Tom is a Partner at Atomico, based in London, where he runs our Insights team. The team’s mission is to share data and insights to help us make better decisions and have more informed conversations with the people who matter most to us (founders, LPs, etc). Tom is also the founder of our annual, industry-defining State of European Tech Report.
I care deeply about building and shaping the future of our ecosystem and galvanising the community to help European tech realise its full potential. It’s been a privilege to see so many transformative businesses emerge from Europe, and to play some small part in driving, recording and recounting that success. That’s why we created our annual State of European Tech report -a platform for everybody that is united by a common drive to contribute to the success of tech in Europe.
It’s never too late (or too early!) to find your calling
I didn’t come to VC until relatively late in my life - I started my career as a telecoms industry analyst and spent the best part of a decade during the industry’s most formative years. People often think telecoms is boring, but it couldn’t have been more thrilling to have had a front row seat when everything turned to mobile and smartphones. It sparked my love for tech. I’d never really considered VC as a career path, but Atomico took a chance on me as an outsider to the industry- and I am glad that they did. There’s not a single day I don’t get up and love what I do. We are proud of our belief that great companies can come from anywhere - I like to think that I am proof that great people can too.
Spotting the potential of a great market is much harder than people think
It’s even harder to put aside your personal bias to try to envisage the world in a different way.
Many of our most expensive mistakes stem from not understanding market potential - my favourite part of my job is trying to challenge myself to imagine why something works at scale, and to frame what you need to believe for that to happen. I love the story about how McKinsey sized the total mobile phone market at 900k units - predicting the future with any degree of accuracy is famously very hard indeed.
We all bring prejudices to the table, in investment as in life
A dangerous trap for VCs is to overlook markets entirely, because they fall outside your frame of reference. You have to avoid bringing your own bias or blindspots to the table to be open to markets that you may never have known existed. Overlooked markets are everywhere and exist for many reasons, whether because they are too complex, too expensive, too small, too hard to reach… but one constant factor is that they exist due to blindspots driven by homogeneous perspectives. This is just one of the reasons I’m a passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. We use Atomico’s platform to try to raise awareness, to influence the industry, and to take action. I am really proud of the steps we’ve taken, and how this is baked into our vision, mission and values as a firm.
I’m proud of Atomico’s work on the State of European Tech, and of its status as an industry-wide benchmark.
It started life as some unattractive PowerPoint slides and now it’s a whole movement! The ambition, though, remains the same - to chart the progress of the European Tech ecosystem, its growth and development; to provide the high-level context and analysis of its trajectory, which provides meaning to the data; and to energise and support the community to continue to believe in itself, and that even greater successes await in the future.
I like to play Devil’s Advocate
I am annoyingly objective. I always look for the counter-view. I find it very motivating when somebody says something won’t work, and will always try and find the argument for why it will - but don’t ask me to give that response on the fly. I like to stop, think and deliberate. Do my analysis. Find the insights. Luckily, I’ve learned how to do that without slowing us down.
I’m an undefeated table tennis champion
Amongst my friends, that is. I’ve yet to lose in our Christmas table tennis competition since we all moved to London nearly 20 years ago.