What it takes to start a CVC – How we built SymbiaVC in less than a year


We built SymbiaVC from scratch starting in January 2022. To implement this new corporate venture capital firm on the market for impact investments we undertook a number of key steps which included:

Establishing a clear investment thesis: Before launching SymbiaVC we developed a clear investment thesis that outlined that we would invest in already established startups working in or for the wood and forest industry. It was always clear to us that SymbiaVC would offer more than just financial support to startups. We saw ourselves from the beginning as sparring partners providing an entry to Pfeifers company’s resources, professional expertise, coaching in various fields and access to networks.

Securing funding: SymbiaVC is funded by the parent company Pfeifer. However, it was important to define the parameters and secure the commitment for funding to establish a budget for SymbiaVC.

Building a team: The COO, CFO and CLO were appointed by the parent company to build up SymbiaVC. An Innovations-Coach of Pfeifer assisted to define the hard and soft parameters for the company’s strategy. Soon two young international professionals with expertise in venture capital and startup investing joined the team.

Establishing governance and decision-making processes: From the beginning it was important to establish a clear governance and decision-making processes for SymbiaVC, including how investments would be evaluated and approved.

Developing a brand: Together with a brand agency we developed the brand name SymbiaVC and the story behind what the name meant to us. Logo, website and stationery quickly followed.

Cultivating a network: Crucial to the success of our investment firm was to develop a network of startups, investors, and industry experts to stay up to date on emerging trends and identify potential investment opportunities. One of the fastest ways of getting in personal contact with startups are specialized fairs. In 2022 we introduced SymbiaVC at the following events:

We are proud how far we have come in year one with SymbiaVC. In phase two the challenge will be establishing credibility and building a reputation in the impact startup ecosystem. This may involve making high-profile investments, participating in even more industry events and conferences, and developing a reputation for being a valuable partner to startups.