Latest from Sifted – Meet the Gen Z VCs at Europe’s most active investors

Meet the Gen Z VCs at Europe’s most active investors
2023-05-16
These investors aged 26 and under give their top tips for breaking into VC

Meet the Gen Z VCs at Europe’s most active investors

There’s ostensibly never been a better time to “break into VC” for Gen Z — loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010. Funds are hiring more junior talent than ever to help them scout for deals and complete due diligence while the investment market is quiet. 

To highlight some of the Gen Z talent who have entered the VC industry, Sifted’s put together a list of eight investors working at five of Europe’s most active early-stage funds. The funds were selected based on the number of deals closed between January and November 2022 and were featured in Sifted Intelligence’s 2022 tech review report.

Olamide Ogunrinola, B2B SaaS investor at Octopus Ventures

What sectors are you interested in?

 I’m sector agnostic but I have a soft spot for software focused on:: 

  • Blockchain
  • Data and cybersecurity
  • Climate
  • Artificial intelligence
  • HR tech
  • Edtech
  • Workflow management

Which deals have you worked on so far?

  • The €8.7m seed round for Apheris, a platform allowing enterprises to collaborate on data securely 
  • The €3.6m seed round of cybersecurity startup SecFix

Tips for landing your first job in VC?

  • Build an authentic network and be vocal about your aspirations. We’re all six degrees of separation from anybody. You don’t know who knows the right person, or who will share the right opportunity with you.
  • Have a strong why, not just to stand out in interviews or to handle the many ‘no’s, but to build your own distinct lens for how you review opportunities.
  • Immerse yourself in the ecosystem and be a sponge. Create an email address and social profiles just for news from the VC ecosystem. You’ll gather so much accidental knowledge if you have a dedicated space to receive information.

Brandon Mhangami, fintech investor at Octopus Ventures

What sectors are you interested in? 

I’m interested in all areas of fintech including capital markets, payments and insurtech. Also a big focus on financial inclusion.

Which deals you’ve worked on so far:

The $38m Series B round of Flock, which uses real-time data to insure car fleets.

Tips for landing your first job in VC?

Be well informed on the fund you’re applying to, ensure that your interests align and that there is a good fit. Also, network — you never know who you could connect with that could help you get your first role.

Estelle Botbol, associate at Speedinvest

What sectors are you interested in? 

Healthtech and digital health. 

Which deals have you worked on so far?

At Speedinvest, I currently work with Five Lives, a digital tool for the tracking and improvement of cognitive health; MiLabs, an immunome data analysis software and Charles, a digital clinic specialised in male health.

Tips for landing your first job in VC?

Many VCs don’t promote their job offerings online and prefer to hire through their network. Contact junior team members at funds on LinkedIn, talk about VC on your social channels to showcase your interest and actively ask people in your network if they know of any opportunities and could refer you. 

Once you land an interview, it’s pretty standard. The VC will want to see if you are passionate about technology and innovation, knowledgeable about specific investment areas, have the appetite to source and close deals and have the analytical capabilities to make complex decisions.

Sophia Escheu, analyst at Speedinvest

What sectors are you interested in? 

Industrial tech and climate tech. 

Which deals have you worked on so far?

I’ve worked on our investment in Trawa, which offers software solutions and matching electricity procurement services for businesses to help them switch to green energy, and two yet-to-be-announced deals — one in Germany and one in France. 

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Tips for landing your first job in VC?

Become actively involved in startup initiatives and networks during your studies to establish personal relationships with people in the industry early on.

Farisa Magazieva, investor at b2venture

What sectors are you interested in?

Next to digital health, life sciences (especially developments towards healthy longevity) and foodtech, I’m most interested in consumer tech.

Which deals have you worked on so far?

I’ve mainly supported with deals related to life sciences and foodtech in later stages. However, my main goal at this period is to learn as much as possible.

Tips for landing your first job in VC?

  • Be genuinely interested in the startup ecosystem and venture capital, and stay up to date about the sectors and solutions you’re most passionate about. Have a super hands-on mentality and try to learn as much as possible. 
  • A huge stepping stone for getting a job in VC, especially for talent from diverse backgrounds, is being part of organisations that help you connect with people in the industry. Two communities I was part of that helped me build an incomparable network in VC and tech include the 2hearts Community and the Included VC fellowship.
  • Also, don’t shy away from doing internships first — this is usually one of the best ways to get your foot in the door and prove your potential.

Damian Zaker, early-stage investor at b2venture

What sectors are you interested in?

With European B2B ecommerce only accounting for a marginal amount of the global market, I am excited about the next wave of B2B marketplaces taking on fragmented industries with lucrative GMV [gross merchandise volume] potential.

I am also excited by verticalised software that can use proprietary data to provide personalised insurance solutions

Which deals have you worked on so far?

So far, I’ve mostly focused on learning, but some of the companies I’ve worked with include:

  •  Procuros, a platform offering the digital integration of supplier portals for the processing of offer, order and invoice documents.
  • Zero Insurance, which offers insurance-as-a-service 

 Tips for landing your first job in VC?

  • I think having a personal pitch about why your experiences make you a great fit for the job (maybe your former operator experience exposed you to the venture world) while showing that you’ve really done the work to understand a specific vertical, and can apply that mental plasticity to getting up to speed with lots of other spaces, is a huge plus. 
  • Also, making an effort to learn the jargon and to stay up to date with the industry’s development can show dedication and passion. 

Julia Nilsson, senior portfolio manager (Nordics) at Antler

What sectors are you interested in?

I’m most interested in companies using sustainable business models to tackle the most pertinent challenges across climate and healthtech. 

Which deals have you worked on so far?

I’ve worked closely with PerPlant, which wants to help farmers accelerate their transition into sustainable farming, using an AI-based sensor solution to optimise the usage of fertilisers and pesticides and increase harvest yield. 

Beyond that, I have recently worked across several exciting healthcare deals with startups using AI and other technologies to solve problems related to mental health, physical therapy, coaching and more.

Top tips for landing your first job in VC?

  • Ask people for advice. I’ve found that cold outreach works surprisingly well. As long as you are genuinely curious about the person that you want to connect with, and make it clear why you would like to chat, more often than not people are happy to meet for a coffee or lunch. Don’t worry too much about selling or pitching yourself.
  • Attend networking events! It sounds more scary than it is, but in the end it’s all about building organic relationships. Focus less on impressing others and more about getting to know them. Do some research on the content and audience, and make a target list of who to speak with.
  • To do well in VC, I’ve found that you need to be both a people-person and analytical. Beyond that, you need to be passionate about tech and curious to learn. Spend time upskilling yourself by talking to industry experts, listening to podcasts and reading articles and books. I can highly recommend the 20VC podcast and the Secrets of Sandhill Road book. Currently, I’m reading Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Kate McGinn, associate at Seedcamp

What sectors are you interested in?

At Seedcamp, we all tend to be generalists. That said, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the climate space lately and love any B2B SaaS company that is solving a real pain point for users.

Which deals have you worked on so far?

At Seedcamp, we don’t tend to do individual deal attribution, but in the last two and a bit years since joining Seedcamp I’ve worked with companies such as Autone, a SaaS platform that optimises inventory management for retail brands, FUEL, a platform enabling creators to launch and manage their own NFT collection, and Kern, a platform helping developers and data scientists implement Natural Language Processing (NLP) solutions.

Tips for landing your first job in VC?

Write! Write about what sectors excite you, what trends you’re suspicious about and what questions keep you up at night. It’s the best way to synthesise your thoughts and help you decide whether VC indeed excites you.

https://sifted.eu/articles/gen-z-vcs-europe

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