VC Venture Europe
Evgenia Plotnikova, Dawn Capital

European investor Dawn Capital, which raised $400 million for its fourth fund last year, has promoted Evgenia Plotnikova to general partner.

The firm, which invests in B2B companies across Europe, noted that her promotion brings its partnership to two women on its five-person partner team, although Plotnikova is the firm’s first female GP.

The other GPs are co-founders Norman Fiore and Haakon Overli, general partner Josh Bell, who was promoted to partner in 2016, and Mina Mutafchieva, who was promoted to partner earlier this year.

Prior to joining Dawn in 2018, Plotnikova was at Atomic and before that she was with TPG, the San Francisco private equity giant. Her promotion took effect last week. This week, she sat down for a virtual call with Venture Capital Journal and discussed her new gig and her thoughts on diversity in VC.

What’s kept you busy since the promotion?

I get to work on a lot of initiatives, whether it’s strategy, fundraising or hiring, and that’s that’s incredibly exciting. Succession planning is very unique to Dawn. As I look at people who are progressing through the ranks, we’ve got so many who have grown from associate to principal.

I feel privileged to be in a place like Dawn where the the path from the most junior level to GP is truly open, and I feel that that’s not the case for a lot of different firms. And I hope that this is what will help us attract the best possible talent, and then invest in the best possible entrepreneurs.

From a sector perspective, I am extremely excited by various parts of the data stack. We recently invested in Firebolt, which is a next-generation of data warehousing, and I believe there’s still a lot more to be done in the data space.

Dawn Capital now includes two female partners out of five and the firm also likes to say it has a 50:50 gender balance across its investment committee, investment team and full team. What does that mean for you?

We are a very diverse firm. And it’s a wonderful team where a majority of the partners, Josh, Mina and myself, have actually been promoted from within. We’ve never hired a partner laterally and half of the investment committee is female as well, which is very exciting.

Does having a diverse partnership make a difference when you invest?

I hope it makes a difference. I would like to emphasize that we view diversity in a broader sense. I brought up gender because it’s relevant to me. But as a firm, we certainly have a huge amount of diversity with our socioeconomic backgrounds. We also hail from a number of different countries, and we all have different preferences. It allows us to be sensitive and empathetic to different types of entrepreneurs. So I do hope that it makes a difference with the entrepreneurs.

Are you seeing more diverse entrepreneurs in the B2B market?

We are. I wish that it would be more diverse. There has been a little bit of change over time, but it certainly isn’t enough yet.

I was assisting on a panel just this morning with Silicon Valley Bank, and they put out some very interesting stats where they were saying that there’s an increasing amount of female partners across Europe. And so I hope that will influence more change.

There’s more organizations that support a lot of those efforts, as well. Again, we very much like leading by doing. Half of the investment team is female, more than half of the firm is female. And so I do hope that it attracts all kinds of entrepreneurs.

But has it?

Frankly, by diversifying your investment teams, you attract more diverse entrepreneurs. For the entrepreneur, if you feel that you can relate to the person who’s on the board and they have a level of empathy for you, and if your board is a reflection of how you’d like your start-up to be, yes, all that does ultimately help.