Lina Wenner, Associate Partner at Firstminute Capital | Q and A

What were your biggest learnings from your time at Boston Consulting Group?
Structured thinking! Quickly scoping out a problem space then figuring out what data would be most useful to make a well-calibrated decision in cases where I have incomplete information — which tends to be the case in early-stage investing. I also make a mean powerpoint presentation…

How do you view the next 12/18 months in terms of investment in DACH tech and software startups?
I believe the pandemic will lead to a more decentralised startup culture outside of the key hubs. I’m also cautiously excited for some of the regulatory shifts happening in the digital health space — hoping to see Germany take a lead on integrating digital approaches into the healthcare systems.

How have your views on ethical AI evolved over time?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this in the context of healthcare, where we’re facing a challenging trade-off between the immense potential that machine learning in healthcare research and delivery on the one hand, and big ethical question marks around privacy, consent, transparency, and algorithmic biases on the other. It’s a key reason for why adoption of these technologies has been slow, and I’d love to see more debate and policy around this topic.

Do you believe investor appetite for gig economy driven startups will pause for breath, following the recent landmark decision regarding UBER in the Supreme Court?
The Deliveroo IPO is an interesting case in point which shows that, as some public equities investment managers are tightening their ESG policies, gig economy marketplaces might have a harder time in public markets. It remains to be seen how much this will impact investment appetite at the early stage — ultimately, these business models are creating a lot of value for all sides of the platform, but we would certainly look out for any exploitative tendencies and don’t tend to get excited by pure regulatory arbitrage.

What were the key issues in evaluating Karakuri that led to leading the recent Funding Round?
We backed the CEO Barney early on in their £7m seed round alongside Ocado. Since then, the company has unveiled the first fully customisable robotic kitchen system, hired exceptional talent throughout, and Covid has fuelled demand for contactless solutions, which we view as a major tailwind.

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