Interview #FFM20
Malin Holmberg
and Yaron Valler

Partner at Target Global and Managing General Partner at Target Global

FFM-Team: Let’s start with a brief introduction. What is Target Global? What is your main focus and what do you provide for your portfolio companies?

 

Yaron: Target is an international firm running early stage as well as growth stage VC funds. With more than 800 million Euros AUM we invest across the digital landscape with some focus areas like e-commerce, FinTech, industrial applications and SaaS. For us it’s key to work closely with our companies particularly in the areas of business development, capital formation and HR. Two well known examples from our portfolio are wefox and Delivery Hero from Berlin.

FFM-Team: Female founders are still rare in Germany as well as elsewhere. What do you think are the main obstacles for women in the startup sector?

 

Malin: First of all, there is a long-term cultural effect. We raise our kids following this notion that boys should take risks, ask girls out for dates and should learn to deal with failure. By contrast, girls are rewarded for behaving nicely and being good at school. Founding a startup is a very risky business and that puts men at an advantage. Secondly, most people build up their company about the time they are having children and it’s challenging to handle both. Since women are more often the ones taking on family responsibilities, their chances in the startup sector are limited.

 

Yaron: An equal split of family responsibilities is crucial – not only for founders. For my wife and I it was clear from the start that we both do our part. I left work at 3pm on two days a week, she did the same, and one day our family helped out.

FFM-Team: There is a huge gap between women and men concerning financing. Particularly VC money is hard to get for female founders. What are your experiences?

 

Malin: Due to the small number of female founders, we as investors only get to see a few companies led by women. But statistics also show that the amount of money women ask for is usually lower and that they have a harder time receiving the funding they need. Thus, we need more progressive investment firms, more diversity and more women in this field. At present, the VC-sector is quite male dominated and people tend to invest in people that are similar to them.

FFM-Team: As you mentioned, the VC-sector has few women. At Target Global this is different. How come?

 

Malin: Diversity at Target is very high and this is also true with respect to gender – we currently have the same amount of men and women in our investment team. Drawing from so many different perspectives really helps us to improve the quality of our work.

 

Yaron: One important aspect is that we don’t do it by design. We focus solely on the qualities and values to get the best people. It pays off and leads to a strong, diverse, and gender-balanced team. In the general population we have 51% women and 49% men and that is the split that you should see in all companies.

FFM-Team: What are your wishes for the startup ecosystem, especially concerning the empowerment of female founders?

 

Malin: There is a growing number of networks for female founders, which is very important. I hope that more and more firms will realize how helpful diversity is to their company. Also, I think that there will and should be more pressure from institutional investors – like pension funds – to come up with requirements concerning diversity and sustainability.

 

Yaron: And on the entrepreneurial side we need more female technology founders. In the academic world you already see more and more women in engineering, hard sciences and IT – I hope the business world will follow soon.