Munich More and more founders are investing the proceeds from the successful sale of their companies back into the venture capital scene. The most recent example is the founders of the companies Sonnen, Zooplus and Flaschenpost, who have joined forces with Paul-Josef Patt, one of the most successful technology investors in Germany. You are now joining the new fund of his company eCapital as a funder and investment partner.
At Sonnen GmbH, Patt was once the first donor. “He was the first to dare to invest with us,” says Ostermann. Now Ostermann is joining Patt’s new “Fund V” as a venture partner, which has already raised 100 million euros and wants to double the amount.
In Silicon Valley, it has long been customary for founders who have successfully sold to put the money back into the start-up cycle. The fact that this trend is now increasingly reaching Germany is perceived positively in the scene.
“It is a very good sign for the further development of the ecosystem that successful founders are increasingly investing in the next generation,” says Carsten Rudolph, Managing Director of the Bay Start-up investor network. For the young companies, this has “the invaluable advantage that they have investors on board who are really familiar with all the customs of the start-up scene and usually also have a very good network”.
At the beginning of the year, for example, five founders of start-ups with a billion-dollar valuation took a stake in the software company Remberg, which wants to help medium-sized companies with digitization. Among the donors were Personio CEO Hanno Renner and Bastian Nominacher from Celonis.
The founders stand for three of the biggest exits of recent years
The new alliance of Paul-Josef Patt also includes Stephan Weich, who once co-founded Flaschenpost. The beverage delivery service was sold to Oetker in 2020 for around one billion euros, according to industry circles. The third new venture partner is Cornelius Patt. The cousin of the eCapital boss had co-founded the online retailer Zooplus, which was acquired by Hellman & Friedman (H&F) and EQT for several billion euros.
The three founders have thus achieved one of the largest exits in Germany in the past three years. Together, they are now investing in companies like Dryad. The start-up is developing a solar-powered sensor network with which forest fires are to be detected by gas sensors within an hour, ideally even before they are visible to the naked eye.
“Unfortunately, this is the topic of this summer,” says Paul-Josef Patt. A sensor covers more than one hectare of forest area and costs less than 50 euros. As has now been announced, eCapital is leading the financing round. Toba Ventures and Time Ventures as well as Semtech are also on board as new investors. With the proceeds, he wants to further develop the technology and open the forestry market for applications of the Internet of Things, said Dryad CEO Carsten Brinkschulte.
In the sense of an impact investment, the new fund is to participate in so-called deeptech companies that focus on high-tech innovations. “These are topics that we have been doing for 20 years,” says Bernd Arkenau, Managing Partner at eCapital. Investors are mainly family offices.
In the current uncertain environment, investors are a little more cautious. “One or the other is affected by the crisis on the capital market or in the operating business and is somewhat more restrained,” says Arkenau. But experienced investors would also know: “Times of crisis are always times of opportunity.“
The first participations have already been made
The first three participations were already made before the closing. On the one hand, eCapital joined the Hamburg start-up 1komma5 Grad as a lead investor, which wants to offer private customers photovoltaic systems, electricity storage, charging infrastructure for electric cars and also heat pumps from the product to the installation to the green electricity contract from a single source.
Parts of the founding team were already present at Sonnen, Ostermann helped to make the first contacts. “The company is already approaching 200 million euros in sales in the first full financial year and is growing incredibly fast,” he says.
The second investment was the investment in Numbat. The company develops fast charging stations with integrated battery storage. Ostermann was already involved in the seed phase as an early investor and mediated the contacts to eCapital. The company has already found its first pilot customers, and hundreds of columns are to be erected soon.
According to Patt, a fourth investment is imminent. This is a technology platform that “enables sustainable and customer-oriented shipping solutions for non-food e-commerce deliveries and guarantees an emission-free last mile”. Here, the founder of Flaschenpost may have tied the threads softly in the background. “I asked myself: Where can I use the experience I have gained so far in a meaningful way?“, says this one.
Investor Patt is convinced that the commitment of the founders can make a big difference: “In Germany, we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of important impact future topics.” Research institutions such as the Fraunhofer Institutes are involved in technology development at an early stage. If the young founders now found the necessary capital and were accompanied by experienced entrepreneurs and investors in the development of the company, a lot could result from this.
And investors are looking forward to a profitable return: “We are still over 20 percent in our last funds so far,” explains Patt.