VC Corner Q+A: Ben Tompkins

Ben Tompkins is Managing Partner at Draper Esprit, one of the largest and most active VC firms in Europe, helping entrepreneurs build ground-breaking technology companies with portfolio companies such as Ledger, TrustPilot, Transferwise, PerkBox, Aircall, Revolut, Premfina, ICEYE and Lyst.

Previously, Ben was General Partner at Eden Ventures, an early-stage technology VC which led investment in portfolio companies such as New Voice Media (acquired by Vonage) Green Man Gaming, Acunu (acquired by Apple), Apertio (acquired by Siemens Nokia Networks), Secerno (acquired by Oracle).

Please enjoy this Q+A with Ben Tompkins.


What is your / your fund’s mission?

Back Europe’s most ambitious (and capable!) entrepreneurs to significant outcomes; create significant returns for our investors and provide the most exciting platform for our team on which to grow.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

Europe’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has never been stronger! The combination of talent, capital and ambition is compelling for a tech investor.

Who is one founder you think we should watch?

Olivier Pailhes of Aircall — building his business aggressively in Europe and the US.

What are the 3 top qualities of every great leader?

Drive, integrity, humility — a not-very-often-achieved combination!

What and when was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

Airship Industries. I was 18 years of age and invested my summer’s wages. The company had the vision of enabling cost-effective airships for cargo delivery and I was massively taken by the concept.

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

Do I believe? Really believe?

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

How do I make myself/my company relevant to them?

What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

  1. Build the best team.
  2. Be laser-like in focus.
  3. Keep going.

Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight — the story of Nike’s early years by its creator. Thanks Simon!

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Being outside on a hill, a mountain, the sea or at cloudbase. In the sun, rain, wind or snow — it doesn’t really matter which.

Who is one leader you admire?

Nelson Mandela

What is one interesting thing that most people don’t know about you?

One of my first jobs was in a coal mine.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to every founder?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

How can startups reach you?

Startups interested in an opportunity to pitch Draper Esprit can apply here.