Q&A with Galina Rachenkova, principal, Hitachi Ventures

1. First, just give us a quick overview of who you work for, what you do, and how long you’ve been doing it.

I am an investor at Hitachi Ventures, the strategic venture arm of Hitachi Group. Next to investor-related activities, a big part of my job is to identify strong collaboration partners in face of startups for different business groups within Hitachi, which are not only located in Japan but worldwide. I am in an investment role for [four] years now.

2. What attracted you to CVC? 

Having an impact beyond the financial investment itself was the main reason for me to join a CVC. As we not only invest in your companies but always aspire and work on collaboration projects with our portfolio companies, I believe we can have a unique impact and contribution to the growth of exciting companies. We can leverage Hitachi’s market access, technological expertise etc. At the same time, it is a unique experience to be part of the disruption of a corporate by technology and innovation of young companies.

3. What have been your greatest successes at your unit? 

On the strategic side, we have successful collaboration projects with most of our portfolio companies (Rescale, Weka.io, Sophia Genetics and others), while otherwise are being planned. On the financial side, we have already had an IPO of one of our portfolio companies (Sophia Genetics).

4. What have been your biggest challenges? 

The biggest challenge is to make strategic investments while trying to meet the speedy timelines on the VC scene. With “strategic investments” we imply existing or future synergies with Hitachi’s businesses. To be ahead of the curve, we continuously learn about Hitachi’s needs and openness to collaboration with startups in specific areas.

5. What’s your main professional ambition for the future? 

My main professional ambition is to become a partner at the leading CVC and venture fund.

6. What do you think all CVCs could do better to make it a stronger industry? 

I think there are a lot of CVCs that are already very strong and competitive on the market. Shortening the time, it takes to come to investment decisions, may make CVCs stronger and more attractive.

7. And, finally, for colour, what did you do prior to CVC or in your spare time? 

Before Hitachi Ventures, I was with a European financial fund and held a consulting role at IBM. In my spare time, I try to do lots of sports, switching between tennis, yoga, skiing and boxing.