3 questions to smart minds

Focus on ecological return

For this 3 questions to Tobias Seikel

Planet A Ventures, Berlin
18. May 2021

Over the past ten years, envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness has increased signi­fi­cantly. Also among inves­tors. Not only rene­wa­ble ener­gies, but also the avoid­ance and elimi­na­tion of waste, resource-saving produc­tion and, above all, coope­ra­tion with scien­tists are beco­ming the focus of atten­tion. “We need to shape an economy that opera­tes within the plane­tary boun­da­ries,” Planet A Ventures formulates.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Tobias Seikel, Planet A Ventures, Berlin

1. Planet A Ventures has only been on the market for about 15 months. What is your mission? And how do you intend to fulfill them?

Our mission is as important as it is clear: We use venture capi­tal to support inno­va­tive start-ups in turning their sustainable busi­ness ideas into reality. In this way, we are driving forward a trans­for­ma­tion of the economy toward climate neutra­lity and a circu­lar economy. Against the back­drop of climate change and massive pres­sure on ecosys­tems, this trans­for­ma­tion is essen­tial. To achieve our goals, we have brought expe­ri­en­ced foun­ders and scien­tists on board. In addi­tion, we have built a network of support­ers and advi­sors, which also consists largely of successful foun­ders and entre­pre­neurs — the Planet A Network. So far, for exam­ple, we have inves­ted in the startup WILDPLASTIC - the inven­tor of the plas­tic bag made from recy­cled plas­tic coll­ec­ted enti­rely in nature. Or in the biopla­s­tics start-up trace­l­ess mate­ri­als. But this is just the begin­ning: Many more promi­sing start-up invest­ments are to follow.

2. It is inte­res­t­ing that you make the ecolo­gi­cal impact of your start-ups measura­ble. How do you have to imagine this?

In order to be able to evaluate the effects on the envi­ron­ment, we use a compre­hen­sive, scien­ti­fic approach. First, we perform a plau­si­bi­lity check. Is the “impact” traceable and signi­fi­cant? In a second step, we delve deeper into the figu­res and assump­ti­ons, talk to experts or consult scien­ti­fic studies. We then calcu­late an “ecolo­gi­cal foot­print” for each busi­ness model. In doing so, we focus on four areas: Green­house gas emis­si­ons, (plas­tic) waste produc­tion, resource consump­tion and conside­ra­tion for biodi­ver­sity. This allows us to under­stand not only green­house gas emis­si­ons, but the entire spec­trum from water use to land use. The results of this life cycle assess­ment are then compared with refe­rence products.

We look for compa­nies where impact is baked into the DNA: if the start-up scales, the envi­ron­men­tal bene­fit auto­ma­ti­cally grows as well. Being able to quan­tify impact in this way allows us to make precise invest­ment decis­i­ons. And the port­fo­lio compa­nies can use this for their exter­nal image. Our Hamburg-based start-up WILDPLASTIC, for exam­ple, was able to conclude a strong part­ner­ship with mail order giant Otto.

3. Do you curr­ently see a green invest­ment trend? And if not, what would you wish for?

Without ques­tion, the topic is gaining massive rele­vance. People are incre­asingly reluc­tant to invest in compa­nies whose busi­ness model is detri­men­tal to the envi­ron­ment. Unfort­u­na­tely, this leads to many compa­nies enga­ging in green­wa­shing, i.e. posi­tio­ning them­sel­ves as “green” with certain actions, but in essence not chan­ging anything about their envi­ron­men­tally harmful beha­vior. Here we expect clear and unam­bi­guous guide­lines from the German govern­ment and the EU. Foun­ders are important cata­lysts of change. Only if we manage the trans­for­ma­tion to a sustainable economy now will we still be able to live and do busi­ness well in 30 years’ time.

About Tobias Seikel
Tobias Seikel is a senior invest­ment profes­sio­nal with exten­sive expe­ri­ence in Venture Capi­tal and buil­ding start­ups in the DACH region. He is Co-foun­der and Gene­ral Part­ner at Planet A, belie­ving that it is indis­pensable to address climate change as well as other pres­sing envi­ron­men­tal issues of our time.

Previously, Tobias acted as Mana­ging Part­ner at Hamburg based company buil­der Hanse Ventures, where he was respon­si­ble for the opera­tio­nal manage­ment (inclu­ding the HR acti­vi­ties as well as the trai­nee program), the busi­ness deve­lo­p­ment and the over­all project manage­ment with the port­fo­lio firms.

Prior to joining Hanse Ventures in its early days in 2011, Tobias worked almost 10 years in publi­shing. He began his working career as a trai­nee at Bertels­mann (Gruner+Jahr), moved on to work as the Execu­tive Assistant to the Presi­dent & CEO of Gruner+Jahr Inter­na­tio­nal, before he estab­lished the company’s maga­zine busi­ness as Mana­ging Direc­tor in Croa­tia and was then appoin­ted Deputy Mana­ging Direc­tor of a Bertels­mann (Gruner+Jahr Inter­na­tio­nal) joint venture with Finnish Sanoma Group and Austrian Styria Media Group opera­ting throug­hout Eastern Europe. Moving back to Germany after more than three years, as Publi­shing Direc­tor of one of Germany’s leading news maga­zi­nes, stern, and Publi­shing Direc­tor of Europe’s leading art maga­zine, Art, he was respon­si­ble for the maga­zi­nes’ deve­lo­p­ment and stra­te­gic direc­tion from 2008 until 2011.

Apart from his Planet A‑related acti­vi­ties, Tobias is a regu­lar mentor and supports seve­ral corpo­ra­ti­ons with their advan­ced trai­ning programs or port­fo­lio patro­nage respec­tively, such as Google (juror), HMS Hamburg Media School (lectu­rer) and Next Media Acce­le­ra­tor (mentor). Further­more, he acts as a busi­ness angel in seve­ral start­ups and as a regu­lar spea­ker at indus­try events. — Tobias holds a degree of German Diplom­kauf­mann, a Diplôme de Grande École as well as a Master of Science from ESCP Europe and speaks seve­ral languages.

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