What HTGF has to offer for start-ups (besides financing)
With over 600 seed investments in almost 16 years, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is Germany’s most active seed investor. Its investment teams have strong ties with business and science. HTGF has long seen itself as a platform that offers start-ups outstanding benefits alongside financing. In this interview, HTGF Partner Claudia Raber sheds further light on the subject.
Claudia, as a HTGF Partner, you’re responsible for relationship management at the company. If you had to name five things that you offer founders besides financing, what would they be?
Claudia: Expertise within the team, access to investors, external business experts, a network in business and science, and of course our HTGF Academy.
It’s clear what you mean when you talk about expertise within the team. Your team has over 15 years of experience in seed investment, and many of your investment managers are from the world of science or have founded a start-up themselves.
Claudia: You’re right. We always aim to interact with founders on an equal footing.
Can you tell us what you mean by the second point, access to investors?
Claudia: When our start-ups embark on additional financing rounds, we can help them find the right partner for any rounds that follow. Today, our network of investors spans the entire globe. In each and every region, we’ve got very good partners for the different phases and technologies of our start-ups.
Can you provide any figures?
Claudia: Our network comprises roughly 9,000 investors, ranging from successful private equity funds and corporate VCs to wealthy private individuals, some of whom invest exclusively with HTGF. And here we provide individual access, by engaging in very direct networking or organising events like the Family Day, where deals are sometimes born at the buffet table.
You also mentioned business experts that you bring together with your portfolio. Can you tell us about them?
Claudia: Sometimes our start-ups are looking for co-founders, additional managers or advisory board members, and here we can lend a helping hand. Our network includes over 8,000 C-level managers, consultants, service providers, mentors and candidates for advisory boards and co-founder positions.
Can you provide any examples?
Claudia: Sometimes we get successful founders and HTGF alumni on board as experts, as was recently the case in the influencer marketing business. And another person that immediately springs to mind is the co-founder of an internationally successful SaaS start-up who is now an investor and advisory board member at a portfolio company active in the field of enterprise software.
I presume your company networks are just as big?
Claudia: You bet. We’ve got more than 4,300 potential customers and cooperation partners from industry, the SME landscape and retail. Our HTGF Partnering Days are also an important networking tool. And here I’d like to really highlight our 35 fund investors, of course. Collaborations between these established companies and start-ups are common, and sometimes even result in an acquisition. One example I could give is our portfolio company Emma, which was acquired by Haniel last year. Haniel is also active as a HTGF fund investor.
Speaking of fund investors, do you offer them similar benefits to your start-ups?
Claudia: Yes, of course, and we can see that demand is constantly on the rise. That’s why we’re going to develop some additional formats.
Can you tell us about how you work with universities?
Claudia: Universities also form an important part of our active network, not just because successful founders often come from the world of science, but because we also want to give our start-ups access to experts. Also, with the HTGF Academy, we’re offering a comprehensive development programme exclusively for HTGF portfolio companies. This involves seminars and webinars about correct controlling and HR management as well as topics such as virtual share programmes.
Do your start-ups help each other?
Claudia: They certainly do. They often meet at our events and keep in touch with one another. We are strong believers in the power of peer-to-peer learning. We’ve even started to see successful founders from the past investing in our portfolio. We’re delighted to see just how well our platform concept is working.
Thank you for your time, Claudia!