Claude is co-founder and Managing Partner at early-stage fund Cavalry Ventures. Before Cavalry, he co-founded Tiger Facility Services (sold in 2020), Lieferheld/ DeliveryHero (IPO in 2017), and built & managed companies in China and CH.
On the best lesson taught to him.
I was raised with the idea that it's up to you what to make of things. When my father asked if I wanted to be an entrepreneur like him and take over his activity, I said no. He never pushed me. He was a sports good wholesaler and the business was very seasonal. When the inventory wasn't moving, I could see the pressure: so much money stuck. That made me decide I didn't want to deal with physical products.
On keeping balance.
This is something I struggle with: I would straight-up work 18h a day if I could. If I am not mindful, it can be difficult for those around me. At Delivery Hero, a close coworker wrote a user manual on how to deal with me. That worked out pretty well. Over time, I learned to do better and be easier to work with.
On his setup for a structured day.
My hack is organizing the calendar to include all To-Dos, including sport, family, and chores. Execution times of To-Dos need to be factored in: separating them from the calendar does not compute for me. I find it easier to manage my calendar personally and have others book me directly. Currently on Google Calendar, likely adding-back Calendly soon.
On maintaining focus.
Calendar days have visual limits: I use them as lists to prioritize my goals. I get more done in sequence, not multitasking. To not get distracted, I am always listening to music. I have multiple pairs of headphones and change them when my ears get tired.
On anxiety and pressure.
As a VC, I don't face the kind of existential pressure I had as a founder. Plenty of moments where I felt it was too much: The Delivery Hero judicial trials, or walking a fine line between success and bankruptcy at Book a Tiger. Not to be completely overwhelmed, I try to disassemble impassable problems in smaller actions I can handle. Think in terms of the next steps and get back to work. You need to be aware of what's happening but remove yourself from what is beyond control. Take days to disconnect and reset, even if it is just to play the Xbox.
On learning from things falling apart.
At Book a Tiger we had many nights where you and your co-founders are at the office until 2 AM. You sit in front of your model on the big screen and think you exhausted all avenues. That you'll have to file for insolvency the day after. The big learning: there is always one last move you can make. It just might be crazy and not obvious. I was a new CEO in Shanghai when we were hit with a giant fine we couldn't pay. The more we discussed the issue openly with our employees and the authorities, the more creative ways we found.
On missing product opportunities.
At Delivery Hero, we had a project called FoodTaxi. We really wanted to bring good restaurants online. The idea was to have taxi drivers do the delivery. We set up a pilot in a few cities and couldn't make it work: both customers and taxi drivers hated it. We spent so much time thinking about how we could improve it. Eventually, we gave up: not possible. Then Foodora and Deliveroo came around. This was mind-blowing: we were so obsessed with making our taxi process work that hadn't considered doing the delivery part ourselves. In hindsight, it's obvious.
On the Founder-VC transition.
I'm a full-time VC now, after 20 years as an operator. I don't feel a huge change in my decision-making. The perspective changes, but especially in early-stage, the ability to make decisions based on incomplete information, is still key. For some VCs, pressure derives from the fear of missing out. I find the current remote work circumstances amplify this but it's the wrong way to go at it. Investors need to build their confidence instead of just following others. Being a VC is a fantastic role to be curious, learn, and get a glimpse of the future every single day.
On getting-up and winding down before bed.
I play with my daughter in the morning. In the evening, I listen to audiobooks, but never on business topics.
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