5 Feb 2021

Introducing the Atomico Angel Programme’s Third Year

We surveyed Europe-wide angel investors for our State of European Tech report, and found stark differences in the makeup of the founders they backed versus Angel Programme participants Only 20% of surveyed angels (with up to 10 investments) had made over half of their investments in underrepresented founders. That number was 57% for Atomico angels from underrepresented backgrounds from both Cohort 1 and 2 as of December 2020. In both cases, we defined underrepresented as Women and founders/investors from an underrepresented ethnicity. This only serves to reinforce our thesis that increasing the diversity of Europe’s investor community — including on our team — is an important prerequisite for making VC money available beyond white, male founders.

Two years ago, we started the Atomico Angel Programme with the goal of empowering the next generation of European angel investors to partner with outstanding early-stage founders from across the region. The connections and investments made by these first two cohorts demonstrate the ever-growing vibrancy of the ecosystem and the incredible pool of underrepresented founder talent building from Europe. It has also helped us make important connections with the community at the earliest-stage, a stage at which we don’t invest.

We’re proud today to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2020 participants and share learnings from their journey. In addition, we are delighted to announce the programme’s expansion in its third year and the 18 exceptional individuals who will be joining us in 2021.

The world was turned upside down in 2020, but the Atomico Angel Programme’s second cohort thrived amid adversity. First, because of the support they gave their founders; the investments they made were not just about capital but about providing advice on everything from fundraising to go-to-market strategy. Second, because they supported each other. Their Slack group was always active with dealflow and thoughts about industry verticals and investment themes, and they swapped advice and learnings on Zoom.

Their feedback about the programme reflects the strong community that they forged in a virtual world:

Sarah Drinkwater, Director, Beneficial Tech at Omidyar Network: “Meeting people putting it all on the line to pursue their dreams in a year like this has fuelled my optimism at a time when, frankly, I needed it most.” (read more about her experience in the programme)

Deepali Nangia, Venture Partner, Speedinvest: “The Atomico Angel Program is fantastic…I feel very grateful and privileged to have been given the opportunity. I’ve had a great support system with the other people in the program. We can draw on each other’s skills and expertise and we look at deals together. I also talk to the Atomico research team because they are available to help us if we want to look at a sector in detail, which is very useful.” (read more about her experience as an angel investor)

This group leaves behind an impressive legacy:

  • 78 total investments, compared with 36 for the first cohort
  • 9 European countries invested in
  • 63% of investments were in teams with at least one female founder or female co-founder
  • 74% of investments were made in teams with at least one underrepresented founder
  • 9 investments had the participation of two or more programme participants

With two years of data now, we can also draw some very interesting conclusions about the link between the background of angel investors and the companies that they back. This is important given that the programme’s goal since the beginning has been to activate new clusters of European talent, particularly those that have been underrepresented historically, and drive positive, transformational change.

We’ve expanded the group to 18 founders, operators, community organisers and sector experts for the third year of the programme. We selected them for their diverse perspectives, unique networks, and experience building and advising companies.

Starting with this cohort, Atomico Principal Terese Hougaard will lead the program. Originally from Denmark herself, Terese is passionate about supporting the geographic diversity of Europe’s tech ecosystem and will lend both enterprise and consumer expertise to the group.

Supported by the success of previous years, we are also pleased to announce that we will extend an offer to a group of select angels to continue investing for two more years with us after their participation ends. These alumni will be an invaluable resource for younger cohorts and will strengthen the Atomico Angel Programme alumni network even further as stewards for the potential and power of the European ecosystem.

The 2021 Atomico Angel Programme participants are:

Congratulations to 2020’s participants for their achievements and to the newest members of the programme.

Cohort 2 Investments (not all are public)

Andy Davis

Sarah Drinkwater

Robert Gaal

  • Tella
  • Origin
  • Walter

Cedric Giorgi

Gulnaz Khusainova

Danica Kragic

Harry McLaverty

  • Envaluate
  • Amica
  • Flow Bio
  • Primeflow
  • Customuse

Deepali Nangia

Maud Pastauraud

Marcus Ross

Tine Thygesen

Katja Toropainen

Karina Univer

  • Woola
  • Rendin
  • Vok Bikes

Ville Vesterinen

How the Atomico Angel Programme works

  • Atomico’s Angels are selected on a 12 month rolling programme basis.
  • Angels USD $100,000 to write multiple early-stage cheques.
  • Angels each have autonomy to partner with any founders they choose (so long as it does not not violate Atomico’s overall ethical investment principles and commitments made to our LPs — i.e nothing unethical including drugs, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, porn, type startups etc.)
  • Angels get a share of the upside when the founders they back succeed, in the same way that Atomico would.
  • If one company takes off, all the angels benefit: in order to promote collaboration, we have allocated some carry per investment to an ‘Angel Pool’, from which all the angels share. In this way, one company’s success benefits all the Atomico Angels as a group, not just the Angel that partnered with that company.
  • We encourage angels to partner with founders at the earliest stage, and thus maximise their exposure to the future.
  • This also means that Angel Programme investments will be at least one stage removed from Atomico’s remit, in some cases two stages removed. Atomico’s angels are partnering with founders who would otherwise have been at least one or two stages removed from the stage we invest at. By investing at a stage we don’t touch, the Angels’ independence is assured
  • The Atomico Angel investment sparks a relationship with these early founders, but it in no way guarantees, or even indicates that they will receive further investment from Atomico. Atomico invests at Series A and these investments will be angel investments, often first money in at the pre-seed stage.

Show me all insights