Exploring DanBAN’s Success during the Pandemic with Jesper Jarlbaek

EBAN sat down with Jesper Jarlbaek, EBAN Treasurer and Chairman of DanBAN, to learn more about the networks incredible success despite the last years collective struggle. 

 In many parts of the world angel activity dropped last year. How did DANBAN members increased their investment activity last year? 

JJ: When Denmark was placed in lock-down on March 11, 2020, DanBAN immediately switched 100 % of member services to on-line delivery. So for example, instead of once monthly pitch events in three Danish cities, we did national pitch events. To adapt to the new circumstances, we switched to weekly pitch events, but with only 3-5 start-ups. (versus the typically 10 at physical pitch events. And all through 2020 as the public health guidelines were being constantly updated, we utilized every opportunity within those guidelines to gather our members whenever possible. And when Xmas time came and we could not hold our traditional Xmas party, we sent party rations to members acting as hosts groups of 10 members across Denmark, and we then linked to all of them in turn. Just like the Eurovision Song Contest. These are just some of the examples of the amazing creativity and dedication  of our DanBAN staff.

Did any digital solutions help accelerate the syndication process?

JJ:  We invest a lot of resources in ensuring the best deal-flow in Denmark. We have been using a digital solution to support this work for several years. During that time, we have continually pushed for increased functionality. Thus, for example, every one of our 50 + events last year were published and managed on the same tool. We are also continually expanding the on-line resources (templates, etc.) available in the same tool. So even before CoVID -19 we were well used to supporting our network digitally. What CoVID-19 did was too actually promote digital member engagement, ie now members had to use the tools.

Notwithstanding the above, there are many more processes where we could benefit from further digitalization.

What are the lessons learned during the pandemic period?

JJ: As with many other aspects of society, CoVID-19 brought us a mixture of great opportunities on the one hand and severe limitations on the other hand. Our going in attitude was to identify and implement the opportunities. In many regards we succeeded in this.

The main challenge encountered is that building a Business angel network is all about building trust amongst our members. I think no-one will deny that that task is extremely hard when you are not meeting physically.

Once all restrictions are lifted, we will not return to pre- Covid habits. We will re-instate many on site member activities, but we will also consider which offerings can continue to  be effectively delivered digitally.