Sharing opportunities and risks

Florian Hirschberger, CEO SevenVentures

December 2022. SevenVentures, the investment arm of ProSiebenSat.1, successfully invests in start-ups. More and more sustainable companies are moving into the spotlight. 2022 is a year that has brought many challenges for companies. Against this backdrop, founders who actually want to go to market with a clever idea and found a start-up may be asking themselves whether they shouldn't rather postpone their project for a while.

Quite the opposite, says Florian Hirschberger: "Investors are now allocating their money in a more targeted and focused way than they did recently. But there is still a lot of liquidity in the capital market for young entrepreneurs with innovative solutions." That's precisely why now would be a good moment for new good ideas. Hirschberger has deep insight into the market, because as CEO of SevenVentures, the investment arm of ProSiebenSat1. Media SE, he works a lot with promising startups from the B2C sector.

Florian Hirschberger,
CEO SevenVentures

While Hirschberger looks after the start-ups at SevenVentures that have already gone through the first phases, Co-Managing Director Maximilian Jochim, who heads SevenAccelerator as a part of SevenVentures, is responsible for the founders in the early phases. The concept of media-for-equity investments is as clever as it is simple: Because start-ups in particular are dependent on raising their profile, SevenVentures offers them advertising time on ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE's TV stations and digital platforms and supports them in their campaigns - and in return gets into the respective company as a shareholder. "The advantage for the start-ups is that they don't have to spend any money on the marketing campaigns," Hirschberger explains. The cooperation is always longer-term, i.e. between three and five years. At the end, there is usually an exit from SevenVentures. "It works like in the classic venture capital sector, with the difference that we don't primarily bring in capital, but media services," explains Maximilian Jochim. The idea behind it: Both sides share opportunities and risks.

Maximilian Jochim,
COO and Managing Director SevenVentures / Managing Director SevenAccelerator

SevenVentures is placing a new focus on sustainable start-ups. Sustainability plays a very important role for both, young companies and young audiences, and is more than just a trend. "For a cooperation with us, especially those start-ups have a good chance, which are not only sustainable and thus do something for the climate, but at the same time also have a direct added value for the customers", says Maximilian Jochim. And it should be a product that is aimed directly at end customers, is suitable for the mass market and scalable, and benefits from the strength of TV in branding. 

Meanwhile, SevenVentures is working with a number of interesting sustainable start-ups. Grover, for example, rents out technological devices such as laptops, smartphones or consumer electronics on a temporary basis. This creates a sustainable and climate-friendly circular economy. For now, Grover has already carried out more than one million rentals, with each device being circulated between two and six times. Grover estimates that future rentals of the products added to its portfolio in 2021 alone will save up to 970 tons of e-waste and 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

Hirschberger and Jochim are particularly pleased that refurbed is a start-up that is practically right behind Grover in the recycling chain. refurbed is a scaleup founded in 2017 that sells refurbished smart devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Used but in the best condition instead of new - this innovative approach is sustainable and protects climate and environment. As a result, nearly 530 tons of e-waste could be avoided between 2017 and 2021, saving 85,210 tons of CO2.

"Refill instead of filling up" is the motto of Blaue Helden. The start-up offers waterless cleaning and personal care products for refilling. The idea is as simple as it is sustainable: fill tap water into a bottle, add the Blaue Helden cleaning powder, shake vigorously - and household cleaners, hand soap and shower gel are ready. The highlight: In this way, a new disposable plastic bottle is saved with every Blaue Helden refill powder. In addition, with the help of its cooperation partner Plastic Bank, the company removes one plastic bottle from a heavily polluted beach area for every Blaue Helden product sold. 

Also still relatively new to the market is SIRPLUS, which offers heavily discounted surplus goods in its online store that should be disposed of for various reasons: for example, products close to their best-before date, with packaging or logistics errors, or from overproduction, including fresh fruit and vegetables. Over three million kilograms of food have already been saved by SIRPLUS's more than 70,000 customers. The company cooperates with Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid) and makes a school meal possible with every order placed. In this way, 330,000 meals have already been made possible in Burundi. 

These four start-ups meet precisely the criteria that SevenVentures demands: "They are promising, sustainable and at the same time problem solvers for the users," emphasizes Maximilian Jochim. One important point should never be forgotten, as Florian Hirschberger points out: "When it comes to sustainability, credibility plays a particularly important role. It is once again significantly increased, especially through brand building with TV presence of the companies." This is because sustainability is now no longer limited to offering sustainable products, but companies must act in a holistically sustainable and responsible manner in order to achieve long-term success with a positive brand image.

* With kind permission of Contentway and WELT; Contentway/text: Armin Fuhrer