Arne is a Founding Partner of Kiko Ventures and a member of the Kiko Investment Committee. Together with the other two Founding Partners he runs the team and sets the strategic direction of Kiko. Arne has been working in cleantech his entire career and entered venture capital in 2007, when he helped build a leading cleantech fund in Europe.
The climate crisis has been my passion for a long time.
I once had to do a school presentation and stumbled across a UN conference that had just happened. It was the 1992 ‘Earth Summit’, which was the first-ever agreement to stabilise CO2 concentrations to prevent climate change. I was deeply affected by the thought that humanity was destabilising an entire planet and helping to prevent this became a personal ambition. In the same year, I became a climate campaigner with Greenpeace. Later, I ran a research team at Cambridge working on novel solar cells, then consulted biofuels companies while at BCG, and eventually entered cleantech investing, where I felt I could have the most impact.
The first step to making a difference is preaching to the non-converted.
As a campaigner in the 1990s, I helped put a giant slice of a tropical tree on Munich’s central square to attract the attention of passers-by. We spoke to lots of people that day, but we spent most of our time with those who already agreed with us. It was easier, enjoyable even. But it had little impact. A lesson I remember often: approach the non-converted, leave your comfort zone.
Working with entrepreneurs allows me to see things differently.
Entrepreneurs live outside their comfort zone. They combine this with unwavering optimism, and they thrive on it. Some people call it ‘reality distortion’ but I believe it is what is needed to make things happen. Hard work alone is not enough. The absolute will to push boundaries gets other people excited, makes them see new possibilities. We need new possibilities, new possibilities for a regenerative future.
I joined a startup cleantech fund in 2007. We became one of the largest in Europe and had a great time riding the cleantech 1.0 wave. When the financial crisis hit, the job changed and we entered years of rescuing our portfolio. We then had to raise a second fund at a time when people saw climate tech as a luxury. This was when I learned to hustle and make things happen against the odds. I also learned to take a broader perspective on life, got married, had kids, and did a part-time MBA in finance. We eventually got out of that phase, had some good portfolio companies emerging, and raised another fund. Now the momentum is back, and I find myself with more cleantech experience than most. Staying the course paid off in the end.
What a time to be in climate tech! The entrepreneurial energy in Europe is unprecedented. Investors have woken up to the climate challenge. And we have roadmaps for what needs to be done. The house is on fire, but together we will and can fight it. It is exciting and I am grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference.
When in the trenches, it is hard to switch off. In a business that is largely about making a few good decisions, you mustn’t be in fighting mode all the time. I recently rediscovered my hobbies swimming and playing piano. This has worked wonders for me, as a professional and as a family man.