Dr. Sascha Berger

Principal at TVM Capital GmbH, Munich

Sascha is a Principal at TVM Capital, one of Europe’s oldest and most experienced Life Science Venture Capital firms, with offices in Munich, Montreal, Hong Kong and Dubai. Prior joining TVM in Munich he was a Senior M&A Manager for DNV GL, a Private Equity-backed international technical advisory firm, with headquarters in Hamburg and Oslo and offices in more than 100 countries around the globe.

Sascha started his career advising multiple renowned clients in corporate finance and strategy topics working as consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He studied technology management in Munich, Singapore and Boston and holds a Master from Munich University of Technology with majors in entrepreneurial finance and chemistry. Later Sascha completed his PhD studies in banking and finance while already working for PwC. He is a frequent speaker on corporate finance topics for various German universities and business schools. Sascha is a QX member since 2009.

QX: Sascha, you are working in a venture capital firm as a biotech investor. How did you end up with that special job?

Sascha: Interestingly, looking back, it now seems to be the logical consequence of my early interest in natural sciences. Already at the age of 14 I decided to change school to be able to have a new elective: biochemistry. I really loved the subject and in my spare time I spent hours reading about new discoveries in cancer or HIV research in various scientific magazines. Still at school I did an internship in a big pharma research lab, but it wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. Hence, I decided not to go for a research but rather a management career. However, I never lost sight of the science space. During my technology management studies I spend a significant amount of time with my major chemistry and during my later consulting jobs I was always focused on not to just improve processes in telecoms or utilities, but also do deals in the life science space.

QX: As a venture capitalist you have to analyze startups and to work intensively with entrepreneurs. Have you ever considered becoming an entrepreneur yourself?

Sascha: Absolutely! My dad founded his own consulting company when I was young and he used to be working very closely with founders and family-run companies. Hence, I got to know that founding and growing a company can be very challenging – and rewarding. As such I co-founded a student association to support entrepreneurship in Munich called START, which I am proud that it is still successfully active today. I constantly discussed business ideas and concepts with friends over the years and even started the first serious attempt right after finishing my studies.

QX: That sounds interesting. What was it?

Well, I burnt some money which I had saved during my studies, but I am somehow glad that this one didn’t work out. It would have been strange to tell people that I founded a digital cemetery… But, maybe, we were just a bit too early ten years ago. Now everybody talks about digitalizing everything…

QX: People say money destroys character – have you or your family and friends recognized any difference since you’ve been working as an investor in a venture capital company?

I don’t think so. Of course, if you are working in the private equity and venture capital environment, you are dealing with big money. But it’s always related to real life products and services. The appealing aspect of investing in life sciences is that you can fund new ideas eventually becoming a cure for a deadly disease or something significantly improving patients’ lives. I did also spend some months with Deutsche Bank on Wall Street and this lifestyle was definitely more distracting as you can easily lose your feet on the ground. In the end, I believe it is a question of character, personal preferences and keeping long-time friends. I always wanted to have an impact and not just grow money.

QX: Do you believe good networks are important for entrepreneurs? Is that a reason why you are also a long-time QX member?

I definitely believe good networks are crucial, be it on the investor’s side, as an entrepreneur or in a management career. Interestingly, when I was a teenager I had the idea that getting something via a personal network is somewhat inferior to achieving it without the help of others. But getting older I experienced that good relationships and social networks are a highly successful way of getting the right information much faster than being left alone with oneself. I did spend some time with social network theory during my PhD studies and definitely experienced it in my daily life – relevant social networks are the key to almost everything. Moreover, it is just much more fun to share and engage with different people. In that context I really enjoy being part of QX and would actually like to find more time for it than the very few selected times a year right now.

QX: How do you recharge your batteries?

I really enjoy being a VC and feel a lot of energy and passion in and for my job. Hence it’s often easy to spend long hours in the office. And despite travelling a fair amount of time for business I still very much enjoy travelling for leisure. I did a half round-the-world backpack trip a few years ago and the other half is still to be explored. Besides those bigger “time-outs” I am really into sports since I was a very young boy – during the last years predominantly focusing on triathlon. And as a result of my sister’s persistence as a yoga teacher and a joint India holiday I am balancing it with Yoga. It’s great to reset the focus and recharge batteries.

QX: And, ultimately, what’s your vanity?

Sounds strange, but a few month ago I got a birthday present for “Hammer & Nagel” in Munich, a stylish “men’s only” manicure boutique. Well, and even though I laughed about it initially, I am a frequent customer by now…