1:26 - The birth of a startup mafia
9:36 - The blue card in Germany
20:05 - Will there be a dot com bubble for AI?
33:48 - Financing an startup fund
46:49 - Launching a fund from a legal perspective
Adrian Locher is the co-founder and former COO at the Swiss shopping platform DeinDeal, which was bought by Ringier in 2011. Adrian stayed at DeinDeal until 2015, after which he took a 1 year sabbatical to explore internet hotspots acorss the world. In 2016 he settled in Berlin, where he co-founded the Merantix venture studio.
Adrian chose Berlin as his new home due to the presence of great schools for his kids and also because he enjoys Berlin's cosmopolitanism and diversity, not only from a lifestyle point of view, but also in times of finding talent. While he finds Zurich one of the most beautiful places to live, he thinks people there are noticeably less ambitious, as is the trend in Europe overall. In order to compete with America and China, Adrian thinks Europe should start putting aside nationalistic fervor and thinking at a continent-wide scale.
Adrian chose to build a venture studio because this allows him to both be an investor and remain involved on the operating side as well. He thoroughly enjoys the "0 to 1" phase, where ideas are iterated and validated in the market, and step by step something gets built.
Merantix is an AI-focused venture studio because Adrian and his co-founder Rasmus think AI will transform our industries as radically as the internet did decades ago. AI essentially automates and optimizes complex decision making based on a lot of experience — any process which involves this will sooner or later be revolutionized by AI. When asked if AI would ever see its own bubble burst like the internet did in the early 2000s, Adrian replied that that has already happened at a more discrete level, with industries such as autonomous driving: the initial hype turned into disillusionment when our expectations for rapid progress came crashing down.
Business ideas at Merantix go through 3 stages:
Here the team considers how the industry may be transformed and what role AI would play in that. If it looks like there's a strong shift ahead, the team starts evaluating different business models. Their ultimate goal is not to become an AI SaaS company, but a value chain integrator.
If clients show interest, the product starts getting built. Here it should be noted that Merantix only starts hiring team members once they know exactly in which direction they want to go.
Here Merantix takes a step back and starts looking for outside investors, remaining more as an active board member. However if more help is needed for things like financing rounds, team building efforts or pivoting, Merantix gets its hands dirty again.
"Think about how the internet has changed a great number of industries. That's how much AI is gonna change them, as well."
If you'd like to listen to more episodes on venture builders, check out our conversation with Nicolas Bürer.
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