1. What is the biggest trend at the moment in your view and why?
It’s safe to say the biggest trend at the moment is Generative AI – and I believe the hype is more than justified. Generative AI, in my opinion, will have a massive impact, spawning a new class of companies that will transform not only our workforce but our lives. As with any groundbreaking new technology, no one knows exactly how it will change the world, but we’ll surely get to see it unfold in front of us over the next few years. I, for one, can’t wait!
2. What do you enjoy most about your role at Vintage?
I consider it an absolute privilege to be interacting with some of the best individuals in the tech world on a daily basis. These are both entrepreneurs as well as investors from both sides of the Atlantic, all incredibly smart and driven to make a dent in the world and shape the future. I get to help them contemplate strategy and challenges, offer advice, and make connections to other investors, experts, potential customers or startups, potential employees, etc. And doing it all with such an excellent, diverse group of colleagues who cherish values and people above all – is a true pleasure.
3. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?
People are the most important factor in everything you do. Be careful and deliberate in choosing the people you work with, and most of all, trust your gut! Luckily, it’s a lesson I learned early in my career and has guided my choices ever since.
4. If you had to name a “single most impressive thing” about Vintage, what would it be?
The coupling of both breadth and depth: On the one hand, as an LP in many of the top-tier funds, we have a unique bird’s-eye view of everything going on in the industry. On the other hand, we get to work closely with founders on the very specific challenges they face daily.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring investors?
A. Find out what your superpower is – and double down on it to make you stand out in the crowd. It could be a vertical you have close familiarity with because of your operational experience, your network, your character, and your ability to serve as a sounding board or tower of strength, etc.
B. You don’t have to win every deal. It’s worse to make bad deals than to leave good ones on the table…
C. Trust your gut! The Founder is first, and if you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, trust yourself. Don’t give in to confirmation bias; listen to your gut and double-click to understand it.
6. What is something you would still like to learn how to do?
So many things! Learn to ski. Russian. Solve a Rubik’s cube. Make wine. Swim like a pro. The list is endless…
7. What advice would you give to founders on fundraising?
You must do due diligence on your investors the same way they do due diligence on your company and team. Check their reputation with other founders (both ones they invested in and ones they turned down) and with other VCs; understand what they bring to the table and ensure it is what will help you most in the phase you’re entering. Examine their track record–check how successful they were, who their biggest companies are, what sectors/stages/geos they excel at, and what investors follow them? Being stuck with investors you don’t get along with can kill a company. Having great investors who are force multipliers can help a company skyrocket.
8. What advice would you give to young women entering the workforce or at the beginning of their careers?
A. Believe in yourself–research shows women tend to attribute their success to external factors. Own every success and remind yourself that you’re incredible.
B. Dare taking risks – Be ok with taking risks that may fail. You grow more from failures than from successes… Dare to take career steps that don’t follow the obvious route and might be a springboard to new worlds and heights.
C. Actively seek out mentors- and ask them to make you, their mentee. The best way to move upward is to find a mentor/sponsor who promotes you. Inside a company, it could be a senior manager who can give you positions that are out of your depth in a good way, for you to grow into them. Outside of a company, it could be someone who connects you to people you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
D. Build a network. Even if you don’t see the immediate ROI, strong networks and belonging to communities is one of the best force multipliers, presenting many opportunities in the long term. I consider the long-term relationships I have built over many years to be one of my most valuable assets as an investor today: gaining access to competitive deals, getting the true color of an entrepreneur or fund manager, etc.
9. What are some of the values you believe in strongly?
A. Equality. Few things are as clear and indisputable to me as the right and need for equality between people regardless of their race, gender identity & expression, faith, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other feature.
B. Integrity. I choose to surround myself with people who have high integrity, both in my personal/professional life. In that respect, an important thing to remember is that it’s hard to build a good reputation but easy to ruin one.
10. What do you do differently than most people?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This quote attributed to Einstein is one I try to practice. It’s natural and human to cherish our routines, but I’ve found that the best things happen when you go off track. It could be something as small and daily as walking around with my own eyes shut at home. Or asking entrepreneurs about their challenges in school and sharing my own instead of talking about their business models. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about someone’s character by switching up the usual conversation.