January 15, 2023

The former spy who's helping VCs interrogate founders — Startup Europe, The Sifted Podcast

This week on the pod, we talk about a new service that screens founders’ personalities based on techniques from the world of espionage

Steph Bailey

2 min read

Every week on Startup Europe, The Sifted Podcast, we discuss the biggest things coming out of Europe’s tech and startup sector, share opinions and speak to the journalists breaking the stories.

In fundraising news this week, we talk about Oxford-based startup OXcan, which just raised $3.7m to develop its cancer detection technology. Unlike the big scandal around Theranos, whose founder Elizabeth Holme was found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy, OXcan is showing blood testing can save lives.

Another startup based in Oxford and beginning with ox is Oxbotica. We talk through its latest raise, a chunky $140m Series C round to scale its autonomous driving tech, which it hopes will be able to automate any vehicle.


Then we dig into Checkout.com’s latest financials. The company says it's profitable, but that doesn't seem to be the case at its UK entity. 

After the news, we're joined by Dr Mridula Pore, cofounder of menopause and fertility-focused employee benefits platform Peppy. This week, the company raised $45m, which it plans to use to fund expansion in the US. We discuss how conversations about health have changed — and what's next.

Lastly, we're joined by one of Sifted's senior reporters, Tim Smith, who’s been speaking to a former spy who’s the cofounder of a new service called Dark Minds, which is teaching VCs to vet founders using techniques developed by assessing undercover spies. 

Listen to Startup Europe — The Sifted Podcast on Apple, Spotify and all major platforms.

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Steph Bailey

Steph Bailey is head of content at Sifted. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn