The WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management has long been considered a top address for students who want to become successful founders. In that context it’s only natural that the private business school has launched a roundtable on entrepreneurship. The aim is to organize events where business ideas are discussed in order to convey know-how in the field of startups and entrepreneurship – a concept that, besides the students, also leads founders and young entrepreneurs to WHU.
Last Friday, the next roundtable was on the agenda at the campus in Düsseldorf. The basis for the evening was the study “New Business Formula – New Paths to Corporate New Business Success”, carried out by the consulting firm mm1. The main purpose of the study’s initiators was to shed light on the differences in corporate start-up financing (CVC) compared to traditional venture capital investments (CVs) from the perspective of investors. Rainer Lindenau, Managing Partner of mm1, presented the most important results of the survey of 25 venture capital companies and CVCs (including Axel Springer Plug & Play, BMW iVentures or Robert Bosch Capital).
This was followed by a highly interesting panel discussion between VC and CVC representatives as well as successful founders such as Florian Swoboda (founder of Liberty Ventures and bezahlen.de) and Dustin Figge (founder and Manging Director of Homelike). The investor results of the study were therefore supplemented by the view of the startups – and this was exactly what made the panel so interesting for the approximately 150 participants in the lecture hall.
Julia Schiefer, Ceconomy AG’s Head of Venture Capital, described a fundamental difference between CV and CVC financings: “Corporates and startups still have major barriers to being faster, less complex and more competitive internationally in innovation.” The often strategic orientation of the CVCs, also with regard to their startup investments, turned out in the course of the discussion as a major obstacle to a higher acceptance of such stakes in startups – especially in early corporate phases.
Dr. Bernhard Düttmann, who holds various mandates in advisory as well as supervisory boards, thinks that the success of New Business above all depends on the investor. They have to be mentors to young entrepreneurs and give continuous advice to startups, said the former CFO of Laxness and Beiersdorf, who is passionate about promoting good ideas.
One of these ideas, which are likely to have a great future, was co-developed by Dustin Figge. The startup of the founder, whom I personally know from his time at Arvato, offers HR departments the opportunity online booking of fully furnished apartments for their employees. Without the necessary venture capital, the dream of Dustin and his co-founder Christoph Kasper might very well break.
“But still, I do not want an investor who interferes with my business and demands reports every day,” Dustin answered when he was asked for the ideal partner and his goals. “We should not only take the capital with us, but on the other hand, the investor should not use a startup to find out more about ‘this ominous digitization.’ We want strategic partners who have fun and the courage to invest in young people and good ideas. ”
Dustin just has found such an investor in the field of traditional entrepreneurship. An investor in shipbuilding has long been part of Homelike’s investor circle, and the collaboration is the right one – a small counter-argument to the thesis that CVCs have not suffered as well in startups as classic VCs.
In my opinion, the Roundtable has shown one thing above all else: people make contracts and work together. Whether they represent a VC or a CVC is actually of less importance as long as the startup’s goals are counteracted. Doing so, CVCs are more likely to avoid getting a reputation of not supporting the isolated success of the startup, sometimes with strategic side interests. But every founder needs capital and strong partners at their side – that can be investors, but also be companies like us at Arvato with our solutions.
One good example is our pay-after-delivery solution AfterPay which helps young companies to offer customer-friendly payment methods such as invoice, direct debit and installment in their online shops. With AfterPay, founders are reassured that professionals take care of the administration of accounts receivable and reliable cash flows, so that the money that is urgently needed for growth can be immediately reinvested.
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