Investing in People: An Unexpected Journey from Politics to Associate Partner
Talent, Skill and Team Matter More than the “Right” Background
In 2017, Industrial Tech companies in Europe were antiquated and quickly falling behind others in the Industry 4.0 digital revolution. Still, there were a number of forward-thinking startups, specifically in the DACH region, that, if properly sourced and backed, could help revolutionize the industry as a whole.
Seeing this gap, Speedinvest Partner Marie-Helene Ametsreiter was tasked with building a new team and raising a 70 million euro fund to do just that. And who did she turn to for support? In her words, “not a stereotypical ‘VC-is-my-entire-world’ kind of guy.” Instead, they partnered with a former political analyst, economic policy advisor and avid nature lover who had ‘stumbled’ into the world of venture capital only two years prior — Andy Schwarzenbrunner.
I was frustrated in politics and wanted to move on. My idea was actually to go to Berlin or London. Then I saw a job ad for Speedinvest and I applied without any real knowledge of tech or VC. In my first week, I was tasked with doing due diligence on what is now a very successful portfolio company. But… as I said, I had no background in that space, so I literally Googled ‘due diligence.’ Most partners at Speedinvest do not know that story. But hey, now I can tell it!
Building a World-Class Industrial Tech Fund
From the first idea for the Industrial Tech fund, to formulating and iterating (and iterating, and iterating, and iterating, …) the investment hypotheses, to driving around and pitching to industrial companies, it was a super exciting and interesting experience, which also helped me to understand what it feels like for founders to go fundraising (and also receive a loooot of rejections).
Fast forward to 2020.
Our Industrial Tech team has invested in some of Europe’s most cutting-edge industrial technology companies, including Schüttflix, Greyparrot and Twaice. Who knew someone with no prior experience in investing or venture capital could make such an impact?
Of course, there’s no way we could have predicted that we would have done so well. But in the end, through hard work and a common goal, I think we did a really good job of establishing ourselves as one of the go-to VCs for early-stage Industrial tech startups.
Invest in People and They Will Invest in You
In the end, everything about VC, and I mean everything, comes down to people. And when good people are willing to commit to you, you have to be willing to hold onto them and never take them for granted. So as proud as we are to have given Andy the opportunity to learn, grow and excel as part of the Speedinvest family, we feel that it is also important to recognize that we are just as lucky to have him.
— Our Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Oliver Holle
As you can tell, we are very pleased to announce Andy’s (well-earned!) promotion to Associate Partner — a position he never dreamed he would have.
It feels a bit weird because I never expected to be in venture capital, especially for such a long time. Despite that, I feel very lucky and privileged to have been able to work with so many great colleagues and founders over the past five years, many of whom are now important parts of my life and friends.
So what’s next for the accidental investor?
Continue to have fun. Make great investments. Help my portfolio companies and founders to grow professionally and personally. Meet more interesting people with bold ideas. Pass on what I have learned and experienced to new members of the team. And make the Industrial Tech fund the best in Europe.
Given how far Andy has already come, we have no doubt his to-do list will be achieved, and we are thrilled he’ll be continuing his journey with us as an Associate Partner.
So once again, Andy, we say congratulations on your promotion! It is the most tangible ‘thank you’ we could offer for all of your hard work and commitment over the years. We would not be where we are today without you.
Speedinvest is a leading pan-European, early-stage venture capital firm. Our portfolio includes Wefox, Bitpanda, TIER Mobility, GoStudent, Curve, CoachHub, Schüttflix, TourRadar, Adverity, and Twaice. Sign up for our newsletters to get our exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.