Feb 17, 2023

Have you ever heard of the word ubuntu?

Well, it’s not a word!


Most people who visit our office in Starnberg, look at our value wall and wonder what “ubuntu” stands for. While the first two principles “curiosity” and “conviction” are easy to read and no further explanation is needed, “ubuntu” provokes kind of an incomprehension. Thus, we are often asked “ubuntu? What does it mean?”

Spirit of togetherness

Well, it’s a way of life, a way of living and it’s the way we work with our all stakeholders in the additive manufacturing industry – including the entrepreneurs of our portfolio companies. This spirit of togetherness is captivating our whole team ever since we have manifested it as one of our core values at AM Ventures.

A rising tide lifts all boats

We are backing trailblazing entrepreneurs who transform the world with industrial 3D printing.” – AM Ventures

We are managing to unite the bravest and brightest minds of an entire industry and together we are on the forefront of the greatest revolution in modern day industrial manufacturing. We want to make sure that the AM industry becomes as powerful as it has the potential to be. To scale its impact, we need more ubuntu – putting the “we” before the “I”. People come first.

When I joined AM Ventures back in 2018, I remember well how Arno pitched our company to the industry. “Engineers by education, entrepreneurs out of passion, and venture capitalist by accident”. Even though I did not know that this phrase already incorporated ubuntu, it took me another two years that I stumbled across ubuntu by coincidence. I could directly point this to the DNA that is lived at AM Ventures.

Ubuntu led the 2008 Celtics to an NBA title

One day I watched Netflix’s docuseries “The playbook”, in which I heard from “ubuntu” for the first time. It’s a reflective and inspiring docuseries in which elite coaches share their personal playbook for success in sports and life. In the first riveting episode, Doc Rivers tells the story of how the culture of ubuntu led him and the 2008 Celtics to an NBA title. Ubuntu was the perfect concept for Doc Rivers. With ubuntu he turned a group of talented but non-uniformly players into a single, highly linked unit. Ubuntu became one of the reasons for winning the title. After having watched the episode, I paused for a moment and realized that ubuntu is the same spirit we live at AM Ventures.

So what is ubuntu?

In Xhosa you say “Umuntu ngumtu ngabuntu” which is very difficult to put into English but can be translated according to Nobel Prizewinner, anti-apartheid activist and former archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu to “A person is a person through other people.” For him, it is the “essence of being human”. He says: “I wouldn’t know how to speak as a human being. I wouldn’t know how to think as a human being. I wouldn’t know how to walk as a human being. I have to learn from other human beings how to be human. 

Taking ubuntu into professional life: I am, because we are

Meanwhile manifested as one of our three core values at AM Ventures, ubuntu reminds us every day that we work together towards a common goal and realize that our actions have an impact on others and society. Our mission is to find, support, and scale the most innovative and impactful technological solutions in additive manufacturing. We are convinced that 3D printing is changing the world so it will become a better place. On this journey, we are taking ubuntu into professional life. Ubuntu for us means that we strongly support and trust each other. We are reliable and take responsibility. We treat everyone around us with great respect and appreciation.  We can learn from anyone in our ecosystem and together we can put additive manufacturing to its next level of maturity. To get back to my initial question: have you ever heard of ubuntu? Well, yes, now you have!

Team AM Ventures