Prior to joining SoftBank, Karol was a principal with Silver Lake Partners. He is also a graduate of the Warsaw School of Economics, with MSc in Finance, and holds a Master’s in International Management from the University of Cologne, Germany
What was your early career like?
I joined an investment bank in London right out of university. I’ve always been passionate about technology, and I eventually joined Silver Lake Partners, which is a pioneer in late-stage tech investing. It was fascinating, and I learned a lot about the sector and the art of investing. In the course of my work, I met many successful entrepreneurs, and became an active angel investor myself. I must have been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug, because I eventually established my own little specialist financing business.
What drew you here?
I remember the first time I heard about the Vision Fund. I thought that it was a fund I’d really want to work for, because I could see even then that they had the ambition and capital to make investments of unprecedented impact—helping big thinkers bring needed innovation up to scale. So when I got an offer a year and a half later, I jumped at the chance. I think my favorite part of my work here is being bombarded by new ideas and getting to meet the founders who are bringing them to life.
Do you have a particular sector focus?
I’ve spent the majority of my time in fintech, consumer internet, and to a certain extent software. I’m a big believer in tech enablement—technology that actually solves problems and creates possibilities for people. I think fintech was the first area where tech enablement really took hold. I’m fascinated by the developments that are happening in that space right now
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I love the moment when during intense due diligence you begin to really understand the company and its sector. Only then can you have a meaningful conversation with founders about their vision and opportunities, but also risks. You exchange your perspectives and expectations in countless conversations, and you build mutual understanding and trust. And that’s where the proper partnership takes off.
What do you look for in a founder?
First, I want to say that I really empathize with what they’re doing. My wife is an entrepreneur, and I see how hard she works. She’ll get a string of bad news, and somehow she’ll get back up and keep at it. Most people wouldn’t last long like that, but successful entrepreneurs are different. They keep going. It’s not about being blind to reality—it’s about having your eyes wide open, taking in changing circumstances, and then finding a way to make progress. It’s like skiing down a really challenging slope. You look at it, and it’s terrifying, but you take a deep breath and find your path.