Fabio Bronzin


'Like chefs in a bustling kitchen, we orchestrate chaos, supporting founders to turn raw ideas into golden opportunity pies.'

Fabio Bronzin

My Backstory

Where were you born?

I grew up in Essen, the industrial heart of Germany, where people are known for being hard workers, straight shooters, down to earth, and easy to grab a beer with. My parents taught me the value of dreaming big and working hard. My mother founded a successful biomedical startup in the 1990s, growing it for 15 years before selling to a large firm. She taught me about perseverance, breaking through barriers, and doing simple things better than overconfident incumbents. My father started as a car mechanic before founding his own dealership in the 1970s. He saw success come and go with industry changes, but his amazing relationship skills allowed him to relate to anyone.

Starting at age 8, my parents had me help out on a small farm, which helped me appreciate physical labor. In my teens, I worked admin roles at my mom's startup, learning efficiency and attention to detail. At 16, I took a monotonous job besides high school at a bank’s account statement printing department that taught me patience - which is valuable as an early-stage investor. I studied energy management and finance, doing my undergrad in Germany before a Master's at Purdue and Tsinghua.

After university, I started in corporate finance and M&A, focusing on renewable energy deals. I then joined a large utility amid industry transformation during and after Fukushima. My role changed to business development in batteries, grid storage, and distributed energy. I also supported early tech investments at the intersection of energy and power retail tech. Later, I helped a global engineering firm leverage its vast hardware expertise to partner with early-stage hard tech founders - right before embarking on my own journey as a founder (unsuccessfully).

Where were you born, where were you raised?

I was born in a small town in the northeast of Italy called Udine. I was raised there for almost my entire life - from kindergarten to bachelor's. I moved to Milan for my Masters.

What is the area you are from famous for?

The town I am from is close to the border with Austria, and it’s best know for its football team, Udinese Calcio. That said, the region I am from (Friuli Venezia Giulia) is the origin place of the world-famous dessert Tiramisù, as well as the world-famous alcoholic beverage Prosecco (key to a good spritz !), and other well-known foods such as San Daniele ham, and 'frico'.

People there tend to find value in staying local (my, it’s beautiful and we have great food there!). I took that with me when I left Italy.

Any siblings when you grew up?

I have an older brother (8 years older) which I really look up to. He’s my biggest inspiration and the person I respect the most. We’re really different in every possible aspect though ahah !

What are the two things (outside of school) that you spent the most time on when you were a kid or teenager?

I don’t have a precise recollection of what I used to do a lot as a kid. Sure thing I used to play a ton of sports and do a lot of physical activity - I was really energetic and just loved playing sports.

I played football for quite a long time - I was pretty good as I was asked to play for the local football team (Udinese Calcio) in their division nurturing new talents. I never accepted because I moved away from playing football to briefly doing sprint running (100m) and street workout/calisthenics. I was also pretty good at table tennis.

I was pretty crafty - I started by building complex stuff with Lego and later moved into assembling and building stuff with metal sheets, hardboard, and hot glue. I really loved building things and let my creativity and dexterity combine!

What are you missing from your younger years?

Sometimes I do miss playing football: that feeling of scoring a goal, or saving the day with a tackle at the right moment. I also smile thinking back about when I used to do parkour: it was a ton of fun.

Thinking about the time spent with my family - doing simple activities but spending high-quality time together - will always bring a smile to my face: from building stuff with my brother when I was a kid to playing with him more in general (even when I grew up), the weekend trips to Austria with my parents, going in the woods with my mom to collect mushrooms, going to a restaurant with my dad after school because he did not want to cook, or cooking 'pasta ai funghi' with him, to name some. But also the time I spent with friends playing.

To summarise: the good quality time spent with my family and with my really close friends.

Did you have a side job during school?

I had no side job - it’s not a common thing. I briefly did some tutoring to younger students during high school, as well as working in some summer camps. Some learnings are possibly in working with other people, communication and leadership skills.

During university, it’s impossible to work (at least for my stream of studies) as studies take waaaay more time than a full-time job.

What did you study, and where?

Both my bachelors and masters are in management engineering (a mix of mechanical engineering and business/economics).

While I studied for my bachelors in my hometown at the 'Università degli studi di Udine', I moved to Milan to attend my masters, at 'Politecnico di Milano'. Unfortunately, due to covid, everything was moved online. I was at least able to have my graduation ceremony and defend my thesis on campus though.

Summarize your work after university and before Foundamental.

Foundamental was my first job (not counting internships), right after graduating - I literally started one month after getting my Masters degree.

I interned as a Business Consultant at 'Confindustria Udine' (General Confederation of Italian Industry), where I was tasked with finding a technological solution to the traceability of food products in the distribution chain. Moreover, I interned as a Junior Business Analyst at Fair Play Consulting (a consulting boutique specialized in strategy, sales and marketing), working on 3 different projects in the fields of retail commerce and construction consulting. These experiences allowed me to gain valuable research and market analysis skills as well as a detail-oriented approach to problem solving, in addition to familiarizing with managing and communicating with multiple stakeholders. Then, working on the launch of my own food-tech startup, Tastyt, is a testament to my passion for entrepreneurship and working in unstructured environments, in which self-starting, initiative and problem-solving capabilities are required. Amongst others, I was excited to use my analytical skills to draft strategic options, backing them up with data from in-depth market research and competitors’ analyses. Despite my non-tech background, I taught myself the basics of web development (HTML, PHP and CSS) that I needed to build the MVP. I like to think of it as proof of my resourcefulness and can-do attitude.

What is your story of getting into Foundamental?

I was close to graduating and was looking for a job. I knew I did not want to end up either in a traditional corporate company, nor on consulting or Investment banking. I was passionate about startups and innovation, so I either wanted to be an entrepreneur myself (briefly tried but did not make it), get a job as a founder's associate to be as close to entrepreneurship as possible, or get a job on the other side of the table, as an investor. I opted for the last choice: I wanted to get exposure to the other side of the table to better understand the dynamics of venture capital, build a network and understand how VCs think, so to be better equipped if I ever wanted to get back into entrepreneurship.

I came across Foundamental's fellowship and after some research - I knew I wanted to get the job. Why? Well, my reasons were quite opportunistic:

Construction was gaining interest from generalist VCs and was poised to explode in funding received in the coming years;

Foundamental happens to invest early stage, as early as pre-seed, and had already some good companies in the portfolio.

This means I could potentially get my name associated from the very beginning with a ton of promising companies getting tier-one funding and becoming the next unicorn in one of the largest industries out there!

So, I applied to the fellowship position, and after interviewing with Seb, Marie and Adam, I got my start !

I Am On The Lookout For

What makes a great VC investor?

I believe it’s a mix of many things:

Being able to ask the right questions, and question everything;

Being able to connect the dots (e.g. drawing conclusions from data at hand);

Being great with people (good networking skills, as well as the ability to read people and spot the bullshitters);

Good instincts;

Strong communication skills;

Strong analytical skills;

Intellectual curiosity and willingness to learn new stuff and keep up-to-date;

Lots and lots more.

What are 3 things you look for in a founder?

Industry experience and relevant background for the business they’re building; prior entrepreneurial experience is a good plus.

Storytelling skills coupled with a passion for what they are building.

Ability to attract, manage, and retain talent.

What are the things in a business that excite you?

At the end of the day, it boils down to:

Growth prospects (which are directly related to size of the market, severity of the painpoint tackled, and willingness to pay from customers, amongst others);

Exit opportunities - or how do I (Foundamental) make money out of this company?.

Hence, what excites me are businesses that can make it big and generate good returns. Easy peasy !

What are mistakes that AWESOME founders don’t make, but many other founders make and you see repeatedly?

Not prioritizing (for example going after multiple things at once, throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, not making data-driven decision e.g. guided by customers’ feedback), not setting clear goals and a key north star metric to guide their decisions.

What are values that are ultra important to you in other people in business life. Why?

Trustworthiness and integrity: you can't really form a partnership with someone you would not trust.

Accountability: owning up to your mistakes and taking ownership when things go south because of your decisions, acknowledging them, and learning from them shows maturity, leadership, and willingness to continuously improve.

Willingness to work hard; you can't build anything big, or go very far, without some good old hard work. It's essential to succeed in business and life.

Those are the same values I think I have (or set) for myself - and demand in other people to have.

Describe what 'partnership' means to you.

Partnership to me is like marriage:

Meant to be for the long run but if it does not work, it's best to part ways; however, it cannot be broken at the first difficulty or friction: work needs to be done to make the partnership work;

Each party pulling their own weight and bringing equal value to the table, each contributing in their own way;

Built on a solid foundation of trust and integrity;

Meant as a support system: when one needs help the other party provides help; and vice versa; knowing you can count on your partners and they can count on you;

Meant to be continuously sustained and nurtured by the collective efforts of everyone involved.

What are you chasing in your life?

I'm after the freedom ! A dream of mine is that of owning my own restaurant in the Italian countryside, cooking fine dining dishes using local products and growing some produce myself.

That said, I would love to have a positive impact in this world. I like to spend my resources mostly on environmental causes, particularly for example by buying forests around the world to protect and preserve them, and reforest new areas. I want to leave the world a slightly better place than what I have found it.

Last, I'm an adrenaline junkie and love driving (fast). Someone give me a tuned 1972 Datsun 240z, please !

What intrigues you? As in, you see or hear something like this, you stop whatever you currently do.

I'm intrigued by a variety of things that spark my curiosity, whether it's discovering a new ingredient in my kitchen and exploring its origin and recipes, delving into the background of a controversial company founder, or spotting a potential business opportunity and diving into market analysis and possible solutions. My natural curiosity leads me down various rabbit holes, making each exploration a unique and fascinating journey.

Sure, I find myself captivated by a multitude of things that pique my curiosity. Take, for instance, stumbling upon a novel ingredient while preparing dinner. The questions start flowing – how can this be used? Where does it come from? What interesting recipes can I explore with it? Similarly, if a company founder hits the headlines, my inquisitive nature kicks in. I delve into the company's workings, scrutinize the investors, and unearth the founder's background to understand the bigger picture.

Moreover, spotting a potential business opportunity in the market is another scenario that truly engages me. I embark on a journey of researching existing solutions, dissecting various business models, and strategizing what it takes to succeed in that space. Essentially, my curiosity acts as a catalyst, propelling me down these captivating rabbit holes where each exploration becomes a unique and enthralling adventure.

Think of VC as an artisan craft, where every craftsmen has their unique method and finesse. How would you describe your unique 'craft' to VC?

I’m all about playing to my strengths – I love diving deep into research and quickly figuring out if a company needs a closer look. For those that do, I take my time mulling over them.

Imagine me reviewing a company's stuff from an outsider's perspective. I try to connect the dots, and look at similar companies and their models to understand what clicked and what didn’t, like solving a puzzle.

When I get into a company, it's anything but surface-level. I want to know why founders make certain choices and why they pick a specific strategy. I dig into how their product and business plan function and, more importantly, why issues and hurdles they might run into. I am not asking myself: “why would this work?”, but rather, “Why wouldn’t this work?”. This is also something I try to do with our team’s deal discussions: playing devil’s advocate and trying to question the companies my colleagues bring forward.

On top of that, I'm always reading up on new stuff. It's not just to spot business opportunities but also to be a go-to person for other fellow VCs (which I strive to become). I want them to see me as someone they can turn to for insights. It's about building a network where everyone benefits from their knowledge.

Any favorite readings?

I don't really have any favorite book - I've read books spanning from business stories, autobiographies, body language, finance, self-improvement, nutrition, cosmos and more.

One book that really stuck with me was 'Autobiography of a Yogi'. This book questions our perception of reality and shatters it in many places by showing us how reality works (in the karmic way). By showing us his enlightenment process and his spiritual journey, this Indian storyteller shows you the brilliance of ancient wisdom in its simplistic complexity. I can't really call myself a spiritual person and i certainly am not a religious person nor a believer. But for some reason, I just could not stop reading the book - I never went through a book this fast. I don't really know why, but it just hooked me. It was introspective, in a way, and made me reevaluate my spirituality (maybe awakening a latent one?) and ask myself questions about the topic.

In general, though, I mostly read books around self-improvement and businesses/entrepreneurship.

What is your favorite quote or mantra that can be applied in a business context?

'Reading is good, action is better.'

Cool. Now give a second quote or mantra you like in a business context.

'The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.'

What is your secret ninja-skill?

Possibly my ability to question things, wonder why and how things work and why and how they might not work when analyzing business models and products, and going into the nitty-gritty of data, models, and products. I think my strong suit is doing the diligence.

In what ways do you feel inferior to some people you look up to?

Communication and networking.

If you were a super-hero, what would be your super-hero name?

Probably Skeggia - it was my nickname when I used to play football. It comes from “scheggia” - you say someone is a “scheggia” when they are really fast. I used to be the fastest on the field!

What is one person in the world you would like to have dinner with?

If I could pick anyone to share a dinner with, it'd be Ernst Blumenthal. Imagine sitting down with a self-made chef who not only cracked the code to a 3-star Michelin restaurant but did it his own way. From starting small to reaching culinary stardom, his story is a rollercoaster of passion and flavor.

I'm drawn to Blumenthal's creative genius in the kitchen. He doesn't just cook; he crafts experiences with every dish, pushing boundaries and reinventing flavors. A dinner with him (specifically at his restaurant) would be like stepping into a world where every bite tells a story.

Being a food enthusiast with a penchant for Michelin-star dining, sitting across from Blumenthal would be a dream. We could geek out about the art of cooking, share favorite culinary experiences, and maybe even exchange a few cooking secrets.

What can you nerd out over for hours with the right discussion partner?

Well, either one of my two passions:

Gym and working out - nutrition, integrations and supplements, workout optimization, routines and exercises, etc;

Cooking and fine dining - Michelin-star restaurants, recipes, cooking techniques, ingredients, etc.

When someone who knows you in your business life very well were to describe you, what adjectives would they use for you?

Hard to say as I am quite early in my career - I am working so that people describe me as knowledgeable, insightful, passionate, and relevant.

Is there something you would never mind spending a lot of money on?

I am very considerate with my money, and I hate wasting it on non-essential stuff - this out of respect for all the sacrifices my parents (coming from an anything-but-rich background) had to make so that both my brother and I could study at university. Hence, I am very careful with my expenses.

That said, I believe experiences of any kind are a really worthy investment, e.g. traveling (and all experiences you might make while traveling such as cultural visits, tasting the local food, attending some local event, etc) or eating out at a good restaurant (I am a sucker for high-end cuisine)!

Selected Partnerships