In another of our interview series we catch up with Julian Levy who is returning to Tech Trailblazers after a little break.
Can you give me a brief history of yourself?
I’ve a varied career – I started out in a startup in the first Internet boom – these days it would have been called a fintech start-up, however in those days, it was just a startup. I subsequently went to work for a few banks in engineering roles, took a minor diversion through equity research, and a startup and now am the operating partner at a VC specialising in B2B Tech. We’re a 350M fund – I’m mainly focused on enterprise tech and we have invested in everything from silicon to the application layer.
What is your area of expertise and what’s hot/innovative in that area?
I’ve been hands-on and quite deep at multiple layers of the infrastructure stack, and as such, have found myself with less of a specific area of expertise, and more of a focus on the whole enterprise tech stack.
However, I know enough to deep-dive into specific areas when circumstances call for it. I tend to get excited by what I see as ‘enabler technologies’ whose impact will be as much in the opportunities they create for others. This ranges from the current new-wave of silicon, and the subsequent implications of this further up the stack, to the latest and greatest statistical techniques or algorithms that have been released into the wild.
How long have you been a judge for Tech Trailblazers and why do you do it?
I’m returning after a small hiatus, and it’s great to be able to see and support so many different interesting companies.
Which categories do you specialize in for Tech Trailblazers?
My favourite areas will be in the enterprise tech stack and security, though I will look at anything in the B2B tech space.
What do you look for in an entry?
A strong team with great execution ability, meaningful metrics, and a clear market opportunity.
What words of encouragement would you give to a company which is weighing up whether to enter the Awards?
It’s a low-effort way to get exposure to some senior industry leaders, seems there is very little to lose.
Always treat people with respect and be kind where you can – what comes at marginal cost to you may have disproportionate impact for them.
Do you have any advice in general for startup companies, trying to survive in the current economic climate?
It’s very much dependent on stage, and I have wide range of fortune-cookie type aphorisms I can trot out on demand. (ED: we will definitely have to follow this up in future articles)
Did you have a mentor who helped you in your early days? And was there one piece of advice that you got from them that you could share?
I’ve been fortunate in having had so many mentors and people who have helped me over my career and given me breaks; so it’s hard to point one out specifically, and the process hasn’t stopped just because I’ve got more experience. People I look at as mentors these days just tend to be older or have very different experience. I always think you can learn something useful in an interaction. The one bit of advice I can share is always treat people with respect and be kind where you can – what comes at marginal cost to you may have disproportionate impact for them.
With diversity in the world of IT, could you think of one thing that the world could change to make a difference and improve matters?
I think evening meetings and networking events are pretty tough on the family life, and working mums seem to be disproportionately disadvantaged here. Moving some of these to the mornings/breakfasts so working parents can engage more without sacrificing even more time with their families.