trainee at SEB in year 2000 and then worked as Client Executive until 2006. After that I joined SEB Venture Capital and have worked as an Investment Director ever since.
What I enjoy most working at Fairpoint Capital is that no day is like the other. Each investment involves new challenges and opportunities. Being a minority investor and actively driving the investment through our board position is challenging, yet at the same time very satisfying.
What type of companies does Fairpoint Capital invest in?
We have chosen to focus on the Nordic region and Sweden in particular. Part from that we have no geographical restrictions, but right now there are enough exciting technology companies here in Sweden. Our country has a tradition of coming up with new innovative technology and this is a tradition that we want to help maintain by building new sustainable technology companies.
What attracted you to invest in iotcomms.io?
We follow current technology trends such as AI, robotics, cyber security, telecom, IoT to name a few. When it comes to iotcomms.io, we believe that the platform delivers essential technology for companies that are struggling with digital transformation challenges.
There are a huge number of companies stuck with legacy systems that need to be modernized, partly driven by the shutdown of the analogue telephone network. Business-critical applications in particular are often built in an analogue manner. In Sweden, we have started to close down, and several European markets are following.
iotcomms.io’s platform is scalable, reliable and secure, and delivers building blocks that can help companies to quickly develop new services in a modern way. iotcomms.io is suitable for business-critical systems, but also for any IoT-solution where devices, services and humans communicate.
I definitely believe that there is a clear need in the market for these kind of building blocks that you can buy on a subscription basis. It’s efficient, cost-effective and speed up time to market of new products and services.
How do you work with the companies you invest in?
We are active owners, for example we always join the board, and we work hard to maintain a good dialogue with other stakeholders.
We often say that we don’t invest in companies, we invest in the people behind. If the relationship with the founding team does not work, it will not be a successful investment. You should never underestimate a good cooperation; it is vital to have consensus on important decisions in order to drive a company in the right direction.
What is unique about iotcomms.io?
This is a new vertical when it comes to Communication Platforms. Previously, similar platforms have built their solutions horizontally, with a “one size fits all” approach. iotcomms.io has domain-specific expertise in the field of communications and alarm protocols. And the uniqueness of iotcomms.io is that you can communicate with old legacy protocols, but at the same time build your solution in a modern cloud environment.
We don’t see any competitors that are on the same track yet, but others might follow. On the other hand, we have a team here with solid experience in business-critical systems and telecommunications, so I am confident that iotcomms.io is a few years ahead.
What is the next important step for iotcomms.io?
The next important step is to scale the team. A growing company means more customers, more administration, more technical support and also development of new domain functionality in order to move into new sectors and markets. So, finding the right people and growing the team will be key.
There will also be an increased focus on building awareness around the company and the products. It does not matter if you have a great product if no one knows about it. Cutting through the noise with marketing is a huge challenge today, but we have good reasons to believe that iotcomms.io will succeed. We have to focus on finding the right target groups, channels, communities and networks, so that we can get a return on the founder’s solid competence and knowledge in this field.
It is also important to scale sales in a good way. When you, as a small company, have come up with a good technology solution it is quite common to pick low-hanging fruit. For this, we see automated sales and onboarding as an important step going forward.
I am excited to take the next step together with the iotcomms.io team, Telia Ventures and Red Dawn Ventures. It felt good from the very first meeting and I look forward to our journey ahead!