An Interview with Teddie Wardi, Nordic Partner at Atomico, Europe’s biggest fund

This morning Atomico has announced that it has closed its fourth fund at $765 million, making it Europe’s single largest venture capital fund. Not only is this a great vote of confidence European founders (in Atomico’s words), due to their active presence in the Nordics, it is also particularly great news for the region for companies looking to secure a Series A round and beyond.

We caught up with Teddie Wardi, the recently-appointed Partner with a focus on the Nordics to learn more about what verticals and ideas excite him most currently.

 

What start up verticals interest you most right now?

SaaS and Enterprise software: In the same way that the shift from desktop to mobile enabled a new generation of software startups to break through, I think AI and Machine Learning enabled functionality will do the same. Software in all areas of the the enterprise from sales and marketing to HR will be smarter, better support the user and anticipate next actions. Our investment in Pipedrive is a good example of this thesis as there are countless of use cases that these enabling technologies can power from lead scoring to collateral recommendations, with the long term vision of having a personal AI powered sales coach in your pocket.

IoT and predictive analytics in industrial applications: This is an area where I believe the Nordics can be exceptionally strong due to our strong vertical expertise in industrial domains including oil and gas, logistics and heavy machinery. The potential of unlocking value using IoT and predictive analytics applications with use cases such as preventive maintenance, yield optimization or resource usage improvement is very significant. I’m still trying to figure out if a vertical and use case focused product is more appealing than a wider platform strategy, but nevertheless it’s clear that large businesses will be built around this theme.

Digital Health and Wellness: I see the Nordics innovate especially in the consumer health space and I’m interested in companies that facilitate access to quality and affordable medical services, as well as enable transition to data-driven preventive or personalised medicine. I’m also particularly interested in solutions in data intensive areas such as testing and diagnostics, real time health measurement and tracking, and even genomics. Furthermore, I see a great potential in marketplace models for modern telemedicine or lab testing services to facilitate convenient online access to these services.

 

What are your biggest predictions for the next 12 months?

We are very interested in AI and Machine Learning but over the next year we should see the hype cycle take its course, some of the noise in the market dissipate, and the actually valuable use cases emerge. In terms of the funding landscape there will be a continued crunch of a large amount of seed funded companies in Europe having trouble raising subsequent rounds, but on the other hand we will see more and more high quality companies raising very substantial growth rounds. Finally in exits I’m expecting more traditional industry players to start acquiring startups also in Europe, following the lead of what has happened in the US for example in the auto industry.

 

Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund?

Ideas are worthless right? In any case, I think there is still huge amounts of opportunity in the most basic productivity software around work processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Companies like Quip and Airtable are doing a great job, but making the experience still more mobile-friendly, integrated and collaborative – and potentially adding some AI powered productivity hacks to it – would be welcome. I believe these tools can also become more vertical specific: if I’m a lawyer I will have very specific needs around these basic information worker tools that are different from someone who is in  financial services for example.

 

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?

Web conferencing that just works _every time_.

 

Neil S W Murray founded The Nordic Web in 2014 in order to provide the Nordics with the quality coverage it deserves. As well as being Founding Editor of The Nordic Web, Neil is also an active community builder in the region, participating in a number of initiatives, and has previously worked for Tech.eu.