“I think that the internationalism of Berlin is something very good and unique about the city” – Managing Partner and Co-founder of Point Nine Capital, Pawel Chudzinski
Point Nine Capital Co-founder Pawel Chudzinski sat down with the Silicon Allee team and provided some insights into how he brought Point Nine to fruition and helped grow it to become one of the most active and influential early-stage investment outfits in Berlin. Offering great advice on how to navigate through the Berlin startup scene, Pawel’s main suggestion to newcomers is to try and connect with as many people as possible.
So Pawel, let’s hear Point Nine’s elevator pitch.
We are an early stage fund, internet-only, and primarily B2B. We have software marketplaces based mainly in Berlin. And we invest both in and outside of Europe.
In what year was Point Nine founded?
We first started investing in 2009, but since 2011 Point Nine has had a similar structure to what we have now.
Was it just you in the beginning or are there other founders of Point Nine?
So what inspired you to start a company like Point Nine?
I think it wasn’t a master plan, rather it happened naturally in what we were originally doing which was being involved in the startup industry, helping people start their own companies and investing into companies as business angels. Doing these things more and more, with more and more people joining us, allowed us to pull everyone together into a fund. It was like, “What do we do next? Let’s do funding!” It was also like, “What do we do? Let’s give it a structure!”
There are many VCs investing in Berlin. Tell us a bit about your competition and why you are better.
You’re right. There are many funds out there and it’s hard to say who your competitors are because different funds have a different focus. We invest mainly with business angels rather than funds, but obviously funds of a larger size, let’s say $100 Million, could be competitors, but we prefer to call it “cooperation” because we are friendly and make deals with them. Sometimes there are situations that can get competitive, but most of the time we find ways to work together.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs just starting out in Berlin?
Berlin is a great place; don’t get discouraged that it is dirty. I think it is easy to get connected with the scene and being in a hub allows large numbers of people to be connected and share ideas. Don’t spend all your time at conferences, but at the same time make sure you get to know people because there are so many people you could benefit from.
You’re based with us here on campus, so what is your favorite spot in the neighborhood?
I like Sopa Cabana. They have great soups.
Where do you see Berlin 5 years from now? 10 years?
I think it’s growing, both the startup ecosystem and the city. So in 10 years, if the pace continues, Berlin will have over 4 Million inhabitants and I think the scene will evolve into the largest hub in Europe. Berlin is already a major hub in Europe, but it will be clearer. So, I think both the city and the ecosystem will continue to develop over the next 10 years and the city will become even more international.
What one group/individual/project has been the most influential to you during your time as an entrepreneur in Berlin?
For me personally, I have worked with a lot of cool people here in Berlin. Christoph is a great partner. Also, working with Lukasz Gadowski in Team Europe was wonderful. I have learned a lot from all the different companies that we have worked closely with and it is great meeting all the amazing entrepreneurs in Berlin and all the success stories we have been involved with like Delivery Hero, Zendesk, and Fyber.
Can you name one particular moment that has been pivotal during your time in business?
I think life is a series of pivotal moments. In 2009, I was working at a bank in London and I quit my job to move to Berlin; that was a pivotal moment. Starting Team Europe and then deciding to separate Point Nine from Team Europe was also a pivotal moment.
Has Berlin’s informal nature and unique history been a positive aspect of your time in the city?
I like the informal way of doing things here. I think that the internationalism of Berlin is something very good and unique about the city. Outside of London, Berlin is the most international city in Europe. Other cities in Europe, such as Paris and Madrid, are not as international. I think that definitely helps in this type of environment.
Finally, pick your poison: coffee, tea, or Club-Mate?
All three, but in different priorities depending on the situation. Right now, it’s tea, but it used be coffee, and in the summer Club-Mate.