Venture

Andreas Helbig

Andreas is a Senior Associate at Atomico, focussing on sourcing deals in the Nordic and Baltic regions, and diving deep into a wide array of B2B topics, including SMB SaaS, AI-based enterprise SaaS, and B2B Marketplaces.

There are three qualities I look for in founders — ambition, resilience and humility. Ambition to change the world — after all, that’s why we’re here! Resilience to ride the rollercoaster of a founder's life — there is nothing easy about creating market-leading businesses, and the best founders need to be able to face and withstand challenges to grow. And humility — because Series A companies are far from maturity, and being aware and honest about the things you don’t know and can’t achieve yet will put you one step ahead in eventually overcoming these challenges. It enables you to come up with a strategy, and is thereby building confidence in your ability to move past them. 

In what some might say is stereotypical German fashion, I am an industrial engineer by trade.

My background is far away from the worlds of software and finance: I’m the son of a cashier and a teacher. I grew up in the manufacturing heartland of southwestern Germany, then studied Industrial Engineering (as a proper German would!). As part of my studies, I even spent 6 months on a factory shop floor on the outskirts of Shanghai, producing sealing rings for steel mills. That’s a long way from glossy TechCrunch features and Tweetstorms — VC was never something I had considered as a career. In fact, I only learned of its existence during my Masters degree — but I’ve never looked back. 

You can never speak to your customers too often.

Every product envisioned by a smart person sounds great until it hits the reality of the market. You will need to delight quite a number of customers on your journey to win a category, so you should learn everything about them, the problem you’re solving for them, and the best way to reach and close these customers. In turn — enthusiastic customer references get me incredibly excited about a company. To hear how much procurement veterans love Pactum, or how manufacturing entrepreneurs can’t live without Katana — that’s fantastic.

I know data is a cliché, but it’s really important.

If a company has a good grip on their metrics (i.e. definition, segmentation, continuous tracking), and, not only that, it uses these metrics to inform its activity, it’s almost certain that the founders have a good grip on the business. It sounds boring and straightforward — but doing your homework, and being data-driven are some good proxies for overall company health.

My VC journey has been a varied one.

I first joined the Berlin-based VC Project A as an intern during my Master’s degree, where I caught the entrepreneurship bug.  I then cut my teeth for 6 months at the German InsurTech GetSafe at a time when it had less than 10 employees, then re-joined Project A as a full-time Analyst, where I got promoted to Principal and was brave enough to move to Stockholm in the dark Nordic winter to open up the fund’s local presence. After a total of 5.5y at Project A, I moved on to join Atomico in mid 2020, where I continue to focus on the Nordics and Baltics and/or B2B companies, with a soft spot for all things SMB SaaS, SaaS with an AI component, and B2B Marketplaces. Further, I’m involved in our New Mobility cluster, working with Lilium and Vay on modern and sustainable transportation. 

“Tech entrepreneurs are true wizards or witches, I’m turning lines of code into enterprise value. They need to be both visionary and pragmatic, imagining incredible things but also pragmatically thinking about the tactical near-term steps to make them real. One second they’re envisioning how a software category will look like in 20 years, the next second they’re obsessing over the width of the signup button. I’m in awe of every founder who embarks on this journey — you rock!”
Andreas Helbig

Even though my name sounds Nordic and I cover the Nordics and Baltics, I’m actually not Nordic or Baltic. 

The first investment process I was ever involved in was the Seed round for the Stockholm-based telemedicine company Kry, which sparked my love for all things Nordic. I’m however only a stealthy Scandinavian, so please be aware that your smart and well-written emails to me in, say, Norwegian will be mangled by Google Translate before I can read them. But I can still handle the cold, the darkness, the crayfish and the aquavit!

The Nordic and Baltic ecosystems are amazing breeding grounds for innovation.

Because the domestic markets themselves are comparatively small, we tend to see founders from these regions thinking globally from day one — the sort of ambition we love to see. They’re also real examples of the ecosystem flywheel in action, with past successes supporting, inspiring and cheering on new startups, which makes a real difference.

When I like a company, I really like it.

With Pactum, I invested into the same company twice with different funds. If VC was a video game, this would be a pretty rare achievement!

In some respects I’m a late starter.

I only learned how to ski at the ‘young’ age of 27 — but the mountains have quickly become the place where I can recharge best. Pacing down a snowy mountain in the sun puts me in a peaceful state where I can forget about tech and venture for a second — until I’m back to checking Twitter in the lift :)

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