SUPERCHARGING ANGELS

Trojan by āltitude

// One fund’s rejection is another fund’s triumph.

Marc Penkala
5 min readDec 8, 2022
Trojan by āltitude — for investment professionals.

// The story of the Trojan Horse

The story of the Trojan Horse is well-known. First mentioned in the Odyssey, it describes how Greek soldiers were able to take the city of Troy after a fruitless ten-year siege by hiding in a giant wooden horse supposedly left as an offering to the goddess Athena.

Often the term has come to be used for trickery by inviting someone into a situation of trust and taking advantage, for instance Trojan malware. For us, the use of the metaphor is by no means to be taken negatively, we aim to turn one fund’s rejection into our potential triumph.

We understand the irony, but let us focus on the city of Troy. For us, Troy metaphorically represents a great deal. As the early-stage venture capital market becomes saturated with funds investing earlier at the (pre-) Seed and Series A building relationships earlier becomes more important, which is a constant battle in Venture Capital.

“From the very first days at āltitude we have been thinking about how we can create better access, earlier.“

Following on from our successful launch of Open Angel last month (you can find out more here) we’d like to introduce you to Trojan, something we created for venture capital investment professionals.

// The dealflow dropout funnel

Let’s start with a regular venture capital dealflow funnel. Typically, when a deal comes into a venture capital firm it will run through a process with different decision gates, hence there are many points in an internal venture capital process where deals are lost.

This journey is illustrated in a simplified chart below.

Dealflow decision gates.

So, if a venture capital firm looks at 100 potential deals, they will likely only do one investment (or less). Most deals actually dropout fairly early in the funnel, within the initial screening and the first internal dealflow meetings, roughly 90%.

“The remaining 10% of the deals are great, but for so many reasons the vast majority drops out of the funnel at some point.“

// Building conviction and pattern recognition

Venture capitalists talk about this a lot, especially in early stage it is all about building conviction — which can be done in multiple ways. Every firm has their own strategy and dealflow funnel.

“At āltitude we believe two things are true.”

I. A fund’s performance is as good as it’s anti portfolio i.e. the deals that we built some conviction around but eventually didn’t do. Every great fund has an equally prolific list of deals they rejected. What’s important is that they saw them. Bessemer famously announced their anti-portfolio here. Although it was suggested by some that this was mere marketing we have our own personal examples of deals we didn’t do, but should have done.

II. Multitude of legitimate reasons to reject a deal. As GPs we have been involved in over 500 transactions both as angels and VCs. We’ve also worked our way up in firms being non- partner level and trying to convince our partners. We’ve sat on investment committees and sometimes not come to a consensus with our peers. There are many legitimate reasons for deals to be rejected: pattern recognition suggests we reject, off-thesis, too late, too early, end of fund cycle with no dry powder left, or no bandwidth in the team due to a focus on the current portfolio or too many deals happening at once.

VCs are very creative, when it comes to explaining why they reject a deal:

VCs mastered saying “No”.

// This led us to create Trojan

Just think about it, if a VC looks at 100 deals and ten happen to be great opportunities and they execute only one — what actually happens to the nine great deals, which just don’t fit to the respective VC? Well, this is what Trojan is all about — we want to see these deals.

If you work in a European VC at any level (even as a Partner) and your deal didn’t get through the investment committee, then send it to us. We’ll give your deal a second chance, because:

“One fund’s rejection is another fund’s triumph.”

If we do the deal, we’ll reward you for bringing it to us with a five figure finders fee. This is a closed network. Confidentiality is very important to us, if you want to be involved then let us know.

It could not be more simple.

// Who qualifies for Trojan?

Investment professionals that work for a venture capital or investment firms. From Analyst to Partner level.

We look for investment professionals that have at least one year of professional venture capital experience.

// What kind of deals are we looking for ?

We look for deals that investment professionals have built conviction around and feel very passionately about.

Deals that have already been rejected or not gone through the Investment Committee. The ones, which are off thesis or simply don’t fit certain investment criteria of your firm.

We prefer early-stage deals from Europe and the UK.

As we love B2B this would be our preference. But if there is a consumer deal that makes sense, send it through.

Software first over hardware deals as it’s our home turf and where we can add most value.

// How do investment professionals join Trojan?

It is an invite only network for investment professionals at any other fund or investment firm.

Please reach out to us via DM on LinkedIn (Marc & Videesha & Ingo) or email: hello@altitude-vc.com

We prefer to work with nice people and ones whose values are in line with ours.

// What happens after you send a deal to us?

We will give your deal a fresh pair of eyes and look at it closely.

In case we find the deal interesting, we would be pleased to see a summary of your conclusions, talk through why you like it and get an intro to the founder.

Timewise, we will go with the flow and adjust to closing deadlines — we will be mindful of your and the founder’s time.

If we complete the deal there will be meaningful compensation for you as we appreciate your effort and engagement.

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Marc Penkala

Venture Capitalist @ āltitude | creating better access, earlier.