Speedinvest Blog

Speedinvest Promotes Five Principals to Partner

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Speedinvest

July 21, 2022

It’s no secret that we do things differently than most early-stage VCs. We’ve spent 10 years building out our sector-focused investment strategy and Platform+ operational support team to ensure our founders have the very best partners from day one of their journeys. That’s why we’ve purposely built the largest Seed stage investment team in Europe. When it comes to investing at scale, size does matter if you truly want to give your founders the time and attention they deserve. 

Strengthening our commitment to be the first institutional investor in early-stage startups and supplying them with the hands-on support they need to scale remains our top priority. Doubling down on our sector-focused strategy and the future of innovation across industries –– the new creator economy, climate tech, crypto, and emerging markets –– requires further investment in building our team.

And we’re in the amazing position to have a deep bench of young, talented investors who are now ready to help lead us and our portfolio into the next phase of growth. While this sounds very standard, it’s anything but. Our industry consistently fails in delivering on its promise to founders for two simple reasons: not investing in the resources required and not proactively managing generational change. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t fall into either trap.

Today, we’re excited and proud to announce the promotion of five dedicated Speedinvest Principals to Partner to help lead our vertical teams. Congratulations to Frederik Hagenauer (SaaS & Infra), Olga Shikhantsova (Fintech), Philip Specht (Marketplaces & Consumer), Dominik Tobschall (SaaS & Infra), and Andrea Zitna (Health)!

Their respective talents –– from founding their own companies to nurturing the next generation of innovators –– are precisely what we at Speedinvest want as the face of our pan-European team as we continue to invest in the breakthrough technologies of tomorrow.

Fred: Helping SaaS founders go from 0 to 100

 Frederik Hagenauer Speedinvest

Fred is a former founder and venture builder who joined Speedinvest nearly four years ago, primarily to lead on pre-seed deals. In his previous work, he founded a VC-backed startup and worked on both corporate ventures and at company builder, Entrepreneur First. He combines the founder perspective with a no-nonsense approach to asking the hard questions early. 

For Fred, there’s immense pleasure in seeing founders go from 0 to 100 and helping them avoid and navigate through some of the most common pitfalls along the way. On the SaaS & Infra team, he works with founders from the ideation stage onwards. To him, being an early-stage investor is less about analyzing what’s already there and more about envisioning what could be.

“When Fred is excited about an opportunity, it becomes contagious. His relentless focus on founders, his incredible network, and his desire for pragmatic solutions has allowed him to source amazing deals. But more importantly, he cares about his founders, society, the fund, and his team. That’s what makes him not only irreplaceable at Speedinvest, but also one of the best investors I ever had the pleasure to work with.” –– Markus Lang

At Speedinvest, Fred has led deals across a significant number of B2B SaaS topics ranging from product-led analytics (June), carbon intelligence (Sylvera), embedded connectivity (Gigs), and decentralized supply chains (Hier). He’s also a prolific writer and occasionally deep dives into various aspects related to our SaaS & Infra thesis.

Olga: Hustling and fighting for fintech founders

Olga Shikhantsova Speedinvest

Olga is an experienced investor who ran fintech investments at Target Global out of their Berlin office. During her tenure, she invested across early- and growth-stage startups throughout Europe and Israel, such as Rapyd, Zego, Copper, and Kuda.

After five years of multi-stage investing, Olga found her passion in pre-seed and seed investing as well as in supporting founders during the very early days of a startup. She loves to be hands-on from the beginning, surrounded by big ambitions and dreams. For her, it’s all about trying, failing, rebuilding, and moving forward. Olga stands by her founders, hustles with them, and fights for them.

“With more than six years of experience, Olga has quickly become a respected investor in European Fintech. She has seen pretty much every business model working at scale. Combined with her extremely impressive smarts and her buoyant and outgoing personality, she can single-handedly make a difference for any founder in this space. We cannot be more proud to have such a star on our team.” –– Oliver Holle 

In just 16 months at Speedinvest, Olga’s been behind key investments in Finary, Fiat Republic, Rollee, Nook, and Unstoppable Finance. She continues to be active on the ground in Berlin and London, playing a key role in reshaping Speedinvest’s fintech team.

Philip: Guiding marketplace founders through the rollercoaster of startup life

Philip Specht Speedinvest

Before joining Speedinvest, Philip spent three years at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) where he worked in various industries and set up a social venture of BCG. He later helped with the successful market launch and initial scaling of a VC-funded startup as CCO of the company.

Philip joined Speedinvest when the Marketplaces and Consumer investment team was first established. Now he’s an experienced investor with a trained eye for marketplace business models and the specific levers needed to bring network effects to life. He loves the many facets of working with founders in this field –– from cheerleader to challenger and strategic supporter to tactical sparring partner –– whether it’s through a Zoom call or at the pub. With the rare gift of an analytical mindset and a natural curiosity, he stands out as a trusted advisor for his portfolio founders as they work their way through the emotional rollercoaster of startup life. This curiosity also increasingly leads him to deals outside of Europe, where he has been leading Speedinvest’s first marketplace deals in Emerging Markets.

“Since joining us, Philip quickly became an integral, trusted part of the team that helped to shape and form our thesis. He’s a true team player and shares our deep passion for all things network effects and marketplaces. This has led to some outstanding and sometimes not-so-obvious investments that have propelled us forward as a team and fund. I’m deeply thankful to be working with such a talented colleague and I’m extremely proud to welcome Philip to Partner. Well done and well deserved, Philip!” –– Mathias Ockenfels

Since he joined the marketplace team, he’s been working with portfolio companies, such as Schüttflix, Admix, TIER Mobility, Lollipop, and Smiler. Based in Munich, Philip, regularly spends time in the UK and has started expanding his team’s investment activities to emerging markets.

Dominik: Focused on the building blocks of modern software

Dominik Tobschall Speedinvest

In the wake of the new wave of innovation around decentralized platforms, you need a very special skill set to be effective as an investor. If Dominik didn't exist, we would need to invent him to find someone with his unique profile.

Formally educated as a lawyer, Dominik has been active as a software developer since 1998. In 2010, he co-founded a venture-backed company behind the sabre/dav open-source technology that powers sync functionality in popular products, such as atmail, Box, Nextcloud, Posteo, ownCloud, and many others. After gaining significant experience as a tech founder and open source developer (and with the challenges to scale such business models), he then joined the investment team at Target Partners, applying his infra and dev tools experience to investments in Deep Tech.

With this unique background, Dominik is excited about open-source software, open networks, and crypto. He focuses on all of the building blocks in the software stack, including dev tools that enable developers to build, test, deploy, secure, run, and monitor their software — all the way down to software infrastructure. In his mind, crypto is simply one critical building block for next-generation applications.

“The rare combination of a tax lawyer, a full-stack developer, and a founder would probably be enough to be a very successful VC. But even more important than Dominik’s brilliant understanding of tech and business models is his ability to break down complex problems, his low ego, and the fact that he is a trusted advisor –– both to portfolio founders and the entire Speedinvest team.” –– Markus Lang

At Speedinvest, he led investments along the infra and dev tools stack, like Gitpod, Qovery, and Wasmer. He's also pushed Speedinvests’ horizontal crypto and web3 strategy with investments in Unstoppable Finance and Octav Labs.

Andrea: Putting empathy and health tech experience into practice

Andrea Zitna Speedinvest

Our founders appreciate Speedinvest’s long tradition of bringing operators into the realm of investing, merging the best of both worlds. Andrea is our latest addition to this profile of partners and adds a crucial skill set to our firm, having spent her career in commercial roles across the health and consumer sectors. Shaping her analytical mindset at McKinsey, she built her operational experience as the CRO at Elvie. As the fourth person to join the company, she helped to build it from a pre-revenue startup to the leading female health tech company it is today. Andrea is one of the few people in Europe to help scale a Health Tech / Femtech startup to global success. 

While at Elvie, she realized her passion for the early, messy years of building a business––when questions vastly outnumber answers and you have to do so much with so little. At Speedinvest, she’s had the privilege to be part of that critical phase again and again, combining her trained analytical mindset with her operator experience at scale. For her it’s both energizing and humbling.

“Health Tech is both one of the most exciting areas of momentum in European VC and it is also one of the most challenging ones. It requires all the things you expect from a great VC –– analytical skills, empathy, understanding of tech, and business models –– but also a deep understanding of the specifics of the healthcare sector and medical science. With Andrea, we found this rare talent who can credibly unite all these aspects, while remaining a humble, solution-focused and highly energetic team player. I am delighted to work with and learn from her over the coming years!” –– Oliver Holle

She believes that operators can both bring a level of empathy and experience that appeals to founders and diversifies deal flow. Her time at Speedinvest has been about putting this into practice. In the last year, her team has reviewed over a thousand pitches and welcomed six brilliant new businesses into our portfolio, like Doccla, Daslab, and most recently, The Lowdown. She now sits on multiple boards and is busy growing the Health Tech team.

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