Venture Capital/Analysis/ The top Gen Z investors in 2021 shaking up VC in Europe Meet Europe’s next generation of investors, aged 25 and under. By Miriam Partington in Berlin 13 December 2021 \Venture Capital Speedinvest starts €3m fund of funds programme to back emerging managers By Eleanor Warnock 17 February 2023 Venture Capital/Analysis/ The top Gen Z investors in 2021 shaking up VC in Europe Meet Europe’s next generation of investors, aged 25 and under. By Miriam Partington in Berlin 13 December 2021 Gen Z has earned a reputation for rocking the boat. This generation — broadly defined as those born between 1995 and 2010 — is educated, entrepreneurial, digitally savvy and politically engaged. Gen Zers value authenticity and inclusivity. They hold issues such as climate change and income equality close to their hearts — and they’re not afraid to tell you about it. The cohort is already shaking up the status quo as they enter the workforce, including in VC. Some of Europe’s biggest funds, from Creandum to Earlybird, have already opened their doors to these young investors, hoping their fresh perspectives and will to do good in the world will land them some sweet — and impactful — deals. With the help of VC firm Peak, Sifted has shortlisted 25 Gen Z investors working at institutional VC funds, made up of nominations from our investor and founder communities and from peer recommendations. All of them are 25 years old or younger. This list forms part of an ongoing annual series to highlight Europe’s youngest and brightest investors. Check out Sifted’s first edition of Europe’s top 30 young investors! Esther Akpovi, investor at Frog Capital What’s your employment background? I started out my career in the media and public sector. I worked as the chief strategy officer for a Gen Z media company and also co-hosted a BBC radio show in Nottingham called Upbeat which focused on all things Gen Z, culture and youth. What deals have you worked on so far? My favourite deal so far is Spoke, a mental health app using music to reduce stress and strengthen mindset. Sounds like delta waves and ASMR music have proven to help people with ADHD and insomnia to sleep better. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I’m particularly interested in the creator economy and am keeping my eye on startups like Astra, a digital fashion game by Thrill Digital, and Steelo, a fashion, music and culture SaaS platform founded by Lloyd Okekearu. I’m also concerned with technology that will economically empower African creators. Thus, redefining ownership, the ability to create, learn, live and work. Top tips for breaking into VC? Start a community of founders in the niche you’re interested in — run events and get dealflow that will be quality for VC firms you’re interested in. Build your own investment thesis. Apply to programmes like Future VC, Gen Z VC Fellowship, Rebel One, Included VC etc. And join the VC society at your university — create one! Carlota Armero Saura, analyst at Speedinvest What’s your employment background? Most recently interned at Oxx Ventures (a specialist B2B SaaS VC), having transitioned from working at an early-stage B2B SaaS startup where I wore many hats, from growth marketing to assisting the CEO in raising VC funding. What deals have you worked on so far? I’m a newbie to VC, but working on a few deals right now. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I have a generalist approach within B2B SaaS, but love to dive into the Future of Work — especially workplace collaboration tools, as well as all things ecommerce from web dev to sales enablement tools. Top tips for breaking into VC? I personally broke into VC through Future VC, an initiative from Diversity VC where candidates receive mentorship and networking opportunities — I would highly recommend! There are multiple opportunities like this out there like Included VC, or groups and communities where you can meet loads of people and learn about the industry and the jobs out there. Dimitri Bilyarchyk, investor at Atlantic Labs What’s your employment background? I founded a food startup during my time at university which was short-lived and, in hindsight, quite shitty. Upon graduating, I worked at startups in Berlin like Lendis and Squake, worked at Axel Springer Investment Management, before scenting VC air as an intern at Capnamic Ventures. What deals have you worked on so far? My day-to-day focus is on industrial tech, robotics and university spinouts in general. But I dig into other sectors too, such as machine connectivity, battery analytics and last-mile delivery. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I’m keen on themes around industrial digitalisation, logistics and digital health. Also, independently of sectors, I’m passionate about promoting diversity in the startup and VC ecosystem with initiatives such as 2hearts, Included.vc, and APX’s LGBTQI founder initiative. Top tips for breaking into VC? Have a profound understanding of business models and people. Stay up to date with the startup ecosystem and find topics you’re passionate about for you to follow closely. Get at least some operational experience at startups and try landing an internship at a fund first. And ultimately, build out and leverage your network as much as possible. Jack Chong, campus analyst at Remus Capital What’s your employment background? Previously, I was a serial founder. I built and founded K-12 CMS, a recruitment agency, and organoid drug testing. I loved ideation, rapid prototyping, shipping and scaling. That’s why I love working with founders now, especially when they work on cross-sector products that require cross-applied mental models. What deals have you worked on so far? Worked on compliance software, ERP systems and carbon footprint tracking. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? More abstractly, I am fascinated by how new waves of infrastructure give rise to new waves of applications. Two waves I think a lot about: sustainability and open banking. Software in sustainability that helps navigate regulatory changes; consumer-facing fintech that automates payment workflow. Top tips for breaking into VC? Find good deals! Build, build, build your alpha. Build a brand, expertise or community. Build empathy with founders. Build domain expertise and make non-trivial predictions. Erik de Stefanis, partner at Interlace Ventures What’s your employment background? When I was in university in Sweden, I started a consumer brand with a friend of mine. We ended up raising some external capital for it which introduced me to the world of VC. After graduating, I worked at a family office writing smaller cheques into early stage companies but realised quickly that I wanted to join a legitimate fund. I DM’d loads of partners on LinkedIn for coffees, which led to an offer to join my current fund. What deals have you worked on so far? I wear two hats: I’m on the team at Interlace where we invest in the future of commerce, and on the side, I run SPVs. I began running SPVs with a Gen Z theme: we’d invest in companies founded by or building for our generation and many of the investors in my SPVs are Gen Z. A few deals I’ve worked on that are exciting: FastAF, which delivers premium DTC essentials within two hours, and Salted, a virtual restaurant concept. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? Future of commerce — tech that enables the brands and retailers we love to become more efficient, sustainable and fun. (Treet and Promoted.ai are startups to watch in this area.) The intersection of Web3 and commerce. And consumer tech. Top tips for breaking into VC? Be curious, be different, put yourself out there, give people a reason to remember you, don’t be afraid to disagree with people or share conflicting opinions with those senior to you if talking about sectors/companies. Federico Fini, associate at Karma Ventures What’s your employment background? Product management background in Internet of Things and insurtech. What deals have you worked on so far? Still undisclosed as we recently launched our new €100m fund. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? Anything deep tech related, from quantum computing to Web3 — any technology that can have a strong impact. I have a few startups on my watchlist; in Estonia NFTPort and Wolf3D are doing interesting things. From our portfolio, CGTrader and its potential for the metaverse. Top tips for breaking into VC? Get involved in the community: there are plenty of resources online, podcasts, Slack channels. Talk to people, learn what is going on at the moment and meet many entrepreneurs and investors. Also, be stubborn: firms care a lot about finding the right person that will fit the team. You might get rejected even after a successful interview. Keep on applying until you find the fund/team that really fits your profile best. Max Grohmann, associate at Creandum What’s your employment background? Before Creandum, I worked in the product team at Airwallex, an Australian-Chinese B2B cross-border payments startup in their Hong Kong office. During my studies, I did several rather “traditional” internships in consulting (Bain) and investment banking (Rothschild; JP Morgan) as well as in growth investing at General Atlantic. What deals have you worked on so far? Spanish FP&A start-up Abacum; a Denmark-based dev tool (not publicly announced yet); and most recently the Yababa deal here in Berlin. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? Fintech, crypto, climate tech and transportation. In terms of startups, Vay, which is launching a commercial, driverless fleet for ride-hailing and car-sharing, has, in my opinion, developed a perfect solution for building the bridge to fully autonomous driving. Top tips for breaking into VC? Not sure if it’s a “top” tip — but definitely a small tip that might help: move fast when you see opportunities that interest you! Positions in VC, especially entry roles, are extremely popular. As soon as positions open up, the funnel of applications is filled extremely quickly. But, if you can be one of the first good profiles in the funnel, it can definitely improve your chances of being invited to the first round. Iris Hendriks, associate at Creandum What’s your employment background? In my gap year between my bachelor’s and master’s, I led a student consulting organisation where we advised Dutch companies to expand to Indonesia. I then did an internship in product management at Distribusion, a startup connecting online retailers to ground transportation carries, another internship at Bain and Company in Zurich and Brussels, before joining Creandum as an intern. I then went on to become a full-time associate. What deals have you worked on so far? A stealth mode pre-seed deal in the UK and an unannounced Series B in localisation software. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I’m industry agnostic but currently working on different topics from electrification/EVs, sustainability and construction to insurance and plant marketplaces. In terms of startups, Ready Player Me, a full-body avatar platform for the metaverse, and Awell, which creates digital care pathways in the studio and then implements them in care delivery, are two great examples. Top tips for breaking into VC? Try to keep updated on a few industries you find exciting: for example, know which startups get built in the space, which business models excite you and why and check which investors are participating in those rounds. You’ll be able to create and articulate a stronger hypothesis/investment thesis and bring up more relevant startups. Natasha Jones, early-stage investor at Octopus Ventures What’s your employment background? Before becoming a fintech investor, I worked as an algorithmic trader at Credit Suisse. Prior to that, I worked in business development in two fintech startups in London and Paris. What deals have you worked on so far? I’ve worked on a number of deals including Bondaval, Sprout AI, PNGME, Integrated Finance and Comma. There are a few more in the works that are unannounced but I will have to keep those hushed for now! What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? At Octopus I sit in the fintech team and focus on capital markets, climate fintech, crypto and financial inclusion. Over the past year, I’ve been excited by the climate fintech space. Fintech can be a powerful tool to use transaction flows and data to help consumers and businesses make better choices and push us to a low-carbon economy. Top tips for breaking into VC? Even sectors that seem specific like fintech are ubiquitous (if we are to believe Angela Strange) so it’s really important to tap into what excites you the most in the tech landscape. Narrowing down your niche will help demonstrate to prospective funds that you can make an impact and bring insights on day one. It also means you will be best placed to find funds that have similar investment interests to you and where you will be able to thrive. Tech will play a fundamental role in shaping our future — so ask yourself what future do you want to see and what future trends would you like to play a part in building? Alessandro Kopp, senior investment associate at Picus Capital What is your employment background? I joined Picus Capital early in my career in April 2020 after having gained some experience at McKinsey. Since then, I have been mainly focusing on two areas: further increasing our investment footprint in the Asia-Pacific region as well as building out our growth team. What deals have you worked on so far? In total, I have invested in more than 10 new deals, and over 10 follow-on deals. The new ventures I partnered with are mainly based in the Asia-Pacific region, including the fintechs Paytron and GoTrade, and the B2B SaaS companies Multiplier and OmniHR. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? Personally, I am most excited about companies in fintech and B2B SaaS. The potential for fintechs in emerging markets to revolutionise the way people and businesses manage their wealth and finances gives me a great sense of purpose. Top tips for breaking into VC? A keen interest in startups is required, but becoming an investor also means developing your own hypotheses about industries and business models. Start by keeping up to date with current trends by reading startup news and getting to know which kind of companies excite you. Madeline Lawrence, associate and head of DACH at Peak What is your employment background? After finishing my studies in law, I got my first taste of the startup scene working in the operations and funds team at Rockstart, an early-stage investor based in Amsterdam. I then cofounded a student-run, pre-seed venture capital fund called ASIF Ventures — before joining Peak in 2019. What deals have you worked on so far? A particular highlight is my first solo deal that I’m about to close (and that hasn’t been announced!). But the startup is pre-seed, in the deep tech/B2B/enterprise SaaS arena. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I love companies that are able to tackle big legacy incumbent industries. For example, Farewill in the UK has shaken up will-writing, probate and cremation services with a perfectly fitting consumer experience. Top tips for breaking into VC? Be creative. There are so many ways to get into VC now: whether it’s working for a portfolio company, or having some expertise on a particular topic. Just get your foot in the door and nail those early conversations you have with VCs. Clarisse Lam, VC analyst at New Alpha What’s your employment background? In early 2018, I worked at a very early stage startup called Parlapapi. Then, I joined PwC Romania as an audit intern where I worked for six months in Bucharest. In the summer of 2019, I got my first opportunity in VC and had the chance to work in Tokyo alongside Mark Bivens, partner at Truffle Capital, who was setting up a fund in Japan (tachi.ai ventures). In January 2020, I worked for six months in Transaction Services at KPMG Paris, before joining NewAlpha Asset Management’s VC fund, specialised in fintech/insurtech. What deals have you worked on so far? Some include Lovys: a B2C insurtech providing an all-in-one subscription to different insurance products (eg, home/pets/car/smartphone insurance). And SESAMm: a B2B fintech leveraging alternative data and AI to provide investment insights and analytics to investment firms. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I am interested in fintech and I’m very excited by wealthtech and how tech can help people get control of their finances. Especially now, as Gen Zers are already building wealth through side hustles, crypto, NFTs or investments, and are being more proactive in managing their finances. In this space, I love how Cleo (UK) is bringing an entertaining and educational approach to financial management. Top tips for breaking into VC? Act like a VC before being a VC! Learn about the industries you’d like to invest in by researching the market and talking to people. Develop your own investment thesis, and research startups you’d like to invest in that operate in that space. Use LinkedIn, Twitter or Slack to connect with like-minded individuals and build relationships. David Ola, associate at Point Nine What’s your employment background? I studied Human Genetics at university in Dublin and founded a medtech startup while finishing up my degree. I then worked at Seedcamp as an intern, before joining Point Nine six months ago. Why did you join your current fund? I wanted to become an expert in working with B2B SaaS and B2B marketplace companies. Point Nine’s geography-agnostic approach and work with companies all around the world really excited me — especially being West African and seeing all the recent attention the startup ecosystem there has been receiving. What deals have you worked on so far? So far, I’ve been mostly focused on learning, and the deals I have supported the team with are still in stealth. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? With a biology background I love anything that shakes up our healthcare system. I also like working with companies that are building the infrastructure necessary to interact with the Web3 world like Tenderly (a P9 portfolio company) Utopia and Januar. Top tips for breaking into VC? No groundbreaking tips here but I think that showing you’ve really worked hard to understand a specific vertical and can apply that work ethic to getting up to speed with lots of other spaces is a huge plus. Emily Otterbeck, VC at InHealth Ventures What’s your employment background? After my bachelor’s degree I worked in an academic research lab at the Harvard School of Public Health, doing cell and animal-based studies in the field of immunometabolism. My love for music, specifically hip-hop, took me to a music tech startup in Stockholm which is working to automate the licensing of music rights. After two years I wanted to go back to biosciences and healthcare, so I studied an MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Cambridge. While I was there I cofounded the Cambridge Femtech Society. After graduating I moved into VC and joined InHealth Ventures (IHV). What deals have you worked on so far? The first deal I was part of is the investment IHV made in Axuall, a workforce intelligence network. Other deals we’re working on are within femtech, in the female-specific chronic disease space, and in technology-enabled care delivery solutions suited to developing world markets. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I am really passionate about femtech. There’s a gap not only in how female-specific diseases are addressed by healthcare systems, but also in how women+ are cared for when it comes to diseases which affect males and females differently and differentially (which is a lot of diseases, including major indications like cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases). I’m also really excited by the next generation of behavioural and mental health therapies going beyond CBT-based solutions. Top tips for breaking into VC? I think it’s vital to be clear on why you want to enter VC. This will help you understand what stage and what sector to target. Once that is clear, you can build relevant experience — for example, having worked in an early-stage startup was incredibly helpful for me when it came to securing a role as an early-stage investor — and start building a relevant network. Tom Rentschler, investor at Acton Capital What’s your employment background? I gained experience in the startup ecosystem as well as the finance world. Venture capital is at the intersection of the two fields, so I started at Acton as an intern. I enjoyed the work so much, I joined full-time and I haven’t looked back since. What deals have you worked on so far? I worked on our investment in Laserhub, a German B2B procurement platform, and on our investment in Hublo, a French HR SaaS provider for healthcare facilities. What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? I focus on B2B SaaS and B2B marketplaces as we believe there is still so much opportunity in supporting and enabling European companies in their digital transformation — SMBs as well as enterprises. I generally get excited by a good product and great user experience. Top tips for breaking into VC? Gain an understanding of the basics, like different business models, unit economics or sales and marketing metrics, and be on top of current trends and developments in the startup world. This way you can have an informed conversation with founders and investors. Also, develop and hold your own opinions on sectors and startups and be prepared to defend that position. Lucas Schaubel, VC at DN Capital What’s your employment background? During my studies, I worked full and part-time for early-stage venture backed startups CarOnSale and Talentspace, as well as the consumer internet-focused corporate venture fund of CHECK24. What deals have you worked on so far? Boomin, GoStudent and two unannounced German deals What sectors are you interested in? Any startups that are catching your eye? Interest in (too) many sectors, among them: sustainability, edtech, crypto, D2C & CSS (plus enablement), health and community. I’m particularly impressed recently by EarnZero, Elvah, Ostrom, FXHash, Oviavo, Leila, Exporto, GetQuin, Wajve, StartSteps, and GoCoach. Top tips for breaking into VC? I feel startup experience is key, ideally pre-seed or seed stage in a small business development team and in building or operating. This helped me a lot in evaluating companies now, and helps you gain a different perspective. Moreover building an edge in a specific niche relevant to venture will give you an advantage in the short-term, especially if this specific knowledge is missing in that fund. Daria Shepetko, VC analyst at Trind Ventures What’s your employment background? Last year I was project lead and co-creator of Teenovation (an accelerator for tee Related Articles What’s venture debt? 6 insights from our panel on debt vs equity By Poppy Koronka Click here to read more Rethinking Rocket Internet By Nicolas Colin Click here to read more The experts on the future of investing in the Nordics Sponsored by Norselab Click here to read more German edtech Knowunity, a TikTok for schoolwork, raises €9m Series A extension By Miriam Partington in Berlin Click here to read more Most Read 1 \Healthtech Is Daniel Ek’s new body scanner worth the hype? 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