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Bring in the Experts – Elevator Ventures’ Experts-in-Residence program

One of the key strengths of being a corporate venture capital investor is the large network of business experts, which Elevator Ventures (EV) has access to through its link to Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI). In 2021 we have successfully launched the Experts-in-Residence program with the first three colleagues who joined EV from different departments within RBI for three weeks each. Together, we want to share our experience.

  • By Maximilian Schausberger
  • 4 min read

Delina Qesteri after the final presentation with the EV Team (from left): Maximilian Schausberger, Stefania Chaitidou, Yuliya Kvetko, Delina Qesteri and Thomas Muchar, © Elevator Ventures
Delina Qesteri after the final presentation with the EV Team (from left): Maximilian Schausberger, Stefania Chaitidou, Yuliya Kvetko, Delina Qesteri and Thomas Muchar, © Elevator Ventures

Provoking synergies

The idea behind the program is to foster learning about the field of venture capital, and ultimately to help develop the knowledge and skills which are relevant to the participants` business areas within the core bank. Through participation in the day-to-day experience of screening and evaluating cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models, the program participants gain insights needed to understand the latest developments in venture capital and, more specifically, Fintech. Moreover, EiRs help enhance the valuable connection btw. RBI and EV by putting in place a bedrock for innovation synergies, as they remain the corporate VC advocates and the program ambassadors after the completion of the program.

During the three-week rotation, the EiRs are placed in the role of an EV`s investment manager, in which they have a chance to take part in the entire investment lifecycle – from deal origination to a decision to invest in a startup. Given that “Learning” is one of RBI`s core values, it was really not difficult to find at least three business line managers who would be willing to support their team members in engaging in a unique employee development and job enrichment opportunity, such as the EiR program offers.

The Experts-in-Residence Program has provided a unique learning experience about the venture capital industry day-to-day processes. The whole program allowed me to dive deeper into the latest startup trends in the broad ESG area.

Supercharging our CVC

While running the program we have experienced first-hand the great advantage, as a Corporate VC, of being close to highly experienced talents with unique insights and experiences. There are many experts within RBI, from M&A to risk management & IT divisions, who possess extensive knowledge about their respective markets, customers, and emerging technologies.

After spending ten years of my career in the lending business, participation in the Experts in Residence program was a valuable experience for me.

Having EiRs involved alongside EV`s investment managers in the screening, due diligence, and investment processes has proven to be invaluable and highly complementary to the assessment of startups from a purely financial view. Having observed the immense potential of cooperation btw. Elevator Ventures and Elevator Lab, we can now utilize the power of the entire RBI also in the EV´s investment process.

An intense program needs thorough preparation

EiR is an intense three-week program, in which the experts within a short amount of time had to grasp the startup sourcing concepts, startup evaluation and valuation methods, as well as learn all about the current trends in the entire Fintech ecosystem.

It was fun and exciting to meet many inspiring entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas to us during my time at EV, as well as to subsequently discuss their business ideas with the great Elevator Ventures team.

Equipped with the necessary tools and know-how, the participants pro-actively performed a thorough market analysis and evaluated the most innovative solutions using VC market standard frameworks. At the end of week three, based on the key findings from Fintech areas of their choice, the EiRs presented an Investment Fact Sheet in front of their RBI manager and the entire EV team.

Well-chosen expert topics create the most value for RBI and Elevator Ventures

To make the best out of the program, EiRs´ focus areas are typically connected to their respective areas of expertise and ideally also support the current goals of their line organization. For example, the first participants were working on topics in the areas of Green Finance and Decentralized Finance. Bringing in the insights from RBI’s International Small Business Banking & CX, Corporate Development and Strategic Steering, and Credit Office teams was invaluable in the startup evaluation process.

Despite the limited amount of time, Delina managed not only to successfully conduct a thorough market research of promising Fintechs with an ESG angle, but also to pro-actively take over the role of an ambassador between the International SME department and Elevator Ventures.

At EV, we believe that having access to the unique expertise from our corporate partner helps strengthen our core and gives us a competitive edge over other investment funds. We have seen first-hand how effective it is to have top notch candidates from RBI contributing to the EV´s investment evaluation process. Moreover, having heard the positive feedback from the first three Experts-in-Residence, we are excited to continue our collaboration with the core bank and are looking forward to welcoming many more participants in 2022!

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