Atomico has been building speed since 2006, when Niklas Zennstrom, former co-founder of Skype, decided to press the acceleration pedal in the European VC market. So far, the team has raised five funds and has over $5B in assets under management, with Klarna, Supercell, and Lilium, to name a few, as shiny portfolio companies.
“I spend my days looking into the future,” Atomico’s Partner with a Romanian DNA, Irina Haivas, tells me at the beginning of the interview. After a pandemic and a downturn looming over the tech startup ecosystem, 2023 is quite an interesting year for both investors and entrepreneurs.
This is why we sat down with the UK-based investment firm woman in tech to discuss the current macroeconomic environment, emerging markets’ attraction, and the decision-making processes moving further on their growth strategy.
“The journey of a founder is not linear, the journey of even the most successful companies takes a long time. It also comes with hard times, when you don’t know if you are going to make it,” reveals Irina Haivas before embarking on her view of what it takes to “make it” in the tech ecosystem.
A woman’s journey in VC
Before you dive into the interview, know that Irina Elena Haivas’ roots are planted in Iasi, the same city where Atomico’s first Romanian investment – Digitail, was initially coded. Irina has a background in medicine, and having studied to become a doctor has turned her attention toward AI, web3, and Biotech solutions.
In the video, Irina tells me that her early studies in mathematics taught her rigor and logic, but also approaching problems with courage, while her medical background showed her how to deal with things she cannot control.
Prior to joining Atomico in 2018, she developed skills in international policy and economics and grew as a Principal at GHO Capital Partners LLP for three years. Currently, she is a board member and investor in projects like Mapillary, Kheiron Medical, Healx, accuRx, Digitail, Y42, NFTPort, and Qatalog.
“I invest in structure and infrastructure broadly. My first investment in AI was eight years ago. I have seen the space evolve and it’s the same with the bio space. These are multi-year thesis,” she shares about the 2023 goals and goes deeper into the hyped solutions of the year in the video interview above.