We spoke with Alastair Mitchell, who joined EQT Ventures as a Partner in May 2017 to lead EQT Ventures’ B2B strategy and is the man tasked with establishing EQT Ventures’ presence in San Francisco, about what makes EQT Ventures different and why San Francisco was important for the fund:
Half VC, half Startup: EQT Ventures is one of Europe’s most ambitious VCs with a €566m fund that employs a multi-stage strategy to make equity investments typically ranging between €1 million and €75 million, from A round all the way to growth rounds. This means the EQT Ventures’ support window is wider than a typical single-phase fund, recognizing the entrepreneurial journey to build a global success story is a marathon and not a sprint. Alastair himself is an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist; he co-founded Huddle, an online collaboration company with the aim of helping enterprises and government organizations work better together. Other members of the EQT Ventures team are founders and operators from such notable companies as King, Booking.com, Uber, Spotify, Sendit AB, and Rebtel among others. As Alastair explains, EQT Ventures is “the VC we wanted to have when we were building companies.”
So, why San Francisco? “Being one of the biggest funds in all of Europe and the biggest first time raise of any VC in Europe”, says Alastair, “gives EQT Ventures the ability to write big checks and build big businesses.” The bridge between Europe and San Francisco is essential to building those big businesses. “70% of our companies are European and most will end up expanding into the US,” explains Alastair so the move to San Francisco is a way to “help our companies transition here.” The flow in the other direction, however, is also part of the rationale for the move as “30% are US companies going the other way.” He sees Europe as “transforming itself very rapidly with valuation being very similar to the US right now” and notes that “the 4th industrial revolution is particularly suited to Europe.”
Thinking of approaching EQT Ventures for capital? Alastair reveals some key things he looks for in a startup:
1) The founding team: do they have the “ambition, boldness, and grit” to build a multibillion dollar company?
2) There needs to be an “effortless product-market fit.” Build something that the market wants now.
3) Has the company built a product that has a “natural defensibility over the next five years?”
4) Is the company “tackling a huge global problem?”
5) Has the company “attracted world class talent around them or do they have the ability to do so?”
What were the key lessons Alastair learned as an entrepreneur?
#1 “Ideas are nothing; execution is everything. Execution comes from people. Great talent is everything”
#2 “There is a bigger difference between great and good than there is between good and bad”