Venture Capital/News/

Meet Europe’s newest female VC partner

Sabina Wizander is quitting her executive role at healthtech unicorn Kry to join Creandum's top ranks

By Isabel Woodford

Creandum, one of Europe’s leading venture firms, has appointed its first female partner. Sabina Wizander was formerly chief strategy officer at Kry — the $2bn Swedish healthtech startup.

The firm, which is nearly 20 years old, currently has seven male partners and its portfolio is also overwhelmingly made up of male founders.

“We’ve been searching for a female partner for a long time,” Creandum’s spokesperson told Sifted. “Diversity is quite important to us but so far, we just hadn’t found the right one,” adding that Creandum’s partners tend to be promoted internally.

Wizander isn’t the only woman that Creandum has hired this month. It’s also bringing on former ex-Uber manager and Elder COO Gemma Bloemen as a principal, giving the firm its first ‘boots on the ground’ in the UK.

** Check out the full list of female VC partners in Europe here!  **

Sharing battle scars 

Despite harking from an operational background, Wizander is not a VC newbie. She spent two years at Creandum as a junior investment manager between 2015 and 2017, before moving to Kry, one of the fund’s portfolio companies. Back then it was a tiny startup of less than 20 employees.

Four years later, Wizander tells Sifted she’s ready to share her “battlescars” from the frontline with other founders.

“I was looking for an opportunity where I could take everything I’ve done at Kry, and be very helpful with that — be that an operational journey or by becoming an investor,” she tells Sifted.

“At Kry I’ve had the opportunity to work with everything from operations, international expansion, marketing brand and analytics. I have hands-on experience in all sorts of strange things — growth hacking, picking analytics tools, redesigning organisational setup — and I hope some of those will come in handy.”

She’s also learned to see things from the driver’s seat — a viewpoint that investors sometimes miss.

“It always looks ‘simple’ from the board’s perspective.”

“It always looks ‘simple’ from the board’s perspective: ‘Just close this market’; ‘Just go to the US’; ‘Hire a world class COO’. In reality, it’s never that simple on the operating side. However, when you are heads down in operations you can get stuck in details, and having someone remind you of your direction is helpful.”

Equally, she adds, she has a natural ability to force focus: “Entrepreneurs often see opportunity in everything. I think one of my contributions working with the Kry founders has been to balance that opportunism with brutal prioritisation: ‘In what order do we fight these battles to make sure we win the war?’”

Wizander has already started cultivating her “knowledge transfer” practice, having started angel investing in recent years. She’s also volunteered on the board of several small startups while at Kry, and has had the chance to learn from top investors, including Accel’s Sonali De Rycker.

“She’s one of the smartest and best investors I’ve met. She can be on point, and still be kind and caring. She definitely made us a better company.”

Investing focus 

Wizander’s mission now is to scout out top European founders to add to Creandum’s growing portfolio of over 100 companies, which includes the likes of Klarna, Trade Republic, Depop and delivery newcomer Dija.

She will be sector-agnostic in her investments, but she admits she has a soft spot for digital health.

“We’re still very much at the beginning of moving healthcare into a digital way of working.”

“We’re still very much at the beginning of moving healthcare into a digital way of working. It’s a blue ocean, very little is solved — even Kry is just step one,” she tells Sifted, predicting that the next wave of innovation will be in “more niche [heath] companies,” and inside hospitals.

Wizander will be based in Stockholm, where Creandum has its HQ, but is looking to invest across Europe. 

100+ female VC partners in Europe

Creandum is far from the only VC firm that’s taken its time to appoint a female partner.

Earlybird, the German early-stage investor which made a killing when UiPath exited, notably has 15 male partners and not a single female partner. Leading London-based VC Balderton also only appointed its first female partner, Rana Yared, last year. 

The gender split in investors, especially at the partner level, is still poor. In 2019, Diversity VC found that just 13% of decision makers in UK VC were women.

But times are changing. A Sifted analysis found there are now more than 100 female investment partners across Europe, with Wizander making number 131 on our list.

“The VC industry is getting more diverse every year and hopefully so can the wardrobe,” Wizander joked, confirming she’ll be boycotting VCs’ signature Patagonia jacket.

Isabel Woodford is Sifted’s fintech correspondent. She tweets from @i_woodford and coauthors our new fintech-focused newsletter. Sign up here. 

Join the conversation

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of