Q&A with Theo Schulte, investment manager, EnBW New Ventures

Regarding Theo Schulte, an investment manager at EnBW New Ventures (ENV), the corporate venturing arm of Germany-listed energy utility EnBW, managing director Crispin Leick said: “Theo joined EnBW New Ventures in October 2017 as an analyst and has been promoted twice since then, first to associate and in September 2020 to an investment manager.  Theo is leading our foray into the digital mobility sector and is already managing two of our portfolio companies in that field: Vialytics and Cleverciti.”

 

1. First, just give us a quick overview of who you work for, what you do, and how long you have been doing it.

I am an investment manager at ENV, Germany-based energy utility EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg’s investment arm formed in 2015. I have been with ENV for four years. My activities include investments from initial contact to exit as well as the management of existing portfolio companies.

2. What attracted you to CVC?

By having the chance to integrate another ecosystem, the added value of financially driven investments can be maximised. I see a great value-adding EnBW (as a fully integrated utility and market leader in quick–charging in Germany), its network and expertise to our “investment equation”.

3. What have been your greatest successes at your unit? 

Alongside the numerous investments we make, in the CVC context two of them are worth highlighting:

I was able to lead the investments in our portfolio company Vialytics, in which EnBW itself was involved as a co-founder. At that time, we led the seed investment and subsequently raised further venture capital from other investors in the market. The company is doing great, and without EnBW we probably wouldn’t have had such good access in the early stages.

While in this example, we supported an exciting company on its way into a VC set-up and funding, I was also able to leverage the added value of a CVC, as part of the deal team, when EnBW acquired a majority stake in our portfolio company DZ-4 in the course of another financing round, working closely together with all three parties (EnBW, ENV and DZ-4).

If you will, one was an “inside-out” and the other an “outside-in” approach.

4. What have been your biggest challenges? 

Sometimes it is not clear at first glance what we stand for, or what our set-up is. The spectrum of CVC is broad and the venture capital industry is not so present and tangible for everyone, also in the corporate environment. Communication is key (internally and externally).

5. What is your main professional ambition for the future? 

Supporting fascinating founders on their way to creating economic, ecological and social impact.

6. What do you think all CVCs could do better to make it a stronger industry? 

I believe that a clear set-up and clear communication are key. Founders and Co-Investors need and want to know what a CVC stands for. From my perspective, that needs to be a functioning and performing VC first and foremost. Only then a CVC is competitive and reliable and generates a sustainable competitive advantage for the companies they invest in.

7. And, finally, for colour, what did you do prior to CVC or in your spare time? 

I was actively working in the Berlin startup ecosystem for a while (startup and VC). I studied at Ingolstadt (WFI), Leipzig (HHL) and Kuala Lumpur (HC).

In my spare time I play (badly but with pleasure) soccer, follow every game of my favourite club and love hiking and listening to classical music.