Meet The Team

Meet The Team


Our experience has shown us that capital investment is not the sole factor in the successful development of a company. Even the most ambitious entrepreneurs require time to develop their expertise. And that’s where our strength lies – our team knows how to overcome unforeseen challenges and reliably takes start-ups to the top of their markets.

Thomas R. Villinger
CEO and Founder

As one of the leading venture capital investors in Germany, we support innovative young companies in their development and offer them long-term guidance as a partner. ZFHN has a fund volume of around EUR 200 million and makes investments in companies to the tune of EUR 2–15 million.

We have experts ranging from the fields of medical technology to materials science and from controlling to legal- and fiscal-related matters. Our CEO has over 12 years of experience in venture capital management. Before co-founding ZFHN in 2006, he was Co-Founder and CEO of Innovationsfabrik Heilbronn GmbH, a centre for 60 start-ups. Günter Steffen, one of the founding members of our company, has himself founded nearly 50 companies, including the IT service provider tele-daten-service GmbH, which he managed from 1975 to 2000.

The ZFHN Team


Günter Steffen
Fund Manager

Günter Steffen has founded almost 50 companies, including IT service provider tele-daten-service GmbH (TDS). In 2000, he became a member of the supervisory board of TDS. From 1998 to 2005, Günter was president of the Heilbronn–Franken Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where he was subsequently appointed honorary president in 2006. In the same year, Günter became a founding member of ZFHN.


Thomas R. Villinger

Thomas R. Villinger has more than 25 years of experience in the venture capital sector. Before he became Co-Founder and CEO of ZFHN Zukunftsfonds Heilbronn in 2006, he held numerous management positions both in Germany and abroad. His work focused on M&A and VC/PE financing for high-growth companies in Europe, the Gulf states and the USA. Thomas sits on numerous supervisory boards of early-stage investments and is an internationally respected expert in the financing of tech-oriented start-ups. He most recently oversaw the corporate development of Innovationsfabrik Heilbronn GmbH, one of the biggest business incubation centres, as Founder and CEO. Thomas has been active for many years as an investor in international tech start-ups. He studied economics and geography at Goethe University Frankfurt. In addition, he holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Schiller International University (USA & France)



Jan Ludwig
Investment Manager

Jan studied Finance in Gießen (B.Sc.) and in Regensburg (M.Sc.). He also completed an MBA program at Murray State University, KY, USA.
He worked at Commerzbank AG as a corporate client advisor before joining Born2Grow.
Jan Ludwig joined Born2Grow in January 2022 as a junior investment manager responsible for the acquisition of investments in the industrial, life sciences and IT sectors.


Tanja Gänssler

Tanja Gänssler has been working for ZFHN since December 2021. Before Tanja Gänssler joined the company, she worked as an assistant in various companies.
At ZFHN, she is responsible for office management. Her tasks also include insurance management, fleet management, as well as reception and coordination of appointments.


Markus Götz
 Senior Start-Up & Technologie Scout

After obtaining his diploma in Technical Biology and a postgraduate detour in aerospace engineering and marine biotechnology at Stuttgart University, Markus Götz found his vocation in providing guidance to SMEs and startups in the fields of innovation, technology and business development. Within 15 years of public economy support he consulted hundreds of companies and acquired considerable experience in this field. As head of the “Innovation, technology transfer and digitization” department he continuously expanded the service portfolio of the Stuttgart Region Chamber of Industry and Commerce over the last 7 years to assist SMEs dealing with the large transformation processes they are confronted with. He embodies our main link to the ‘Mittelstand’ in our region and beyond. Together with Sebastian, as ZFHN’s startup- & tech scouts, he will drive the sourcing & partnering of (inter-)national startups through the development of a network of regional hidden champions, research institutes, and incentives.



Olga Hörner

Olga Hörner has been employed at ZFHN since January 2022. As team assistant, she is responsible for the entire office management and reception. Her tasks include event and travel management, appointment coordination, international and national day-to-day business, and accounting support. Before Olga Hörner joined ZFHN, she worked as an executive assistant and gained 15 years of experience in this position.


Alexander Hofer
Investment Director, Authorized Officer

Alexander Hofer studied business administration at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Mannheim. He joined ZFHN as an Investment Manager at the start of 2008. Before arriving at the company, Alexander worked for various firms in Germany and abroad – predominantly in the field of corporate finance. Alexander boasts many years of experience in the financing of start-ups and has supported companies along the life cycle of the venture capital model – from seed funding to successful exit – on multiple occasions. He also successfully served as Interim Manager numerous times. As Authorized Officer and Investment Director of the company, Alexander is also responsible for ZFHN’s legal and administrative matters.



Andrea Muth
Investment Manager

Andrea is responsible for investment acquisition in the field of life sciences and sustainability. Andrea previously worked for several years in the department of venture development and venture controlling. Prior to her time at the BORN2GROW/ ZFHN she worked as a scientific researcher and lecturer in the field of strategy and controlling at Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences.



Manuel Böhringer
Investment Manager

Manuel Böhringer acquired his knowledge of the theoretical principles of corporate financing during his banking studies at Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Stuttgart. During the internships he completed as part of his studies, Manuel had the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical knowledge he had acquired in controlling, treasury and business support. Following his internships in various financial industry sectors, Manuel began working as an investment manager in ZFHN’s BORN2GROW unit, where he is currently responsible for investment acquisition in the fields of industry, life sciences and IT.



Sebastian Pyzalski
Startup- & Tech Scout

Driven by his passion for tech & innovation, Sebastian Pyzalski provided guidance to high-growth U.S. & German tech startups that are scaling and expanding into the European market and vice versa. Besides, he worked for a startup incubator as well as for a startup in the Urban Air Mobility space. As ZFHN’s startup- & tech scout, Sebastian will drive the sourcing & partnering of international & national startups through the development of a network of regional hidden champions, research institutes, and incentives. 



Anna Anhalt
Tax clerk

Anna Anhalt is a trained tax clerk. She has been working at ZFHN since December 2021 as an assistant to the authorized signatory. She is responsible for the area of internal finances. As assistant to the management, Anna Anhalt has also taken on operational functions in the areas of finance and taxes. In addition, she is involved in planning and strategic tasks.


Katharina Heim
Executive Assistant to the CEO

Katharina Heim has been a member of the ZFHN team since the end of 2012. She previously worked as an executive assistant at various companies in Germany and abroad. As an executive assistant to CEO Thomas Villinger, she offers support in the company’s daily operations as well as planning and strategy. Katharina studied business administration at Berufsakademie Ravensburg. She also completed an extra occupational MBA at the University of Bolton in the UK.



Annabell Heine
Financial Accountant

Annabell Heine has been working for ZFHN since 2013, where she is responsible for the financial accounting. Annabell has completed an apprenticeship in office communication at the IHK, as well as further training in business administration and business management. Before Annabell came to ZFHN, she worked as an assistant at various companies.


Bianka Chitea
 Office Management / Parental leave

Bianka has been the assistant to the authorized signatory and responsible for office management since September 2020. Previously, she completed her apprenticeship as an office management assistant at ZFHN. Her responsibilities include office & insurance management, international and national day-to-day business as well as support in the field of accounting.


Angelika Minich

Angelika has been training as an office management assistant at ZFHN since September 2020. In addition to office management and fleet management, her responsibilities also include the reception desk and the organization of appointments.


Office Dog