Since 2001, the Business Angels Netzwerk Deutschland has been electing a Business Angel of the Year, and it was only in 2019 that a woman received this title for the first time. The money in the start-up scene is in the hands of men. But if you take a closer look, there are now many women in crucial roles at venture capitalists. They run them, they decide on investments, they act as business angels. Here are twelve of them.
Kiana Mardi, investment director at Alstin Capital
Kiana Mardi has been managing investments at Alstin Capital since 2017; she previously held the same position at early-stage investor Seed + Speed. Both venture capitalists are part of the Maschmeyer Group.
Alstin's focus is on the tech industry. Current projects Mardi is backing include food logistics startup Fliit and proptech Reinvent, the first time Alstin has backed a startup in the real estate industry. As a business angel, she participated in the seed funding at Deinestudienfinazierung in 2018.
Previously, Mardi was at Rocket Internet, worked for Edarling and helped build Zalando and Zalando Lounge. In 2013, she co-founded fashion company Glamloop with Alexandra Podeanu, which they successfully sold to a competitor in 2014. From 2015, she helped Holidu succeed and was responsible for the startup's Series A funding round, in which Booking.com founder Kees Koolen participated through his fund EQT Ventures.
Daria Saharova, head of Vito One
Saharova has been the head of venture capitalist Vito One since its founding in 2015. The Viessmann Group's early-stage investor focuses on prop techs, and has funded over 20 startups to date. These include energy manager start-up Gridx and Home, provider of a platform for apartment rentals.
Saharova moved to Munich after school to study, became an investment manager and actively supports the start-up scene in the Bavarian capital. For example, she founded the Munich Founders Association and initiated the Venture Wiesn event format.
In 2020, she was awarded the inaugural "Best Investor" prize by the German Start-up Association.
Romy Schnelle, Partner at High-Tech Gründerfonds
In 2008, Schnelle's career started at High-Tech Gründerfonds, Germany's largest early-stage investor with almost 900 million euros in fund volume. Since then, she has assisted seven start-ups in their exit, and her portfolio currently includes nine companies that she manages. At the tech start-ups Stocard and Quobyte, Schnelle is closely involved in the companies' processes as a member of the supervisory board.
Schnelle once started out as a founder herself: in 2003, she helped build the Fraunhofer spin-off Iosono, which was sold to the Dutch company Barco Audio Technologies in 2014.
Since February 2021, Schnelle has also been chair of the Investment Committee of the Swiss media group TX Group. There she primarily supports start-ups in the development and growth phase.
Tanja Emmerling, Partner at High-Tech Gründerfonds
Emmerling's main interest is Artificial Intelligence in the areas of mobility, logistics, IT security, blockchain solutions or SaaS. Since 2018, she has headed the Berlin office of High-Tech Gründerfonds, where she has been assisting start-ups since 2014. So far, she has recorded four exits. As a mentor, she currently supports the online marketplace for second-hand fashion Rebelle, for example, and has accompanied the SaaS start-up Virtualq since its founding.
Before Emmerling joined High-Tech Gründerfonds, she worked for six years at business publisher VNR.
Marie-Helene Amtsreiter, Partner at Speedinvest
Amtsreiter is a senior partner at venture capitalist Speedinvest. Based in Munich, she leads the firm's industrial tech team, which focuses primarily on startups in manufacturing, construction, energy, logistics and mobility. According to the firm, rounds include up to two million euros.
Speedinvest invests primarily in early-stage European startups, and Amtsreiter has been with the company since 2014. Its portfolio of German startups includes the just-awarded Cleantech Twaice, for example.
She started her career as CEO at a Croatian mobile company, later moving to an Austrian competitor. She then moved into the gas and oil industry with the OMV group. Meanwhile, she met Speedinvest's co-founder Oliver Holle, who brought her into the company.
Alexandra Bause, partner at Apollo Health Ventures
In 2016, Alexandra Bause founded Apollo Health Ventures together with Jens Eckstein and Nils Regge. The focus is on biotech start-ups worldwide. She also manages the VentureLabs program, which initiates and supports the creation of new start-ups that aim to stop the aging process. In a first fund, Apollo Health Ventures raised €37 million, and at the end of 2020, a second fund with a target volume of up to €100 million was launched. Half of the fund invests in early-stage start-ups in which Apollo intends to hold a majority stake. The other half will go to companies where early entry is no longer possible.
Angie Gifford, vice president at Facebook and multi-supervisory board member
Gifford's career started at Deutsche Bank after graduating from college in 1987. For the next twenty years, she worked in various management positions at Microsoft, becoming a member of the executive team. For the past year, Gifford has been vice president at Facebook, based in Berlin.
Gifford is also a multi-supervisory board member, including at TUI and Thyssen Krupp.
As recently as early 2020, she was part of one of the funding rounds for HR start-up Tandemploy, which invited only female investors.
Dagmar Bottenbruch, General Partner at Segenia Capital Partners (formerly DC&F Capital Partners).
Bottenbruch has made a full 17 angel investments in her career, including robo-advisor Vamoo, which was sold to Moneyfarm, or travel platform GoEuro, now called Omio.
Starting as an undergraduate at Harvard Business School and Berkley, she has been an equity analyst in New York and in the executive ranks at Credit Suisse and Rabobank.
Her own first experience with the start-up world came in the late 90s, when she built the online broker Self Trade Italy. Today she invests in and advises start-ups as a business angel, currently for example the FinTech CrossLend. Bottenbruch sits on supervisory boards such as that of the Berentzen Group and is a managing director at investment firm Segenia Capital Partners.
Mariana Bozesan, co-founder and president of Aqal AG.
When investing, Munich-based Aqal AG adheres to the sustainability criteria adopted by the United Nations. Bozesan is not only co-founder, but also president of the investment company, which supports start-ups in the seed and growth phase - the sustainable aspect is crucial.
Bozesan is a Club of Rome member, developer of the "Theta Model" for minimizing risk in investments and advises the European Union, NGOs and funds on sustainable financing. In 2019, she has been named the best female business angel in Europe. The prize is awarded jointly by the associations Business Angels Germany and Business Angels Europe.
Malin Holmberg, Partner at Target Global
According to the venture capitalist Target Global, the gender ratio is balanced, Holmberg has been working for the company, which is headquartered in Berlin, from London since 2018. Investments are made in startups up to the growth phase, the volume is 800 million euros.
Holmberg has 15 years of experience in the telecommunications sector: Starting at Vodafone in London, she worked her way up to CEO of the Dutch company Tele2. She sits on several boards, including listed audiobook platform Storytel, and advises Singapore-based venture capitalist Antler.
"We raise our children to believe that boys must take risks, ask girls out on dates, and learn to deal with setbacks. In contrast, girls are rewarded for kind behavior and doing well in school. Starting a startup is a very risky business and that gives men an advantage."- Holmberg in the Female Founders Monitor 2020 interview
Andrea Röhm, Vice President at EQT
EQT Equity Partners has been expanding its German business for several years, and in 2017 the Munich-based private equity firm also brought Röhm on board. A graduate in business administration, she previously worked at Boston Consulting Group for five years.
Today, she is a vice president at EQT and is part of the Level20 initiative, whose goal is a 20 percent share of women in management positions in private equity.
Andrea Kranzer, investor and managing director at D.A.D. Investment
In 2019, she became the first woman to be named Business Angel of the Year by the Business Angels Netzwerk Deutschland. As CEO of the investment firm D.A.D. Investment, she focuses primarily on start-ups from pre-seed to Series A funding rounds, digital solutions for the healthcare sector are of particular interest to her. Her portfolio primarily includes health startups such as Heartbeat, Medipee and Oncgnotics.
In 2015, she herself founded the start-up Balloonas, which offers ideas for children's birthday parties. She is also active in several business angel networks, and in 2018 she founded her own network called Angels4Health with a focus on the healthcare industry.
Female Founders Week 2021
This article is part of our special on female entrepreneurship in Germany.
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