eqtventures

Alastair Mitchell joins EQT Ventures

Susannah Clark

It’s great to have you on board, Ali. We thought it’d be fun to ask you a few questions and get under the skin of why the time is right for you to join the EQT Ventures advisory team. So, here goes.

Q: You’ve spent 20 years in the B2B SaaS industry, notably as a founder and CEO of Huddle. More recently, we saw that you were making the jump and starting your own VC fund in Singular Ventures. What made you decide to shift your focus to join EQT Ventures instead?

A: For a long time now, I’ve been passionate about wanting to transform the way that Europe does Venture Capital. When I started Singular Ventures, I wrote about how the experience for founders seeking funding from European firms was leagues apart from the experience those same founders would have in the U.S.

U.S. investors have, rightly, built a reputation for being brave, taking risks, helping their founders to develop into fantastic operators and providing great operational support. Europe has a reputation for building some of the best technology in the world and it just didn’t seem right to me that European founders couldn’t back that incredible tech expertise with a great experience of venture capital funding.

Just as we were doing the main raise for Singular Ventures, Hjalmar Winbladh from the EQT Ventures advisory team got in touch and I was blown away by how similar our missions were.

The EQT Ventures Fund, supported by the advisory team, was doing something that was unique in Europe - taking a truly operational approach with an advisory team of full time operational partners from some of Europe’s best startups and scale ups including King, Booking.com and Spotify. The fund together with support from its parent company, EQT, which has over 20 years of investment experience, can help founders by opening doors future customer contacts and leveraging its network of industrial advisors. All of this was underpinned by a very impressive fund size of $630 million which allows the EQT Ventures Fund to back and develop its portfolio companies to win globally with enough capital - again, something that the U.S. VCs were doing really well and now EQT Ventures can do for Europe.

It was what I was wanting to achieve with Singular Ventures but on a 10X scale - I jumped at the opportunity.

Q: You’re going to be opening a San Francisco office for the EQT Ventures advisory team and heading up its U.S. operations. Why does the Valley need another VC?

There’s a common misperception that for a company to make it big, the only market that really matters in the U.S.

Building a global company means being truly global - you have to win internationally and you have to win faster than ever before. Combined, European countries make up an enormous market, and in fact, in many cases, the UK alone is the second largest market to the U.S.

Sounds great, right? Yes, but Europe is complex. It’s a huge market with many countries, many cultures, varying regulation by country, varying laws, and to crack it, you need a partner that has on-the-ground experience.

When I was first talking to Hjalmar and Kees about the potential for EQT Ventures in the U.S. I knew that having vast scaling experience in the advisory team supporting the fund, not least with Kees’ experience in building and scaling Booking.com into more than 70 countries, would mean the EQT Ventures Fund could be a true partner to founders in the States needing to scale across Europe. There’s a huge amount of companies at B and C stage rounds that are really looking for this type of support and we can’t wait to meet them.

Having an advisory office in San Francisco supporting the EQT Ventures Fund means that there are possibilities for the fund to not just be a European VC - it would be a global VC - able to support the best European startups to expand into the U.S. without having to rely on U.S. funding alone.

Q: You’re quite well known for your experience in B2B SaaS. Why are you so focused on this area of technology?

I really believe that as an investor, you should try to invest in areas you deeply understand and are passionate about. I have been in the space for 20 years, so I know it very well.

The EQT Ventures Fund and the advisory team tend to take this approach and because of the breadth of the advisory team, the fund can be quite forensic across multiple sectors of the tech industry. The advisory team has deep experience across sectors including eSports and gaming, Travel, AI, analytics, mobile, and more.

I know as a founder that you want to work with investors that have relevant experience in your area - and recent relevant experience at that. You need to be able to tap into the networks and support of your investors to really accelerate towards being a global company.

Even though I’m 20 years into working in SaaS, I’m still excited by the possibilities for the future. I believe we’re seeing the next industrial revolution at work. The world of work has changed. We’re there for roughly 70% of our time, so the tools we use should be amazing. That’s why I started Huddle and it’s why I’m still excited now about the future.

I think AI is going to transform how we work and I’m looking forward to the day I no longer have to log on and search for the document I want to read and edit. Instead, with the help if AI, my computer will already know and I can just get started!

Thanks, Ali for the chat, and we’re thrilled to have you on board!