As part of our Active Intros series, we speak to a different member of the Active team to find out what’s keeping them busy, which consumer trend they’re most excited about and the one brand they couldn’t live without. This month we chatted with our Seed Associate Anna Sweetman.
Anna joined Active in January 2023 as part of the Active Early-stage team. Previously she worked at Vira Health, a healthtech startup working to improve women’s health where she focused on product development. Her particular areas of interest include healthtech and femtech, as well as sustainable foods and sustainable fashion.
Tell us about your career so far and what led you to join Active.
Coming from a family where both of my parents were entrepreneurs, I always knew I wanted to be involved in early-stage businesses in some way. When I was a teenager, I started my own business selling baked goods and then throughout university, I was involved in the startup ecosystem in a number of ways, from consulting for a deeptech pharma startup, to helping a friend of mine set up a not-for-profit web design agency. I also studied Human Sciences which is really interdisciplinary, so I’ve always been a bit of a generalist and I think this plays a part in why I was so interested in a career in VC.
When I graduated, I wanted to get some operator experience at a startup, so I went through Jumpstart and started working at Vira Health, a women’s health tech startup. I began as a Founders Associate and this quickly turned into a Product Manager. Then after about a year, the opportunity at Active came across my desk and I was thrilled to join the early-stage team in January.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I tend to spend at least a third of my time digging into a company we’re excited about, whether that’s for an IC note, due diligence or finding out more about a particular market. About half of my time is spent on calls with founders, whether that is new founders I’ve just met or founders we’re exploring partnering with, which I loved doing. I’m always on the lookout for ways to meet founders and build my network, whether that’s at events or via coffees and drinks.
What consumer trend excites you most right now?
I’m really excited about the wave of experience-led companies emerging, for example in co-working, competitive socialising, travel and sports. They are providing amazing experiences that millennials and Gen Z audiences are really attracted to. Experiences enrich our lives in so many ways and it’s fascinating to think about what people value most in terms of human experience, and how consumer demands are shifting.
What’s your top advice for founders when raising capital?
There is a lot of talk in the market about how it’s a unique time to raise and that investors are looking for more evidence of traction from companies. I’d suggest that, depending on your stage, really focus on what metrics set you apart. Do you have an unusual amount of Instagram followers given how long you have been live? Do you have an unusual amount of revenue given your marketing spend? Hone in on that one specific metric and explain to investors why it matters and why it’s proof of traction for your particular business.
What do you love most, and least, about your job?
I love the constant gear-switching that’s involved, it’s impossible to get bored. Being able to flip between different businesses, topics and markets is really exciting and keeps you on your toes. In terms of what I like least, saying no to founders who are building something amazing, but they aren’t quite the right fit for us or the right time or size of business is never nice.
Name one brand you couldn’t live without
I love anything second-hand or vintage. One brand that I have fallen in love with since moving to London is Traid. They collect second-hand clothes and sell them in their shops, then use the funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts of the textiles industry. Their high-quality stock makes it feel like they are reinventing the traditional charity shop, whilst promoting second-hand fashion and a better supply chain.
Given my background in natural sciences and health, I love Big Picture Medicine by an ex-NHS doctor, Dr Mustafa Sultan. He works with loads of interesting startups in medtech and has brilliant guests on the show.
Top book recommendation
Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything – all the messages ring true even nearly 10 years on from when it was written which is scary. It was a great read to get a truly in-depth understanding of the impact of our economic model on the climate and planetary health.