All Rise: Meet The Judges Of SaaStock’s Global Pitch Competition13 min read
The SaaS space thrives on competition. How could an industry made up of such ambitious, industrious founders fail to? At SaaStock, we’re never ones to shy away from a bit of friendly rivalry. In fact, we go so far as to encourage it via our Pitch Competition.
This popular contest is our way of honoring the bright new hopes of our space. We specifically look for SaaS startups that are seeing up to $3M in ARR. Startups at any stage from pre-revenue qualify for consideration, and we like to see products built and ready to demo.
Top of our selection criteria; innovative or disruptive products. It’s what all the leading VCs are looking for, and our judging panels will be no different. A high rate of growth and a ‘ready to go global’ attitude will do no harm to your application, and competitive advantage or highly specialized solutions are, as ever, a winning formula.
Interested in learning more about the industry leaders who’ll be making up our multistage judging process? Read on…
Pre Selection Stage
Tim Rehder, Principal, EarlyBirds
Principal at Earlybird Venture Capital, Tim Rehder has going experience as an investor with a number of other high profile Berlin-based enterprises including CrossLend, eHealth MediDate, and Fraguster. With over €1 billion under management, in recent years Earlybird Venture Capital has evolved three autonomous and specialized teams, each placong focus on their own dedicated region and sector. With this breadth of experience, Tim’s in a fantastic position to help us whittle down the contenders who’ll be making it through to the next round at SaaStock19.
Marton Medveczky, Flashpoint
Himself the founder of The Central European Startup Awards, it’s safe to say that Marton Medveczky knows a thing or two about spotting a winner. Currently an Investment Associate with Flashpoint Venture Capital, he’s always on the lookout for Series A startup investment opportunities throughout the CEE region. Flashpoint themselves are known for putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to investment. With this kind of commitment, we couldn’t ask for a better Pre Selection stage judge.
Michael Rager, Telekom Capital
Michael Rager joins us from Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, who invest financial and strategic venture capital in European, Silicon Valley, and Israel-based technology companies. They’re typically looking for assets with sophisticated intellectual property and differentiated business models with high potential for market disruption – a perfect fit for our Global Pitch criteria. Michael also has extensive board experience, so he really knows what’s going on under the hood of up and coming businesses, working closely with startups such as Fornova and LeanIX.
Dorothea Gotthardt, Investment Analysis, Capnamic Ventures
Joining us from the thriving startup hub of Berlin, Dorothea Gotthardt is an Investment Analyst from Capnamic Ventures. A leading early-stage venture capital firm, their primary focus is investment within markets and industries experiencing high levels of growth and technological innovation. They’re also well known for their keen eye in spotting talent within the B2B space, making Dorothea the perfect fit when it comes to cutting our long list down to size.
Gary Corcoran, Head of Startup Growth, HubSpot
With past experience as both a startup founder and an investment analyst, Gary Cocoran is a fantastic addition to our judging panel. Today he heads up the Startup Growth team at HubSpot, and knows all too well the importance of having good processes and systems in place for scale and growth. He brings fantastic first-hand insight, and a great deal of empathy to the process as he joins us for the first found of Pitch Competition judging.
Venkat Kondragunta, Associate, PROfounders
With plenty of empathy garnered his previous experience as co-founder of Fread, today Venkat rolls with PROfounders, a venture capital fund for entrepreneurs, powered by entrepreneurs. When it comes to their modus operandi, it’s all about the power of connection, and they have a great reputation for leveraging a powerful investor network to help boost early-stage consumer and B2B technology businesses.
Jonathan Steinberg, Raise Programme, PwC
Jon helps to run the Raise 3.0 programme at Price Waterhouse Cooper, helping scale-ups raise their Series A investment. Before this, as a chartered accountant within the PwC Assurance practice he gained specific experience in Private Equity valuations and structures. He’s got a knack for talent development through coaching, tutoring new joiners and fostering client relationships.
Edward Platt, Investment Manager, 360 Lab
An extremely experienced investor, Edward Platt has literally decades of involvement within the sector. Currently with 360 Lab, operating an Accelerator supported by its Venture Fund, they help to supercharge startups’ growth and success. His career to date has seen him excel in a number of Chief Investment Officer roles, within Family Office and Fund entities, so we’re exceedingly grateful for the practiced eye he’ll be lending to our pre-selection stage, helping to cut down our long list.
Andrew Parker, Director of Venture & Growth, Silicon Valley Bank
After an impressive trajectory through the banking sector, today Andrew Parker is Director of Venture & Growth at London’s Silicon Valley Bank. Responsible for a portfolio of VC backed Enterprise Software technology businesses, his clients typically have raised £5M+ and are growing at 50%+ p.a. We’re more than ready for him to sprinkle some of that pixie dust on our SaaStock Global Pitch semifinalists.
William McQuillan, Partner, Frontline Ventures
A longtime board member and investor, today William McQuillan acts as Partner for Frontline Ventures, an early-stage B2B venture capital ﬁrm that places a strong emphasis on the power of its people; ambitious founders. strong networks of industry experts, and their own passionate team of ex-operators. With Frontline offices in London and Dublin, William has a great lie of the local landscape for SaaStock19. Frontline also specialize in their strong connections with the US, with 50% of their portfolio having offices in the US, and 55% of their portfolio having US investors, so we’re happy to have his expert eye on hand to assess all of this year’s runners and riders.
Ossi Tiainen, Partner, NGP Capital
A growth-stage investor with a focus on Enterprise and Mobility, Ossi Tiainen joins us from his role as Partner with NGP Capital. He likes interacting with tech entrepreneurs that are transforming existing industries or creating entirely new ones – and we think he’ll have plenty to choose from when assessing this year’s SaaStock Contest semifinalists. NGP Capital is a global venture capital firm with over $1.2 billion under management, investing in the U.S., Europe, India, and China. We’re looking forward to the broad international context that Ossi will bring to this year’s judging process.
Carrie Osman, Founder & CEO, Cruxy & Company
Meet the hardest working woman at SaaStock19! In addition to sitting on our judging panel, Carrie Osman will be bringing her one-woman battle against mediocrity in tech and fintech strategy to not one, not two but three sessions in Dublin this year! Founder and CEO of Cruxy and Company, Osman has extensive consultancy experience within the SaaS space. We’re immensely grateful for the energy and enthusiasm she’s bringing to all elements of this year’s event.
Hazel Moore, Co-Founder & Chair, FirstCapital
A mergers, acquisitions and venture capital specialist, we’re delighted to have Hazel Moore joining our judging panel this year. As the co-founder and chairman of FirstCapital, Moore received an OBE in the 2017 New Year’s honours list for services to Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She was recently appointed as a non-executive director to the Board of British Patient Capital – a £2.5bn fund of funds, investing in venture and growth capital. Moore was also named as one of this year’s most influential women in mid-market M&A by Mergers and Acquisitions.
Aaron Ross, Co-CEO, Predictable Revenue
Father of nine, Aaron Ross somehow has time to join us in Dublin in addition writing internationally best-selling books and running a highly successful consulting company, promising to triple your growth rate with the $100 million best practices of Predictable Revenue! With great insight into outbound success and specializing your sales team, he brings a valuable perspective to our judging panel.
Thomas Smale, FE International
After founding FE International in 2010, Thomas was able to grow the business with zero funds from ground up, consistently doubling annual revenue, as well as the average deal size. Specializing in advising in the M&A of SaaS, e-commerce, affiliate and content businesses, Smale has consulted thousands of internet entrepreneurs on exit strategy, growth and business development. In short; he exactly the kind of startup brain we want on our judging panel.
Mina Mutafchieva, Principal, Dawn Capital
Recently appointed Principal at Dawn Capital, Europe’s largest B2B Venture Capital Firm, we’re delighted to have Mina Mutafchieva joining our judging panel for this year’s contest. Previously Principal at Palamon Capital Partners, she’s also been an active board member for a range of companies, and heaps of financial services experience.
Peter Zotto, General Manager, ProfitWell
Heading across the pond to join us from Boston, USA, Peter Zotto heads up operations at ProfitWell, who are on a mission to use data and proprietary algorithms to bring an end to buyer’s remorse. He had hands on experience of the startup world during his time with Matchbox Inc (acquired by TargetX) so is in an excellent position to help narrow things down to our lucky finalists.
Dominic Powers, CEO, CtrlShift
With more than 25 years of global marketing and technology experience, and after 20 years based in Hong Kong, Dominic is the CEO of CtrlShift. A Singapore-founded SaaS company, they’re on a mission to disrupt the AdTech industry with The Hub, a globally unique enterprise programmatic advertising platform. Dominic is also an investor, advisor, and connector, helping brands, agencies, and technology companies navigate and disrupt the world of consumer engagement. He’s a real asset to this year’s semifinal panel and we’re delighted to have him joining us.
Alison Murdock, CMO, SocialChorus
With 25 years of experience in media, marketing, and research, including an 8-year stint as an entrepreneur, Alison Murdock now heads up marketing operations at the workforce communications platform, SocialChorus. Alison is well-known for building high-performance marketing teams at startup and growth-stage companies and is a mentor to several early-stage companies on the best ways to grow awareness and increase demand at every stage. This expert handle on the marketability of startups gives her great insight into our selection process.
Elizabeth Cain, Partner, OpenView
Specializing in sales, operations and process development, Elizabeth Cain sits as Partner on the investment committee at OpenView, overseeing their Expansion Platform. Primarily concerned with delivering recruitment, market insights and marketing/sales strategy services to OpenView’s portfolio, Cain has extensive leadership experience and spent many years at NetSuite honing her global business development skills. We’re sure they’ll all be put to excellent use in this judging role.
Chloé Giard, Investment Director, Idinvest Partners
As Investment Director at Idinvest Partners VC fund, Chloé Giard places a strong focus on FinTech, InsurTech, SaaS and Marketplaces in Europe, from Seed to Series B. She is also a prolific board member, sitting with a number of tech solution startups, including wefox, Botify and Meero. With €8 billion under management, Idinvest are a European leader in financing small and medium-sized enterprises, looking to fund businesses at various stages of growth. With broad and varied portfolio experience, Chloé will prove invaluable as we narrow our pack of entrants down to the finalist stage.
Jerome Marcelino, Equity Investment Officer, European Investment Bank
Joining us from Luxembourg, Jerome Marcelino acts as an Equity Investment Officer for European Investment Bank, seeking to make quasi-equity investments into the most innovative companies. With a strong background in corporate finance, he will bring a wealth of experience to our judging panel when he casts his expert eye over our semifinalists.
Pascale Diaine, Principal, Storm Ventures
Pascale Diaine is a Principal at Storm Ventures, an early-stage fund that invests in outstanding B2B leaders building companies in the enterprise SaaS space – the exact sweet spot for our own Global Pitch Competition. She’s specifically interested in sales & marketing automation, AI/ML and conversational platforms, but also has experience with AR, computer vision and robotics so any contest entrants working within that space should be getting excited.
Markus Grundmann, Partner, Senovo
With over 15 years of experience in building software products and businesses with a focus on B2B SaaS business models, Markus Grundmann currently sits as Partner at the early stage VC fund, Senovo. The firm itself has a strong focus on European B2B SaaS investments, and Markus’ own personal interest lies in finding promising tech-driven startups and helping them to scale. If you’re in the market for early investment, Markus will be a very welcome addition to the judging panel.
Tom Jameson, Partner, CMS
As Partner at CMS, Tom Jameson specializes in investments, group reorganizations, and mergers and acquisitions, advising a variety of clients (including startups) across all aspects of the corporate lifecycle; from initial investment rounds, through to more complex private equity fundraising and, ultimately, exits. He’s got a keen eye for potential issues when scaling and will bring all of this expertise and context to our semifinalists.
Derek Andersen, Startup Grind
Hailing from Palo Alto, Derek Anderson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bevy, a white-labeled Community Hub for all of your community groups, members, and events to life. Clearly all about the power of human connection, Anderson is also well known as the founder of Startup Grind, the largest independent startup community, nurturing startup ecosystems in more than 125 countries around the globe, through events, media, and partnerships. A fantastically experienced judge – we’re thrilled to have him on the Finalist panel.
Gianni Clifford, Senior Product Designer, Zendesk
A creative and strategic designer with several awards to his name, we’re delighted to have Gianni joining us to complete our judging panel in the final stage. In addition to his role with Zendesk, he’s the Creative and Events Director of The Gentleman’s Academy, running not-for-profit educational evenings directed at men. With seven years of creative agency experience, he has a fantastic eye for a well-designed product, making him the perfect choice for helping to select our winning Startup.
Borja Brena, Investment Manager, Nauta Capital
Borja has international experience in finance, technology, and innovation, and today acts as Investment Manager for Nauta Capital. He is a board observer at Geoblink, Landbot.io, Holded and Hosco, and has also invested in a number of Spanish brands and ventures. He loves the challenges of setting up and developing new projects, and it’s exactly this kind of eye for potential that we’re looking for within our judges.
Goran Deak, CEO, Top Digital
With over a decade’s experience in Marketing, IT Management, Consulting and Sales, today Goran heads up the wildly successful Top Digital Agencies. The model is a canny one; a matchmaking online platform dedicated to connecting companies with digital agencies anywhere in the world. Goran has an epic knack for bringing the right people together, at the right time, in the right way – making him the perfect fit for our final panel of judges.
Now that you’ve met the judges, let’s take a look at what’s at stake… Prizes include a cash prize of $25,000, global recognition, partner perks and heaps of helpful media and PR exposure. We’ll also be announcing more prizes and second place rewards as the contest draws closer. Be sure to drop by any of the pitch sessions happening throughout the conference.
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