Tatjana Zabasu joined RSG Capital in 2007. She co-founded the venture capital fund and contributed to setting up an existing venture capital business. As investment director she now serves on boards of the portfolio companies TAB Systems, ShoutEm and Efos. Prior to joining RSG Capital, Tatjana was a corporate finance adviser in Deloitte, mainly engaged in transaction services, M&A advisory and in-depth company reviews. She also consulted on development strategies and worked on company valuation projects. Tatjana regularly takes part in different start-up events and contests, either as a mentor or member of the jury, and occasionally lectures on venture capital and fundraising.
Valoso Hub was lucky enough to have Tatjana Zabasu as a keynote speaker at the second Tech.O event. We caught up with this inspiring businesswoman to learn more about her:
How would you best describe yourself and what you do? What does it mean to be a managing partner at South Central Ventures?
Probably the best way to describe myself would be “more ideas on how to spend time and what to do than the time to actually do it”. I can easily say that goes for both, my private and professional life. Being a Partner at SCV is primarily a very dynamic position, which includes meeting many great people with very different skills, ideas, knowledge, keeping up with the latest trends in technology, which at times is challenging. It also means working with a diverse team in multiple locations, which to me is very valuable.
You made some interesting points in your presentation. For those who weren’t able to see your presentation, could you briefly mention the challenges of investing in disruptive technology?
Well, the only constant nowadays is change, and new technologies are being developed all the time. I guess most people deep down resist change, as it means you need to leave behind things you know and are used to, and start doing different things differently. As Christensen says in The Innovator’s Dilemma: “Doing the right thing is the wrong thing”. Why? Because everything around you changes and what may have worked before will most likely not work tomorrow.
For companies that means reinventing themselves quite frequently, and this is something that is hard to do. From the investors perspective, thing are challenging, too – you are expected to “bet” on companies and/or technologies early on, when their future success is a big question mark. So we need to keep our eyes and ears open, observe the changes in the society and try to identify areas “waiting” for disruption, and follow the trends… It’s not an easy task, but very interesting.
What advice would you give startups looking for funding? How would you describe the perfect pitch?
I don’t think there’s a recipe or anything like the perfect pitch. There are some guidelines though, such as try to explain as briefly and as simple as possible what you do, why you are doing it and what makes you believe you can succeed. Try not to give too much information at the same time. There are a number of blogs, articles, discussion about how to pitch, but I think what you have to focus on is your own story. If you know what you’re doing and why, it should not be too hard to give a good pitch. If you make us believe there’s something interesting going on, we’ll ask additional questions.
It was nice to have you visit Macedonia. What are your thoughts about the Macedonian IT and startup scene?
From what I see it is very vibrant. Many things happening considering the size of the country, and I think it is developing in the right direction. There’s a lot of hype, but in a positive way, encouraging people to try build a company. And of course, you have great engineering talent. I met with a number of founders and mature companies from abroad working with Macedonian developers, and mainly they are really happy about the cooperation.
We were lucky to have you as one of our keynote speakers at Tech.O. How did you like the overall event? Is there any advice you would give future speakers?
It was great to be a part of the event! I enjoyed it a lot, and even though one tends to meet the same people at different events, I have to say I met quite a few for the first time. Great job of the organizers. The advice to future speakers would most likely just be to accept the invitation and come join the Tech.O community.
Check out the highlights from the second Tech.O event and see what others had to say:
Stay tuned for our upcoming Tech.O event!