1:39 - The freedom of entrepreneurship
11:25 - Getting access to deals in the 00s
17:15 - Borrowing money to invest in startups
34:12 - Team and timing
43:43 - The Swiss tendency to miss out
Philippe Bubb and Martin Altorfer are the co-founders of session.vc, a fund investing in early stage companies in the software and consumer space. Philippe has an MBA in Business Administration and Finance from HSG and previously worked as a financial analyst. He also co-founded several companies, namely the wealth management boutique IFS, BCAP AG and Focus Capital. Martin is a serial entrepreneur, with companies like Celeris AG, replica GmbH, BCAP AG and Active-Net under his belt.
Philippe and Martin have been angel investors for over two decades. Back in the 00s, there was hardly a structured approach to finding and securing deals: you just had to keep your eyes open, speak with lots of people, and take opportunities as they came. In the case of the ON founders, whom they invested in, there existed already a previous friendship. As for the money they invested, Martin made use of the money he made when selling his first company Active-Net at 29, whereas Philippe took out a loan from his parents (this is a setup he definitely does not recommend).
Philippe and Martin pride themselves on being active investors, but they also make a point of showing that an active investor does not equal a founder. In the past, they made the mistake of accruing too much responsibility on the operational side, which shielded the actual founders from the true hardship of entrepreneurship. Nowadays Martin and Philippe make an effort to preserve some distance.
In 2019 they founded Session VC. Their fund focuses on the software and consumer space because these are the industries that Martin and Philippe understand best, and it focuses on early stage companies because this is the phase they find most fascinating and in which they believe they can contribute the most. Together they’ve also created Session Lab, where they discuss interesting topics and later either find a founder who will pick that project up or a founder who is already doing something similar, whom they can invest in.
When investing, Martin and Philippe look for a good team and the right timing. They don’t think the idea is crucial — just look at ON, a running shoe company. They consider it a red flag if the founders have day jobs or if their cap tables look a mess (50 angels, 7 convertibles, etc…).
"If I have to read the manual, it's a bad product." (Martin Altorfer)
If you would like to listen to more episodes about angel investment, check out our conversation with Adrienne Perramond.
Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!