Investing in Europe

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It’s no secret the world of VC and tech fundraising is evolving rapidly. Every year VC inflows break records, businesses reach unicorn status faster than you can blink, and VCs raise amounts you almost can’t pronounce. It’s produced incredible returns and attracts a much broader scope of investors…from Tiger cubs to traditional PE players and podcasters (kudos to Harry…). Literally, everyone wants in.

In some sense, I agree with Matt Levine when he says the private markets are becoming like the public markets. The exponential growth of investors, startups, and $-invested has made the investment process more efficient. Not to mention the emergence of AI/data/automation tools and stack available to VCs and founders to match up more quickly. Competition amongst VC firms is fierce, and everyone has some engineer trying to build a startup algorithmic trading machine.

But rest assured – I don’t think we’re heading down the path of treating startups like stocks. The whole efficiency and “closing deals over Zoom” conversation doesn’t exactly paint the same romantic view I had of the VC world. The reality is that much of the conversation around fundraising is still very people-centric; we’re talking about people’s visions, challenges, priorities, goals. These things are hard to spot on the surface (or in Excel), and creates opportunities. Thiel’s definitely onto something when he tries to find important truths that very few people agree on – that’s deep. At the end of the day, it is a sales process which in every sense of the word requires a solid dose of emotional intelligence.

It’s hard to see what’s going to happen in the market in 10 years. What surprises me the most is how technology is just tearing down geographic barriers, and funding is following suit. Europe has come a long way, and it’s no longer easy to tell how far ahead the US is (cheaper labor and a Mediterranean lifestyle.. what’s not to like). But what blows my mind is the pace at which the market is evolving in more developing countries like India, Nigeria or Brazil. Just look at how YC is simply crunching out startups from these regions now. Valuations are sometimes getting just as crazy as back home, and renowned VC funds are quick to open offices in these locations. Investors have learned from successes in Europe and know there’s some sort of race going on to cover new frontiers.

It’s an incredibly interesting place to be and I feel good about spending time and energy on the “future.” I don’t know if I’ll be in VC forever, but I am sure that the time I spend learning about building tech businesses and nurturing my network in the ecosystem (including founders, investors, engineers, salespeople, industry specialists, the list goes on…) is well worth it.

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image source: https://pitchbook.com/blog/the-top-5-non-european-investors-investing-in-europe

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