Three questions, three answers from the Winner of KfW Capital Award Best Impact Investor, Itziar Estevez!
Ms Estevez, congratulations on your award for Best Female Investor 2023! What motivated you to get into the venture capital market?
ITZIAR ESTEVEZ: I found venture capital where technology and business intersect. I began my career in a highly technical environment with a degree in engineering and a job at a BMW plant in Munich. But I was also fascinated by the world of business and realigned my professional career through an MBA at the London Business School towards business consultancy and private equity due diligence at Boston Consulting Group. To me, venture capital was the perfect combination of these two worlds.
I soon became fascinated by the challenge of promoting innovations and marketing technologies. The focus on creating values and the versatility of the work are the reason I have been working in this exciting sector for 15 years now, first as an investor at Siemens Venture Capital / Next47 and now at IRIS, a European venture and growth capital fund.
Looking back, what has been the highlight of your career, and what are your plans for the future?
Looking back, I can say that most highlights as an investor are closely connected with the successes of our portfolio companies. In VC it takes time to be successful, but I was always delighted with every step we took forward with our portfolio companies. What pleases me most, of course, are successful exits, whether from our own investments or from the fund. I'm thinking of the exits of the two remarkable firms LeanIX and Polarion, for example, both of which are domiciled in Germany and were taken over by technology firms listed on the DAX.
My goal for the future is to support further outstanding technology enterprises and talented founder and management teams as they grow into the next stage and to promote the development of the next European technological leaders. To achieve this, I am working on setting up a growth capital fund for German and European technology enterprises together with my partner colleagues at IRIS.
What advice would you give budding investors?
As a mother of two daughters, I find the topic of diversity in the VC market to be particularly important. We are experiencing a remarkable moment in which female investors are being highly sought after. This is an excellent opportunity, but I encourage young female investors to carefully consider their own desires and goals, and to thoroughly examine which direction they want their career to take and to stay on track. It can also be helpful to find a mentor to learn from.
Overall, I am very pleased that more women are entering this domain, not just on the investor side but also at the companies we are supporting. The last company I invested in, for example, is headed by an experienced female entrepreneur, and having three experienced female advisory board members means we have even achieved gender parity in the advisory board!
What I can also share with young investors who are at the beginning of their career is how important it is to have a differentiated and independent view, as this is very important for our sector in particular. At a time when many are riding the same wave, it is crucial to find your own direction. The ability to think independently and boldly go your own way is key to success in this sector.
Published on KfW Stories on 12 Ovtober 2023.