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ACT #191 Building for inclusivity with Deepali Nangia, Partner at Speedinvest
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ACT #191 Building for inclusivity with Deepali Nangia, Partner at Speedinvest

An inspiring journey of empowering female founders and revolutionizing venture capital for inclusivity through founding Alma Angels and now as partner at Speedinvest.

Welcome, my fellow VC aficionados, to another episode of the At The Cap Table podcast. Humbly hosted by Savs Tan, this episode introduces you to the most esteemed Deepali Nangia, Partner at the Austrian powerhouse Speedinvest.

Deepali joined Speedinvest to focus on finding, funding, and supporting investment in underrepresented founders and head their 3m€ FoF program. She’s a past co-founder of Alma Angels, one of the organizations that are doing most to help more investment flow to women founders 🚀

Speedinvest, a pan-European early-stage tech investor, embodies the spirit of hands-on collaboration, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with visionary founders from the very inception of their ventures. And now also GPs 🥳

For those who need a refresher: Speedinvest is a hands-on, pan-European early stage tech investor, partnering with founders from their early stages and helping them to grow game-changing businesses. The Speedinvest team is one of the most active investors in Europe and last year announced 500m€ of fresh capital to invest in new ventures, and to continue to back their existing portfolio. The firm manages more than €1 billion in AuM and although it started in Austria, counts a team of over 40 investors based in Berlin, London, Munich, and Paris.

Scroll on ⏬ to watch the full video & read core highlights 👀


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Deepali's Journey into venture

Deepali's journey through the investment landscape was a dynamic dance, with twists and turns that led her to where she stands today. Starting her career in the realms of investment banking, she soon found herself immersed in the vibrant energy of New York City. Private equity became her next adventure, where she explored the exhilarating realm of series A and beyond. These experiences laid the foundation for her future endeavors.

Venturing into the corporate world, Deepali embraced roles within large companies, serving as the vital link between the executive suite and operational excellence. Adept at orchestrating strategic maneuvers and optimizing business performance, she absorbed invaluable lessons along the way. Notably, she spearheaded the setup of a back office in India for a UK-based company, proving her prowess in both strategy and operations.

Deepali's path took an unexpected turn when she faced biases within the workplace. Despite her early achievements and rapid ascent, she found herself passed over for a senior COO position.

The perplexity of the situation spurred her to reflect on the presence of both conscious and unconscious biases. Driven by her own experiences and motivated by her desire to create an equal world for her two children, a boy and a girl, she embarked on a new chapter.

The catalyst for Deepali's foray into the realm of venture capital emerged from her personal journey. Departing the corporate world, she initially found herself working with the local government to establish a credit union. Guiding women living in social housing estates, she aimed to empower them with financial literacy, liberating them from the clutches of loan sharks and exorbitant interest rates. This hands-on experience ignited her passion for empowering others and sparked her involvement in angel investing.

Her dedication to championing female founders took center stage as she worked with the Kensington and Chelsea council to establish an angel syndicate.

Fueled by her own encounters with bias, she sought to amplify the voices of women in entrepreneurship.

Armed with her financial acumen, Deepali began advising numerous women-led businesses, immersing herself in their worlds. This collaboration often involved a symbiotic exchange of advisory equity and modest investments, laying the groundwork for her transformative journey.

Now, several years into this remarkable odyssey, Deepali stands as a Partner at Speedinvest, one of Europe's premier seed-stage funds. With a steadfast focus on empowering female founders, she embodies the spirit of transformation and progress. Through her unwavering dedication and tireless efforts, Deepali has witnessed countless businesses take shape, nurturing them from the earliest stages of conception.

Her journey, born from personal pain and a burning desire for equality, has brought her to this remarkable chapter at Speedinvest. As a partner within this influential European venture capital firm, Deepali continues to shine a spotlight on female founders, igniting a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

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Deep-dive: Championing Female Founders as an Angel

Deepali's impact within the investment landscape extends far beyond financial transactions. Through her involvement in Alma Angels, she took on the role of an educator, fostering knowledge-sharing among experienced investors and empowering a new wave of angel investors to navigate the intricate world of venture capital.

Alma Angels emerged from a conversation between Deepali and Ella, fueled by their shared vision to diversify cap tables and create opportunities for female founders. This community was born out of a desire to educate and nurture the next generation of female angel investors. While their own expertise was still evolving, they understood the importance of bringing together the brightest minds to guide and support women on their investment journey.

They recognized that investing went beyond monetary considerations, encompassing social impact and the desire to effect positive change.

In the realm of angel investing, Deepali values the vital role angels play in the early-stage startup ecosystem. They are the lifeblood, injecting capital, expertise, and connections. Angels often invest not only with the aim of financial returns but also because they are passionate about the industry or the problem the entrepreneur aims to solve. Their motivations extend beyond the balance sheet, as they actively seek to make a difference.

Deepali emphasizes that angels invest not only for financial returns but also for the opportunity to learn and make a positive impact. When approaching angels, founders should consider their motivations and tailor their pitches accordingly (LP Hypeman’s note: this goes just as much for GPs raising their funds!).

Within Alma Angels, Deepali and her team have built a vibrant community of nearly 200 members. They have been diligent in ensuring that the members actively invest and engage with the community.

The impact of Alma extends beyond capital investments, with several offshoot funds and meaningful partnerships emerging from within the community.

It has become a sisterhood, a supportive network where members feel a strong sense of belonging and continue to contribute to the growth of the community.

The bonds forged within Alma Angels go beyond gender, with men also joining and contributing to its success. David Fogel, in particular, plays a crucial role in bringing the community together. The genuine connections and camaraderie within Alma have made it a place that people yearn to be a part of, even when their investment activities may be on pause. It is a testament to the power of community and the shared mission to create positive change in the investment landscape.

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Deepali’s Switch into VC

Deepali's journey to Speedinvest was a serendipitous series of connections and conversations that ultimately led her to become an integral part of the firm's mission. It all started with Felix, one of the principles at Speedinvest who, although no longer with the firm, reached out to Deepali to discuss female founders in the UK. This initial contact sparked Deepali's interest and introduced her to the world of Speedinvest.

Curiosity led Deepali to explore other funds, meeting individuals like Steve, an ex-DeepMind member who encouraged her to consider a venture partner role. Unfamiliar with the concept, Deepali embarked on a search for funds that resonated with her and piqued her interest. She reached out to Felix and two other funds, seeking potential venture partner roles that aligned with her expertise. To her surprise, Felix connected her with Oliver Holle, the CEO and Managing Partner of Speedinvest.

Oliver wasted no time in expressing his admiration for Deepali's work and invited her to join Speedinvest, with a specific focus on female founders. Eager to contribute to their mission, Deepali enthusiastically accepted, initially anticipating a one-day-a-week commitment that quickly transformed into a more substantial role spanning three to four days a week. Recognizing her dedication and valuable contributions, the team at Speedinvest proposed that she come on board as a full-time partner.

Deepali joined Speedinvest because it was a unique opportunity to continue her work on a larger scale. Unlike many other European funds, Speedinvest had a dedicated partner focused on female founders. This alignment allowed her to not only write larger checks but also expand her impact within the ecosystem.

What sets Deepali's role at Speedinvest apart is that it is not a separate fund but an integral part of the firm's DNA. She works across different sector teams, bringing her expertise to various areas such as health, SaaS, and emerging market FinTech. This holistic approach ensures that the focus on female founders is deeply ingrained within the core operations of the fund, rather than being treated as a separate entity.

For Deepali, being part of Speedinvest has been an enriching experience, not only in terms of investment opportunities but also through the friendships and connections she has made along the way. The firm's commitment to supporting female founders and creating a more inclusive ecosystem has made her journey even more rewarding.

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