Investor Talk #7
With Gesa Miczaika from Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund
In our latest investor talk, we sat down with Gesa Miczaika, General Partner at the Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund and Deputy President at the German Startups Association. With their focus on resilient, purpose-driven, female-founded start-ups, the firm is on a mission to create a new culture for investing and ensure diversity on all levels.
Hendrik: Gesa, since we are approaching Christmas – what was your all-time favorite Christmas wish as a child (and did you ever get it?)?
Gesa: A horse. I think this was my number one wish for at least ten years – but I never got it. It is probably karma that the same thing has been on my daughter's wish list as well since she started speaking (and she will also probably never get it from me either, which is unfortunate for her).
Hendrik: Please tell us a few things about yourself. Who are you, how do you spend your free time (acknowledging that this was probably rather sparse in the past months)?
Gesa: As a third-culture kid I grew up in South America and Southeast Asia. I came to Germany (both parents are German) for university and have stayed here since. My life in Berlin revolves around work, family (my husband and two daughters aged 5 and 7) and friends – I try to squeeze in me-time for yoga, HIT, traveling, reading and especially "inner work" as much as possible.
Hendrik: What are the three attributes or characteristics you value most when thinking about potential founders?
Gesa: Resilience, energy & optimism and willingness to win.
Hendrik: You have recently made news with several initiatives. Please tell us a bit more about Auxxo, your fund and your angel network Evangelistas – what makes you special?
Gesa: The Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund is Germany's first venture capital fund targeting female founders. We not only invest in female founders, but also support them with a female-focused investor network and approach. The Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund wants to give the male-dominated VC industry a jump-start in achieving gender parity. Our small fund size makes us a complementary partner to established funds rather than a competitor. We see ourselves as a bridge between the traditional VC world and female founders.
The Evangelistas is a group of over 160 female business angels which we (Fabiola Hochkirchen, Bettine Schmitz and myself) launched to help with networks and accelerate female angel investing. It is a very informal group organized via Slack and meeting in person once in a while.
Hendrik: What do we need to do to bring more diversity into the investment world? Who needs to act – investors, parents, corporates, universities, …?
Gesa: How much time do you have? Haha. Well, basically, everyone needs to act for this to work – starting from the VCs and their investors, the limited partners, the state to encourage more diverse founders to start their businesses (in addition to its capacity as a limited partner), the founders themselves that also need to look for diversity in their cap tables, and all of the ones you mentioned as well.
Hendrik: If a friend asked you “Gesa, I really want to start my own company right now, but how?”, what would you tell them?
Gesa: My answer would be to just start. Maybe a good starting point after having an idea would be doing customer development. What pain points does your target customer have? Would they be willing to pay for the product or service you are offering? How would you be able to reach this target customer? And so on.
Hendrik: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Gesa: Currently, there is a lot of capital in the venture world as interest rates are so low everywhere else. Also, there is still so much need for digitization in so many areas. This makes it a perfect time to actually start a "VC-able" business in my opinion.
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