Featured Investors
July 6, 2022

Featured Investors | July 2022 - Martha Teka of Telescope Partners and Tansel Ismail of Energy Impact Partners (EIP)

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Martha Teka, Associate at Telescope Partners

Martha Teka is an Associate at Telescope Partners, where she explores early growth B2B SaaS investments. Prior to joining Telescope, Martha was on the Corporate Strategy team at Bright Health Group, a diversified healthcare startup based in New York City, focusing on organic and inorganic growth strategy. Martha began her career in management consulting, where she worked on a variety of strategy, operations, and diligence projects across the healthcare, retail, and technology sectors.

EVCA: How have the skills you developed in your pre-VC work played into your new role?

Martha: I believe that coming from an operating background has helped me to empathize with some of the challenges founders face on a day-to-day basis– and given me an appreciation for the herculean effort it takes to successfully execute. Pre-VC, I worked at a healthcare startup where I wore many hats and saw the ups and downs of growing a business. I learned that each stage requires different skill sets, and while the journey can be exhausting, it is also incredibly rewarding. This has given me a deep respect for founders, and serves as a constant reminder to match their tenacity and commitment. Having spent time across operations and strategy has also enabled me to think critically about product and the customer perspective in order to build conviction in companies beyond standard financial diligence criteria.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Martha: VCs are infamous for passing on companies because the market served isn't big enough, or is too "niche”. While the tide is beginning to turn on this mindset, I'm of the opinion that with the right product and founder, a company with a "niche" focus can be a really great investment. Most notably, products that center on underrepresented or traditionally overlooked people, industries, or problems have the potential to build big, enduring companies. Even with a smaller total addressable market, these businesses can realize formidable product-led growth through fiercely engaged (and sticky!) customers.

For example, the boom in digital health investments in the last few years has favored broad market solutions, targeting high visibility populations and high prevalence chronic conditions like diabetes, musculoskeletal (MSK) care, and "wellness" mental health care. However, looking ahead, I'm excited about technology that addresses health issues for historically marginalized populations, like rural communities or people of color, and underserved conditions with lower prevalence. Women's home health tools are an interesting example where technology could enable rural providers to deliver "hybrid" pregnancy care with virtual touchpoints between in-person visits. A tailored product that meaningfully improves the capacity of rural women's health providers has the potential to drive deeper adoption than a general telehealth platform.

Tansel Ismail, Vice President at Energy Impact Partners (EIP)

Tansel Ismail is a Vice President at Energy Impact Partners (EIP), a $3bn multi-stage venture focused on the energy transition. At EIP, he focuses on enterprise software and cybersecurity investments. Prior to EIP, he was an Investment Banking Analyst at Citigroup in the technology group and graduated from the University of Florida with B.S. in Finance.

EVCA: How have the skills you developed in your pre-VC work played into your new role?

Tansel: It’s hard to point to something specific, but in my opinion, being good at VC requires the right combination of work and life experiences. In my case, my first job at a bank provided me with structured training around financial analysis and putting pitch decks together but that was probably only the beginning. With the level of autonomy you get in VC, things such as enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, empathy, and honesty are as important and are not necessarily thought through past work experiences. They are considered “skills” but cannot easily be thought which is why I think past personal experiences are equally as important in shaping your success as VC and are often overlooked.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Tansel: It’s a bit enterprise software focused, but my contrarian view is that on-premise software is here to stay. Many people have the view that everything is moving to the cloud, but based on what we’ve seen, many large enterprises are still very reluctant to consume or move their business critical applications to the cloud due to reliability and security concerns. I think cloud-based will definitely be the dominant form of consumption for software going forward given the many benefits (e.g. shorter sales cycle, better usage data, more scalability, usage based pricing, etc..) but there are still too many reliability and security concerns for on-premise premise to disappear. Software will remain hybrid.