We are blessed to partner with great founders to build breakthrough startups - this is what we love to do.
When we set out to build Mosaic, we talked a lot about our dreams for the firm and the type of partnership we wished to nurture: one founded on intellectual honesty, learning, curiosity, accountability and teamwork. We aim to "do the right thing" by each other, our investors, and the founders we serve. We chose to create a small, collegial partnership, making what can sometimes be complex decisions with limited information, through Socratic conversation. Adding new partners who share these values and bring their own unique experience and ideas to the group is essential as we continue to develop Mosaic into one of the leading early stage venture firms in Europe.
We are thrilled to announce that we are expanding our partnership to add Bart Dessaint. In the last two years, Bart has brought a wealth of experience to Mosaic both from his time as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley in health services, and as a former VC at Andreessen Horowitz. Born to French parents in New York, Bart has an intimate understanding of the European startup ecosystem and a passion for working with rule-breakers and pioneers. He has thrived in Mosaic's boutique culture, bringing a forceful intellect and a quirky personality- as well as opinionated aesthetics and taste in cheese and low-intervention wines. He has an insatiable appetite to learn and explore new ideas.
Last year, Bart co-led three investments for the firm in the areas of developer tools, personalized medicine, and proptech (all yet to be announced); and earlier in 2018 played a pivotal role alongside Toby and Simon with investments including Lyvly, Scape and super.AI (formerly Canotic), the latter that he helped to source. He has also been instrumental in building out the firm: identifying awesome talent to expand the investment team, as well as adapting lesssons from his a16z experience to improve our internal operations.
In Bart's own words:
Why did you want to become an early-stage investor?
I'm generally curious with an aperture that spans numerous spaces, but the bow that ties them all together is the meta-idea of improvement. At an early stage, VCs play a small consigliere supporting role in helping founders develop their concepts into fully fledged businesses - that in turn have the potential to create fundamental change for the benefit of great causes.
What did you learn from your time working at a16z in Silicon Valley ?
There were so many lessons. I am very grateful to have spent time with an incredible group of people who helped shape me both personally and professionally. Personally, the relentless focus on execution and work ethic that pervades the Valley was incredibly impressive: it's an open community of people who live to work, bringing profound creativity to each experiment, with limited fear of failure. Professionally, I was trained by the velocity of competition due to plunging infrastructure costs and operational speed from connectivity, but also was inspired by witnessing successful alchemy at different stages of companies' journeys!
What do you look for in a founding team?
I look for founders who are obsessed by their field and have uncovered a "secret" kernel. For me, the founder is the most important single aspect of why I will get excited about a particular company and I love to meet folks at inception - so feel free to reach out!
Where do you see the greatest opportunities to invest in Europe ?
Europe has some inherent structural features that give rise to unique challenges. With unique challenges come unique insights. A great example of this is TransferWise: in a mono-currency market like the US or China there's much less need for such a product; it's far more natural for it to emerge here, from a team versed in community distributed utility (i.e. Skype).
It's also the home to a vast range of world class technical research and practitioners, leading the way in their respective fields. Going into 2020 I'm particularly interested to delve deeper into personalized medicine advances that are making strides around the great UK university (especially Cambridge's) genomics expertise, intelligent manufacturing that is emerging from the industrial strength of the German Mittelstadt, and collaboration SaaS catalyzed by the distributed professional service companies across the continent.