Project Description

Maximilian Kempken

Associate, b-to-v Partners AG

Maximilian just graduated from ESCP Europe in 2014 and now works for b-to-v Partners, a venture capital firm and leading investor network in Berlin. Learn more about venture captial and read the full interview here. 

  • What program did you do at ESCP Europe and what have you learnt?

I did a 2-year Master in Management program in Berlin, Paris and St. Gallen, graduating in 2014. During my Bachelor studies in Münster I already had a profound background in finance. The one thing I learnt at ESCP Europe was adaptability.

The rotation between campuses allows you to live and study in three different cities. But it also means you leave behind many your friends and get to know new ones every time you move. Different countries, different teaching styles, constantly challenged to adapt to a new environment. That’s also something I have to deal with every day in my job.


  • What internships have you done?

Before I started to get interested in venture capital I did three internships in consulting and finance. My first internship was at Deloitte as a corporate finance intern. We consulted SMEs in issuing bonds.

After that I did two internships in consulting at Horváth & Partners and goetzpartners. I can recommend everybody to do something similar at least once. It is very enriching while at the same time very challenging.

However, in my second year at ESCP Europe I started to get interested in startups and entrepreneurship and I was very lucky to get one at Munich Venture Partners.

“We aimed to set up our own venture capital fund”
  • Today you work at b-to-v Partners, a venture capital firm and investor network. How did you end up there?

I did a course at St. Gallen with the founder of We aimed to set up our own venture capital fund and he connected us systematically with important players in the business. We eventually had to scrap our plan because no company gives money to a bunch of students, no matter how convincing their concept is. Instead, I got a job at b-to-v Partners.

I’m working there as an investment analyst in our Internet & Mobile segment. B-to-v Partners also invests in Advanced Tech companies and offers advisory service to a network of business angels and private investors.

“As you can see it is quite a diverse set of activities, which is what I really like about my job.”
  • What does a typical day in your job look like and what is your working environment?

I get a lot – really – a lot of emails with presentations and pitches. More than in any other job I’ve done so far. And VC is a peoples business. You communicate a lot with founders, other investors, corporates and business angels. Every Tuesday and Thursday I have my schedule full with meetings and calls in a 60-minute rhythm. All this makes my day very small fractured.

About the working environment, most of the VC segment is concentrated on Berlin and London. It is not so big and you get to know everybody in the business. We have regular meetings across Europe with other VCs and there is a lot of exchange and a friendly atmosphere in general. That’s something very particular to the VC segment. And I think it is due to the shortage in venture capital compared to the excess supply in investment candidates. We don’t have to fight for deals, but there are enough great teams and companies out there for all investors.

For example, just last week I had three startups pitching almost the same business idea. This means that you hear three different point of views about the market; you see three different financial plans and can compare their assumptions.

Impressions from the “b-to-v Portfolio Day 2014”
  • What does the investment process look like?  

It all starts with finding the right investment candidates. We have inbound channels like cold emailing and suggestions from our business angel network; as well as outbound channels where we set strategic topics and browse the market ourselves. After a while you get a feeling of what the trending topics are.

In our weekly internal deal meetings, we agree on candidates for further investigation. You meet with the founders, reflect on the business model and eventually write a term sheet that includes non-binding terms of a possible investment. Then we start a due diligence. This includes legal & financial checks and reference calls for all team members. If everything works out you start to negotiate the final deal and end up signing the investment agreement.

Eventually, you have to manage your portfolio of companies. I currently supervise seven companies. I participate in their strategic decisions through the supervisory board. I help the companies with introductions to experts and with forwarding CVs for potential employees. Portfolio management also involves advisory for follow-on financing rounds and finally, I organise the exit.

As you can see it is quite a diverse set of activities, which is what I really like about my job.


  • Thanks for sharing your story!