In San Francisco in search of exciting start-ups

Stefan Hasselbeck works for ERGO in the area of corporate venturing

Magazine, 13.03.2019

Stefan Hasselbeck works for ERGO in the Corporate Venturing division and scouts for promising start-ups – in San Francisco. In an interview, Hasselbeck explains what makes his job special and which skills are required.

Stefan Hasselbeck, Corporate Venturing @ ERGO

What exactly is your area of responsibility in corporate venturing?

Corporate venturing is part of ERGO's innovation management and aims to invest in promising start-ups. The start-ups must meet our strategic focus areas of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Health and Connected Cars. Through an investment, we hope to achieve not only financial returns, but above all strategic access to innovative technologies. ERGO has set up its own venture capital fund for this purpose.

In my job, I look for interesting start-ups and present them to the various ERGO departments. In addition to the strategic component for ERGO, we also assess each start-up from an investment perspective. If both points are met, we present the start-up to the ERGO Investment Committee and obtain approval for an investment. After a successful investment, I work on the implementation of previously set strategic goals with the start-up and the specialist department.

What has your personal career been like here at ERGO? How long have you been doing this job?

About seven years ago, I joined ERGO’s Corporate Development department. There I accompanied numerous strategy projects and international acquisition projects. After four exciting years, I moved to Singapore to drive market expansion in Southeast Asia for ERGO International forward. About eight months ago I switched to ERGO’s Innovation Management to join Munich Re’s Corporate Venturing team in San Francisco. I find it very exciting to work in a dynamic and international environment and fortunately my family is very open-minded towards this.  

What does a typical daily routine look like for you?

Due to the time difference to Germany, my day usually begins very early in the morning with telephone calls to the various ERGO departments or my ERGO Scouting colleagues. On the one hand I try to better understand the needs of my colleagues and on the other hand we discuss specific start-ups and possible cooperations with them. Throughout the day I meet with various founders to learn more about their company and its goals.

I regularly attend conferences or start-up events and exchange ideas with other venture colleagues to generate interesting deal flow. When the talks with a start-up become more definite, I go deeper into the analysis together with my venture colleagues – up to and including a complete due diligence, i.e. a careful examination of strengths, weaknesses and risks. The preparation for the ERGO Investment Committee meetings and the presentation of potential investments are also part of this. After a successful investment, I am in regular contact with our portfolio companies and the specialist departments.

Which skills are required for your job?

The skills and interests required and helpful for this job are diverse. First, a good understanding of technological trends and how they can be applied at ERGO is essential. Communicative skills and networking skills are enormously important in order to be able to discuss with the various contact persons. I also think that structured thinking and creativity are equally important. Start-ups often "tick" quite differently than corporations. My task is to pick up both sides and create transparency about their respective expectations.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have been actively playing basketball for many years and have recently joined a leisure league. To keep fit, I go running regularly. I spend most of the weekends with my family. California has a lot to offer and we spend a lot of time in nature.

From Benjamin Esche

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