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Gina Domanig, managing partner Emerald Technology Ventures, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #183 - Gina Domanig: The O.G. Cleantech Fund

Gina Domanig

September 2, 2021

1:02 - How studying abroad can change your life

5:56 - How is an investor trained?

19:47 - How an investor finds companies

25:55 - How to lose an investor's trust

48:20 - Attracting institutional investors

About Gina Domanig

Gina Domanig is a managing partner at Emerald Technology Ventures, a globally recognized investment and venture capital firm with a focus on cleantech. Before becoming an investor, Gina spent 10 years working at Sulzer as head of M&A, where she met her Swiss husband. Gina is originally from the U.S. but has since given up her U.S. citizenship and has been living in Switzerland for several decades.

In the early 2000s, Gina left Sulzer and joined the cleantech fund Emerald Technology Ventures, because she wanted a job which combined strategy/transactions with something she could believe in.

During their early days they made several mistakes:

- They invested in early stage, capital intensive ventures (which, during the dot com crash, seemed like "real" investments);

- They approved/rejected investment deals by voting yes/no, which turned out to be too reductionistic: too many deals were progressing which partners were not really that excited about. Nowadays they give deals a score of 1-5 and the deal must have an average score of 4 to pass.

Two decades in the cleantech space have taught Gina that industrial incumbents really have the power to block innovation — however, she feels we are now at a tipping point where there's finally enough regulatory and consumer pressure for industrial incumbents to start looking for alternatives. But naturally, they always look for a way to shift the blame to some other sector (for instance, plastic producers blame waste managers, and vice versa).

Memorable Quotes:

"Just because you believe something should happen doesn't mean it's going to. Even if all of your analysis points towards that conclusion."

"An investor needs to know that management teams tend to be unbelievably optimistic."

"Look forward with confidence and back without regrets."

Resources Mentioned:

Leadership is Language, by L. David Marquet

Humour, Seriously, by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas

To listen to more episodes on VC funds, check out our conversation with Aleksandra Laska.

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