It’s written somewhere in the genes…
Part Geek, Part Coach.
We were excited last week to be not only celebrating the close of our new £60m fund, but also to be welcoming on board our new Investment Partner – Carina Namih.
Here at Episode 1 we are, first and foremost, company builders, with cumulatively decades of founding and operating experience between us. So we are especially delighted to have Carina – a deep tech entrepreneur recently returned from Silicon Valley – join our team. We see a lot of former financial services and consulting folks – many of whom are great – but not so many with real entrepreneurial experience from the frontline of the revolution.
For those of you who haven’t met Carina yet, I wanted to offer a few words of introduction. The first time I met her I thought she was very smart and switched on about tech, full of energy and enthusiasm. As I’ve come to know her, what I really like is her balance – very confident in her opinions and convictions, but without the arrogance you often find in someone who has had the kind of accelerated career experience she has.
Indeed, she’s one of those people whose intellectual curiosity you can sense from the career path she’s already put together. After getting a first in PPE from Oxford and a stint doing M&A at Goldman Sachs, 6 years ago she packed up and moved to Silicon Valley with a scholarship from Google to research applications of deep tech. With this background, she founded and ran a YCombinator company, with a team from MIT, applying AI to interpret DNA data to try and find cures and insight into genetic diseases.
Which brings up one of the great things we like about Carina – and value most at Episode 1 – if you’ve built a technology business from scratch, you know just how winding the road can be. You know how and when to get your hands dirty, and ultimately how to empathize with and support other founders. Early stage venture capital is above anything else a people business – and I’ve already seen how founders love Carina’s combination of deep tech and “I know how you feel -here’s what we did…”.
Coming back from Silicon Valley earlier this year, Carina talked to a lot of folks in early stage venture and had her choice of opportunities in London. In the end though I think what she liked about Episode 1 was our entrepreneur centric perspective and intellectual honesty – she felt at home. As graduation rates for seed stage companies moving to Series A fall, the fact we are all about our companies – bringing our depth of real experience to support their key decisions – just resonated.
Carina will naturally be oriented towards deep tech companies. There’s that intellectual curiosity again. For example, we’ve seen a lot of digital health businesses in the last couple of years from bioinformatics to wearables and incorporating all sorts of AI. I thought I understood most of them, but it is not until you spend time with someone who really understands the market and has a current knowledge of the state of the science and technology that you realize what you don’t know. Carina also has minor side interests in blockchain, quantum computing and all things science fiction. Enough to start with I think.
Even though she only started this week, it feels like Carina’s already a vital part of the team. In fact, a couple of weeks ago she even re-designed our assessment process for first meetings. I have a feeling it won’t be the last time she shakes things up.
Welcome Carina, we’re glad you’re here and look forward to working with you on finding and building the next round of Episode 1 Portfolio companies!