E-mail is copied

Reinventing Family Business & Venture Capital: Deep Dive with JánKasper and Aleksandar Brdar

50 companies, over 730 million in sales, and now, a venture capital fund. The man behind it all, Ján Kasper, serial entrepreneur and investor, joined Aleksandar Brdar, host of The Investors Club’s Investories podcast, to discuss his unique views on business, family, and venture capital.

Where did his journey start?

“I’ve always wanted to do and live better,” Ján reminisced about working every summer since he was 13. Back then, “doing better” was as simple as buying new toy cars, but according to him, the principle never changed. “My first business venture was a screen-printing workshop where me and my friends printed what you could call promotional products”, he recalled. He thinks that the idea of creating and selling something to the right customers hasn’t changed throughout the years. What changed is the tech and tools that he uses.

His quest now is to inspire his children and build a strong foundation for his family. Together with his wife Sasha and their four wonderful children, they work to create a family business to last for centuries. For Ján, this legacy is the meaning of his life, or as he says: “Love and work, therefore, family and business.” Ján’s passion for his work is what made him successful. His secret to staying motivated lies in his motto:

“Wake up in the morning and succeed again.”

How did ZAKA come to life?

Ján founded ZAKA VC with his friend and business partner Peter Zálešák. “The premise was that we were both successful entrepreneurs, with enough capital to invest in risky ventures,” he explained, adding how his daughter’s work at FutureNow introduced him to the world of venture capital. “That’s when I first heard the term startup,” Ján noted. Peter, with his extensive experience in the tech sector, was convinced immediately. They built ZAKA from scratch and started to invest in promising startups. But don’t think it was all smooth sailing. Ján said that their first steps were quite challenging. After all, this was a brand new way of doing business.

The turning point

In May of 2021, ZAKA experienced a major change when Ján met Michael Schuster, co-founder of Speedinvest – one of the most successful VC funds in Europe . Schuster invited him to his offices and shared his know-how and
insights. “I’ll never forget that day”, Ján said, thinking back to May 18th, 2021. Since that day, he’s been working tirelessly to succeed in venture capital. But what makes a VC fund successful? “Venture capital is a long game,” Ján explained. The average time to exit a business is 10 years. That’s 10 years for which you face the risk of failure.
Statistically, less than 25% of VC funds make it. However, these 25% are so profitable that they make venture capital the best-performing asset class in the world.

Ján believes that “You have to learn a culture of constructive failure.” Venture capital loses more than 50% of its bets, and only a tiny fraction of cca 5-10% has to be so successful that it will not only make up for the rest but also deliver outstanding profits. “That was difficult for me as an entrepreneur”, he acknowledged when talking about failures in his early days of venture capital.

When and where does ZAKA invest?

ZAKA is a pre-seed / seed investment fund. It usually gets a 3-5% equity stake in return for an investment of up around 300 000€. While its investments are mostly in Healthtech and Biotech companies, ZAKA isn’t restricted to any particular industry.

“We aim to win”

says Ján.

ZAKA invests with a focus on the UK, DACH, Baltics region and of course domestic markets (CZ & SK) with some overseas investments (e.g. New York, San Francisco and Miami). In pre-seed, ZAKA is aiming for returns of 50-60x. “Every year, we look at around 3500 opportunities,” Ján said about his diligent investment process, adding “We invest in just 10.” The company carefully analyzes its prospects to ensure that they meet a key criterion – the potential to achieve a valuation of 1 to 1.5 billion € in 10 years. “I think all our investments we have made after June 2023 have that potential,” he concluded.

How does a startup succeed?

Tom Perkins described a startup this way: “You see a huge risk, go for it, moderate it, and keep pouring in money.”

You have to have an exceptional product or service that everybody wants, and you need to be able to scale it, Ján explains. According to him, a founder needs a clear, yet flexible vision. He must also be charismatic, driven, humble, and most of all, obsessed with making his business successful. Ján also emphasized the importance of teamwork in building a startup. You can be a great entrepreneur, but in the end, it’s the team that wins. “What team you make is what company you make,” he said. We invite you to listen to the full podcasts to learn more about Ján business, his process of analyzing startups, and his insights on building innovative businesses, including the 7 components of success. You can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Podcast, YouTube or any other podcast platform.

..and remember like Ján emphasizes, in the end all it matters is to: “Wake up in the morning and succeed again!”

Written by Jakub Rochlitz, content creator at The Investor Club