Andreas is a Partner at Atomico, focusing on B2B — particularly SMB SaaS, vertical SaaS, and B2B Marketplaces — and leading our coverage in the Nordic and Baltic regions.
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 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 since dipping my toes in in 2015, I’ve never looked back.
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 — after which 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 5.5 years at Project A, I moved on to join Atomico mid 2020, where I lead our geo coverage in the Nordics and Baltics — and focus on B2B companies, with a soft spot for all things SMB SaaS, vertical SaaS, and B2B Marketplaces.
Ambition, resilience, and humility.
Three of the qualities I look for in founders are 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.
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, how vets completely rely on Digitail, or how manufacturing entrepreneurs can’t live without Katana — that’s fantastic and a real testament to founders’ ability to move the needle in a business’ day-to-day.
Go where technology can create the biggest value.
In a related note, I’m looking for tech products that truly represent a meaningful difference to the status quo. The rise of the cloud produced many successful SaaS companies with ever-evolving products — therefore, not all new SaaS products coming to market are creating a step change in their respective industries.
I’m looking to partner with founders who go beyond these marginal improvements — targeting workflows so flawed and so ripe for disruption that there is an actual innovation in the market possible. Often, this is the case for vertical SaaS — as an example, Digitail represents such a massive delta to the on-premise, non-connected workflows in vet clinics. But this true technology innovation is happening in other, more horizontal, SaaS applications as well — like Pocketlaw shifting a shaky, paper-based, and convoluted legal setup to a beautiful and standardized software solution.
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 :)