Meet our Investor Members Katja Baur and Christian Diller, co-founders and Managing Partners of emma Ventures AG
Please tell us about yourselves.
Katja Baur and Christian Diller, we are the co-founders and Managing Partners of emma Ventures AG. Our main idea with the creation of emma Ventures is to invest in diverse founding teams building the leading businesses of tomorrow. We are excited to embark on the journey of fostering diversity in the Venture Capital space, to narrow the funding gap, and aim to help build a community with equal opportunities and access to capital. With emma Ventures, we solely invest our proprietary capital.
What is your background and previous experience?
We are both seasoned Private Equity senior executives and we lastly worked together at montana capital partners, a leading European Private Equity Secondaries firm that Christian co-founded in 2011. The company was successfully sold to PGIM, the asset management arm of US insurance giant Prudential in 2021. During our careers, we have structured and executed several deals in the Venture Capital and Buyout space and bring our broad experience and network to the table to support founders on their journey to success.
What is your investment focus?
emma Ventures invests in early-stage companies with a focus on the Digital Healthcare, Software/SAAS, Fintech/Insurtech, Edtech, and Consumer sectors. We invest in Pre-Seed, Seed and Series A rounds and can act as lead investor, co-lead or co-investor. Our geographical focus is on the DACH region while we strive to invest in businesses with global reach.
We set strong emphasis on impact and mission driven founders building sustainable business models for a better tomorrow. Diversity in the founding team in terms of gender, race, ethnical background, and professional education (amongst others), is a key investment criterion. We strongly believe that providing capital to underrepresented and underestimated founders is a massive and largely untapped opportunity.
We complement our portfolio with investments in selected VC funds both in Europe and the US.
Could you tell us more about the investment portfolio you have built so far?
We are extremely excited to have partnered with outstanding founders on their journey to build exceptional businesses:
- Cleverly’s unique offering complements online tutoring with mentoring for kids for the strengthening of their personalities and the very best preparation for today’s life’s challenges.
- CARE empowers individuals to take control of their health and live longer, healthier lives. A gamechanger in preventive medicine – from sickcare to healthcare.
- Aeyde is a Berlin-based footwear and accessories house. Founder Luisa Dames envisioned a more understated version of luxury and set out to democratize modern design and enduring quality.
- Lilio (formerly Leevi Health) has developed an innovative health tracking device for newborns, babies and toddlers which will hit the market very soon.
How do you typically add value to the startups you invest in, apart from capital infusion?
Based on our own experience, we know that building a company from scratch is very challenging. We bring in our own experience of fundraising, managing, financing, scaling, and exiting a company to a top tier corporate. We are not a VC fund with a large team but invest our own capital and are happy to support the founders whenever necessary. If there’s something we’re not personally expert in, we’ll pull in someone from our large global network which we have built over the last two decades.
How many investments do you make per year?
Our current plan is to invest in 4 to 6 companies per year. Our strategy is to build a more concentrated portfolio with investment volumes which are higher than the ones of a typical business angel. At the same time, we would like to support the companies and founders whenever needed or necessary.
Can you describe your due diligence process? What factors do you consider before making an investment?
Our investment process comprises a structured due diligence process which is largely derived from our past long standing investment experience. We have performed more than 50 deals and due diligence processes in our professional careers and invested in numerous buyout and venture capital funds as well as companies directly.
The key factor considered in the process is the founding team. We look for personalities with extraordinary drive, resilience, and conviction in their business model, but also the flexibility to adapt it to market challenges or changed circumstances quickly. In addition, complementary skillsets and backgrounds including strong sales skills are crucial. Another key factor is openness and transparency in communication throughout the process. We assess these factors via in-person meetings with the founders as well as reference calls.
Second, we focus on the unique USPs of the technology, product, or business idea. Is the company’s offering innovative and disruptive enough or can it easily be replicated? How can it be implemented in the market, what are the sales channels, how complex/costly is the customer acquisition process?
Third, we focus on the size of the opportunity and assess how large the addressable market is and what the competitive landscape looks like. Potential exit routes are also an important factor for consideration.
Lastly, the parameters of the rounds need to align with our investment case and return expectations in light of an attractive risk/return profile. Strong incentives for the founders in terms of an adequate ownership share in their company depending on the stage are crucial as well as additional incentive schemes for key employees. We also set a strong emphasis on the co-investor base in a company as investing in early-stage companies alongside other investors constitutes a long-term partnership which needs to work in the best interest of the company – in good but also more difficult times.
How long does the investment decision-making process usually take?
Our investment decision process usually takes around 3 to 4 weeks to complete. However, we are flexible to adapt to the dynamics and momentum of a financing round and accelerate the process however without compromising on any of our due diligence steps.
What level of involvement do you typically have with the companies you invest in? Do you take board seats or have observer rights?
We are very happy to be close to the portfolio companies, be on their board and help and support them whenever and wherever necessary, but we are equally fine with taking a more passive role, always tailored to the specific circumstances and needs of a company.
What is your typical timeline for exiting investments? Are you focused on short-term exits or long-term growth opportunities?
Building solid and sustainable business models takes time and we are focused on companies with strong growth potential but a clear path to profitability at the same time. As a family office, we generally have a long-term investment horizon solely focused on business success and do not have to deal with fund lifetime restrictions. For diversification purposes, we however selectively complement our portfolio with later stage investments with a shorter exit horizon.