Hi Sven, great to have you as our guest today! You are the Managing Director of vent.io. Could you please tell us more about the story behind vent.io’s foundation and which role Deutsche Leasing played in that process?
The story behind vent.io is directly linked to the digital transformation of Deutsche Leasing, who has a very successful business model in the analog sphere with sales mainly being conducted on-site at the customer’s premises. Even though the business model has always been very successful, we realized in 2015 that vital digital (sales) touchpoints were lacking. Thus, the management board of Deutsche Leasing rethought how to increase the digital touchpoints and even look out for new digital business models. As a solution, we set up vent.io. Our CEO Kai Ostermann brought the idea to life, led the spin-off process, and always pushed things forward as our greatest supporter as well as board member Markus Strehle who always fostered the bond between us and our mother company.
Coming to our purpose: We at vent.io are here to support our mother company Deutsche Leasing and increase the level of digital touchpoints by scouting new business models, executing them, and supplementing our own capabilities through those of different start-ups. Conclusively, vent.io has two major tasks: First, we are scouting promising start-ups as investment targets and for partnerships. Second, we’re always on the lookout for data scientists, new software solutions, and engineers to support our mother company by transforming her business model into the digital age.
Start-ups are popping up everywhere. What do you offer the market that sets you apart from other companies?
There is a lot of Corporate Venture Capital money out there and only a few CVC’s are doing successful business. Hence, we really reflected on our mission and how vent.io can set itself apart from other companies operating in the sector. It is our clear objective to foster the collaboration of start-ups and corporations on a large scale. The huge network of established customers and partners Deutsche Leasing built up over the years is very beneficial for us. Besides, we set ourselves apart by competencies, which only a few VCs have in common: We set up our own in-house software development department. Bearing in mind our long-term goals, we probably pursue the company building aspect more intensively in the future – but for now we focus on offering data science as-a-service, while providing start-ups with an appropriate infrastructure and data access for machine- and finance data retrieval. It’s a great advantage for vent.io to have all those skilled people on board and expand their initial skills. Having a technical perspective e.g. on a business model or strategic decision can be very beneficial and we value that professional diversity a lot at vent.io.
You’re still in the ramp-up phase with vent.io. Which were the greatest obstacles you had to overcome and what was the biggest success you have achieved so far?
That’s true, our company foundation was on the 27th of January 2021. This was exactly during the great COVID-lockdown in Germany and resultantly the company foundation itself was kind of weird as there was no celebration or talks or anything. We just went in with the notary and that’s it. Since then our greatest challenges were definitely somehow linked to the German authorities. We could not estimate how long everything would take during that uncertain time and how the authorities were going to handle our requests. This was definitely a great challenge, having no planning security at all.
However, during our 11-month-existence there have been great successes as well! First, the launch of our third data science project this year is amazing, even though it’s not fully executed yet. Starting only in July, we further managed to conduct some important talks in the Venture Capital sphere and entered into negotiations with some start-ups already. As you can see, it’s moving forward quickly! And last but not least, we could more than double our employee count from seven to 16 employees, expanding the team with great talent from innovation managers to software developers.
Over the past years, the leasing industry has risen to new heights as new leasing models became attractive to an increasing number of companies. Can you explain the hype around leasing-related business models and how corporates as well as start-ups may benefit from them?
In my opinion, leasing business models are successful because a company is able to split capital expenditure over several years and optimize its cash outflow. Taking the example of a machine, you would split the initial acquisition costs of 100.000 € over a usage time of 5 years and try to figure out how to best equal expense and return during this period. This leads to another positive effect: It becomes plausible for a company to invest in good quality assets which might look unaffordable or expensive otherwise.. Deutsche Leasing invests a lot for instance into the German SME-market, financing high-quality machines in this area. Latter opens up new opportunities to a lot of companies, which conclusively acquire newer and better machines. I think this shows how leasing is able to provide great added value to the economy and every single business relying on it.
Bonus Question: What’s the meaning of the name “vent.io”?
Very good question! It is a tough decision to come up with a name for a new company, for your “baby”. Even though we’ve worked together with a marketing agency, the naming was one of our major contributions. As an explanation, “vent” stands for the venture part, one of our main company characters. The ending “io” or “IO” is a well-known abbreviation in software development language and expresses the term “input/output”. Putting both parts together, we could perfectly combine the venture capital with the software development string of our company, expressing it all in one term.
About Sven Siering
In his current position as Managing Director of vent.io GmbH, Sven Siering is responsible for identifying and developing new digital business models as well as cooperating with and investing in start-ups for the Deutsche Leasing Group. He commands many years of experience in setting up innovation management activities in the financial industry and besides, has a broad expertise in digital business. Sven Siering has an extensive network of contacts to start-ups as well as established companies of all industries. As a sought-after expert and speaker, passionate innovator and motivator, he advocates a lively innovation culture.