Lukasz Garbowski, investment director, Btomorrow Ventures, is one of our Top 50 Emerging Leaders in corporate venturing for 2024.

“I think that CVC done right is literally a recipe for success,” says Lukasz Garbowski, investment director at Btomorrow Ventures (BTV), highlighting the three-fold benefits for the corporate, the startup, and the CVC unit. “If you design this well, it’s a win, win, win for everybody.” 

An investor for 15 years, having previously worked in private equity, M&A, advisory and now CVC, Garbowski was part of the founding team for British American Tobacco’s (BAT) venturing arm. He has seen it grow from its formation stage to what he now sees as a more mature phase for the unit.  

One of the biggest challenges with setting up a CVC from when it’s just an idea on a piece of paper is that, being still a relatively small investment field, there is so much that you don’t know about CVC starting out.  

“Make sure that there is a clear understanding within the corporate of what CVC is and what it’s meant to deliver.”

“Don’t start on your own. Seek help from the right partners,” he says. “CVC is still a relatively niche investment opportunity in the broader world of investments, and there is not that much shared knowledge as to how to do this. Finding the right partner to help you set up CVC correctly from the get-go is important. 

“Make sure that there is a clear understanding within the corporate of what CVC is and what it’s meant to deliver, and don’t be afraid to ask and reach out to the CVC community.” 

For BTV, part of the growth journey has been establishing its brand as a go-to investor in the functional foods space, especially with potential hesitation from counterparties given the parent’s core business. Building a team, too, is never an easy feat.  

Looking ahead, Garbowski is excited to see BTV invest at later stages, where it can really bring value and help startups grow by leveraging BAT’s market presence and distribution capabilities, as well as growing in its activity related to ESG.  

Garbowski holds an MBS from Harvard Business School and a master’s in strategic management from SGH Warsaw School of Economics.

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