published 6 Feb 2015 in Estonia 3 minutes 11 seconds to read

Aleksander Tõnnisson

Estonian accelerator Buildit aims to boost hardware success in the region and beyond. CEO and founder Aleksander Tõnnisson told us about the details of the support programme and about passion of profession of the startup life.

About me. 

I earned my first money with...
Funny enough, by sweeping floors at the age of 12 at the very same building where I now have my offices.

If I wouldn't be an investor I would be...
a serial entrepreneur. I have a restless nature and I like to try out new things. That combined with getting new ideas every single day, which could change the world, means that I probably wouldn't be happy growing one company at the time. As an hands on investor this is true already today.

I get annoyed when...
When people make decision based on wrong assumptions and without double checking the facts.

You might not believe it, but we...
Have attracted startups applying for the investment from 40 different countries in less than six months after launching.

My favourite movie is...
Probably the Butterfly Effect, since I believe that for every action there is an opposite reaction and the smallest changes today can have significant impact in the long run.

About passion and profession. 

My investment fund is focused on startups in...
We invest into hardware startups. This of course can mean everything, but for us it is important that hardware acts as an enabler concerning the business model and that there is more to the idea than just earning profits by selling your product.

I wouldn’t like to work anywhere else because...
Working with companies in the pre-seed phase you get to be literally part of their development and business and you feel much more as co-founder than as investor.

The investment plan for the next years is...
Our plan is to run two batches annually and invest into up-to eight companies per cohort.

Our business relationship with startups is characterised by...
Keeping our doors always open. We try to put the needs of our startups before ours. E.g. I have a special folder in my inbox on top of the folder tree, where the emails from our startup companies automatically go. That is the folder which is always the first one I attend to.

Besides money I offer...
We perceive our investment as enabler for startups to concentrate on building their business. Our main value proposition is the 100 mentor network.

About working with startups.

In a startup I am looking for...
We think that there has to be match on all levels. Working with startups at this early stage we have to consider that a good idea isn't enough. The investor and founders also have to click on the personal level - so I guess that we are looking for people similar to us, i.e. who are very passionate about what they do.

Characteristics a founder team should have are...
I think worth mentioning is that the team has to be coachable. Our main value proposition is know-how, which the mentors provide. We're not looking for unexperienced teams, but founders who can be self-critical - there's nothing worse than out of control startups on the collision course.

I was most impressed by...
Probably a bit out of context - but the first thing that pops into my mind is my wife. After going through a very difficult 36 hours labor, with her first child, she wasn't afraid getting pregnant again. Thanks to her, now we have two very beautiful daughters.

I was least impressed by...
A team, who didn't perform and thought that companies are built for the investors. Thier approach was wrong in so many levels, that there's not enough room here to elaborate on that. They even ended up threatening us with the lawsuit after we said that we're not supporting them anymore.

You get most out of relationship with me when...
Your mantra is leading by example. I tend to put off people who say one thing and do the opposite.

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