EQT Ventures are a European Headquartered Venture fund who make minority equity investments in technology companies with growth potential across Europe and the US. They are both stage and sector agnostic, focusing instead on ambitious and determined founding teams ready to build a global success story across all industries, and are currently deploying their second fund, with €660m in commitments. Their aim is to be the kind of VC their team would have all liked to have access to when they were founding and building their own tech businesses; therefore the team are all ex-operators who can offer founders operational support as well as capital.
Having recently raised their second fund, EQTV were keen to focus more acutely on exciting businesses in the French ecosystem. They therefore decided to hire a Deal Partner, to establish an office in Paris, who could focus on building up their presence in the region.
In keeping with EQT Ventures’ thesis of hiring ex-operators, we knew this was a key criterion. We were particularly interested in candidates who had either been founders in the past or who had been on a journey within a high-growth start-up/scale-up in the tech space. Whilst prior investment experience was not essential, exposure to the fundraising/investment process was. Beyond that, we were also looking for candidates with a great pre-existing network and strong relationship building skills. The final vital criteria was they were only interested in considering candidates who would bring either gender diversity or a diverse background to the team that they have been building.
Rania Belkahia was placed in the role. She had previously built and launched her own start-up, Afrimarkets, an e-commerce platform in West Africa. She had successfully grown the business to 250+ employees in 5 markets and raised €20m from well-known French investors including Xavier Niel and Orange. She was also one of the early members of The Galion Project, a thinktank for French Tech Entrepreneurs, helping other entrepreneurs build their businesses.
I fully expected that trying to find a great diverse investor in Paris with a strong entrepreneurial background would prove to be a difficult search. However, I was truly impressed with how Flo and the Erevena team scoured from the most unusual and unlikely of places to find us a really great teammate who fitted the brief perfectly!