The new HTGF Academy: “Knowledge transfer shouldn’t just happen by chance”
Since 2019, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) has offered a broad spectrum of knowledge to its portfolio companies through the HTGF Academy. The platform is now set to be systematically expanded, with fund investors, entrepreneurs outside the HTGF portfolio and other members of the start-up ecosystem now also benefiting from the seed investor’s nearly 17 years of experience. During that time, HTGF has completed more than 650 seed investments and almost 2,700 transactions. In this interview, Alex von Frankenberg, Managing Director of HTGF, and Claudia Raber, Partner Relationship Management at HTGF, talk about the new knowledge platform and explain why it’s important to continue sharing experiences.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Let’s start with an easy question: What is the HTGF Academy?
Claudia Raber: The HTGF Academy is a central platform through which we aim to promote knowledge transfer using a variety of formats. Last year, we held 18 events focused on various topics that our portfolio companies are interested in. The subject of leadership, for instance. We got a fantastic expert to speak about this topic, Ms Dorothea von Wichert-Nick. She is an entrepreneur and author who established the “From founder to CEO” event. At this event, we help entrepreneurs to carve out a new role for themselves in a rapidly growing organisation. We also deal with topics such as sales growth and cash management.
Alex von Frankenberg: And we’ve made a great start with this year’s programme. In January, we held an event on the subject of internationalisation. And we’re showing our portfolio companies the not-so-easy route to the stock exchange. The events were so well received that we’ve now decided to systematically expand HTGF’s knowledge sharing platforms and to also make them available for other groups such as our fund investors.
Why did you decide to expand the Academy’s offerings?
Alex von Frankenberg: Because we’re constantly recognising what an unbelievably expansive range of knowledge we have amassed at HTGF. And we keep acquiring new knowledge; our learning curves continue to grow at an ever steeper rate. We’ve been around for a long time now, are extremely active on the market and learn something new each time. At the same time, we are continuing to expand our network. Last year alone, HTGF was involved in 239 transactions – and every single one of them helped us gain experience and expand our knowledge. We’d like to share this knowledge and make it available with the help of internal and external experts.
Claudia Raber: Among the various stakeholders in the start-up sector, we’re seeing a major need to obtain knowledge and to share exchanges with others in the network. HTGF has been around since 2005. We have three successful funds – and are currently in the middle of fundraising for the fourth fund generation – more than 650 investments, over 150 exits and three IPOs. We also have a very strong team and a large network. The academy enables us to satisfy the needs of our stakeholders by tapping into the in-depth knowledge and experience that is embedded within HTGF.
What do you offer company founders?
Claudia Raber: Even before founding a company for the first time, we can provide them with valuable tips and show them what to watch out for when implementing their ideas and plans. And then of course there’s what we have to offer for our portfolio companies. The Academy is a fantastic opportunity to remain well-informed and be kept up to date. Many of our companies are also looking to share experiences, and we offer a number of opportunities to do so. We host various “matching” formats, for instance, in which our portfolio companies can network in an exclusive setting with potential investors or customers and cooperation partners.
Alex, you mentioned the fund investors. What additional benefits do you offer them through the Academy?
Alex von Frankenberg: We provide investors with an exclusive range of knowledge, giving them access to important insights they can leverage to develop their company. We believe that knowledge transfer shouldn’t just happen by chance. Instead, it must be systematically channelled so as to generate real added value. The investors gain access to a large network with a high level of expertise. In addition to our portfolio, identifying trends and creating opportunities for cooperation, the new Academy is a fantastic addition to the range of benefits that HTGF already offers.
And is this something your employees can benefit from?
Alex von Frankenberg: Absolutely! New employees, especially those who aren’t overly familiar with the investment sector, can learn and get to know the environment very well and very quickly. But members of the team who have been around for longer are also able to stay on the ball and further their development.
And what are the next steps?
Claudia Raber: We’re already making strides. We’ve updated our website, where you can now find an overview of what’s on offer. Portfolio companies and fund investors are able to view all exclusive events at a glance. We will announce public sessions on LinkedIn – and registration is simple. We’re planning a highly diverse programme for all who are interested.