Una Terra Venture Studio goal is to support biodiversity restoration
Please introduce yourself and your startup Una Terra Venture Studio to our readers!
Hi, I am Luca Zerbini. Born in Italy, I am a passionate Founding Partner and CEO of Una Terra Venture Capital Fund. I studied Industrial Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano and subsequently received an MBA from the Wharton School. Before founding Una Terra, I worked in many global organisations. I was CEO and Managing Director at Fedrigoni Paper (a Bain Capital portfolio company); I was Vice President and General Manager at Amcor with $1B P&L accountability. And i also worked in several other companies such as Hewlett Packard, Honeywell, and Bain. I lived for many years in the US and I live now with my family outside Zurich, in Switzerland.
How did you get the idea of Una Terra Venture Studio?
Throughout my career, I gained valuable insights into how companies, large and small, are run. At each turn, I challenged the status quo to add value at C-level and Board level, helping to shape strategic roadmaps, and drive global growth and competitive advantage through marketing, innovation and ESG agendas.
At one point, I realised that I wanted to have a different role for the world we live in. Eager to deliver a significant impact change, I started investing in companies that could accelerate solutions for climate change and, in parallel, the germ of an idea – of a fund focused on driving and supporting sustainable, green tech and innovation – began to form in my mind.
Why did you decide to start with Una Terra Venture Studio?
There are only eight large funds in Europe that are dedicated to the ESG agenda. This is a ridiculously small number. Despite the explosion in sustainability-themed investments, only a small percentage goes to highly disruptive businesses that are sector-shaping and fast-scaling through innovation. In fact, over $30T are flowing to large cap companies with questionable ESG credentials (according to the Global Sustainable Investment Review), while very little (around $0.2tr) going to innovative growth companies and potential Impact Unicorns, whose business models are inherently impact-driven. Una Terra’s ambition is to help shift the impact investment to where it is most impactful and meaningful.
What is the vision behind Una Terra Venture Studio?
We only have one habitable planet, and climate change and biodiversity loss are threatening this beautiful world we live in. We are racing against time and Una Terra – which is Italian for One Earth – is the commitment to scale and accelerate the adoption of ideas that the world needs more of. And right now.
Our commitment is to reduce CO2 emissions by 2 Gt per year from the environment and 5% of plastic waste in the oceans by 2030. We will do this through our portfolio company, helping them with a fully fledged venture studio to accelerate the growth and impact.
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
Setting up a fund in Luxembourg was a lengthy process. Luxembourg is rated AAA for good reason – the due diligence behind the set up of the fund is incredible but I am sure many fund managers are put off by the complexity of the process.
Landing on the right founding team was also a very interesting journey and I know we landed on a team that is very strong and solid. We all share the same vision and passion towards building a successful ESG fund where you don’t need to choose between profits and planet.
Who is your target audience?
We back founders at Series A+ stage whose products and services have an ambition of addressing at least 100Mt CO2/year and/or 10 Mt/year Plastics Waste reduction. These are companies active in the clean energy space: emissions reduction and carbon capture; smart mobility, housing and smart cities.
Industries we also look at are responsible food, agriculture and forestry, circular economy, packaging, fashion, as well as Clean Finance .
What is the USP of your startup?
Our edge? We are commercially innovators at heart.
In too many well-intended ESG start-ups and scale-ups, we see good money going after bad.
At Una Terra, we hunt for ideas grounded in the commercial rigour required to be successful. Our founding team each brings over 25 years of experience scaling products and services in the most competitive markets on earth.
When it comes to the Una Terra Venture Capital Fund, we combine focused strategy with passionate people and smart capital. Using our combined and extensive experience, we work closely with start-ups giving them hands-on support to actively help them scale-up.
The result? No green wishing, just green impact.
Can you describe your typical workday?
Our Founding Partners live across four different countries – Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands and the UK, but that does not limit how we work together. We have continuous interactions through chat channels and virtual meetings from very early in the day.
We align on key team and individual priorities on Mondays and then invest time with investors – current and future, investees – current and future, and administration.
Time with my family is very important to me and I make sure I spend quality time with them every day. When the kids are in bed, there is still time for a quick check in with my partners or responding to some emails.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Una Terra Venture Studio in five years?
Our fund in five years will have grown to €1 billion and this will have allowed us to grow all the companies we have invested in.
Our fund being with an evergreen structure means we have the flexibility to divest when the time is right and when we feel the founders don’t need our support anymore, either because they reach IPO stage or are acquired.
In 5 years, we will have made significant progress towards our goal of 2Gt reduction of CO2 emissions per year from the environment.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
Find the right partners you want to work with. Working with friends who share your passion and vision is way more rewarding than doing it all by yourself.
Be curious to learn, and accept every fall as an opportunity to become better. Entrepreneurship is not a sprint, it is a marathon.
Trust your intuition.
More information you will find here
Thank you Luca Zerbini for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.