20 Tech Leaders in Europe to Follow
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
This year has provided an opportunity for major advances in the technology industry, as the world moved five years forward in consumer and digital business adoption in the space of approximately eight weeks at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to management consulting firm McKinsey.
Although this global crisis has been more beneficial for some tech ventures than others, it has at least provided food for thought for entrepreneurs and industry experts as they look to how it will evolve in the years ahead.
With the tumultuous first several months of 2020 in mind, here are some of the tech leaders around Europe that we recommend you keep an eye on for the rest of the year and beyond. They are in no particular order.
Miriam Pfister, President, Oxford Entrepreneurs
Miriam Pfister is the President of Oxford Entrepreneurs, Europe’s largest society for entrepreneurship, with over 65,000 members in its network. Alumni from the society have founded startups with a combined value of over U.S. $3 billion. Full-time, Pfister is a PhD student at the University of Oxford, where she is a candidate in social psychology and examines social relationships and friendship networks. In entrepreneurship, she specializes in the fields of impact and innovation.
Victor Paradell, Global Director, Cloud, Ingram Micro Cloud
Based in the city of Barcelona, Spain, Victor Paradell is the global director of CloudBlue, a division of leading global cloud ecosystem and digital commerce platform Ingram Micro Cloud. With over 30 million cloud subscriptions and 80,000 global partners, the CloudBlue platform speeds up the transition from market to revenue for both traditional and digital products. Paradell describes himself as an international leader, strategic thinker and effective influencer. His experience lies in transforming businesses through incubation and development, as well as tech market strategies, mergers and acquisitions, and sales initiatives. Previously, Paradell spent 13 years as vice president of IoT and analytics at Barcelona-based EMEA business consultancy group.
Alexa Olteanu, COO, Talos Digital
Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, where she completed part of her university studies, Alexandra Olteanu is now Chief Operating Officer at software development and e-commerce solutions company Talos Digital. At Talos, Olteanu virtually manages teams across four different countries, and describes herself as self-motivated, innovative, and goal-orientated towards software design and development. She strives to deliver projects in the most cost-efficient manner possible, and always on time. In Olteanu’s spare time, you’ll find her traveling, working to improve her skills and focusing on learning something new every day.
Jag Singh, Managing Director, Techstars Berlin
Jag Singh describes himself as “one of Europe’s most active angel investors,” looking to invest in high-growth startups in Europe as well as the US. He is also the managing director of Techstars Berlin for entrepreneurs, an accelerator offering them investment, innovation and networking opportunities. Techstars Berlin has a portfolio of over 2,000 entrepreneurs and eight unicorn startups. And as an entrepreneur himself, Singh knows the market very well, having built four companies from scratch. He is also an advisor and mentor to tech startups in the United Kingdom. Before entering the field of entrepreneurship and innovation, Singh spent over a decade working in politics in both the UK and U.S., helping execute political strategies and campaigns for politicians, brands and global causes.
Jonathan Greechan, Co-Founder, Founder Institute
Jonathan Greechan is the co-founder of the Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed accelerator. While he’s based in Colorado, he has helped lead the accelerator, with more than 35 chapters in cities across Europe, since 2009 through its first decade of existence, expanding it into over 185 cities across 60 countries, spanning 6 different continents. The Founder Institute has helped a portfolio of over 4,300 companies—worth a total of over U.S. $20 billion—to form a global support network and create a structured business approach, as well as raise over $950 million in funding. Greechan is also a member of the advisory board at Oxford Entrepreneurs, the largest entrepreneurship society in Europe. His dog, which he claims is the “coolest on the planet,” is the Founder Institute’s CMO (Chief Morale Officer).
Dr. Dina Bayasanova, Founder, PitchMe
Dr. Dina Bayasanova co-founded the talent marketplace PitchMe in 2017, as a tool for career development and job searching. PitchMe is a recruitment platform that uses skill-profiling and algorithms to match ideal candidates to professions instead of CVs, regardless of their background. Besides being an expert in the recruitment industry, Bayasanova also mentors entrepreneurs at the Exeter Entrepreneurship Society and claims to be an advocate of innovation and technology for HR and education. Before founding PitchMe, Bayasanova worked as a project manager at Zurich Investment Services, and the global advisory firm Oxford International Center.
Radoslav Stompf, CEO, FUERGY
Radoslav Stompf is the co-founder of Slovakian renewable energy startup FUERGY, which aims to optimize energy consumption and max out the efficiency of renewable energy sources. It does this by encouraging its customers to sell their excess energy to members of their own community at a cheaper price instead of back to the grid. FUERGY is the second company Stompf has co-founded, and he is looking to use his 20 years of experience optimizing in the European energy industry to shape the future of the global energy market.
Boris Pfeiffer, CEO, Riddle
Boris Pfeiffer is the CEO and founder of Riddle, an online quiz maker and marketing platform that creates quizzes, personality tests and polls for its clients to use as marketing tools. Based in Saarbrücken, Germany, Pfeiffer believes that quizzes can be powerful marketing tools used to engage audiences, qualify new sales leads, and connect with marketing software to send automatic follow-ups based on each user’s responses. Pfeiffer’s knowledge and experience in the gaming industry spans over a decade, meaning he has access to an extensive network of contacts in the gaming communities in both Europe and Silicon Valley. Before gaming, Pfeiffer’s experience was in sales and professional services. in the global startup space, having set up tech businesses in Asia, the U.S., and throughout Europe.
Nadine Khouzam, CEO, CodeNPlay
Nadine Khouzam is an ex-goalkeeper for the Belgian field hockey team-turned entrepreneur. After playing in the national team for seven years, which took her to the Olympic Games in London 2012, Khouzam founded CodeNPlay—a non-profit that teaches 6 to 12-year-old children how to code robots and connected devices—in 2017. Based in Brussels, CodeNPlay also works with local primary schools to train teachers in computational thinking and the logics of programming. Alongside running her own business, Khouzam also works as a data analyst at Facebook, on its infrastructure connectivity program. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Khouzam worked for a tech startup active in telecom big data, where she gained the experience and courage to start her own business. She is passionate about social inclusion and combating the digital divide. Khouzam is also a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.
Balint Bene, CEO, bene : studio
Balint Bene has been the CEO of Bene Studio—a web and mobile app development studio for startups—since 2009. The studio specializes in digital strategy, design and development solutions for enterprises across the world. Based in Budapest, Hungary, he has more than 15 years of experience in the tech industry and product strategy development—with strong connections in the HealthTech industry—as well as a background in the arts.
Jon Fath, COO, Transmetrics
As Chief Operating Officer at Transmetrics, a predictive optimization SaaS company for the transport and logistics industry, Jon Fath is responsible for driving revenue and contributing to product development. Fath is new to the team at Transmetrics, a Bulgaria-based company, which works with technologies such as demand forecasting, machine learning and predictive analytics to increase operational efficiency for companies. Fath’s background lies in corporate strategy, business development and the buy-side of mergers and acquisitions for Fortune 500 companies, which he has led in Europe, North America and Asia.
Roland Polzin, CMO, Wing
Roland Polzin is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of on-demand mobile concierge service, Wing. The monthly subscription service claims to literally do “anything” for its customers, taking care of shopping, pet services, courier help, research, food delivery and more, using AI to make the service more personalized. Previously, Polzin was a member of the German armed forces, where he served as both an officer and the Chief of Public Relations. He has also worked for the German government and the United Nations. Alongside his professional responsibilities, he is also a recent MBA graduate, having studied corporate strategy and digital transformation.
Chantelle Bell, Co-Founder, Syrona Women
Having graduated with a Master’s of Bioscience Enterprise from Cambridge University, Chantelle Bell started her career in the healthcare space as a consultant for companies such as Philips and Procter & Gamble. During her studies, Bell teamed up with her would-be co-founder, Anya Roy, to develop a device for home-testing for cervical cancer. The pair went on to found Syrona Women in 2018 to provide a digital medical assistant for female healthcare. The company provides tracking and screening, online counseling and education for a variety of medical issues including Endometriosis, infertility, sexual abuse, and much more.
Kenn Gudbergsen, CEO, TrainAway
Kenn Gudbergsen is the CEO and co-founder of TrainAway, a Copenhagen-based startup that enables busy travellers to access gyms and fitness facilities across the world, on a pay-when-you-train basis. The app has partnered with gyms in over 800 cities across 45 countries to allow travellers to stay active while they are far away from home. The company was born out of Gudbergsen’s own desire to keep fit while traveling.
Wesley Lorrez, Founder, Toadi
Wesley Lorrez is the founder of Toadi, a company that believes worker robots are the answer to a sustainable future. Lorrez’ plan is for these AI-powered robots to start out completing simple tasks such as mowing the lawn, generating cash flow and disrupting the market, and then with this money, he hopes to be able to build personal worker robots that can carry out the tasks needed to build a more sustainable world. His personal mantra is “earth, a universal city.” In Belgium, where he’s from, Lorrez is also a philanthropist and his background is in creating product and service innovations.
Moodi Mahmoudi, CEO, NEXT
Moodi Mahmoudi is the CEO and founder of Amsterdam-based NEXT, a business design platform that provides its customers with a digitally guided process that takes them from Idea-to-Market. The platform—which promises to make business design tangible, scalable and measurable—works with big names such as Deloitte, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Otis Elevators. Before founding NEXT, Mahmoudi was Vice President of SAP-solutions provider Optimal Solutions and founded KBMS, a provider of enterprise software solutions.
Linda Vermaat, Director, Innofest Nederland
Linda Vermaat is the Director of Innofest Nederland, offering impact startups the opportunity to showcase their ventures at festivals, the perfect environment to test innovations. Innofest Nederland looks to help innovative entrepreneurs looking to contribute to a better world. Alongside her husband, Vermaat is also a filmmaker at TwentieFour, a creative studio they founded to highlight entrepreneurs building their businesses while tackling global challenges such as plastic pollution, poverty and inequality. She is a startup scout and often moderates events focused around impact entrepreneurship, such as the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. Vermaat, who is based in Amsterdam, is inspired by people who go above and beyond to challenge the status quo.
Uranik Begu, Executive Director, Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK)
Uranik Begu is the Executive Director of the Innovation Center in Kosovo, Republic of Kosovo, in Southeast Europe. The innovation center aims to connect scientific research and development with the business sector in order to create more job opportunities. Its focus is on information and communication technology, and works with both startups and existing companies. Begu is also a country manager for the StartUp Europe Awards, an initiative promoted by the European Commission to recognize the work of EU-based startups. He is a Chapter Director for Startup Grind, an International Ambassador for the International Business Innovation Association and a Startup Mentor for the Star Venture program.
Daniel Szemerey, Co-Founding Director, Health Venture Lab
Daniel Szemerey is the co-founding director of Budapest-based Health Venture Lab, an accelerator that supports healthcare startups from around Europe working towards innovation in the industry. The accelerator offers a 6-month program that allows startups to establish a network, gain knowledge in the field of healthcare and build up traction from the minimum viable product stage of their business. Szemerey is also a member of the Catalyst Europe program, which aims to increase the impact of biomedical research.
Nikolay Storonsky, CEO, Revolut
Nikolay Storonsky is the founder and CEO of UK-based fintech Revolut, Europe’s fastest growing unicorn, which Deloitte also named its fastest growing UK financial technology company in 2019. The fintech has almost nine million personal account users, whose financial health is Revolut’s top priority. Its services range from providing surcharge-free access to ATMs abroad and currency exchanges, to global transfer payments. Storonsky began his career as an Equity Derivatives trader at global financial services firm Lehman Brothers and investment bank Credit Suisse.
Editor's Note: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.