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Draper Esprit team members

Team of teams

Martin DavisCEO

You have to have belief and passion about what you are doing. If you truly believe in what you are doing and enjoy the people you are working with then your delivery will be so much better, and more fun. Never forget to enjoy yourself and never forget the impact you can have on your customers, staff, and communities.

I am never interested in investing unless there is a clear vision, direction, and problem that needs solving. The next trigger for me is a realistic but ambitious plan to be able to scale and monetise the opportunity. Many great ideas fail through poor execution and many great ideas never generate any value.

Simon CookChief Investment Officer

I focus on the team and the problem they are trying to solve. Ambition matters. The wildest, craziest, biggest ideas usually turn into the best companies, as our partner Tim Draper has shown us many times.

Tenacity is the most important quality for an entrepreneur. We’ve been business partners with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and we’ve lived through many ups and downs. My key piece of advice is always to just keep going don’t quit.

Don’t get stuck on buzzwords. In the world of VC, only three things matter. There’s the amount of risk capital, the percentage of growth you are willing to share, and who’s on your board to help you. That’s it.

Stuart ChapmanCOO

Measure your impact by the delight you bring your customer. I look for companies that exceed expectations of what ‘good’ looks like, and change perceptions of what’s possible.

AI and machine learning will force dramatic step-changes in technology. Not just in terms of the early applications we see now, but the pressures on infrastructure and hardware. We haven’t seen even a fraction of the uses yet – and that’s an exciting vortex to be in.

It’s too easy to say no. That’s why I focus on what can go right with an idea, not what can go wrong. Gather the best team around you, and give yourself every opportunity to be lucky.

Ben WilkinsonCFO

There’s great variety in my role: I’m involved in everything from investor relations and fundraising to talking with our portfolio companies and financial reporting.

My background’s in corporate finance and oil and gas, but it’s an exciting time to be in technology investment.

As the pace of change accelerates, I see big potential in blockchain and digital health.

Alan DuncanVenture Partner

Your ability to succeed comes from adaptability. I’m interested in the next generation of processor, memory, and wireless semiconductor devices. The question is always the same: how well can you respond to changing market opportunities?

Spot a new global mega opportunity before anything has been written about it. That’s all it takes. And if you’re making headway in the world of VR and AR, machine learning and AI, or device and gesture control, the future is yours.

Success takes more time and funding than even the best business plan will tell you. But the truth is that world-class entrepreneurs attract world-class teams, and can get the right VC partners to help their companies accelerate and grow.

Bindi KariaVenture Partner

I speak many of the many languages of the Innovation Ecosystem. I’m a natural-born connector, and to be a connector you need to understand many pillars of the innovation ecosystem. Most importantly, I speak Draper Esprit, which is why I’m here to contribute to the team as Venture Partner.

I love working with entrepreneurs. I’ve worked with founders for most of my career, so I became one myself, as founder of an Advisory Business. The crazier the idea, the more passionate and driven to execute an idea the individual is, the more likely I am to want to work with and help them execute.

Technology Innovation is at the heart of it all. I’m a geek at heart and am always looking to current and future innovations as they continue to impact society on a global basis. Why else would any of us be here if it wasn’t for a shared passion for technology and innovation?

Brian Caulfield Venture Partner

Ignore the charlatans: blockchain is a genuine game-changer, not just a get-rich-quick scheme. Along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, blockchain has serious potential to create a new wave of innovation.

Entrepreneurship matters because it can change the world for the better – not just create wealth. Making money is one thing, but entrepreneurship also plays a pivotal role in producing better good or services more cheaply, improving living standards, and addressing major environmental and societal issues.

Sell the problem, not the solution. The first thing you need to show me is a high-value, unsolved problem that you have a special insight into. And the second? Show me that you’re thinking two steps ahead.

David CummingsPartner

The problem you solve needs to be a ‘must have’ not a 'nice to have’. Be essential for your customers, and they won’t just use your product, but pay for it too. Solve the problem with passion, energy, and an unfair advantage that will sustain you, even when the competition reacts.

I like entrepreneurs who can hustle. People who aren’t afraid of personal sacrifice, who want to build their business without expensive VC, but recognise when they need capital to scale it.

Investment is the start of a long-term relationship, not a transaction. My entire business career has been about creating relationships, and trust. Be straightforward and honest, and good things happen.

Companies: Unbound, Hadean

Jonathan Sibilia Partner- Head of Secondaries and Fund of Funds

Can you get to $100m+ revenue in 7-10 years? Show me a pain point, a product-market fit, and what makes you different. The size of the market is important, but so is your ability to reach it.

I need to share your passion, not your sector. I’m thesis-driven, looking for entrepreneurs with a bold vision, ambition to challenge a market, and the potential to create big, sustainable businesses. That’s the beauty of our model: we can support you all the way, to create long-term category market leaders.

Be close to your numbers. My background is in private equity and investment banking; your numbers, KPIs and unit economics really matter. But valuation isn’t everything – your terms and the right VC partner is.

Companies: M-Files, RavenPack, Kaptivo, and Crowdcube

Richard MarshPartner

I’m an entrepreneur turned VC, with the first 10 years of my career spent building companies hands-on. I’ve been a founder and CEO and created Datanomic which we sold to Oracle.

You need a big idea, clear focus, and massive attention to execution. Show me that you’ve gone up through the gears: you know what works, what still needs to be figured out, and you’re on a path to market leadership. Then you’ve got me interested.

Build the best team around you, and choose board members who you can call up, who know what it’s like in your position, and who will actively help you, not just turn up and ask questions.

Companies: Apperio, Bright Computing, Green Park Content, SportPursuit,

Vishal GulatiVenture Partner

Patients are no longer silent bystanders. They are becoming equal partners in their care, empowered by advances in technology. It’s a radical change, for the better.

DNA sequencing and gene editing are just the start. Applying the power of machine learning to biological systems has the potential to accelerate human progress in new and unprecedented ways. It will help us address the challenges we face in energy, environment, food, and healthcare.

Training as a doctor was my comfort zone. I stepped out of it. Venture capital gives me a way to help people make real advances in healthtech – and support companies that will shape the future for us all. When I invest, I look for founders who are just as excited about their teams as they are about their idea.

Companies: Horizon Discovery, Lifesum, Push Doctor, Evonetix, Clue

Nicola McClaffertyPartner

It’s always the people. A PowerPoint and some numbers can tell you that an idea is interesting – but getting to know the team will tell you if the company will fly.

The rules are changing. From consumer behaviour to workforce expectations and the impact of automation on our lives, retail brands face a huge challenge, and an even bigger opportunity in the next decades.

Life is too short to work with people you don’t love working with. Communicating with your investors is essential: it’s a long-term partnership that will have highs and lows. So it’s just as important for you to find the right investor, as it is for us to back the right team.

Companies: Lyst, Roomex, Verve,

Vinoth Jayakumar Partner

I’m excited for the future of finance. Insurance. Fintech. Proptech. Cybersecurity. I’m interested in it all – but especially in companies that see ways to challenge a whole stack of financial products and services, not just the easy pickings.

Understand people, and you understand success. Empathise with your customer, solve their problem, and work hard at it. I learnt that as a cold caller – now I’m keen to see how companies will transform established concepts like credit and insurance.

Don’t tell me I’m missing out. Instead, show me you can hustle without being dishonest. And make sure you have the right team, the right market, and a huge opportunity.

Companies: Revolut, Form3, Thought Machine, Premfina, ICEYE

Christoph HornungInvestment Director

I get excited about companies run by ambitious founders with a clear vision in fast-changing industries. Management needs to be laser-focused on solving the identified problem and hire functional experts early on. Team spirit and product passion matter.

The best entrepreneurs are persistent, analytical and great leaders. Having been a founder and start-up advisor myself, I lived through the highs and lows of our industry. Following a thesis-based investment approach and identifying teams with the right skill set are essential to create big success stories.

Understand your partner, it’s a long-term relationship. VCs need to focus on the upside potential of ideas, so there is little time for buzzwords and dishonesty. Show us that you can execute on your plans, deliver sustainable growth and we back you all the way to market leader.

Philip O'Reilly Principal

Technology won’t be adopted just because it exists. You might have a product which does the job far better than the current method, but if you can’t sell it, you don’t have a company. Nowhere is this more true than for technology with legal, property and regulatory applications.

Working at Google taught me that I’m not a big company person. Training as a solicitor taught me that I’m not a lawyer either. My career change was about discovery and fine-tuning – and finding a place where you can see the impact your work has.

Read more books. Drink more coffee. Do more deep work. It’s good for the brain. Stop doing ‘busy’ tasks that sap your time, and focus on the meaningful tasks instead.

Companies: Droplet

Diana KrantzAssociate

Invest in, and really nail, your Talent/Hiring from day one. Heading up the partnership team at a Rocket Internet company taught me the importance of that – as well as the importance of good management and leadership, even for the smallest teams.

Forget your vanity metrics. I saw 11 companies graduate from the Techstars programme: the ones that did well were never afraid to change and change again as they found a true product-market fit.

Would I want to work for the founder? Can I see them leading the business in ten years’ time? Would I want to buy equity in them rather than in the business, if I could? These are the questions that help me make a decision – not just the detail on market size and traction.

Edel CoenAssociate

Our planet is going to look very different in 2050. Companies that excite me most understand that.

It might sound odd, but humanity’s biggest challenges are an entrepreneur’s opportunity. A growing and aging population, climate change, food production, energy security; these are problems worth your time, and our money.

Being honest and helpful matters. I’ve worked closely with hundreds of different companies during my career. There are key ingredients and patterns that define successful startups (and unsuccessful ones). It’s our job as investors to relay those insights to you.

Have a big vision you wholeheartedly believe in. That’s what counts. That’s what will spur you on to put the sweat in, even when the going gets tough.

Zacharia BabecoffIntern

Never miss an opportunity to meet new people. At university, a party or even in the plane. You never know the outcome of a random conversation. If you have nothing to lose give it a shot.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and throw yourself in the unknown. I enjoy the process of diving into a topic that I’ve never worked on or seen before. It allows me to gain a better view & understanding of the world & how these topics/areas interlink with each other.

Always be up to date with new apps and trends. The best way to foresee where the world is going and to understand a new generations mindset is to keep tab, even if it doesn’t appeal to you. Try a new app that is successful across a younger demographic for example.

Kevin SmallHead of Marketing

Innovative thinking + entreproenerial drive + business experience = A huge opportunity! It's great to be part of an organisation that's bringing these elements together at a time when there is so much Tech activity throughout Europe.

Having recently joined Draper Esprit to head up marketing – I’ve been struck by the dynamic professionalism and enthusiasm of everyone that works here.

Collaboration is key. I know of no industry where engaging, networking and partnering is so important.

Shannon BarrettMarketing Manager

Marketing is more then a magic button. It’s understanding the people responsible for the brand, the value they add and what that can mean for founders, it’s my job to convey that.

I work on the Marketing team, I handle content creation from writing blog posts to creating external presentations. I also help manage some of the events we do here at Draper Esprit.

Originally from California, I did my MA in London through the University of Chester while working full time for the marketing team at Thomson Reuters.

Ollie ForsythCommunity Manager

I focus on the Draper Esprit community. It’s no longer just about providing capital, it’s about providing incredible value – Working in tech investment is hugely motivating, you see so many amazing companies who are working on some incredible innovations – that really excites me. It’s all about the founders & team.

The best advice I have been given is to build your network effectively – go out & meet people, the network will follow.

Before joining Draper Esprit, I run a podcast show interviewing the most notable business leaders such as the founders from Netflix and Leon Restaurants to name a few.

Daragh PhelanFinance Director

I came to Draper Esprit with 8 years’ experience working as a senior finance leader with private equity backed technology and healthcare businesses. I joined to be part of a rapidly growing company doing clever things in VC, and I enjoy working across multiple disciplines.

At KPMG I was involved in multi-billion dollar buy-outs – but now I come into contact with some of Europe’s most exciting technology companies.

I’m just waiting for IoT and artificial intelligence to bring us fully connected car systems.

Ben RobsonIn-House Legal Counsel

Law doesn’t have to be boring! During my time as a partner in a London law firm, I advised companies of all sizes from pre-seed through to billion-dollar corporations. At Draper Esprit I get to add value at both ends of the spectrum, working for a hugely ambitious PLC investing in disruptive businesses who are changing the world.

The world is changing fast. As our natural and digital habitats face unprecedented challenges, new technologies are revolutionising the way that we work, communicate and care for one another. By investing in great people with brilliant ideas, I believe we can invest in a future to be proud of.

ATD. Attention To Detail. Whether it is the single differentiating factor that sets a portfolio company apart from its competitors, or the one word that changes the whole meaning of a contract, the big picture is critical but the devil is in the detail.

Sian GittinsFinance Manager

I work in the Finance team, having joined in 2018 from Financial Services audit at KPMG. My role gives me lots of variety and experience across different areas – every day is different!

Being involved in supporting the growth of the companies of the future and the fresh way Draper Esprit approached it was one of the reasons I was drawn to working at Draper Esprit. Another was the opportunity to learn from the breadth of experience across the technology and venture capital industry.

I’m excited to see how entrepreneurs use technology to support improvements in people’s health and wellbeing.

Alex HollandFinance Manager

Life at Draper Esprit is always exciting, every day is different which I love.

I am extremely happy to help all these amazing companies to achieve their potential, and work alongside some fantastic mentors.

Rehan MalikFinance Assistant

My role at Draper provides me with a holistic view of how the investing business works. I joined Draper from a Fund Administration background, working closely with Private Equity Fund Managers, delivering on Fund reporting requirements.

The future of tech is exciting. Having the opportunity to be working in the Technology sector and experience firsthand all the innovation happening which can shape the future world is exciting.

It is great to be a part of an awesome team and as the business scales I'm always looking to enhancing my skillset.

William EnglandFinance Assistant

Development and progress always in mind. Draper Esprit is always committed to personal development and progress. Coming in as a graduate with very little experience to the business world, Draper has shown support in helping me learn and develop as a finance professional but also as an adult.

Stepping into the unknown. Learning about Draper Esprit, venture capital and all the tech firms we invest in has been daunting but also an enjoyable process which has opened my eyes completely to what a business needs to succeed and how endless the world of technology is.

Paula DarlisonGroup Administration Manager

I joined the founding team in 2000, following and assisting in its exciting journey from the first fund through to IPO.

I manage the office and administration alongside working with our Management and EIS team – enjoying the direct contact with our investors, the sheer variety of involvement with all aspects of our business and of course appreciating the exciting diversity of technology that filters through our funds.

Before Draper Esprit, I’d always worked at large City finance institutions. Here, I’m part of a much smaller team, learning what it takes to create a successful company (it’s not just about financing the idea).

Cherylene ChikomoHR Manager

In order to build a rewarding employee experience, you need to understand what matters most to your team. My background is in the software industry and I got an exciting opportunity to work here.

Working at Draper Esprit allows me to translate business vision into HR initiatives that improve performance, profitability, growth, and employee engagement. I enjoy working with management to provide a unique perspective and appreciation that human capital is every organisation’s greatest asset.

Jayson TullochIT Manager

The technologies that we invest in are truly amazing, and it's great to be a part of a forward-thinking team.

I joined Draper Esprit in 2019, to fulfill a requirement for onsite IT management and Project management. Draper Esprit as a company is growing along with its headcount and security requirements. I manage the IT estate along with our support provider, to blend IT security flexible secure working and business continuity.

Before Draper Esprit, I worked for global companies as an IT manager, now working with a smaller forward-thinking team I can see the benefits of how the cloud will empower us into work smarter and not harder.

Stephanie EdwardsTeam Assistant

As the team assistant, I make sure everything runs smoothly. I support a growing investment team, assist with events and office refurbishments.

I love to see developments in frontline technology, as well as seeing Draper Esprit grow. I started in 2007, and being a part of the team that got Draper Esprit listed on the London Stock Exchange was a big moment.

Before working in the London office of Draper Esprit I worked at Amadeus and a variety of other investment firms.

Originally from Germany, I did an MA in Translation from London Metropolitan University and a BA in English from Oxford Brookes.

Katie ScottTeam Assistant

There are so many clever apps out there that I’ve been lucky to use and have enhanced my life. Working in an industry that supports and grows the next big idea is inspiriting and I can’t wait to see what other ideas will unfold. Perhaps some life-changing app that’ll help us act on climate change.

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them. Joseph Joubert. It’s not enough to just have a good idea. You’ve got to see it through. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside others who’ve made a great idea a reality. Dedication and grit really is the key to reach greater heights.

I joined the team in 2019, following and assisting in its exciting journey. I’m here to support with admin, front of house, and enjoy working in this fast-paced, ever-changing tech environment.

Lucy DightonDirector of Operations

The most rewarding part of having worked in the VC industry for the last 15 years has been watching the companies we are involved with grow and succeed. As investors we are there to support them when things aren’t going to plan and to cheer them on when they are.

Technology can completely transform the way we do business. Part of my operational role here is to see how we can leverage technology to work in a smarter way and communicate better with our investors.

Nothing stands still so you shouldn’t either. Think about how much the world has changed in the last 10 years and never assume just because something is leading edge at the moment it will stay that way.

Yvonne IhegborowClient Services

In the words of Tom Goodwin “Business today needs a new style of leadership” and for sure Draper Esprit embody this.

Working within the Client Servicing team for the EIS department has proven to be extremely intriguing and fast paced.

Adaptability is key and Draper Esprit represent this through the way they operate and through the companies they invest in.

Michael Jackson Chairman, Elderstreet

I started my business above a Chinese takeaway on Newgate Street, overlooking Old Bailey. I didn’t set out to be in venture capital: I started as a corporate financier, raising money, and investing my fee back into the companies. One of them happened to be Sage, of which I became Chairman.

Every company has a defining moment. A big contract, change in business model, or a moment when you think ‘this is it’ – then interest and growth follow. Sage’s moment was being the first to market with a low-cost accounting product for Amstrad.

Don’t forget how random success can be. Of course, there are good indicators: the right team managing the right product for the right market. But luck plays a big part too.

William HorlickPartner, Elderstreet

I’ve been through two big crashes, and three bull markets. Before VC, I ran a business for seven years, so I know what it’s like. Always be ready to adapt: buy yourself time in the down periods, and make sure you can get to market quickly in the upturns.

Customers prove the product. And prove that you’ve identified a pain point. But how big is it? And how unique is your solution? Answer those questions, and you begin to have a model for growth.

When everything’s connected, security will be even more important. Trends in technology are leading us to a connected world, running on vast amounts of data. How to secure that data is the next big question – and the next opportunity, especially in enterprise software.

Companies: Concorde Solutions (sold to Ivanti), DC Interact (sold to the Engine Group), Macranet, Bright Networks

Tim Draper Director, Draper Network

Opportunities happen as you project to great goals. Most breakthroughs come from ideas that aren’t initially identified as being related to the problem. Entrepreneurship is about drive, determination, and having an idea in your head that you just can’t let go of.

I was looking for something like bitcoin for many, many years. Whenever we see an industry getting lazy and providing bad service at a high cost, there’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur to come in there and change everything.

The best advice I’ve ever been given was from my father. It doesn’t matter who’s buying and who’s selling, it’s the personal relationship that matters.

Sid Mofya Director of Partnerships, Draper Network

Entrepreneurs are a special breed – learning from them, and playing a part in their journey, is what drew me to venture capital.

I’ve crossed continents and cultures, first from Zambia to the UK, then from Tanzania to the US: it’s taught me to embrace change.

I’m most excited by the people I meet who work in decentralised tech, using the wisdom of crowds to enhance human cognition, and improve the future of education.

I weave an extensive global web connecting entrepreneurs with corporations and investors. My goal is to make bespoke introductions for you to global corporations.

Gabe TurnerExecutive Director, Draper Network

I run the Draper Venture Network. I bring together funds and companies globally to build a better platform for entrepreneurship.

I once sold grass-fed beef to five-star chefs across California – but my more recent background is in strategy consulting and startup entrepreneurship.

I love to meet future game-changers and their backers, and see how simple ideas become great companies.

The next thing I want to see? How blockchain can address inefficiencies in law and government.

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