Reflections on Joining Matū

Samuel Sutton joined our team last year. With a legal background, he complements our science-focused research team, and we asked Samuel to reflect on his first couple of months:

In August 2022, I joined Matū as a Senior Analyst. My role at Matū has been diverse but mostly centred around screening new projects, supporting existing companies, and developing internal processes for the Matū Fund. As an analyst, I have had the privilege of working on several projects, including seeing my first company through from their first pitch to our portfolio, for which I have been immensely grateful to have played a part. The next step for me is to kick this up a notch, run a pipeline, source Matū deals, analyse them and push for them internally, gathering my team and the partner’s support around a deal for our investors.

There’s much hype around working in Venture Capital. For me, it had been touted as almost a sort of ‘lone wolf’ ‘dog eat dog’ environment (by those that had never worked in the space, I might add) – but here is my brief insight: It’s all about people’s passion being turned into businesses backed by metrics, mixed with all the breadth, depth, impact, and responsibility that comes with supporting that. It’s about learning new things every day with new business models, new founders, new technologies, and new sectors, all setting out to disrupt the status quo.

Having experienced it first-hand, I know how being an analyst in this space can take you on a journey with each new day. In part, this is because (and I’m sure this will be true for all in the VC space) an Analyst wears many hats. I’m confident that whoever conjured up the phrase ‘jack-of-all’ may have met a venture capitalist. As an Analyst, you are part futurist, part sceptic, part investor, part entrepreneur, part fix-it consultant, part opportunity generator and much more. You must recognise opportunities, reconcile uncertainties, and wrestle with ambiguities; you must be analytical and strategic but also passionate and optimistic. From valuations to term sheets, I cannot stress enough the importance of always asking questions, being there to facilitate investors’ and founders’ objectives, and always looking to guide their long-term interests.

However, putting all that together, you would need to be an extremely well-rounded business generalist, possessing broad know-how and, perhaps more importantly, “know who”. Almost all start-ups require technological or industry knowledge, strategic acumen, and good governance advice. There aren’t many individuals with all the tendencies and skills needed to support a start-up, and even fewer that wouldn’t benefit from another perspective, so knowing where to turn can be crucial. For that reason, my recommendation to anyone looking to join the space is to look for a VC fund with a strong team culture where ownership and autonomy are balanced with team projects and a supportive team environment.

At Matū, we are fortunate to have just that; we can work independently but regularly come together and work closely together. As a result, we look at all tasks, start-ups, and challenges from various viewpoints. Our incredible team is the best part of working at Matū and our abundance of scientifically and technologically gifted team members doesn’t go amiss either (especially in the deep tech space!).

I am privileged to have found a team that empowers me to grow daily, and I look forward to working closely alongside my colleagues as we look to see what 2023 brings for the future direction of the Matū Fund.