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December 13, 2023
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Ekaterina Almasque: AI Disruption, CEE Heat & Europe VC’s Radar Focus.

  • Ekaterina Almasque, general partner at OpenOcean, discusses the firm’s investment philosophy, emerging AI trends, and anticipates that the CEE region will become a focus of European VCs.
  • She highlights the use of AI in the B2B space, particularly tools enabling enterprises to develop and deploy AI at scale.
  • Almasque notes that the AI market is becoming mainstream, opening opportunities across various industries. However, it also presents a challenge for older technologies which may become obsolete in comparison.

OpenOcean, a venture capital firm focusing on B2B software across Europe, crafts its investment philosophy from a strong background in open source. Originating from MySQL’s success, the firm respects the beginning, appreciating the process of building ecosystems, especially at the inception of new tech waves in fields such as the cloud, mobile, AI, or quantum. Their investment strategy is to aim for products that are loved by customers and have the intrinsic value to transform into a platform.

Speaking on their investments in AI, Almasque observes that enterprises face a bottleneck in adopting AI since they lack the necessary tools to develop and deploy AI at scale. Thus, OpenOcean prefers companies, like LatticeFlow, that help bridge this gap by bringing trustworthiness to the complete AI process.

As AI becomes mainstream, Almasque points out that enterprises have awakened to its potential and are investing heavily to stay competitive. At the same time, she worries that increased regulation might stifle this technology’s swift development and hinder the competitive edge of European startups.

Despite these uncertainties, Almasque predicts significant growth across Europe in Data Infrastructure and Climate Change tech verticals in 2024. Data infrastructure would act as the foundation of the future data economy, while climate-conscious AI would address the environmental impact issue.

With emerging talent across technologies, Almasque anticipates an explosion of quality startups from Europe, focusing on challenging and strategic areas like data infrastructure. Simultaneously, she acknowledges the rising interest in the CEE tech landscape from European VCs due to the region’s developed ecosystems and increasing number of serial entrepreneurs.

She concludes by advising founders to proactively engage in various networks, taking risks, and developing their strategic thinking based on the knowledge gained from people who have been there.

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