The voice of AWD founder and start-up investor Carsten Maschmeyer has had weight in the start-up scene at the latest since his entry as a sponsor and juror on the TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen”. He has a comprehensive market overview of the various investment vehicles in his Maschmeyer Group – including the VC fund Alstin and the early-stage financier Seed + Speed. In a short interview with Personal-Financial.com, Maschmeyer emphasizes that the corona epidemic is not yet over for many young companies – on the contrary.
Personal-Financial.com: Mr. Maschmeyer, in April you predicted that the corona epidemic would lead to an unprecedented wave of start-up bankruptcies. So far, however, your prediction has not come true. What did the bankruptcy wave prevent?
CARSTEN MASCHMEYER: We all wish that it were. But the Corona crisis has currently even worsened. After the slight recovery in the summer, it is far too early to draw a conclusion now – especially since start-ups usually have financing with a range of 12 to 18 months, so as long as they can make ends meet. So I’m sticking to my prediction that sadly there will be a lot of bankruptcies.
So the second corona wave will lead to more business tasks?
In the second wave, what applied to the first also applies: Start-ups with business models that were not doing well before Corona and that are not Corona-proof will have a hard time now. In addition, the recovery we had this summer will only start later this time because we are only at the beginning of winter when the virus is spreading more because of the cold temperatures.
Which industries are particularly threatened?
I see start-ups from the travel sector, some mobility, but also the entire creative industry with events, for example, in a difficult situation. Venture capital investors are currently mostly staying out of these industries.
So that means the main problem will be investor reluctance?
There are two different areas. Professional venture capital companies that have been active for many years, like us at Alstin, will continue to invest as usual. Preferably, of course, in Corona winners. On the other hand, many semi-professional VC investors who previously only took part in start-ups on the side will invest less. This includes, for example, smaller family offices or business angels, who were often only able to invest profits from other operational units.
Can the state fill these gaps? How do you rate the aid packages decided by the government?
The short-time work allowance or the deferral of social contributions were smart steps that were implemented correctly. But other promised help was more likely an announcement policy. Take KfW, for example: it saves the past by pumping billions of dollars into traditional companies with yesterday’s business models. And at the same time forgets about the future, because start-ups were initially completely forgotten and then neglected.
What do you mean by that?
Founders tell me that very subjective criteria are used to decide who receives KfW’s support services. Many are said to have been put off for months. But I also say clearly: you don’t have to save every start-up. Anyone who had problems before should not be allowed to mutate into a zombie company with Corona aid. Only real corona losers who have already had good business figures and steep growth angles deserve this help.
The interview is the long version of a report that will appear in Personal-Financial.com 12/2020 (ET 19 November). interested in Personal-Financial.com? Here is the Subscription shopwhere you can order the print version. Our digital edition is available at iTunes and GooglePlay