Talking about recent challenges to and of Plug and Play

Das Fifteen Seconds Festival gehört zu den Marketing-Events des Jahres. Dieses Jahr hat sich das Setup etwas verändert. Mahr dazu kann man im Interview mit Stefan Stücklschweiger erfahren.

Being a cooperation partner of Plug and Play means we usually spent some time at the Silicon Valley. Obviously this changed. Marit Lyngbaek, Senior Partnership Manager of Plug and Play Energy was so kind and answered a few questions for us.

Marit Lyngbaek

What digital tools have you used before and did you add some because of this special situation? Are you using digital communication channels now more often or is it pretty much the same?

Marit: Due to our global nature, we have been using different digital tools for some time now. Our ventures team of 70+ people is sourcing startups from all over the world, with Energy programs running in Shanghai, Europe, Silicon Valley and Houston. To make sure we keep track of our growing number of startups, we use Playbook – an in-house developed database featuring over 20 000 startups. We use this system for scheduling private deal flows for corporates, tracking corporate-startup pilots, preparing TOP100 startup lists, and collecting our partners’ votes and feedback on the startups. Playbook enables our 400 corporate partners to keep track of all the tailored startup meetings and interactions they have had, which can be around 500 a year. Luckily our corporate partners already know how to use it, which has made this virtual transition incredibly smooth for us.

To manage our internal projects among teams, we have been using Slack for team communication, for project and event planning, and Zoom for webinars, meetings and virtual events. Even though being an avid zoom user for virtual deal flows, I think our whole Plug and Play team was positively surprised how well it’s working for Selection Days and webinars with large audiences. We managed to accept 167 smart city focused startups to our next accelerator program virtually. So we are definitely using digital platforms more now.

Not only your employees and offices are all over the world but one of your key elements is the very strong global network. Both startups and corporates. I was present at the last selection day because we had our private dealflow and we did it online. This worked well for me. Are you planning to do this online more often? Right now I feel like it is more efficient but is it really? I mean I don’t have to travel but what is it on your side?

Marit: That’s true. Many of our corporate partners are saying that virtual events enable their business units from around the world to easily join the deal flows. So our partners have been actually very happy about it. At the same time we really value face to face interactions.

How are you keeping your network intact? I heard that one of the best things about going to Sunnyvale is that you get to meet so many people and kind of experience this special innovative spirit. What about this? How can you still connect people and let them feel this spirit?

Marit: That is absolutely true and we are of course planning to host our physical events again when this global health crisis is over. Some of the best conversations among our corporate partners happen during Board Meetings or networking dinners at our HQ, that doesn’t happen so easily on virtual platforms. So going forward we will definitely use more digital meetings, but we’ll make sure we bring our community together at least 4 times a year.

Impressions of the Winter Summit in 2018

What is most positive about this crisis- on a very personal level of course

Marit: I think having more time to exercise and connect with my friends from all over the world. Virtual dinners with friends I have not talked to for months, are now easily accessible. Everyone is at home, no need to schedule these meetings. As I don’t need to commute or travel for work now, I also have more time for a quick run outside.

And finally, thinking about climate and sustainability goals, do you think that this crisis will impact our behavior? Any input here?

Marit: This cornavirus pandemic has definitely a silver lining, in reduced carbon emissions around the world, that followed the quarantines. China saw an estimated 25% drop in CO2 emissions nationwide in February. This shows that changing our ways of living and habits can have a huge environmental impact. Building more and safer bike lanes in cities reduces congestion & emissions, and supports social distancing. I think if coronavirus makes us ask the questions on how we can make our transport greener, that already is a huge step forward. Also, cities that pursue green measures will be better prepared for the next crisis. On the other hand it might take a lot longer for energy and climate tech startups to close deals, as many CVCs that have been very active in the energy space, are being more risk averse these days. However I feel like this is a good market to invest, when valuations might be lower and good deals can be made.V

Thank you Marit and we are really looking forward to seeing you in person again anytime soon!

Marit Lyngbaek & Wade Bitaraf of Plug and Play; Thomas Wiedner & Patrick Landerl of Energie Steiermark

Christa Kloibhofer-Krampl

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