Q -What has been the most important “learning” of your career?
SL -During my first investor roadshow as a young CEO in London, a fund manager explained that he has a long term focus as an investor. I asked him how many years he stays invested on average? His answer: “Sixteen Months”.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this encounter and it brought me to realise the difference between “investing in companies” and “running a company”. If I had done everything my investors told me to do as “flavour of the months”, my company would not have flourished for long! In the end, over ten years, we outperformed the European Insurance Index by almost 50%, partly because we consistently implemented our long-term strategy.
Q -What attracts you to venture capital/angel investment?
SL -In the world of listed corporate companies, the managers spend a substantial amount of time on the legal and financial framework, such as: regulation, compliance, stock exchange laws, boards and committees, costing a lot of nerves and energy. In the startup enviornment, on the other hand, the focus is almost exclusively on clients, products and sales, focused and innovativ - that is something I particularly enjoy.
Q -What technological development are you hoping for most?
SL -Albert Schweitzer was unfortunately right with his statement: “we live in a dangerous age. Man dominates nature before he has learned to control himself.”
In my opinion we need to rapidly decouple our qualitative prosperity from harmful resource consumption on our Planet. All technologies that contribute to this are most welcome!
Q -How do you combine your startup investments with your normal workday?
SL -Unfortunately, I perceived the venture scene on the one hand and the corporate world on the other hand as two largely separate economic segments. Today, I am privileged to have one foot in both worlds. My “mission statement” is to build a bridge and connect these two worlds: startups want to scale and seek strategic partnerships with established corporates, these corporates want to become more innovative and agile and can learn a lot from the startups. I have, on several occasions, witnessed the great added value of creating a link between these two worlds, whether this is through corporate venture funds, targeted startup scouting or the expansion of innovation pipelines of large corporations through innovative outreach methods, that provide access to the best startups.
Q -What founder do you find most inspiring?
SL -As an investor, I place my trust in founders who have experience in strategy, management, organization and financing. Experienced managers or successful partners from established strategy consulting firms who are in the midst of life and now want to do “their thing”. The entrepreneurs behind Blacklane, Raisin or Sumup are perfect examples of what I mean: brilliant intellect, well-thought-out strategy and a clean execution lay the foundations for future unicorns.
Q -What are the indispensable tools in your daily life?
SL -I live near St. Gallen, between Lake Constance and the Swiss mountains. I enjoy all four seasons, especially the snowy winters. Between December and May my most important tool are my touring skis, with which I am always able to experience incredibly beautiful, fascinating and sometimes wild mountain landscapes. I usually manage to climb more than 20,000 meters of altitude per season, and I still have a lot of new summits on my wish list!