Goodbye ties: lending looks different now

A casual atmosphere reigns at the Cherry Venture’s office, located near Friedrichstrasse in Berlin.

One woman and six men can be seen leaning back in their office chairs, joking with one another on the sixth floor. It is after 7 o’clock and you won’t find any suits or ties here.

What can be found here, however, are 150 million euros (159 million USD) waiting for good ideas to invest in. That is how deep Cherry Venture’s pockets go.

A number of Berlin founders pitched in to make this happen: Robert Gentz and David Schneider, the founders of Zalando; Christian Reber, the founder of Wunderlist; Lea-Sophie Cramer, the founder of Amorelie; Romach Kirsch, the founder of Lesara.

Not one of them is older than 30 and they each earned their wealth here in the Berlin startup landscape. As investors their goal is two sided: They want to use this money to support other startups as they build their companies, and hope it will pay off when one of these companies makes an eventual exit or IPO. Under ideal circumstances, that invested money comes flowing back – doubled, tripled or quadrupled.

Filip Dames is responsible for Cherry Ventures assets; he is also one of the fund’s founders.The 32-year-old Berlin native, together with his team, decides what startups receive investment. More than 10 companies were privy to money from the original 150 million euros since the fund was established in 2016.

Dames himself turned quite the profit when Zalando made its initial appearance on the stock market. He was one of the E-commerce giant’s first employees. Zalando is one of many German companies that poured fresh capital into the startup scene with their initial public offerings, including Trivago, Quandoo, Ladenzeile, Audibene, Wunderlist, Flaconi and Amorelie.

Although many founders dabble in investments, few operate as professionally as Dames. Many are active as angel investors and will invest between 5,000 and several 100,000 euros into startups. It is quite common for these founders to pair up, making themselves more attractive to new startups. That is how Amorelie’s founders came to establish Starstrike Ventures with two friends.

The founders of Audibene linked up with the creators of Kaufda and OnVista in Cologne to establish The Angel Club. Seven friends, including the founders of Ladenzeile, Edarling or Home24, make investments as Saarbruecker21. The name is a reference to the first address belonging to Rocket Internet, a German venture capital firm, where each one of the seven previously worked.

One major advantage these young investors have is that they established and maintained contact with the startup scene and can quickly identify business models with potential.

Plus, experiences with their own startups have taught them when investors are truly needed and which opportunities they should avoid getting mixed up in. They hope to use these advantages to further the startup ecosystem in Berlin – while turning a profit.

For Dames the motivation to invest is easily explained: “We all believe extremely strong in Tech – as founders and as investors.”

Photo via Chris Marxen

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