Sustainability as Challenge in the Venture Capital Ecosystem

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Sustainability across the value chain - Startup KOIO offers luxury leather sneakers handcrafted in Italy

Facing the rise of the conscious consumer, sustainability as a global movement is heavily impacting the strategy of large corporations. The urge to be green as well as ethical is also a significant driver of innovation in the startup world.

But what defines true sustainability? What creates a difference between real purpose and mere lip service? Can Venture Capital take an active part in promoting sustainability alongside revenue growth and capital efficiency? And how could the focus on sustainable business models be a stronger value driver for VC firms?

High-speed growth and the critical consumer

The internet enables customers to make more educated choices and to question corporate behavior. A recent Deloitte study found that 55 percent of consumers will pay extra for products sold by companies committed to having a positive social impact. This growing importance of sustainability is boosted by the impact of social media. Through multiple social platforms, critical consumers can spread their opinions to a wider audience, ultimately taking an active role in shaping business conduct, products and services. …


  • A digital recruiting process unique in the industry enables companies to efficiently staff high quality student workers even faster during the pandemic
  • Forestay joins existing investors Acton, AXA & Atlantic to support expansion throughout Germany and international roll-out

Berlin, May 12, 2020 — Despite Corona, digital staffing service Zenjob has secured a Series C funding of $30 million (€27 million). The fresh round was led by Forestay Capital and joined by existing investors Acton Capital, AXA Venture Partners and Atlantic Labs.

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Zenjob founders Frederik Fahning, Fritz Trott, Cihan Aksakal

The new financing will be used to support expansion into further cities in Germany. Berlin-based Zenjob plans the roll-out of its digital recruiting technology by the end of the year and to expand internationally. Currently, its services are deployed and used in 14 cities throughout Germany. Together with the international expansion, the new funding will be used to further develop Zenjob’s state-of-the-art technology behind its staffing on-demand service. Zenjob allows its customers to achieve high-efficiency gains by making the entire process of temporary staffing easier, from finding the best personnel, right up to the billing process for their work. …


German cyber security awareness startup from Cologne secures seven-digit funding from Acton Capital and GFC

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SoSafe founders Lukas Schaefer, Niklas Hellemann, Felix Schürholz (image source: SoSafe)
  • Seven times more phishing attacks since February 2020 — Corona crisis and remote work increase security risks for companies
  • Focus on the human factor: SoSafe expects corporate customers with over 350,000 end users and quadrupling of sales
  • Accelerating growth: fresh capital for internationalization and product expansion from Munich

Cologne/Munich, July 22, 2020 — SoSafe GmbH closed a substantial seven figures Pre-Series-A round as European vc investor Acton Capital joins existing shareholder Global Founders Capital. Founded by Niklas Hellemann, Felix Schürholz and Lukas Schaefer in 2018, SoSafe’s automated cyber security awareness platform supports meanwhile more than 200 corporate customers like Avira, Vattenfall or Ceconomy to increase their cyber resilience. …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | momox

A startup story written by an unconventional entrepreneur and driven by the conscious consumer

All products deserve a second life — that’s the principle of the circular economy. Berlin-based re-commerce pioneer momox has turned trading pre-loved media items into a successful business. By offering fast and easy handling to sell and purchase pre-owned goods, momox and its online-shops ubup and medimops tap a billion-dollar market driven by the conscious consumer. With €250M in revenue, 1,900 employees and 220 million articles bought and sold since launch, the company is meanwhile the largest vendor for used goods on Amazon worldwide.

People have always had a love-hate relationship with books, movies and games. They buy them, enjoy themoften never to use them again. They take up space, sit on shelves or cupboards, in basements or attics, and eventually turn into dust catchers, forgotten and neglected. Assuming there are unused items worth at least €1,000 in every householdthat makes a multi-billion-dollar market potential. …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | Etsy

The story of ‘accidental business person’ Rob Kalin — and his anti-capitalist vision of doing good for makers.

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“Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

With its focus on unique and bespoke items, Etsy found its creative niche next to Amazon and eBay. Annually, merchandise worth more than $5 billion changes hands and Etsy was just added to the exclusive club of companies in the S&P 500 Index.

But the commercial success story of Etsy is that of Rob Kalin, the company’s eccentric founder and his idealistic approach to make commerce more human.

Although he stepped down twice from his role as CEO, without his pioneering vision, dedication, and unorthodox business approach the company would have never become what it is today: the leading global peer-to-peer marketplace for craft, vintage, and artisan goods. …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | audibene

Adapting hearing aids online was considered impossible until audibene proved the opposite

Although nearly 500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss, selling and adapting hearing aids online was considered impossible. audibene founders Marco Vietor and Paul Crusius successfully proved the opposite — by carefully listening to their customers. Pioneering in a mostly offline market, audibene was the first online provider of expert hearing care, appealing to younger and more tech-savvy first-time users. Founded by the two WHU almuni in 2012 and acquired by Sivantos Group from Singapore only three years later, audibene (hear.com) is one of the global leaders in modern hearing care today.

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“Because hearing is essential to living your best life “— audibene founders Marco Vietor and Paul Crusius (image source: audibene)

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve thought about business cases,” Marco Vietor once said about himself. Thus, his ears pricked up when his former roommate and fellow WHU (Otto Beisheim School of Management) alumnus, Paul Crusius, told him about an under-served, global market with a huge growth potential. …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | Clio

How LegalTech Clio transformed the practice of law, for good

Some sectors adopt faster than others. However, this doesn’t mean there is no latent demand for innovation among the slow adopters. Take lawyers for example: while they might be hesitant to adopt cutting-edge technology, they gladly embrace a simple, yet groundbreaking solution to minimize the administrative burdens of their practice. Enter Clio: a Canadian grown-up that provides law firms worldwide with a solid and intuitive cloud-based software to manage their workflow. …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | Linas Matkasse

LinasMatkasse-founders, the Swedish siblings Lina Gebäck and Niklas Aronsson, about the inspiration, first steps and personal challenges on their way to scale a family business internationally

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LinasMatkasse’s founders, the siblings Lina Gebäck & Niklas Aronsson (image source LinasMatkasse)

What should we eat for dinner? By providing a tasty answer to that question, two siblings have made many people’s lives a whole lot easier. Since Lina Gebäck and Niklas Aronsson founded LinasMatkasse in 2008, the Swedish company has successfully revolutionized the food retail sector — and in the process, kicked-off a whole new world-wide industry. Early-backed by the VCs Creandum and Acton Capital, the team expanded all over the Nordics. Today, the LinasMatkasse Group delivers 20 million meal-kits with 1.1bn …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | MyTheresa

How a Power Couple from Munich Built the World’s Largest Online Retailer of High-End Fashion

When Susanne and Christoph Botschen founded MyTheresa in 2006, it was little more than the online version of their luxury womenswear store Theresa. That very brick-and-mortar shop is now called MyTheresa Store and is little more than the offline version of the online luxury boutique that MyTheresa is today. With customers in 140 countries and expected annual sales of US$500 million the online pioneer in the luxury industry is forcast to achieve double-digit growth in 2020.

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MyTheresa founders Susanne & Christoph Botschen (Photo by/source MyTheresa)

“You have to be truly obsessed with fashion”

What’s better than one fashion power player? Two! There is something extremely fascinating about fashion couples: Stella McCartney and Hunter’s creative director Alasdhair Williams; designer Tom Ford and husband Richard Buckley, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Hommes; model Natalia Vodianova and Berluti CEO and LVMH heir Antoine Arnault. …


Backing entrepreneurship | since 1999 | AlphaSights

How AlphaSights became one of the torch bearers of the expert economy

Making good decisions is already challenging under the best of circumstances and even the smartest leaders need access to relevant and reliable knowledge. They are looking for perspective gained through a deeper, human understanding of how things work rather than pure information. AlphaSights connects decision and deal makers to the knowledge they need to make smart decisions for their organization. Founded by two Stanford fellows in London amid the Lehman crisis in 2008 — and since then supported by a VC from Munich — the company is now the world’s leading knowledge broker. …

About

Bettina Engert

Shaped @FlixBus’ story from startup to corporate in Europe/US. Now writing for @ActonCapital about tech-enabled business models, ready to scale & built to last.

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