5 Questions with Kartik Varma, Managing Director of the ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator

Oct 16, 2020
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2-min read

Kartik Varma, who goes by KV, is the Managing Director of the ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator. He has spent over two decades equally, but not chronologically, divided between being an investor and an entrepreneur across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. Kartik has an LLB from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

01. What are the key elements you look for when sourcing startups for the ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator ?

Ultimately, it always boils down to the team. Ideas can change, but people usually don’t. So I try and understand the people behind the idea, their motivations, their ability to think and try to find some evidence for their resilience and endurance around working on things that take time to mature.

02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars MD?

I’ve been a generalist most of my life with pockets of specialisation and a good understanding of my circle of competence. Marrying this with my curiosity about different things has not only been intellectually stimulating but also professionally rewarding. Careers, like startups, don’t always move in a straight line. And for me the trick has always been to pick new and transferable mental models from one part of my life to another and see how one can learn from this exercise.

03. What is your favorite thing about the Amsterdam startup scene?

It is buzzing and has a lot of endurance despite the disruption due to the pandemic. There is enormous potential in the local ecosystem. Quite like seeing a startup grow and take shape, I've enjoyed seeing how the startup scene in Amsterdam is growing and beginning to find it's own personality and flavour.

04. What does our partner, ABN AMRO, bring to the accelerator?

Domain expertise in things it is good at, but also a willingness to explore and experiment with early stage entrepreneurs even if their businesses don’t have any immediate relevance within the bank.

05. If you could have coffee with any entrepreneur, who would it be and why?

I don’t drink coffee (or tea) but will make up for it by meeting any entrepreneur I am privileged to meet 24x7. Always something to learn from every person, especially those who devote their life’s work to becoming an expert in solving a problem in their area of interest or expertise.

Learn more about the ABN AMRO & Techstars Future of Finance Accelerator here.

Learn more about Techstars accelerators and see which ones are accepting applications now.