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  • In the news
  • 29 June 2021
  • 3 min read
  • Words: Northzone

Meet Elena Pantazi, our first Partner dedicated to Talent & Portfolio Development, and what’s next for our platform

Northzone is excited to announce the promotion of our newest Partner dedicated to Talent and Portfolio Development: Elena Pantazi. Since joining us in 2019, Elena has been instrumental in building out our services: she recruited most of our internal hires and has significantly expanded how we support the companies in our portfolio. We believe that non-investing partners can bring important value to the entrepreneurs we back, and have always welcomed operators in our Investment Partner group, including many former entrepreneurs. 

Our General Partner, Jeppe Zink, said: “Elena is a sharp, efficient and thoughtful leader. We have been continually impressed by her ability to innovate and add tangible value to our portfolio companies, from real-time market and operational insights via a vast network of operating advisers to the actual sourcing of top talent. Elena’s contributions have brought a lot to our firm and created a premium for us on the market.”

Left: Elena Pantazi, Partner at Northzone 

A commitment to adding value through Talent and Portfolio Services

Elena joined Northzone in 2019 from Bain Capital, where she served as Director of Operations and Head of Marketing & Communications. Prior to that, she was an early employee at Third Bridge, getting hands-on leadership experience at a fast-growing startup. Back then, Northzone’s  team consisted mostly of investors, and we were already deep in thought on how to expand and compete on a global scale when access to capital had become commodified. Elena’s ambition to build a concrete franchise stack for our entrepreneurs arose from in-depth interviews she had with our founders when she was hunting for talent to join our firm. Elena adds value to our portfolio by supporting our founders with the resources, advisors, and access to talent they need to succeed. 

In the 25 years since our foundation, we’ve witnessed the rise of many market movers, and our philosophy has always been to help founders gain access to customers, co-investors and strategic advice. With so many stellar entrepreneurs in our midst, it has never been more compelling to get seasoned operators involved with our companies. Under Elena’s watch, we’ve built an Operator Network with more than 300+ senior operators, who help tackle both tactical and strategic problems and act as sounding boards for our founders and their C-Suites. We’ve also held numerous practical workshops on topics such as building out your organisational structure with Ross Seychell, Chief People Officer at Personio; branding for growth with Joanna Lord, ex-CMO of Skyscanner and ClassPass; and achieving product-market fit with David Österdahl, ex-Director of Product at iZettle, and Product Leader at Spotify.

The line between Portfolio Development and Talent is evident: there is none. Many of the talented operators in our network wear different hats and wield multiple superpowers – either as executives in burgeoning startups, advisors, board members or angel investors. In 2021 alone, we facilitated more than 300 introductions around talent, advisory services and customer connections.

Peter Briffett, CEO and Co-Founder of Wagestream added: “Elena has been extremely helpful to us throughout our Wagestream journey. She is an amazing talent and a great operating partner who has helped us with a number of key projects, from new product initiatives to senior hires. No one could be happier with her promotion to Partner and we’re so pleased she remains part of the Northzone family.”

 

We’ll keep adding value, outside of the Investment Team

Venture Capital used to be run as insular firms with a handful of tight-knit investors. Today’s fast-paced, competitive environment requires a much broader approach to support the enormous  societal transformations modern startups are affecting at lightning speed. It is this necessity that propelled our business to not only help burgeoning businesses financially, but to also nurture them practically so they have all the tools they need to succeed.

Part of that evolution led us to double down on important initiatives, such as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). This remains a big priority for us and we have invested in a number of related actions including achieving Level 1 certification with Diversity VC; becoming founding members of Leaders for Climate Action; forming a partnership with Femstreet, the women in tech community founded by our Seed Investment Manager Sarah Nöckel; and backing charities such as Star For Life, dedicated to helping students in need gain access to education. 

We are also very pleased to announce several new and recent hires who will bolster our team and expand our offering. Assisting Elena on talent and portfolio development, Laura Clifford joins us in London and Michelene Wilkerson in New York. Working closely with our CFO Jackson Heddy, Amit Sanghvi steps in as Head of Investor Relations, Tom McGinn as Legal Counsel and Phillip Lally as Finance Controller. Vincent Touati-Tomas now leads our Marketing and Communications efforts, with Sanna Blomkvist and Nicola Sibley respectively in charge of Community & Events and Marketing. These hires bring the total number of operations team members to 12 people, reflecting the increased importance of this function at Northzone. We look forward to flexing this new franchise muscle to further help our entrepreneurs.

With a strengthened team and expanded resources that continue to support entrepreneurs across markets and industries, we’re ready for whatever challenges, opportunities, lessons, and successes lie ahead!