Inspired by, and with the blessing of Requests for Startups, this is the first post in a series of articles interviewing investors from some of the most active seed investors in the Nordics in order to get an insight into what they are looking to invest in, what problems interest them and their predictions for the next twelve months.
Ekaterina Gianelli (Inventure)
First up is Ekaterina Gianelli a Director from Inventure, a leading venture capital fund in the Nordics & Baltics. Inventure were in the top 3 most active investors in The Nordics in 2014 and the most active in Finland. Ekaterina focuses on seed and early stage investments, and works with the portfolio companies in mobile & online space. Prior to joining Inventure, Ekaterina has been involved in many innovative companies, including an adtech startup, Kiosked, and a leading service design agency, Fjord.
What start up verticals interest you most right now?
- Digitalisation of health & fitness: The Health ecosystem has never been as exciting, so no surprise many are looking into the domain. However, there are still many challenges the industry is facing in bridging the gap between hype and reality. We have a lot of data at our disposal, now it’s time to determine how to best utilise it for the benefit of an individual consumer. Using the data, we need to engage people in forming new health behaviours and in practicing self-care. Those who can, will soon dominate the space. Fitness has also moved towards digital. Personalised coaching that takes into account our biometric data and creates dynamic workouts is the future of fitness as I see it.
- Personalisation at scale: Being able to reach the right people with the right message at scale is crucial for any business. Personalisation is still at its early days – businesses are just testing the waters, trying to balance between relevance and invasiveness. So far, we haven’t seen much of how personalisation can add value to an end user. I believe soon we will.
- Enterprise software: I expect to see a big change in the application of consumer approach to enterprise (convenience, efficiency, good UX, mobile-first approach & high engagement level). Many enterprise verticals spend billions on software, but haven’t yet been reshaped by innovative startups – logistics & construction to name a few. The software in these verticals is expensive and hardly usable, so there is definitely a lot of room to take consumer experience to the next level.
What are your biggest predictions for the next 12 months?
Starting my career at a service design agency, I’m a big fan of elegant and simple services. I believe the concept of simplicity is key for both entrepreneurs and investors backing them up. Mobile as the first screen has already reshaped customer experience. With other emerging platforms, our expectations will change even more. As time we can spend interacting with each service decreases, simplicity of a service will become a big competitive advantage. Therefore as tech matures, I expect more value to be created by designers.
I believe we will see more startups with designer founders. A good designer understands the big picture of a service, has a cross-functional thinking and constantly pays hyper-attention to customer needs. Isn’t it a perfect skill set for a startup founder? As consumers demand more, great technology is no longer enough for a startup to succeed. I am part of the generation that requires clean user experience, both in consumer and enterprise services.
Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund?
Over the past years, technology has been reshaping many of the traditional industry sectors. Surprisingly, education hasn’t been fundamentally enhanced by innovation yet. I’d love to see more companies transforming the way we learn. The opportunity is massive, especially in developing markets – there is a potential for both economic and social gain. In the context of educational services, I believe crowdsourcing, human element of curation and prediction can add a lot of value to driving user engagement and ultimately revenue.
If you could wave a magic wand and instantly have any imaginable solution to a problem you’re facing (personally or at work), what problem would you solve?
I’d like to be able to better communicate with people who speak different languages. I travel a lot and meet many interesting people i’d love to have a converstation with, but sometimes cant because of a language barrier. Not everyone in my extended family speaks the same language either, which makes it difficult to communicate when we are all together. While it doesnt bother me daily, i’d definitely be happy when someone creates a solution for this.