Shamal Thakar

Shamal is a Director in the Growth Acceleration Team. He works with our portfolio to build, structure and negotiate commercial and strategic partnerships with some of the world's most exciting brands. 

I’ve spent 12 years working with global disruptive businesses - Fortune 1000 firms plus leading start-ups and scale-ups - building strategy and growth. I’ve seen first hand the difficulties faced when building and scaling commercial and strategic partnerships. This can range from having the network to get in front of decision makers quickly, to being able to articulate a compelling value proposition, to knowing the right levers to unlock commercial terms. These challenges are tough, take time, and often feel impossible to solve. But the hardest problems are the ones I enjoy helping our founders to overcome. 

Stand on the shoulders of giants and know yourself.

I studied at one of London’s worst performing state schools. Moving from there to McKinsey (via a stint in the commercial teams of two Hollywood studios - NBC Universal and Sony Pictures) definitely wasn’t part of any plan I dreamed up. Instead, I'm a product of what listening to great mentors can do for your career. For me, standing on the shoulders of giants meant I was able to take more risks and flirt with failure more regularly. As a result I had the confidence to explore new industries and sectors, and got a clearer sense of what I was good at. I also learned my weak spots. I found people to fill my own skills gaps, and was able to ensure projects I worked on were successful. 

Bring data to the table and learn to pivot fast.

My glamorous Hollywood (via London!) career started by supporting two B2B commercial distribution teams. NBC and Sony were facing rapid disruption as consumers moved online. The data told me the shift would accelerate, and the business units I worked in were having to lean in to this reality. These divisions were constantly being restructured, and I watched smart and passionate colleagues lose their jobs. I knew I needed to rethink the way I was approaching my career, to focus on growth.

Prior to Atomico, I spent six years at McKinsey.

McKinsey exposed me to extraordinary clients and colleagues. I was fortunate enough to meet globally recognised founders & CEOs, gamechanging business builders and even a couple of world leaders. Starting in the Media practice allowed me to partner with leading consumer tech and media brands on areas of business building and strategy. Then shortly before Covid 19 I moved to Fuel - McKinsey’s division focussed on start-ups and scale-ups. I fell in love with the mission and client work instantly. I knew I wanted to partner with gamechanging founders for the long-term, and it’s through this process I got exposed to Niklas, Dan and the broader Growth Acceleration team at Atomico. The proposition felt completely unique in the venture capital world.

Network building is a lifelong activity.

Learning how to build and maximise your own network is something I’ve spent a long time learning how to do well. This allows me to help Atomico's founders as they rapidly scale their businesses and connect with leading players across sectors and geographies.

Outside of work, I use the gym to justify eating large volumes of unhealthy food! 

We all saw a set of accelerated trends during Covid. The biggest trend for me was learning I could eat a surprisingly large amount of food whilst pivoting to 100% remote working, accelerated by the great choices on food delivery apps. The result - I needed to go on a fairly extensive diet! I recently completed a fitness transformation programme, losing 3.5 stone (50lbs) in 6 months. The process was fascinating (and at times bruising!), but something that has permanently changed the way I approach physical and mental health. I still love eating at Rathbone Street's finest establishments, but with a slightly more grown up approach to food, and one that feels sustainable!

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