One example for this circle of involvement is Verena Pausder. She already worked as a student at the START Summit — the root of btov — and as an intern for btov where she introduced unconventional marketing methods to increase btov’s visibility. Soon, she started her own first business. Years of hard work and a successful exit later, she eventually rejoined btov as a private investor this year. She leads the Ed Tech circle and in addition shares her experiences as a mentor for junior VC roles of our firm.
One of her first businesses was, inter alia, financed by Max Burger who also invested in the seed round of Xing in 2003, founded by Lars Hinrichs. It was a very small community of business angels and among the angel syndicate of Xing’s seed round, which btov had orchestrated, you find personalities like Klaus Hommels, founder of Lakestar, as well as Oliver Jung or Peter Schüpbach who brought the investment to what today is RedAlpine as the firm’s first success. For reference, at that time Facebook did not even exist.
There was another startup in Belgium in the social networking sector that btov had on its radar. Florian Schweitzer was so eager that he visited the team personally without invitation but the outcome was different since the founders decided to go with another investor. Time went by, this startup grew successfully and eventually exited. In the Swiss alps Florian Schweitzer happened to meet one of their founders, Toon Coppens, in a ski lodge last year and they got along well together. Toon decided to invest into btov’s digital tech fund now and just became part of the digital tech core group.
In contrast to btov’s early focus on digital technologies, Christian Reitberger is a committed deep tech investor, so he spearheads btov’s industrial tech fund. Driven by optimism and curiosity, he searches for future European tech unicorns, convinced that as an investor you can not only watch and admire outstanding talents, but actually enable broader technological change. With his investment into QCells he has backed a rising and game-changing company but he also had to watch the effects of Asian competition and their access to capital. Christian is still on his mission to prove Europe’s entrepreneurial ability to spawn a deep tech group and carefully includes small miracles into his calculations. Before joining the industrial tech fund as a partner, he acted as a btov private investor, leading several tech investments for more than a decade.
Among our early tech investments today, there are many great examples across different verticals, and a new generation of founders is waiting to become the private investors of tomorrow. One of them is our second Israeli investment Flytrex. The CEO Yariv Bash not only proves himself in the intense competitive landscape of last mile delivery but also he explores spacecraft technology, taking part in the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge. Another exciting, recent investment and good example of the evolving network is Layer in Berlin. The company’s first financing round included btov’s business angels Verena Pausder and Reiner Mauch as well as Frank Freund — founder of our FinTech investment Raisin. Layer’s founders are also well connected to other business angels because they have gained experience in a previous startup, so they are perfectly set up for future investment rounds — excellent news to be announced soon.
Looking back at 20 years of btov, we are proud that the firm has shaped the European venture ecosystem. Connecting like-minded business angels with young and bright entrepreneurs has always been at the core of our business activities. Starting with a small circle and growing to a strong and resilient network, we have put the values of the honorable businessman first in the belief that this is an essential part of our success. Despite recent incidents like Wirecard we see a growing attention in the ecosystem towards entrepreneurial responsibility. Startups as well as VC funds take into account the ecological and social impacts of their businesses and btov continues to shape this development, e.g. by partnering with START to establish the ROSE framework.