TLDR: Building a company from the ground up and successfully exiting the business transformed who I am and what I want my legacy to be. I was fortunate to work alongside a large community of disruptors and innovators in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Fintech who all contributed to the success story of James.Finance. My experience made me want to help other founders battle through the struggles, the hard decisions, and the leaps of faith that come with building and running a tech startup. Start Ventures is the perfect fit for what I can add to founders and portfolio companies, it’s right down my wheelhouse in Fintech/Insurtech and Data and AI. I’m a happy customer, as a founder I’ve seen Start Ventures domain focused portfolio support strategy working and delivering real business value. The track record of the team behind Start Ventures is top-tier in the VC industry. Insurtech has been active since 2021 and we are actively looking for great teams to solve B2B problems. I’m eagerly anticipating what’s to come.
How I got here
My career started in insurance, where I worked as a data scientist and project manager. I had the opportunity to work across all lines of business, including P&C, Life, and Health. During my tenure in insurance, I led projects that drove back-office and middle-office efficiencies using predictive models. I also launched new services with personalized experiences to increase sales and user retention. Got to see many different points of view and learn the problems and challenges slowing down growth and scale.
A couple of years later, I left to start James.Finance (CrowdProcess at that time – yes, we pivoted and it was not an easy journey).
At James.Finance, we used machine learning and artificial intelligence to revolutionize credit risk assessment. Start Ventures became one of our investors, and I was deeply impressed by their industry expertise and the value they added to our business. In 2019, James.Finance was sold to Google and I embarked on new challenges.
I’ve been ever since passionate about helping other founders who are operating B2B fintechs and insurtechs change the financial industry, which is why in 2021, I joined Start Ventures as a venture partner.
I’ve always been fascinated by the role of VCs in technology and society. From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed like a pretty cool job to have – you meet exceptional individuals, spread the money, and come back 10 years later to collect the paycheck, rinse and repeat until you had enough fun investing in people and technologies you believe in and see the potential to change the world and society.
Since I exited James.Finance I’ve been doing angel investing, being opportunistic when meeting great founders and teams, and looking more into areas where I can add more value. Soon I realized that investing with cadence and rigor alone takes a lot of time and effort and you end up missing out on good opportunities just because you don’t have the time to look into it more closely.
Over a couple of years of doing business angel investing Joao Freire de Andrade (Executive Director of Start Ventures) reached out and asked if I would consider joining as a Venture Partner. Start Ventures was launching a new Insurtech fund and I was looking to scale as a Business Angel to be able to have more impact. I’m sure the rapport built over the years of working as founder and investor had influence, as you already trust the team and can first-hand vouch for it.
It’s not that I was looking to join a VC now, but when you see such a great match you don’t stop to think if this is the best time, you jump right into it because you know that when you find great partnerships, time beats timing.
Why Start Ventures?
Start Ventures stands out with its mission, hands-on approach, deep industry knowledge, expertise, and network. It’s a unique fund in Europe with a global footprint.
As a Venture Partner at Start Ventures, I’m excited to continue to support founders in realizing their visions. As a founder and tech executive, I’m bringing my experience to help founders and portfolio companies in areas such as strategy, product development, fundraising, business, and operations.
The new Start Ventures brand embodies its mission and investment philosophy, building upon its global footprint and successful track record in helping founders change the industry. The expansion of its Limited Partner (LP) base further broadens its expertise and network in the industry, which, in turn, benefits founders and portfolio companies.
I’m thrilled to be part of this new chapter and look forward to continuing my journey of helping founders bring their visions to life and change the financial market.
By: João Menano, Venture Partner