Christina Karapataki

Collection of candid advice from women VCs
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Christina Karapataki is a Venture Principal Schlumberger Corporate Venturing. Passionate about getting new technology out of the lab and into high-value commercial applications, Christina Karapataki has had the opportunity to realise her dream of having an impact on the innovation community over the past three years as a venture principal at Schlumberger Corporate Venturing.

Responsible for sourcing opportunities, technical evaluation, structuring joint development agreements and more, Karapataki oversees around half of Schlumberger’s portfolio companies, with responsibility ranging from monitoring a firm’s evolution to sitting on boards as a director. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Karapataki is also particularly motivated by identifying new technology, helping it develop and understanding what impact it can have on industry.

Karapataki is particularly satisfied with the group’s development since she came on board. “I was very excited to be responsible for the first financial exit of the group in 2015,” she said. “Also, since I joined, we doubled the number of companies in our portfolio. I was proud to connect with Schlumberger business units, such as the materials and electronics-enabling technologies group, which had not been engaged with the venture group before and lead their first investment.”

She added: “Furthermore, my group advocated and successfully convinced senior management to restructure the group and get a budget allocation which allows us more independence in performing follow-on rounds and seed size investments. I was a big part of this discussion and I am proud to see the structure of the group evolve in a positive direction.”

Karapataki said two of the biggest challenges corporate venturers face are networking within a corporate and educating internal business units about the benefits of corporate venture capital (CVC) unit. As a result, Karapataki said stimulating dialogue across a corporation was critical to the success of its venturing unit.

Corporate venturers also need to put more effort into being recognised as a credible, valuable investment partner to a startup, she added.

“The challenge is that the corporate VCs always walk a fine line between the objectives of their parent company and the objectives of their startup portfolio company,” said Karapataki. “CVCs need to educate their senior management about the startup ecosystem and actively work to align their objectives more closely with financial VCs. This will allow them to gain access to better syndicates and fight the bias that exists among financial VC that CVCs present ‘dumb money’.”

Karapataki said corporates needed to pay attention to strategic and financial results to better align themselves with the missions of startups. She said a corporate venturer “that only has strategic technology objectives and has no objective to achieve financial goals is at risk, not only in terms of reputation damage, but also of investing at the wrong valuations and damaging the future potential value of the startup”. Admitting that although there has been tremendous progress in this area, she said CVC groups “still have to work harder to prove that they can be a valuable co-investor both as a strategic partner and a financial investor”.

Outside of the CVC world, Karapataki loves nothing more than exploring the world, or going sailing whenever she visits her home country of Cyprus.

Fund's investment verticals: manufacturing,

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