Private banking, family investment offices, foundations and NGOs, venture capital and entrepreneurs. Taryn Andersen (Barcelona, 1974) has been linked in some way to all of them throughout her career. When a former boss told her not to be a partner in the investment firm where she worked, she decided to train to create something of her own. His background, his contacts and the new knowledge acquired led him to found Smart Spider, a company from which to attract projects from entrepreneurs and seek interested investment funds. It was then that she came into contact with technology and was fascinated by the possibilities of digitization. She decided to mentor various technology training programs to stay in touch with emerging possibilities, and in the process THCap invited her to be part of their fund.
Andersen is the director of investor relations for this venture capital company with headquarters in Barcelona, San Francisco and London that invests in sectors as varied as logistics, agriculture, commerce, education, health, financial technology and cybersecurity . She is also the president and co-founder of the Impulse4women platform, which encourages contacts between entrepreneurs and investors, to which she dedicates 90% of her time.
At THCap they are open to investing in various sectors. What are those stronger now? What trends do they detect?
This year for the first time is not so clear. With COVID-19, many startups have pivoted to another market or have focused much more on the development of the technology itself and on data collection. Sectors such as video games, e-commerce, sex toys and video calling platforms have benefited. On the other hand, startups in sectors such as tourism, hotels and restaurants have been harmed by this context. What is clear is that, if before the pandemic we were interested in cybersecurity, the need has shown the opportunity much more clearly.
The market demands an accelerated digital transformation.
There are many Spanish entrepreneurs who were not aware of the importance of the technological part and now, as a result of covid-19, they are beginning to understand that they need to be digitized.
Is a venture capital-backed startup more likely to survive the pandemic, as some polls suggest?
It depends on the strategy of each fund. We enter a very early stage, in which we maintain a management very close to the entrepreneurs, whom we not only finance but also help in their day-to-day life. Almost every week we have meetings with those in whom we have invested. That support can be vital in managing the effects of the pandemic.
How many investments do they have and how much do they invest on average?
We have 12 startups in our portfolio and we want to reach 25 in the second fund that we are closing. We invested from 150,000 to 1.5 million, although this last figure is only reached in follow-up investments as the companies we have supported in previous phases grow and we are interested in keeping them in our portfolio. We usually talk about companies with the potential to multiply our profit by eight or by 10 in a future exit.
Do they take into account criteria for socially and environmentally responsible investment?
Of course. Still, the business model and the return on investment must match. If you have to choose between two, the one that also has responsible social and environmental criteria has priority.
Another issue of numbers led him to create Impulse4women.
The origin of Impulse4Women dates back to 2017 due to the frustration of what it cost to find women investors and entrepreneurs in the technological world. We realized that we were few and we live in a man’s world, and yet our approach to investing is very different. It costs us more to ask for money and the way we organize ourselves strategically is more holistic and long-term, considering the community. I saw clear then the need to create a platform where to connect women entrepreneurs in technology and social impact projects with investors.
Is there bias when investing?
There are things that are absurd: investors, with few exceptions, do not stop investing in a startup because there is a woman in front. We look at the business model, that’s the first step. We also highly value the team. What does influence is the problem of the woman’s self-consciousness. That is why Impulse4women was born, to reduce this gap.
How does Impulse4women connect women entrepreneurs and investors?
We classify them according to their maturity phase, sector, geographic location and, most importantly, by their economic needs. With that information we match them with angel investors, family offices, corporations, venture capital, private equity and social impact funds.
What is your business model?
We are an international non-profit association. We use two models. One is online: we invite women and social impact startups to enter free of charge and when they sign up it works as a matching platform where they have exposure to investors who may be interested in their project. We offer as a service to proactively connect them with our network of mentors and incubators. We also help women who would like to start investing but don’t know how to do it. On the other hand, we connect with nuclei of female talent, such as companies that are dedicated to imparting bootcamps (intensive professional seminars), to facilitate the recruitment of technological profiles. The second model is offline: we offer support to public and private organizations in their events.
What acceptance is the platform having?
We already have more than 3,400 startups and we hope to reach 10,000 by early 2021. 80% of those that sign up are of social impact. Regarding their origin, there were so few entrepreneurs in Spain that we decided to also position ourselves in Europe, where we have had an excellent reception. We have also been growing in the US and Canada. By the end of this 2020 we hope to have more presence in Asia.
How many female entrepreneurs are there in THCap’s portfolio?
Five of our startups are founded or co-founded by women, and another three are led by a woman. It is part of the EIC Accelerator program of the European Innovation Council (EIC) that seeks “first-rate” startups in Europe.
Is it difficult to find them?
No, we are at the same height as in the US, especially in the early stages. Although there the volume of investment and outflows represent almost two thirds of the world total.
What do you consider a “top-notch” company?
The one that is solving a problem, that covers a need in the market, with a good team and with a good strategic marketing and sales perspective in order to gain market share and be able to scale in the shortest time possible, offering good profit margins.
From your point of view, where are European startups well positioned and where?
We stand out for example in sustainability and smart cities, especially the Nordic countries. We also have important centers such as Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Tallinn or Riga. Much depends on the digital transformation that each country has undergone and on government aid, both to the different platforms to encourage entrepreneurship and through tax benefits for investors.
Shazura. Instantly recognizes the footprint of millions of images and videos with its proprietary technology, based on artificial intelligence. “Leads the digital transformation in small businesses, travel, home and other sectors. Clients benefit from investment returns of up to 20 times, sales conversion ratios of 60% and up to 50% savings in operational efficiency. The drive, effort and dedication of its creator, Sira Coba, stands out ”.
TeamEQ. Artificial intelligence company in the human resources and talent sector that, through the analysis of various parameters, suggests how to organize the different teams to optimize the capabilities of the employees.
Tiko. Platform that facilitates the sale of homes and guarantees the seller a preliminary offer within 24 hours. It operates in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Seville. “Its founder, Ana Villanueva, is a persistent entrepreneur with a new business model in the real estate sector.”
Citruslabs. Invested by THCap, it is a platform for patient recruitment and retention clinical trials. “It approaches recruiting holistically, considering the patient experience, site performance and key ideas from the sponsor.”
ClaimCompass. Also invested by THCap, it helps manage airline claims and offers returns from 250 to 600 euros. “It has found a large neglected market niche, where time and administrative bureaucracy hurt travelers.”
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