November 9, 2023
In this blog post, our most recent Visiting Analyst Jacob summarizes his internship at Calm/Storm. On VC Investing he recaps:
“The underlying process from sourcing to closing is a pre-defined step-by-step process. The factors and criteria one looks for when assessing a company are also always very similar. The final decision you make is very simple: do I invest — yes or no. Still, each deal is very different, and you can never apply the same scheme as the last one you looked at — you have to stay alert and keep an open mindset. This is quite like competitive sailing. Each race follows the same basic principles — you race on the same course, against the same people, and the same rules apply. However, you can never use the same strategy in two different races — a winning strategy in one race will most likely be a losing strategy in the next one. You always have to be on your toes, be active, and stay open-minded to adapt to your environment. Despite my extensive sailing experience, this is something I had to become aware of in the beginning, but it helped me very soon in talking to founders.”
I am Jacob, born and raised in Austria, and am currently in my final semester of my Bachelor’s in Business Administration at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Prior to joining Calm/Storm as a Visiting Analyst in January 2023, I spent one semester at Harvard University to complement my studies with courses focused on economics. I also took one great course on VC, which was one aspect that led me to dive deeper into this sector and apply for an internship at Calm/Storm.
Prior to Calm/Storm, I gained some work experience in consulting but have not worked at a VC or startup — besides one project with a student-run consultancy, supporting a Swiss well-being startup for one semester. What motivated me to seek an internship in VC were two things. On the one hand, VC offers the opportunity to work at the forefront of innovation and engage with inspiring people that aim to solve pressing problems. On the other hand, one has the opportunity to deep dive into different companies and industry verticals, providing the possibility to have an impact at scale rather than focusing on one specific solution when working at a venture.
I specifically was attracted to Calm/Storm for the following reasons. First of all, I was impressed by its track record and fast growth, emerging as the most active early-stage health tech investor in Europe. Even more so being at the forefront of healthcare, which saw a lot of change in the past few years and still holds a lot of room for innovation; I am now even more convinced of that. Secondly — this goes hand in hand with the first point — I was excited about joining the rather small team of diverse and inspiring people at Calm/Storm, hoping to gain a holistic insight into VC and make meaningful connections. Moreover, the team’s connection to sailing was another factor that stood out to me, being a passionate sailor myself.
As I am now reflecting on my internship, I am confident that it was the perfect fit for me and the ideal internship to break into VC. I am happy to share my experience with anyone interested below.
Starting my internship at the beginning of 2023 I was looking forward to joining a vibrant and dynamic working environment and a motivated team I could learn from, while I also was nervous to deep dive into digital health without any prior experience in healthcare. At the same time, I was excited to learn about the industry and take on the challenge.
I can say — potentially giving away my final conclusion — that all my expectations were far exceeded thanks to my amazing colleagues, who guided and supported me with any questions that came up.
Entering the office in central Vienna on my first day, I was warmly welcomed and introduced to the whole team over a coffee and some skiing vacation stories (it was the first day after Christmas / new year’s holidays). Everybody was highly engaged in integrating me into the team from the first minute: Nermin, Carina, and Veronika ran me through all the essential internal organization, tools, and working structures. Lucanus, Johannes, and Carina ensured that I got up to speed with deal flow and investment activities and gave me 1-on-1 learning sessions on everything from Calm/Storm’s investment thesis and how to lead founder’s calls, to captables and term sheets. They took me to every meeting and introduced me to the deal flow process from start to finish. They provided me with learning materials, internal resources, and relevant newsletters to facilitate a fast integration into the team.
After an intensive but short training period, I was entrusted with a high degree of independence and responsibility at a very early stage — meaning that I had the freedom but was also expected to run my own deals and talk to founders. It was jumping in at the deep end in some ways, but I was always offered help and guidance when I asked for it. In the end, it certainly boosted my learning journey from the very beginning.
As a visiting analyst in the investment team, my tasks were split up into two key areas: deal flow and everything around investment management, as well as fundraising. Obviously, there were other tasks that I would summarize as “miscellaneous”.
Dealflow and DD
The area I arguably spent the most time on was supporting the team in their investment process, from screening to dealmaking and investment management.
Finding and participating in the best deals is the “bread and butter” in VC, which is why it makes perfect sense that this should be the top priority for the investment team of a fund.
As outlined above, what is special about an internship at Calm/Storm is that you are treated as a proper team member and are being trusted with full independence and responsibility for deals — rather than “supporting” the team and only doing market analysis.
With that being said, it was my responsibility to screen and assess the incoming deals and identify promising startups. Calm/Storm has many inbound channels for deal flow: cold inbound via the website’s application form, where the most numbers of deals come in, and warm introduction via Calm/Storm’s Supporting Partners, events and pitching competitions we attend, but also cold outreaches to promising founders on LinkedIn, etc. A key component of the fund is a network of entrepreneurs, business angels, and industry experts that invest and support the fund and portfolio companies. Moreover, given our specialization in health tech and positioning in the VC landscape, Calm/Storm is sometimes invited by the bigger funds leading the round to participate as a smaller complement — another attractive channel to access exclusive deals.
Once the initial screening of the company and market is done and it turns out to be promising, I spent a few hours a week on Zoom calls to meet founders. In 30 min meetings, we discussed things like team, product, market and competition, go-to-market, and funding needs to get a better feeling of the company and its environment.
Within the investment team, we met twice a week together with Lucanus to cover everything regarding deal flow. First and foremost, the meetings were used to discuss potential deals we were looking at. Everybody had to give a short pitch followed by detailed questions of the team — this process helped to identify pain points and form a clearer picture of whether to continue discussions with a startup. What seemed very challenging at first evolved into more of a routine with each session and really helped me sharpen my skills in evaluating a startup and communicating the most important aspects of a business. Moreover, these meetings covered updates from startups that are in the closing process or portfolio companies that are raising follow-on rounds.
Other tasks included more detailed DDs on the market, competition, and company-specific issues for startups that “passed” the internal meetings. I also helped with drafting and assessing term sheets and prepared calculations for potential follow-on rounds with existing portfolio companies.
Since the investment period of the first fund was coming to an end, Calm/Storm raised not one but two additional funds during my internship in Q1 2023 — one focusing on early-stage digital health companies, and one investing in Austrian founders (not necessarily companies), early-stage but industry-agnostic.
My main job was to create slides and set up Calm/Storm’s pitch deck. This may sound like boring, hour-long PowerPoint presentations, but in reality, it was much more than that. In the process, I was able to help shape the strategy and learned how to approach and sell to investors in a professional manner. I also researched and analyzed Calm/Storm’s fund strategy, sourced potential investors, and learned a lot about the VC, business angel, and startup ecosystem in European digital healthcare.
While I obviously was not involved in the actual investor acquisition and pitching, I always stayed up-to-date and engaged in the process through continuous briefings on investor meetings and other activities by Lucanus, Johannes, and Carina. During my internship, we had a successful pre-closing.
Besides that, I helped the team wherever required. This included writing memos to communicate deals to our investors and partners who are offered an exclusive co-investment opportunity for the funds’ deals, preparing the occasional LinkedIn post, structuring and developing a new application form for our website, helping organize internal events, as well as buying coffee beans, assembling an office chair and sending out Christmas cards — rest assured you won’t be bored during your time at Calm/Storm.
A highlight I would like to mention on that note was attending Start Summit in St. Gallen together with Lucanus and Johannes –returning “home” after several months, since I had spent the semester prior to my internship at Harvard — to meet and connect with great people, promising founders, and investors.
Overall, my experience at Calm/Storm Ventures was highly interesting and insightful, which is why I can only more than recommend anyone interested in VC and digital health to apply for an internship. I am confident that you rarely find a similar experience where you are entrusted with so much responsibility so early in your career at many other funds. Here are my personal highlights from the past three months.
First and foremost, I want to highlight the great team at Calm/Storm that made my internship unique. Not only was I warmly welcomed and perfectly integrated into the team from day one, but they also made sure to support me whenever needed. From coffee breaks, lunches, team runs, and long-hour train rides, to occasional after-work drinks, I made great connections and memories with everyone that transcended the work context and enriched my experience at Calm/Storm.
Secondly — and this might be a bit repetitive — I am convinced that the freedom and responsibility I was given during my internship provided me with unparalleled insights into the venture capital world and facilitate learnings that go beyond hard “VC” skills and knowledge. Thank you for your trust — highly appreciated!
Thirdly, healthcare is cool. I never wanted to become a doctor and work in a clinic or hospital. However, one could argue that healthcare is one of the most crucial industries to humanity — everyone needs it. The past years have made it clear that healthcare has great potential for improvement and innovation — this also was reflected in the appetite of VCs for healthcare. While I never wanted to be a doctor, it is great to invest in this space since you can drive innovation that provides meaningful benefits and impacts everyone.
Lastly, I got to connect with amazing people outside of the Calm/Storm team. Meeting with founders was arguably the best thing about my internship. Not only did I get to know ambitious, smart, and driven personalities eager to shape the future of healthcare, but it provided the best opportunity to learn about the market, trends, etc.
Obviously, there were also some challenges I had to deal with and overcome. As mentioned before, VC is a very dynamic environment that brings many advantages but also some challenges especially for interns who might not have extensive professional experience.
Generally speaking, VC investments follow a clear structure. The underlying process from sourcing to closing is a pre-defined step-by-step process. The factors and criteria one looks for when assessing a company are also always very similar. The final decision you make is very “simple”: do I invest — yes or no. Still, each deal is different, and you can never apply the same scheme as the last one you looked at — you have to stay alert and keep an open mindset. This is quite like competitive sailing. Each race follows the same basic principles — you race on the same course, against the same people, and the same rules apply. However, you can never use the same strategy in two different races — a winning strategy in one race will most likely be a losing strategy in the next one. You always have to be on your toes, be active, and stay open-minded to adapt to your environment. Despite my extensive sailing experience, this is something I had to become aware of in the beginning, but it helped me very soon in talking to founders.
Finally, I would like to provide you with my key takeaways to summarize my experience and give potential advice to readers who think about applying for an internship at Calm/Storm Ventures.
Advice for future interns
Former Investment Associate