Featured Investors
March 1, 2022

Featured Investors | March 2022 - Abdul Abdirahman of F-Prime Capital and Gwen Umbach of Altimeter Capital

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Abdul Abdirahman, Senior Associate at F-Prime Capital

Abdul Abdirahman is a senior associate at F-Prime Capital, where he invests in early-stage fintech, proptech and enterprise SaaS startups (primarily in the Americas and opportunistically in Africa). Prior to joining F-Prime Capital in 2020, Abdul was a partner at P1 Ventures where he invested in emerging markets-based technology startups and worked at a venture-backed digital banking/payments startup. As a fintech enthusiast, one of the highlights of 2022 so far has been launching the F-Prime Fintech Index with his colleagues. Outside of work, Abdul enjoys trying new cuisines, reading about economic development, and playing basketball.

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

Abdul: I began my career in financial services where I carried out assurance and valuations services for asset management firms in NY & London. There are a few skills I developed in my roles there that help me in my day-to-day as a VC. For one, the modeling, PowerPoint and memo writing skills I developed in my early years out of college made the transition to venture easier. The foundation of building models and synthesizing the results into short memos and presentations allowed me to hit the ground running when I started working in venture. The second, is the client service mentality you develop at professional services firms – which combined with my time working at and supporting startups – enable me to have a lot of empathy for the founder’s journey.

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

Abdul: I think fintech as a category (especially in emerging markets and given the rise of web3) will outperform nearly every category in venture over the next decade. Unlike other solutions that more easily go over borders, local ecosystems and nuanced finance regulations create opportunities for local winners to emerge in large, developing markets and in emerging areas like DeFi. As an investor in Latin America and Africa, I believe we are still in the early innings and there is tremendous growth ahead in the coming decade – even against the backdrop of a stellar year for fintech.

Gwen Umbach, Investor at Altimeter Capital

Gwen Umbach is an investor at Altimeter Capital, a technology-focused crossover investment firm that invests in visionary entrepreneurs and iconic companies through all stages of growth. Gwen recently joined Altimeter to focus on early-growth stage software investing, specializing in data infrastructure and healthcare IT. Prior to Altimeter, Gwen was an investor at Salesforce Ventures where she invested across infrastructure and application software. Gwen started her career in the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs in NYC.

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

Gwen: I studied economics and science and technology studies at Cornell University. I didn’t know how helpful economics would be in my career until I became an investor. In my current role, I spend a lot of time analyzing broader macro forces that drive both public and private markets. In my favorite science and technology studies courses, we explored how technology has impacted society since the rise of the internet. This is what sparked my interest in tech startups – I became a tech history buff, and couldn’t help but daydream about the innovations that were right around the corner. Working in tech investment banking introduced me to companies across many sectors, and helped train my analytical mindset. This is the juncture where I really understood the broader impact that software would have on the economy. Ultimately, this cemented my desire to work directly with the leaders and companies in software. As I look back, each step I took led me here and I couldn’t be happier.

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

Gwen: First, when looking at trends, it’s important to understand the broader market.  While some continue to call the current situation a “downturn,” I align with the notion that this isn’t a downturn in the markets (i.e. implying there will be a bounceback) but rather a correction. And, one that is heading towards normalization.

Next, probably less contrarian and beyond this specific question, is what’s ahead and the real opportunity unfolding in healthcare. We saw technical advances and industry collaboration rates accelerate to new highs over the past two years, yet healthcare infrastructure is still where data infrastructure was ten years ago. We are seeing a rapid rise in companies innovating in this space, especially in pharma and biotech. The impact of this rise goes beyond improvements in healthcare infrastructure. My hope is that our investments in this space will result in improved access to care, treatment, and ultimately better patient outcomes. This is one of the most important and fastest growing areas we are investing in.