© Pina Earth

Gesa Biermann: “Creating real impact”

Gesa Biermann founded Pina Earth together with Florian Fincke in 2021. The startup has been developing certified climate protection projects since 2021 with the aim of creating future-proof forests throughout Germany. Our forests are already under severe threat due to climate change. Pina Earth's climate protection projects store additional CO2 by making forests biodiverse and climate-resilient against increasing heat, storms and drought. By supporting the projects, the startup enables other companies to achieve their climate goals while promoting regional biodiversity. The forest projects already cover over 10 million square kilometers in Germany and are audited by independent third parties.

Female founder Gesa Biermann has been active in the sustainability sector for around ten years, holds a doctorate in environmental sciences from LMU and a master’s degree in Sustainable Resource Management from the Technical University of Munich. Before founding Pina Earth, Biermann was part of the management team at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM), a joint research and educational institution of LMU and TU Munich. This is also where she met co-founder and CTO Florian Fincke. She was already active as an entrepreneur before Pina Earth: during her bachelor’s degree, she co-founded and sold a fashion brand and co-founded 180 Degrees Consulting Munich.

Munich Startup: What motivated you to found the company?

Gesa Biermann: After completing my doctorate, I wanted to set up a company to combat climate change. Startups offer a non-bureaucratic way to implement innovative solutions and create a real impact – and quickly. It was important to me that the 80,000 hours I would invest in my career in my lifetime would have an impact. That’s why I founded Pina Earth.

Approach others

Munich Startup: What do you wish you had known before you founded your first company?

Gesa Biermann: That everyone else is “only boiling with water”. Many founders suffer from the so-called “imposter syndrome”, the feeling that everyone else knows what they’re doing, but not you. I observe this self-doubt especially in women who are thinking about starting a business.

My view on this is that you will never feel or be completely ready for a startup. I think that’s an unrealistic expectation. But the good news is that you don’t have to be able to do everything yourself. My experience is that many people in your own or more distant environment are very helpful if you ask them for support. You just have to take the first step yourself: reaching out to others.

Access to a large network

Munich Startup: How has your company been financed so far?

Gesa Biermann: We completed our first financing round in 2022, a major milestone in our development. Y Combinator was our first investor. Joining the US accelerator Y Combinator in early 2022 not only gave us access to a large network of investors, but also continues to offer us many benefits, including mentorship with the YC partners. The financing round has enabled us to invest further in our product development and build our team to 15 employees.

Munich Startup: When and where do you get the best ideas?

Gesa Biermann: Going for a walk in the English Garden, brainstorming sessions with my co-founder Florian and – the classic – in the shower.

Munich Startup: What are your 3 favorite work tools?

Gesa Biermann: Notion is in first place by a wide margin. I can quickly build my own tools there for everything from to-do management to CRMs and websites. I recently switched to Arc as my browser and have a better focus thanks to the design. I also use several tools together in my calendar setup, including Cron, Cal.com and Reclaim.

Munich Startup: What is your top tip for pitching?

Gesa Biermann: I find it helpful to look at yourself from an “outside perspective”. If I were the investor opposite, would I invest in the startup? Before you can convince others, you first have to be convinced yourself. Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator, has also written an essay on this, which I highly recommend.

Gesa Biermann: No time to wait for “better times”

Munich Startup: Does it seem like a good time to start a company right now? Why?

Gesa Biermann: Basically, it’s never a bad time to start a business. I firmly believe that startups offer an opportunity to find innovative solutions, even or especially in turbulent times. Nevertheless, the current economic situation is difficult in that there are fewer financial resources available. In terms of climate change, however, we no longer have time to “wait for better times” – with less than six years to reach our 1.5 degree target, every initiative counts!

Munich Startup: Which technology or industry would you focus on for your next startup?

Gesa Biermann: First of all, I don’t think there will be a new startup alongside Pina Earth any time soon. I would stay in the climate tech sector because climate change is far from being solved. New technologies and business models will continue to open up innovative opportunities to find new solutions.

More diversity for the Munich ecosystem

Munich Startup: What do you think could be improved in Munich as a startup location?

Gesa Biermann: More diversity! In financing rounds, over 80 percent of funding is still raised by male teams. I am convinced that diverse teams benefit from different perspectives, regardless of whether it’s about their ability to innovate or their empathy. The same applies to the circle of investors.

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