Munich Startup: To get to know you a bit better, please take us through the key milestones along your career path.
Inga Grieger: I would be happy to. My career path is somewhat unusual. From the beginning, my focus was on the automotive industry, but my positions and areas of responsibility have regularly and significantly changed over time. I’m a trained car designer and have a diploma in transportation design (Fachhochschule München) as well as a diploma in business administration (IWW). That means I originally come from the creative side of things.
Before I came to the BMW Group, I became familiar with the supplier perspective in various positions. At the BMW Group, I worked in different positions for ten years with a focus on interiors and digital products. I started in the BMW brand design studio, but over time, I became more and more specialized in the field of innovation management. It was increasingly about how design and technological innovations can be brought together.
My positions also always involved a great deal of communication as well as networking in order to bring together different teams and concepts. In my new role as a business development manager at BMW i Ventures, I ultimately unite my previous experience and skills.
Munich Startup: You’re currently working as a business development manager at BMW i Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of the BMW Group. Who is the fund meant for?
Inga Grieger: BMW i Ventures is a very agile and flexible fund because we make our own investment decisions. The focus of our investments is quite clearly on fast scaling tech startups in the automotive field – in all stages, from the seed to the growth stage, with a concentration on Series A and B. We’re active in the US, Europe and Israel. We’re looking for innovative hardware and software solutions in car development, smart production, intelligent supply chain, digital sales, information technology and sustainability.
Sustainable transformation in the automotive industry
Especially since the establishment of the second fund in 2021, we’ve intensified our focus on solutions that are shaping sustainable transformation in the automotive industry. We would like to help promising startups scale quickly and support them with our know-how – our automotive expertise and the large network from the BMW universe are particularly exciting for young entrepreneurs. We’re seeing our portfolio companies make the automotive environment viable for the future and more climate friendly. The fact that we are so in line with the times makes us incredibly proud.
Munich Startup: What exactly does your job entail there?
Inga Grieger: At BMW i Ventures, I work as a business development manager to establish and enhance the strategic cooperation between the portfolio companies and the ecosystem of the BMW Group. You might say I act as a link between the BMW i Ventures portfolio companies and the BMW network. It involves a lot of communication, but also a feel for disruptive technologies in the automotive industry, especially with an eye towards sustainable solutions.
Good ideas on demand
Munich Startup: When and where do you have the best ideas?
Inga Grieger: As a designer, you already learn during your studies how to develop good ideas on demand. Because I like to think forward, it’s quite easy for me. I have my best ideas particularly when jogging, when I’m out in nature. When I’m going long distances, my body is moving and my thoughts can flow, I feel inspired.
Munich Startup: What are your three favorite work tools?
Inga Grieger: The first one that comes to mind is Google Tasks. The concept is simple, but it’s worth its weight in gold for me in everyday life. All tasks are integrated in the calendar, and I can check off all of the completed to-dos at the end of the day. That just feels good. For working with my colleagues, I often rely on Confluence. The tool is easy to understand and user-friendly. And when I’d like to work creatively while out and about, I often use Miro – an online whiteboard. It’s great to always have all of your ideas available digitally.
Munich Startup: What do you think makes a pitch great?
Inga Grieger: Definitely being authentic. After a while, you notice pretty quickly if someone is just acting a part. Specifically when it comes to the success of founders, I think it’s critical for them to remain authentic and to not pretend to be someone they’re not. The founding team should also be enthusiastic about their idea and be able to bring their passion across. Last but not least, we look at whether the business idea is customer oriented and if it can help drive forward sustainable transformation in the automotive industry.
“Many founders can now pick their investors”
Munich Startup: Do you think now is a good time to start a company? If yes, why?
Inga Grieger: Absolutely! I think it’s easier than ever to start a company with a good idea, especially because knowledge is now always available. On top of that, things have changed quite obviously: Many founders can now pick their investors. In such cases, BMW i Ventures has the advantage of being a CVC and of having the expertise of the BMW Group.
We’re living in exciting times and so much is changing. That means there’s always fertile ground for innovation. It’s fantastic to see the kinds of technology being developed to make the automotive industry more climate friendly.
Munich Startup: What technology or industry would you bank on in the future?
Inga Grieger: I still think digitization is one of the key technology trends, one that still holds a tremendous amount of potential. There’s the saying: “Everything that can be digitized will be digitized.” If you follow this maxim, we’re still at the very beginning. Digitization affects all industries and is used in all areas. I’m excited to see where digitization will take us. I’m convinced that it simplifies our lives and is helping us be more climate friendly as a whole.
Munich Startup: What do you think could still use some improvement in Munich as a startup location?
Inga Grieger: BMW i Ventures deliberately opened offices in Silicon Valley and Munich – after all, the capital city of Bavaria is one of the key IT cities in Europe. The Isar Valley is impressive and is constantly developing. There are so many points of contact for founders now, and the city does a great deal for an innovative ecosystem. We’ll also be seeing more deals in Europe and Germany in the years ahead.
Make founding easier
In general, I would like it to become even easier to start a company in Germany. Unfortunately, the hurdles are still very high. This keeps valuable innovations from developing that we need to be able to do climate-friendly and forward-looking business.
Munich Startup: What founder would you like to meet in person some day? And what would you ask them?
Inga Grieger: Due to my job, I get to meet so many amazing founders, including those who approach us as well as the founders in our approximately 60 portfolio companies. Apart from these individuals, I would have very much liked to meet Walt Disney, to experience him and his creativity. I think it would be so exciting to see him draw, to talk with him about how the Walt Disney Company has grown over a century. The company manages to entertain so many people around the world – that’s an important asset.
My job has a lot to do with how technology can contribute to climate protection, which is why I think it would be very interesting to talk with Anna Alex, the founder of Planetly. By founding an SaaS platform for calculating, compensating and reducing carbon emissions in companies, she proved to have the right instinct.
And last but not least, from a professional perspective but also as a passionate runner, is the Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz. The way he built the Red Bull brand and how the stories surrounding the beverage are still told to this day never ceases to amaze me.