Tom Hulme’s eclectic career mirrors his broad range of interests: he worked as a teacher in a rural Muslim school in Tanzania, studied physics at university, founded an engineering startup, manufactured performance automobiles, and led one of the world’s most respected design teams to build a platform for social good.
“Having scaled companies and products up fast, and on a couple of occasions down, I have a deep empathy for founders,” he explains. “My goal now as an investor is to empower entrepreneurs to have as much impact as possible over long time horizons.”
As GV’s head of Europe, Tom brings an innate curiosity to startups across fintech, enterprise, science, and consumer applications. “When I meet with companies, I concurrently look through the lenses of tech, design, and business to understand what might be possible,” he says. “Counter-intuitively, I am often looking for — and most excited by — the hardest part of business and ask why the team might have an unfair advantage in making progress against it. Viewing an opportunity only through one specific lens makes it harder to form a balanced perspective.”
Previously, Tom was design director at IDEO, where he ran the firm’s startup efforts globally and founded OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform on which over 300,000 users from more than 170 countries solve social good challenges.
Before IDEO, Tom was managing director of Marcos, a British sports car manufacturer; he also founded Magnom, a magnetic filter startup. Tom’s filter designs have been widely used in Formula One cars, superbikes, agricultural equipment, and central heating systems.
Tom has been an angel investor in over 30 companies. He was a founding investor in MileIQ (acquired by Microsoft), Divimove (acquired by Fremantle), GoCardless, Cliqz (acquired by Burda), Llustre (acquired by Fab), Massive Health (acquired by Jawbone), Nested, Tray.io, Lendable and MoveGuides. Long-term relationships are key, he says. “Some of my best investment opportunities come from founders I backed 15 years ago.”
Tom has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He has been featured in Wired UK’s Top 100 Digital Power Brokers and the Evening Standard’s list of London’s 1000 Most Influential People. He also serves as an advisor to the British government and MoD.
Tom earned a first-class bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Bristol and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he received the Baker Scholar Award of high distinction. He also received an honorary doctorate in Design from the University of the Arts London.