Hannah Meiton is co-founder & Partner at Ampli Venture which is a SaaS B2B focused investor in the Nordics. Hannah also sits on the Board for a number of SaaS-companies such as Mentimeter, All Ears, Insurely, Videoly & MedUniverse. She spoke with Atara’s Co-Founder Robert Taylor about her career in B2B SaaS and how it has shaped her as an investor today.
Robert: What is the investment thesis for Ampli Ventures & what industries are you most excited about heading into 2023?
Hannah: Ampli is a Nordic-focused SaaS investment company looking at investments at Seed & Series A. How that translates for us is that we invest in SaaS B2B companies that have reached at least €1M in ARR and are growing at a fast rate. Overall we invest in teams with strong domain knowledge and ambitious visions around re-inventing digital tools & processes that solve real customer pain points. We're excited about investing in areas where automation and digitization are still manual processes. Finance and Banking, are good examples of that and that is the reason why we invested in Insurely.
We believe the insurtech space is still pretty premature and there’s still lots of digitisation to be done that will open up the space for new providers and challenge the traditional big players out there.
Another area we look actively for is companies that are building tools to structure and use an enormous amount of data that exists today. It’s an ever-growing problem! So, to really help companies to work in better and more insightful ways with data and meet customer's needs. Needless to say, we also care a lot about companies that improve energy efficiency and reduce climate change.
Robert: What is your background and how did it lead you to get into VC investing?
Hannah: My background is all in SaaS before it was even called SaaS! I have been working with subscription software since 2004, on the sales and commercial side. Without intentionally doing so my operating experience, ten years in the States and then ten years in Sweden have all been starting when the company was generating around €1M in ARR or earlier than that and really helping them grow into a €10M+ ARR company. Once you’ve done that, regardless of the segment, there are some concrete stages that you go through that are very similar from company to company. It is really building that solid foundation that prepares the company to scale.
So, with that experience, I took that into the boardrooms and realized that I could really add value to executive teams from my board position. And in the last few years, I've been really advising and coaching companies with this as well as angel investing. And with that, I'm now just amplifying that, right? We're taking that playbook and we're investing in companies with the view of working really closely with them to help apply our competencies and experience and help them to grow.
Robert: What are the standout characteristics or experiences that you look for in any aspiring founder that is looking to raise capital?
Hannah: I think it's really important we look beyond just the Founder and evaluate the whole team dynamic when making the decision to invest. But to your question, we always look to see how visionary the founder is, ensuring they have a clear goal. What type of company do they want to build and what concrete problem are they solving today? Also understanding how their product and service are going to evolve in the future to build out the company and expand both in terms of being able to develop the product, but also solve a bigger problem going forward.
We believe that entrepreneurs are looking for active and long-term investors that can offer targeted support and sparring when building their businesses. And we want to be that investor that can add value through our experience and work close together.
And that is also why the companies we invest in chose to work with us because we see investment as a two-way street here. It's both the Founders choosing us as their investors as well as us choosing the company. So, we see the meeting and greeting period very much as similar to a dating period where we make sure that there is good chemistry and there's a mutual vision of how we want to grow the company. We need to feel like we have a lot of synergies in our discussions. So, I would say that the Founder's values are what we're looking for. That's why we want to spend quite a lot of time with the team and the founder, not just come very quickly to a decision based on a quick intro pitch deck and an Excel sheet.
Robert: What are the greatest pitfalls that you see founders make and what would be your advice to help founders avoid making these mistakes going forward?
Hannah: What I've seen in the last two years is that growth has sometimes been misinterpreted as headcount growth. Yet instead, it should be looking at what's the fundamental drivers of growing the business and how we can constantly look to optimise ourselves, our organisational model, and our team to make sure that we run a super-efficient, successful, lean company that can grow faster commercially.
Robert: What are the biggest challenges your portfolio companies face when it comes to hiring?
Hannah: Because all of our portfolio companies are in an aggressive growth mode, it’s constantly a question of whether should we hire a leader, someone with the competence we need today and hope they continue to develop and grow with the company in the future or should we looking to make somewhat of an overhire, someone beyond what we need today from an experience perspective that can take the company with them and the company can grow into. I would say that is a constant discussion that we are always trying to work through and one of the biggest challenges we face.
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