I feel like I just arrived in Düsseldorf, but my time here is suddenly running out. The adventure is coming to an end. Where did the time fly?
I will soon have worked 6 months in Statkraft Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of Statkraft. Although it is backed by Statkraft, it is actually a separate company. Luckily for me, the venture team share offices with the rest of Statkraft in Germany, which made it easy to get to know many new colleagues – there are about 300 of them in Düsseldorf.
Thinking as an investor
Before starting I had limited knowledge of venture capital, finance and economics. With my 5 ECTS in microeconomics from the university, there were a few holes that needed to be filled in order to understand what we are actually doing.
Statkraft Ventures receives about 10 million Euros every year to invest in energy-related startups in Europe. A lot of time is thus spent on reading business plans, discussing on the phone and meeting with founders. It is a very social job, and it is all about being open to new ideas, asking a bunch of questions, getting to know the founders and understanding their business. Due to my background from technology analysis (which is my home unit in Statkraft), I love learning about novel technologies. But the businesses also have to make sense economically. It is not enough having a good idea or a great product – you have to be able to sell it as well and create revenues.
To get the best deals we need to be visible. Statkraft Ventures recently turned 1 year old, so we are still quite new in the ecosystem. We are thus present at a lot of conferences where the goal is to talk to as many people as we can, get to know interesting startups and other investors, and of course spread the word about ourselves and how we invest. I was lucky to get the opportunity to travel to Berlin for the Berlin Ecosummit. With about 250 participants and lots of time to network, I got to speak with many interesting people. On the second day I also got to see a bit of the city before I jumped on the train back to Düsseldorf.
In May we did a “Norway Roadshow”, meeting with a lot of different players in different parts of Norway to get to know the startup scene and be a more integrated part of that Norwegian network. This turned out to be a fruitful trip, resulting in an increasing share of Norwegian deals in our pipeline.
Till now we have invested in two companies. The first one was Tado°, a company that offers smart thermostats for your home. By tracking the location of your phone it autonomously controls the temperature and thus saves energy as well as costs. We see a lot of businesses approaching the smart home segment and this was a company with a very good product as well as a skilled team that we believe in.
Our most recent investment was in DEPsys, a company who offers a solution for better monitoring and control of the low voltage grid. The electrical grid is getting increasingly more complex, with electricity flowing in both directions. Traditionally electricity was transferred from the generator to the grid and on to the end-customer, but now it also flows from self-sufficient households back to the grid. This makes the grid owner’s job more difficult. DEPsys’s product provides grid owners with an easy and scalable solution for coping with this development.
Football and beer
Life in Dusseldorf is something of its own. We start at work about 9 and we eat dinner for lunch already at 12. Playing Kicker (fooseball) is an important part of the work day or “coffee breaks” and is a highly valued skill at the office. Maybe something to put on your CV when applying for a position in Statkraft Markets Gmbh?
Wherever you go, remember to bring cash – they are not fond of VISA here. And you should not order Kölsch at the local breweries. Kölsch is the local beer in Köln, which is the neighbor city (and rival) about 40km away. When in Dusseldorf you should drink “Alt” (a dark type of beer). And when your glass is empty you will instantly get a new one, without even asking. Quite an efficient system. I wonder how many Alt-beers are actually served here every week…
Another important part of the German culture is of course soccer. And with the European Championship being played this year, there were enough of opportunities to find oneself a pub and watch the matches. How fun it is to share the joys and the disappointments together with the entire pub!
The city Düsseldorf is very cosy. Not too big, about 600 000 inhabitants. And totally flat. Growing up in Bergen, the city between the seven mountains, that is quite odd for me. The only hills I have found are the ones leading up and down from the many bridges. But the city is still quite green, with many beautiful parks and wide river banks on both sides of the Rhein – with large traffic of runners. The river is actually so large it results in kind of a coastal climate, with fresh air, a refreshing wind and some precipitation now and then.
I have really enjoyed my time here. To read more about trainees’ experiences from Düsseldorf, you can have a look at the blogposts by Justina, Sondre and Øydis. You can also read more about Statkraft Ventures on our webpage. And if you have started your own business and are interesting in discussing venture capital, please do not hesitate contacting us.
Thank you Düsseldorf for a great time!