SuperReturn & SuperVenture 2023 — my top 5 ponderings

AccelNorth Partners
3 min readJun 9, 2023

Tarang Kumar. 9 June 2023. On behalf of AccelNorth Partners.

I spent this week attending SuperReturn (which I’ve attended multiple times before) and SuperVenture (my first time) in Berlin — two pre-eminent GP/LP conferences in Europe. These are my top 5 ponderings from the week…

1) US pension funds are still mostly on pause as it comes to investing beyond selected re-ups. Why have so many GPs been too shy to supplement that capital with Middle Eastern and Asian capital, and with more family offices? On the regional bit — I wonder if its cultural comfort zones, not knowing where to begin or burying the head in sand and hoping for the best? On family offices, despite notably increasing demand for private markets, I suspect that the landscape is so disparate that most GPs don’t know quite how to break into that LP base in a systematic way?

2) The bar to start a pre-seed/seed venture fund is incredibly low. Anyone who can raise $10m from a few mates is a ‘VC investor’. While this has led to much-needed competition, it has also led to a large number of bad VCs, investing with whom has/will put off newer LPs from investing in the private markets asset class for a long time. Newer LPs should start with setting their programs up professionally from the outset, internally agreeing strategic goals and asset allocation, and sourcing, diligencing and selecting the most relevant funds and companies which meet their needs, rather than on a ‘who we know in the space’ or brand name basis.

3) A large number of GPs still believe in fundraising as “if you build, they shall come”. The same GPs, who, when advising portfolio companies, coach them on not just building great product, but also focusing on marketing, sales, and understanding and responding to client needs, seem to, on the whole, be fairly bad at learning those lessons themselves at the GP/fund level. That leaves a lot of them in a tough spot at times like this when LP capital is scarcer. Focus on thoughtfully building your GP, on clear and differentiated marketing, on approaching the most relevant LP set, focus on client care, and don’t rely on “we’ll meet 10 LPs and hopefully 1 will say yes” — that’s a terrible client conversion rate for any business.

4) Why is the industry composition still so homogeneous? When is that changing (adding more gender, racial and social diversity)? That does not mean don’t hire fortunate men from distinguished backgrounds, but also hire other folks. Many great business builders come from backgrounds where they have had to hustle or face high adversity early in life. AQ is important. Also, when can we ditch full suits in PE conferences, and why do people still own ties….

5) Carlyle’s Co-Chairman David Rubenstein’s keynote speech/interview is historically probably the best attended session at SuperReturn. Another of his sessions this time, I hear (I was busy taking one-on-one meetings), led to record attendance. The main room was full. The overflow room was full. There was a queue outside to get in. That was his panel with the co-founders of a Carlyle spin-off, Jay Sammons and a certain Ms. Kim Kardashian. I can’t comment on the strength of the relative contents of the keynote vs the Kim session, since I wasn’t in the room. But does the relative strengths of attendance suggest that strong marketing is at least as relevant as content/product, if not more? I’m yet to watch the movie Air.

Reach out in the usual ways…


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