VC Corner Q+A: Maria Wagner

Maria Wagner is Investment Director at Beringea. She is responsible for sourcing investments, executing deals and monitoring portfolio companies. She currently sits on the boards of My 1st Years and MYCS. Maria previously served on the boards of MyOptique, Big Data Partnership, Monica Vinader, Honeycomb.tv, Switch My Business and Skills Matter.

Maria was previously Managing Director of Birchbox UK, a beauty ecommerce and subscription business. Prior to this, she was on the investment teams at Virgin Group and GMT Partners, where she made investments and monitored portfolio companies, mainly in the digital and media sectors. Maria began her career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and an Engagement Manager at McKinsey in New York. Maria has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from MIT.

Please enjoy this Q+A with Maria Wagner.

Q&A:

What is your / your fund’s mission?

We back founders on a journey to create meaningful, lasting companies. The name “Beringea” actually comes from the landmass that connected Europe to the Americas during the ice ages. We are one of the few funds that have a UK and a US office. So a big part of our mission is leveraging our transatlantic network to help European entrepreneurs expand to the US and vice versa.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

Personalisation in online retail: consumers no longer want a one-size-fits-all approach to shopping online, but only the truly innovative companies can deliver this customisation at scale and with fast delivery times.

Who is one founder you think we should watch?

Daniel Price and Jonny Sitton, Co-founders, My 1st Years

What are the top 3 qualities of every great leader?

  1. Ambition
  2. Influence
  3. Good decision-making

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

At Beringea, my first investment was with My 1st Years — an ecommerce business for personalised children’s gifts. What struck me about them was the drive of the two founders, their personalisation technology and their brand-building skills — Prince George was wearing one of their bathrobes when he met President Obama!

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

Do the founders have what it takes to scale the business?

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

Can this person help me scale my business, not just financially, but also with their advice, network and experiences?

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

Talent: recruitment and retention, growth, cash

Favorite business book, blog, podcast?

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink

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

Hanging out with my kids

Who is one leader you admire?

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. She’s had an amazing diverse career, helped turn facebook into a revenue-generating behemoth and overcame a lot of adversity recently in her personal life.

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

I’ve worked in over 10 countries!

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

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I think it’s also important for founders not to lose sight of what their brand stands for — it helps guide every decision.

How can startups reach you?

Startups interested in an opportunity to pitch Beringea can apply here.