Interview #FFM20
with Jeannette zu Fürstenberg
and Judith Dada

Founding partner of La Famiglia and partner at La Famiglia

FFM-Team: You run La Famiglia together, an investment fund for startups. Where are you from and what motivated you to go into this field?

 

Jeannette: I come from a typical German family business in the Rhineland and therefore got to know the“German Mittelstand” at a very early age. In my previous work in late-state investing I realized that successful entrepreneurs are characterized by their unique view of the world. Looking at things from the perspective of the advisory board of my family’s business, I noticed that we are not fully aware of the trends that were relevant to us. That’s why I entered the startup scene and began to invest as an angel and build up my network. Because particularly for B2B startups, an industry network is very valuable. That’s basically what motivated me to co-found La Famiglia and support startups to get the visibility they need in the established economy.

 

Judith: I have been with La Famiglia for more than 2 years now. I studied economics, communication and technology management and worked a lot at the intersection of data science and social sciences. After graduating, I joined Facebook and was responsible for the Amazon account, one of the largest global accounts in data consulting. This is where I saw how efficiently such companies handle their data. We set up the Facebook VC initiative in order to support startups in this field and I then got to know a lot of startups and VCs – including La Famiglia and Jeannette. I found her vision for the European ecosystem and the kind of companies we need to create incredibly exciting. There is a whole lot to be done here and that’s why I decided to become part of La Famiglia.

FFM-Team: Startups and the VC sector are still a male domain. La Famiglia is an exception with two women at the top. How do you perceive the scene? Does it need more female investors?

 

Judith: Jeannette and I rarely meet any other female investors in our everyday work. Nevertheless, I think things are changing. There has been some positive news lately, such as the promotion of Irina Haivas to partner at Atomico.

 

Jeannette: I also believe that investors are becoming more aware of the issue of diversity. Atomico’s Diversity Report also shows this. The growing importance applies both on the performance level, because diverse teams are more successful, and on an abstract level: In a society that will be strongly influenced by artificial intelligence in the future, the female perspective must be taken into account in technology design.

FFM-Team: As our study shows, the proportion of female startups is still only just under 16%. Where do you see the biggest challenges for women in the startup world?

 

Jeannette: In my view, there are three issues here: Firstly, the composition of the teams, which usually follows the male-dominated student and professional networks. I also get the impression that women are often more risk-averse and underestimate themselves too often. And thirdly, from my own experience as a mother of three children, I can say how challenging it is to try to develop your career at the same time as planning a family.

FFM-Team: La Famiglia is not only a VC company, but above all a network. How important are the right contacts and what tips would you give female founders in this respect?

 

Judith: Looking at today’s ecosystem, I would particularly recommend female founders to build networks in industries or fields of technology relevant to them. This is also the strength of La Famiglia: In the B2B sector, contacts are very important and startups often lack them. We bring young companies together with potential business customers, enable them to build trust and thus shorten the sales cycle.