Theo Schulte, principal, EnBW New Ventures, is one of our top 50 Emerging Leaders in corporate venturing in 2024.

Theo Schulte, EnBW New Ventures

“An electrified world is one step closer to net zero,’’ says Theo Schulte, principal at EnBW New Ventures. With his seven-year tenure at the corporate venture arm of German energy company EnBW, Schulte champions the fundamental changes that the electricity sector is undergoing and the profound impact that innovations and investment in this sector can have on the issue of climate change.

The six-member investment team seeks opportunities to work with “smart and ambitious founders who want to have social, economic and ecological impact”. The unit works with companies in series A, series B and late seed stages, initially investing €1m-€5m. It has 13 startups in its portfolio and has had five exits (one fund-of-funds) in Europe. Schulte’s team is also supported by an operations and engagement management team.

“Schulte seeks opportunities to work with smart and ambitious founders who want to have social, economic and ecological impact.”

Schulte is excited to see developments in carbon neutral and digitalised, decentralised energy, emissions-free travel, mobility technologies, charging infrastructure and transformation of cities with the optimisation of energy at its core.

For people considering CVC, Schulte emphasises the crucial role of communication. He says the “spectrum of CVC is very broad” and “not very tangible for everyone”, but a good CVC brings the best of both worlds: a professional VC, strong corporate backing, as well as backing founders with capital, knowledge and a strong network.

Operating in a niche sector and doing specialised investments with a set of complex structures, Schulte stresses the importance of having supportive colleagues in the parent company. “We can just ask questions,” he says of the ease with which he can communicate with the parent company.

With more investors entering the green tech space, Schulte highlights the importance of understanding market intricacies, while also focusing on the financial viability of investments.

See the full list of GCV Emerging Leaders for 2024 here.