Startup Notes
Anna Alex on Outfittery and why data analytics and good storytelling is a powerful mix

Anna Alex on Outfittery and why data analytics and good storytelling is a powerful mix

February 14, 2018

Anna Alex belongs to Germany's top female entrepreneurs. Since 2012, she and her co-founder Julia Bösch have been disrupting the fashion industry with OUTFITTERY. The startup offers a curated online shopping experience for men that allows their clients to save time while receiving professional style advice by its stylists. OUTFITTERY is operating in eight European countries, employs 300 people and has raised roughly 50m EUR in funding so far (e.g. from well-known VC’s like Mangrove Capital and Northzone).

Prior to starting her own business, Anna was Head of Product Management & IT at a Swiss online company and also worked for German startup powerhouse Rocket Internet as well as Smava. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics.

In this episode, we are talking to Anna about her entrepreneurial journey of building OUTFITTERY from scratch, the reasons for the low number of female founders in Europe, the power of good storytelling, and collecting and analyzing the right data for delivering your clients the best product and experience possible.

Here is the full list of topics that we discussed with fashion industry disruptor Anna Alex:

[01:06 – 1:36] Introduction of Anna and her background

[01:37 – 02:17] Explanation of OUTFITTERY’s business model

[02:18 – 03:28] On OUTFITTERY’s different growth stages and focus topics so far

[03:29 – 04:21] One thing that people would be surprised to know about OUTFITTERY

[04:22  – 04:49] The split between different roles among OUTFITTERY’s staff

[04:50  – 06:51] Anna’s worst management decision and her learnings from it [Listener Question]

[06:52  – 08:23] OUTFITTERY’s unfair advantage in comparison to its competitors

[08:24 – 08:56] Anna’s view on provocative media coverage [08:57 – 10:02] What the future holds for OUTFITTERY in 2018 & 2019

[10:03 – 13:05] How the fashion companies of the future will be based on technology

[13:06 – 14:57] The role of Amazon in the fashion ecommerce space

[14:58 – 18:00] Anna’s opinion on the importance to address the topic „female founders“

[18:01 – 22:00] On the power of good storytelling when building a startup

[22:01 – 27:01] Anna’s best practices on structuring her work day [Listener Question]

[27:02 – 27:49] The KPIs to track for retaining great talent for your startup

[27:50 – 28:12] The one must-read book for founders

[28:13  – 29:43] The best life advice that Anna has been given

[29:44 – 30:55] Startups that former employees went on to found

[30:56 – 31:19] One thing that Anna fundamentally disagrees on with other people

[31:20 – 32:30] Advice that founders should write down on post-it notes and always remember

[32:31 – 34:10] Anna’s ultimate vision for OUTFITTERY

Eckhardt Weber on his learnings from building companies with FinLeap and Heartbeat Labs

Eckhardt Weber on his learnings from building companies with FinLeap and Heartbeat Labs

January 31, 2018

Since 2014, Eckhardt Weber has been one of the key people behind Berlin-based company builder HitFox Group and especially its FinTech-focused branch FinLeap, which has seen some tremendous success in recent years with him leading it as its Managing Director. Having a background as a corporate lawyer and being specialized in business development within highly regulated markets, he was especially instrumental in creating solarisBank - a well-reputed FinLeap venture that managed to obtain a full banking license in Germany within just 9 months.

Since summer 2017, Eckhardt is focusing on creating new tech ventures in the healthcare industry under the umbrella of newly founded company builder Heartbeat Labs, which also belongs to the HitFox Group. Up to five startups per year shall be created and supported with the company builder’s help that Eckhardt co-founded and again leads as Managing Director.

In this episode, we are talking to Eckhardt about how he made his way from being a lawyer to building companies in the FinTech and healthcare sector, his best practices for being productive and efficient, the reasons for FinLeap’s success, his plans for Heartbeat Labs and mistakes that he sees founders make over and over again.

Here is the full list of topics that we discussed with hands-on company builder Eckhardt Weber:

[00:02 – 01:49] Introduction of Eckhardt and his background

[01:50 – 03:06] One thing people would be surprised to know about Eckhardt

[03:07 – 05:37] What a typical day in his life as an entrepreneur look like

[05:38 – 06:57] Eckhardt’s best practices for daily routines

[06:58  – 08:49] How to best plan your tasks ahead

[08:50  – 13:26] On the reasons for FinLeap’s success as a company builder

[13:27  – 16:01] What Eckhardt is doing differently now building Heartbeat Labs in comparison to his time at FinLeap

[16:02 – 19:20] The first tasks to tackle when setting up a company builder

[19:21 – 23:07] Why Eckhardt is still bullish on the business model of a company builder

[23:08 – 27:49] Why it makes sense for founders to start a startup with a company builder

[27:50 – 30:15] How founders can ‚wow‘ Eckhardt to convince him for investing into a startup with Heartbeat Labs

[30:16 – 32:48] One challenging question that Eckhardt asks when founders seek for funding

[32:49 – 35:09] On the most innovate service that will likely be launched in the health industry within the next 5 years [Listener Question]

[35:10 – 38:22] Eckhardt’s view on the challenges of starting a health startup in Germany

[38:23 – 43:26] The ‚secret sauce‘ of the company culture behind the success of FinLeap and Heartbeat Labs

[43:27 – 45:46]  One mistake that founders do over and over again when starting a company

[45:47  – 49:07] Advice that founders should write on some post-it notes and remember at all times

Doreen Huber on growing Delivery Hero and disrupting the catering industry with Lemoncat

Doreen Huber on growing Delivery Hero and disrupting the catering industry with Lemoncat

January 17, 2018

Doreen Huber is one of the most respected female entrepreneurs in Germany. As the Founder & CEO of LEMONCAT, she is successfully digitalizing the market for business catering since 2016. After starting out as an entrepreneur in various companies with a strong focus on sales already in her twenties, she especially left a mark in the European startup scene (and beyond) in her roles as CSO at Lieferheld and subsequently COO of Delivery Hero (EUR 1bn IPO in 2017) from 2011-2013. Living and working in Berlin, Doreen is also an active angel investor in various companies. She holds a degree in Literature, Art History and Media Science from Humboldt University in Berlin.

LEMONCAT makes it easy for businesses to access convenient, fresh and delightful caterers all over the world by bringing the fragmented catering industry together in a digital one-stop solution. In Germany, the startup offers the country’s largest caterer network with more than 500 curated caterers to its clients, which are companies like airBnB, Salesforce and Adidas. Since its start, LEMONCAT has already served several hundred thousands of guests in 250 cities. The startup has more than 40 employees and successfully raised 9m EUR in funding so far.

In this episode, Doreen shares some behind-the-scenes insights and learnings of the crazy early days at Delivery Hero, discusses LEMONCAT's business model, assesses the current tech trends that will shape the future of the food industry, talks about the topic of 'women in tech' and gives her best advice to (female) entrepreneurs.

This episode was recorded at the McKinsey Experience Studio in Berlin on 12 December 2017 during Startup Notes’ first-ever live event, which was organized in partnership with Digital Shapers - a joint initiative between McKinsey and six corporate partners (Airbus, Bertelsmann, Lufthansa, Metro, SAP, and Zeiss).

----------------------------- Here is the full list of topics that we discussed with sales expert and catering industry disruptor Doreen Huber:

[01:38 – 08:00] Introduction of Doreen and the milestones of her career so far that led to founding LEMONCAT

[08:01 – 09:48] On the blurred lines between work and private life as a founder

[09:49 – 12:25] The customer journey of LEMONCAT

[12:26 – 13:21] On what makes LEMONCAT special within the catering industry

[13:22 – 16:00] The future trends and developments within the FoodTech industry

[16:01 – 18:20] Doreen’s learnings from the crazy early days at Delivery Hero in Berlin

[18:21 – 21:54] On the ‚secret sauce‘ of Delivery Hero’s success

[21:55 – 25:54] Doreen’s view on the topic of ‚women in tech‘

[25:55 – 28:36] Three pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

[28:37 – 30:17] Doreen’s worst management decision so far [audience question]

[30:18 – 31:48] On the potential synergies between B2C and B2B sales within the catering industry [audience question]

J. Allie Morse on building Africa’s first unicorn for Rocket Internet and working in Silicon Valley

J. Allie Morse on building Africa’s first unicorn for Rocket Internet and working in Silicon Valley

December 27, 2017

J. Allie Morse is a seasoned entrepreneur who has lived and worked in Sierra Leone, Singapore, Nigeria and San Francisco with close ties to the European startup scene. She was the founder and former CEO of Jumia House (formerly Lamudi) in West Africa, which is an online real estate market place backed by German tech giant Rocket Internet and belongs to its Africa division Jumia (formerly known as Africa Internet Group). In 2016, Jumia became Africa's first unicorn startup valued at over $1 billion. Most recently, Allie joined San Francisco-based startup Postmates as Head of Expansion. Being originally from Canada, she is a McGill University alumnus and also graduated with a Master’s degree in Global Politics and Gender Studies from Oxford University.

Postmates was founded by German entrepreneur Bastian Lehmann and is an on-demand logistics company. It is one of Silicon Valley's fastest growing startups and is transforming the way goods move around cities by enabling anyone to have anything speedily and inexpensively delivered on-demand. The startup’s Urban Logistics platform connects customers with local couriers who can deliver anything from any store or restaurant in minutes. Like this, Postmates empowers communities to shop local with no waiting, and also empowers businesses through its API to offer delivery. In total, 65,000 couriers work for Postmates in 44 cities across the US. By the end of 2016, the startup raised $140m in its latest funding round at a $600m valuation.

In this episode, we are talking to Allie about how she made her way into the startup world without a business degree, what it’s like to build a company under extremely challenging conditions like in Africa, and making the jump to Silicon Valley.

Here is the full list of topics that we discussed with hands-on startup builder J. Allie Morse who is not afraid to be a tech pioneer in challenging markets like Africa:

[01:27 – 02:51] Introduction of Allie and how she made her way into the startup world

[02:52 – 03:52] Allie’s favorite things to do besides building startups

[03:53 – 09:14] How Allie figured out that entrepreneurship is what she wants to do in life

[09:15 – 11:36] Why not having attended a business class is not a disadvantage for building companies

[11:37 – 15:12] On the challenging times of setting up Lamudi in Nigeria

[15:13 – 16:21] The most important skills to have as a founder

[16:22 – 18:12] Why building a startup in emerging markets like Africa is a big opportunity

[18:13 – 20:03] The reasons for Allie joining Postmates in the Silicon Valley

[20:04 – 22:06] How the experiences gained in Africa benefit Allie for working in the Valley

[22:07 – 24:54] Why Allie is passionate about evolving markets and what to do when you want to expand into new markets with your startup

[24:55 – 26:54] The reasons for Postmates being successful

[26:55 – 30:25] On Silicon Valley being the special place for tech innovation that it is

[30:26 – 32:18] How to make the jump from Europe to Silicon Valley

[32:19 – 33:58] Allie’s best piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs   [33:59 – 35:34] The industry and location that Allie would found a company in nowadays

Stephan Heller on Groupon, FinCompare and the role of execution in startups

Stephan Heller on Groupon, FinCompare and the role of execution in startups

December 13, 2017

Stephan Heller is a true execution-driven entrepreneur of the digital economy who knows how to start a company from scratch and grow it successfully. Since the beginning of 2017, he is Founder & CEO of FinCompare and before had the same role at Watchmaster (a digital marketplace for buying and selling luxury watches that has secured a total of 16m€ in funding). Prior to founding his own companies, Stephan worked at well-known startup Groupon in various roles. As Head of Merchant Marketing & Inbound Sales EMEA helped Groupon to grow tremendously in Europe. After university, he first started his career at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants from where he was recruited by Rocket Internet to join Groupon. Stephan holds a Master in Management degree from ESCP Europe and is active as an Angel Investor (e.g. in Talon.One). He is also a backer of the Founders Pledge.

Based in Berlin, FinCompare is a FinTech startup with the vision to become Europe’s leading financing platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is using technology to offer small businesses and entrepreneurs a convenient one-stop destination for all their financing needs - enabling their clients to find, compare and close financing options from over 200 lenders. Supported by strong investors, the startup has successfully begun to reform the B2B financing market. Having raised 2.5m€ in funding and provided millions of Euros in financial products to their clients already, FinCompare is well on its way with dynamic growth.

In this episode, we are talking to Stephan about his exciting time at Groupon and the crazy stories that one can hear about the startup’s journey in Berlin, why he started FinCompare, and what aspiring entrepreneurs should be aware of when it comes to execution and operations in a young company.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with execution-driven entrepreneur Stephan Heller:

[00:29 – 02:42] Introduction of Stephan and the milestones of his career so far

[02:43 – 04:49] Why Groupon produced so many entrepreneurial talents that went on to start their own companies

[04:50 – 06:24] What made Groupon special when Stephan worked there

[06:25 – 09:24] On the type of stories that happened behind the scenes at Groupon [Listener Question]

[09:25 – 13:02] On Stephan’s journey with Watchmaster and why he left the company [Listener Question]

[13:03 – 16:49] The key entrepreneurial learnings that Stephan had at Watchmaster

[16:50 – 20:15] On the importance of fast-paced execution in a startup

[20:16 – 23:23] How to improve execution skills as a founder for quickly building a company

[23:24 – 27:03] Best practices for structuring the early operations in a startup

[27:04 – 30:25] On how to balance fast-paced execution with building a great team culture [Listener Question]

[30:26 – 35:03] Why Stephan switched from E-Commerce to FinTech when founding FinCompare

[35:04 – 36:36] Open job positions at FinCompare and ways to get in touch

[36:37 – 39:28] Stephan’s best pieces of advice to aspiring founders

Alexander Frolov on increasing your chances of getting funded by a VC like Target Global

Alexander Frolov on increasing your chances of getting funded by a VC like Target Global

November 29, 2017

Alexander „Alex“ Frolov is a truly pan-European entrepreneur and venture capital investor. Originally from Russia, he has spent the last five years building up the international VC firm Target Global, which is a comprehensive family of funds and offers investments and support to companies of all stages (from seed to growth). With offices in Berlin, Tel Aviv and Moscow, the company covers the European startup market in great depth - but also bridges the local and US startup scene by having an additional office in San Francisco. Target Global focuses primarily on fast-growing digital-enabled B2C and B2B companies in marketplaces, FinTech, software and mobile segments. The VC firm aims to identify and support great teams that execute on phenomenal opportunities to create true success stories. Since 2012, Target Global has invested into more than 40 startups and currently has more than $500 million in assets under management. Well-known companies like Delivery Hero, Blue Apron, Book A TIGER and Auto1 belong to Target Global’s portfolio.

As a General Partner, Alex works on all aspects of the VC business and tries to create sustainable returns on investment and support startup success cases alike. Prior to joining Target Global, he worked at the VC firm DFJ Esprit in London and led several private and corporate tech startups himself. Alex started his career as an analyst at Troika Dialog Asset Management, where he covered the telecom and IT sectors.

In this episode, we are talking to Alex about what makes Target Global unique as a VC, the questions that he asks startups when they seek funding, how entrepreneurs can impress him during an investment pitch, what current industry trends he sees in the European startup scene and what people might not know about the tech scene in Russia.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with international venture capital investor Alexander Frolov:

[01:25 – 02:19] Introduction of Alex and his professional background

[02:20 – 04:14] On the founding story behind Target Global

[04:15 – 05:04] The one thing that people don’t know about Alex

[05:05 – 06:49] What Alex fundamentally disagrees on with other people

[06:50 – 08:52] On Target Global’s ‚unfair advantage‘ as a VC

[08:53 - 10:08] On the definition of the term „hustler“

[10:09 - 12:07] How Target Global assesses if a founder has what it takes to be successful

[12:08 - 12:52] On Delivery Hero being Target’s most successful exit to date

[12:53 - 15:14] The ‚secret sauce‘ for Delivery Hero’s success

[15:15 - 18:01] How the founders of their portfolio companies convinced the Target team to invest

[18:02 - 22:38] On the investment into Hello Fresh’s US rival Blue Apron

[22:39 - 23:38] Alex’ view on Amazon being a threat to e-commerce startups

[23:39 - 27:33] Target’s screening process for identifying opportunities and making investments

[27:34 - 29:14] How long it takes on average from an introduction to transferring the money for an investment

[29:15 - 30:46] On the KPIs that Target Global uses to measure its own performance

[30:47 - 31:12] One question that founders teams should be prepared for to answer during a pitch

[31:13 - 34:23] Target’s operational involvement in their portfolio companies

[34:24 - 36:54] How entrepreneurs can ‚wow‘ Alex during an investment pitch

[36:55 - 38:39] Alex’ worst investment decision as a VC

[38:40 - 39:44] The best advice that was given to Alex as a VC

[39:45 - 41:54] The promising industries that Alex himself would found a startup in

[41:55 - 44:30] What people don’t know about the Russian startup scene

Roman Kirsch on his exit with Casacanda to and building Lesara at high speed

Roman Kirsch on his exit with Casacanda to and building Lesara at high speed

November 15, 2017

Roman Kirsch is one of the exceptional talents in the German startup scene. After graduating from business school, he started Casacanda in 2011 and sold it to after only six months at a presumed valuation of $10m. After leaving Fab, he started his second e-commerce startup Lesara in 2013 - at the time being only 25 years old. As a digital store for trendy fashion and lifestyle products that is able to identify trends online and to manufacture and ship new products accordingly within only ten days, Lesara is successfully disrupting the fashion industry. The startup delivers latest brand quality products at unbeatable prices, making exclusive fashion and lifestyle trends affordable and available to everyone. Lesara is active in 24 countries and reaches 1.5m active clients with its 100,000 listed products. The company has by now raised funding of 55m€ - among others from well-known VCs like Mangrove Capital Partners, Vorwerk Ventures, Cherry Ventures and Northzone.

In our episode, we are talking with Roman about his lessons learned from Casacanda's exit and building up Lesara at high speed. Roman explains how he and his team managed to start and sell Casacanda within just six months and why company culture is an important factor for Lesara’s growth and competitive advantage. He also shares his view on the current trends in the e-commerce space and gives insightful advice to aspiring founders.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with e-commerce expert and fashion industry disruptor Roman Kirsch:

[00:59 – 01:33] Introduction of Roman and his background

[01:34 – 03:02] Who the entrepreneur behind Lesara is in his private life

[03:03 – 04:38] What Roman fundamentally disagrees on with other people

[04:39 – 08:55] On the behind-the-scenes process of selling Casacanda to

[08:56 – 10:44] What founders should be aware of when they try to sell their business

[10:45 – 13:31] On the decline of

[13:32 – 17:58] The disruptive concept of Lesara explained

[17:59 – 19:25] Advice on how to create a great company culture

[19:26 – 21:30] On the challenges of setting up a team in China [Listener Question]

[21:31 – 23:41] How Roman structures his work day and how that has changed over time [Listener Question]

[23:42 – 25:23] On Lesara’s 45m€ investment into an own distribution centre in Germany

[25:24 – 26:26] On the VC funding raised by Lesara and the startup’s exit potential [Listener Question]

[26:27 – 28:12] Current e-commerce trends with big future potential

[28:13 – 30:25] What to consider when creating an e-commerce company nowadays [Listener Question]

[30:26 – 32:00] Roman’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and first-time founders

Claude Ritter on his journey as a founder and his criteria for early-stage investments

Claude Ritter on his journey as a founder and his criteria for early-stage investments

October 27, 2017

Claude Ritter is one of Germany’s online entrepreneurs who can be labelled as to have been quite successful in his career so far. He co-founded online food delivery startup Lieferheld in 2010, which was later sold to the widely known Delivery Hero Group. At Delivery Hero, Claude served as CPO and was in charge of global product and engineering. Law suits, police raids and almost getting into fist fights with his rivals at other Berlin-based food delivery startups were part of that job experience - having him go through extremely tough times and fierce competition while trying to make it as a founder. Prior to his work in the online food delivery market, Claude had already been active as an entrepreneur - he started Aionics (a Swiss-based web agency) and co-founded two companies (The NetCircle, DUQI) in China where he lived for 5 years.

In 2014, Claude started his latest venture: As co-founder & CPO of Book A Tiger, he is working on digitalizing the cleaning service market ever since. Besides this, he also is a Partner at Cavalry Ventures, a Berlin based (pre-)seed fund, and invests into early-stage startups as a business angel.

In this episode, we discuss Claude’s journey and his learnings as an entrepreneur so far, how to start a startup and his work on Book A Tiger. During our very insightful conversation, Claude gives advice for aspiring founders, answers some of our listeners’ questions, talks about mistakes and also describes his criteria for investing into early-stage startups as a business angel.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with serial entrepreneur and angel investor Claude Ritter:

[01:20 - 03:33] Claude’s background and the steps of his career as an entrepreneur so far

[03:34 - 04:10] Why he disagrees that you can learn to be a founder

[04:11 - 06:19] On the fierce competition in the online food delivery market in Germany in the early 2010’s

[06:20 - 07:19] What made Lieferheld and Lieferando both a success after all

[07:20 - 08:14] How the competition in digitalizing the moving services industry today is only a somewhat similar situation

[08:15 - 09:39 ] On the key moments and actions that defined Lieferheld’s successful journey

[09:40 - 11:57] The difference between BOOK A TIGER and its competitor Helpling

[11:58 - 12:45] The competitive advantage that BOOK A TIGER has by employing their cleaners directly

[12:46 - 14:45] What Claude would do differently if he started over with a new company again

[14:46 - 16:49] Claude’s advice on how to choose your first job in the startup industry [Listener Question]

[16:50 - 18:02] Why he would not want to work in the FinTech industry

[18:03 - 20:08] How business school graduates should get started if they want to found a company

[20:09 - 22:45] How to identify promising markets and business models

[22:46 - 23:21] The most common mistake that young founders make over and over again

[23:22 - 25:21] How founders can ‘wow’ Claude as an investor during a pitch

[25:22 - 27:08] The best way to get in touch with Claude for pitching your idea to him

[27:09 - 29:26] His advice on when to best contact potential buyers for exiting your company [Listener Question]

[29:27 - 30:33] Claude’s most successful investment to date [Listener Question]

[30:34 - 32:29] The most important advice he can give to aspiring founders

[32:30 - 34:41] Open job positions at BOOK A TIGER

Niklas Jansen on how Blinkist built an inspiring high-performance startup culture

Niklas Jansen on how Blinkist built an inspiring high-performance startup culture

October 18, 2017

Niklas Jansen co-founded one of the hottest companies in Berlin. His startup Blinkist summarizes the key insights of over 2,500 bestselling non-fiction books in short 15-minute reads and audio format. With this idea that resulted from a personal problem (Niklas and his co-founders wanted to read more books but just didn’t have the time to read them completely), Blinkist has raised over 15 million US$ from German and international VCs (, Greycroft Partners) and already reached over 3 million users all around the world.

Apart from its impressive growth, Blinkist is known for its outstanding company culture. On Glassdoor and on Niklas’ personal LinkedIn profile, you can find comments like “I love going to work every morning” and “This environment helped me to explode in terms of personal development”.

In this episode, we accordingly dive deeply into the topic of “company culture” with Niklas being the architect of Blinkist’s HR philosophy. We talk about why culture is so important for Blinkist, how they measure it and how the startup’s culture impacts hiring and firing.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with successful ‘startup culture’ expert Niklas Jansen:

[01:05 - 03:12] On Blinkist and the founding story behind it

[03:13 - 06:04] How Niklas as a founder of Blinkist defines “company culture”

[06:05 - 10:36] Why culture is so important for Blinkist and how the founders came up with theirs

[10:37 - 12:36] How the company culture at Blinkist is managed

[12:37 - 15:10] The KPIs that Niklas and his team use to manage their company culture

[15:11 - 17:36 ] On the importance of being intentional about culture to be successful as a company

[17:37 - 19:30] How culture influences business decisions like hiring

[19:31 - 22:38] How Blinkist executes the importance of its culture during its hiring process

[22:39 - 24:14] What it means when ‘everyone owns the culture’ in a startup

[24:15 - 27:41] Niklas’ view and best practices on firing decisions

[27:42 - 31:12] How Blinkist fosters personal development among its employees

[31:13 - 34:03] On how to to give feedback the right way

[34:04 - 35:37] Open job positions at Blinkist and tips on how to apply

Sebastian Diemer on FinTech, Bitcoin and taking risks as an entrepreneur

Sebastian Diemer on FinTech, Bitcoin and taking risks as an entrepreneur

October 4, 2017

Sebastian Diemer is one of the rockstars within the European startup scene. As one of the founders of Kreditech, he helped to shape the continent’s FinTech scene for years to come by creating a real-time scoring technology that enables 100% automatized, scaleable and big data-based scoring decisions worldwide and 24/7. After leaving the company in 2015, he went on to found his next FinTech startup Finiata, which is an automated European lending platform with the purpose to finance small businesses and freelancers. Supported by leading VCs (Point9, DN Capital, Fly Ventures and RedAlpine), the startup is currently growing at a monthly rate of 80%.

With Kreditech’s latest financing round of 110m EUR in May 2017, Sebastian eventually also made his personal exit as a shareholder from the company. Being a true entrepreneur by passion, he is using his personal success also to support other founders. As Founding Investor, he helps to build up Digitalkasten - a niche SaaS business that digitalises physical mail and quickly became profitable. Business school-trained, he also invests into cryptos and bricks.

In this episode, Sebastian discusses ‘everything FinTech’ from founding Kreditech to Bitcoin, explains why speed in execution matters, gives tons of advice for aspiring founders and describes why he wishes he would have read the book ‘The Lean Startup’ earlier.

Here is the full list of topics that we cover with FinTech and execution expert Sebastian Diemer:

[00:29 – 05:56] On the different stages of his career so far

[05:57 – 12:14] His learnings from Kreditech and what he is doing differently now with Finiata

[12:15 – 15:46] On Finiata’s service and its vision

[15:47 – 22:15] The impact that a ‘AAA’-rated investor like Peter Thiel has on a startup

[22:16 – 27:36] On the importance of execution skills and ways how to improve them

[27:37 – 31:25] Best practices to structure early operations in a startup

[31:26 – 36:52] On Bitcoin and Blockchain

[36:53 – 41:10] Sebastian’s advice for taking risks as an entrepreneur when you are looking for growth opportunities

[41:11 – 44:50] Open job positions at the companies that he is involved in

Luis Hanemann on online marketing, growth and influencers

Luis Hanemann on online marketing, growth and influencers

September 20, 2017

Luis Hanemann is without a doubt one of the biggest names in the European startup scene when it comes to online marketing and growth. Since 2015, he is a partner at venture capital firm Based in the VC’s Berlin office, he develops and implements strategic growth initiatives and provides operational support for portfolio companies around the world to ensure their competitive advantage. As a global VC firm, invests in early stage and growth stage emerging technology companies across the US, Europe, China and Brazil. The portfolio of includes well-known startups like Azimo, Groupon and Angie’s List.

Prior to, Luis served as Chief Marketing Officer at German online startups giant Rocket Internet. While at Rocket, he helped to identify and build proven Internet business models, which were then transferred to new, underserved or untapped markets where he scaled them into leading online companies.

Before joining Rocket Internet as CMO on a global level, Luis worked for several e-commerce companies like smava and eDarling and also managed own web projects. During his time at Rocket, he additionally founded the online marketing agency Trust Agents, which he still is a Partner of. Given his broad experience, Luis is a regular speaker at industry conferences in the fields of digitalization, internationalization and digital marketing.

In this episode, Luis talks about ‘everything online marketing’ - giving advice on SEO, sharing his view on the current trend of influencer marketing and answering some of our listeners' questions. He also describes why being a VC is a privilege and shares his learnings from each stage of his career so far with lots of tips for aspiring founders. 

Friedrich A. Neuman on building companies and making ideas work

Friedrich A. Neuman on building companies and making ideas work

September 6, 2017

As founder & CEO of the company builder MAKERS, Friedrich A. Neuman truly knows how to start and scale companies and take ideas ‘from zero to one’. Originally from Brazil, he came to Europe at the beginning of his twenties to study Business & Economics in Switzerland. Afterwards, he moved on to Berlin where quickly started to make a name for himself as a serial entrepreneur. Among others, he joined Rocket Internet and co-founded the social gifting platform Dropgifts in early 2012. In the same year, he went on to found e-commerce marketing platform Run a Shop that generates a gross merchandise value of $1bn by now. In 2013, he eventually decided to focus his entrepreneurial spirit within MAKERS, helping other aspiring entrepreneurs to found startups ever since.

Makers is a Berlin-based investor and company builder that builds and invests in tech startups, offering an ecosystem where founders can focus on shipping early product versions quickly. The company builder gives founders access to seed capital, office space, startup incorporation & accounting, software development, marketing & communications, recruiting & HR and product design.

In this episode, Friedrich talks about how MAKERS works and identifies companies it would like to support, the challenges of a company builder, exciting industries and the qualities of great founders.

Olaf Jacobi on the 3 T’s of startup success

Olaf Jacobi on the 3 T’s of startup success

August 23, 2017

Olaf Jacobi is a textbook example of a VC. For eight years, he was a partner and co-owner of Munich-based venture capital firm Target Partners. In 2015, he went on to join Capnamic Ventures to build up its Berlin office. With more than 20 years of experience as a manager, entrepreneur and investor, Olaf has invested in emerging entrepreneurs in the Internet and IT sector. Before switching sides and becoming a VC in 2007, he founded and established multiple prosperous startups, which led to several successful exits.

Tim Koschella on AdTech and his learnings from being a serial entrepreneur

Tim Koschella on AdTech and his learnings from being a serial entrepreneur

August 9, 2017

With Tim Koschella, Startup Notes is hosting a true serial entrepreneur. He founded his first company (e-learning video platform Lecturio) in 2008 and has been involved in the startup world ever since. As a founding partner of Berlin-based HitFox Group and co-founder & CEO of AppLift, Tim is a true advertising and online marketing expert who has by now worked with 500+ app companies to acquire users for their apps. It is his goal to enable more efficient and beautiful mobile ad experiences for publishers, users and advertisers alike through AdTech products in the mobile ecosystem. His company AppLift is a leading mobile ad tech company that empowers mobile app advertisers to take control of every stage of the app marketing lifecycle. The HitFox Group is a fast-growing platform for entrepreneurship. Its team builds digital companies together with exceptional entrepreneurs on a global scale. The company’s announced growth markets are Digital Advertising, Big Data and FinTech. In this episode, Tim shares the ups and downs of his path as an entrepreneur so far, talks about bad investor advice, emphasizes on being patient when it comes to hiring the right people and also talks about his companies AppLift and HitFox Group in more detail.

Sebastian Stricker on ShareTheMeal and why the golden era of social entrepreneurship is now

Sebastian Stricker on ShareTheMeal and why the golden era of social entrepreneurship is now

July 26, 2017

As the founder of ShareTheMeal, Sebastian Stricker is a true role model entrepreneur. One that does not put profit first though - but a social cause by trying to fight global hunger. Together with the United Nations World Food Programme, ShareTheMeal enables people to ‘share their meals’ with those in need in different places of the world. Being the first truly mobile non-profit fundraising app, the users of ShareTheMeal can donate €0.40, which is the global average cost of feeding one child for one day. Founded in 2014, ShareTheMeal has provided millions of meals to people in need and received numerous awards, including Google’s Best Apps 2015 collection and the Lead Award 2015 for Startup of the Year in Germany. Sebastian started his professional career as a consultant for The Boston Consulting Group. Later on, he worked for the Clinton Foundation and the United Nations World Food Programme before starting ShareTheMeal during a sabbatical. In this episode, Sebastian talks about his learnings throughout his career so far, people that impress him, the startup story behind ShareTheMeal, why it is the golden era of doing good through social entrepreneurship and also remembers us that living in Europe is a privilege. Content of the podcast: [01:06 – 03:01] On the milestones of his professional life until now [03:02 – 06:11] The key learnings during the different milestones of his career before starting ShareTheMeal [06:12 – 07:31] The most inspiring people he met so far in his career [07:32 – 08:31] What he fundamentally disagrees on with other people [10:28 – 09:59] One thing that people get wrong about the donation market [10:00 – 10:35] On ShareTheMeal and the positive impact it has made over the years [10:36 – 12:02] His vision for ShareTheMeal and other social projects beyond [12:03 – 13:35] The spark that led to founding ShareTheMeal [13:36 – 14:24] On the collaboration with the UN World Food Programme [14:25 – 15:05] The marketing channels that were most successful for growing ShareTheMeal [15:06 – 16:14] His view on the market of social entrepreneurship [16:15 – 16:42] On VCs and accelerators that focus on social entrepreneurship [16:43 – 17:53] Why it is not a contradiction to build a successful startup and ‘doing good’ at the same time [17:54 – 19:31] What he is doing differently now with his new social startup than with ShareTheMeal [19:32 – 21:36] On interesting use cases and business opportunities for social entrepreneurship [21:37 – 23:12] On different approaches to found a social startup [23:13 – 23:44] The best advice that he was given as a founder [23:45 – 24:59] The best advice that he can give to aspiring founders [25:00 – 26:12] Open job positions at ShareTheMeal [26:13 – 27:17] EXTRA: The jogging route he took through Rome when he came up with the idea for ShareTheMeal

Uwe Horstmann on the qualities of exceptional founders and the elements of startup success

Uwe Horstmann on the qualities of exceptional founders and the elements of startup success

July 10, 2017

Uwe Horstmann is truly one of the big names of the German startup scene. In 2012, he founded Project A Ventures, an operational VC firm that invests in tech startups in Europe and around the world. In his function as a Partner, he is responsible for dealflow, product and IT. Before founding Project A Ventures, he was a senior manager at well-known company builder Rocket Internet since its start in 2007. He served as Rocket’s Managing Director from 2009-2012, focusing primarily on international rollouts. Being engaged in the support of NGOs like Oxfam and working on his PhD thesis in Entrepreneurship, Uwe is actively sharing his knowledge outside his daily work. In 2016, he was named to Forbes’ Europe ’30 Under 30’ list. Based in Berlin and Sao Paulo, Project A Ventures has assets under management with a total value of 260m€. With a focus on digital technologies, the VC has invested into more than 45 startups, including companies like Catawiki, Tictail and ZenMate. In addition to financial assistance, its team of 100 experts also support its portfolio companies operationally with e.g. software development, performance marketing and business intelligence. In this episode, Uwe Horstmann talks about how his career evolved, his work as an operational VC, key qualities of successful founders, the competitive edge a company can gain through ’hyper learning mode’ and why luck is an essential part of startup success.

Jasper Masemann on how to build a successful company from the VC perspective

Jasper Masemann on how to build a successful company from the VC perspective

June 28, 2017

Jasper Masemann is Principal at one of Germany’s most iconic Venture Capital firms - Holtzbrinck Ventures. Like many founders and VCs before him, Jasper first worked in consulting learning the ropes of the business world before starting his own company. He founded and served as CEO for, a leading text production platform facilitating copywriting in 18 languages for thousands of renown clients worldwide. In 2015, he joined Holtzbrinck Ventures where he continues his work of being a business angel for years and as a VC helps founders to achieve their companies’ growth potential. Holtzbrinck Ventures is known for having identified and invested in some of Germany’s most successful online startups early on like Zalando and FlixBus. As one of the most successful European venture capital firms, with more than € 735m under management, it has been supporting exceptional founders in building market-leading internet companies for over 16 years. In this episode, Jasper talks about his work as a VC, shares great tips for founders that are seeking funding, explains why Zeitgold as one of his latest investments is an exciting role model for other startups and tells where he sees the current development of the European startup scene heading towards to.

Benedikt Franke on his entrepreneurial learnings that led to founding Helpling

Benedikt Franke on his entrepreneurial learnings that led to founding Helpling

June 13, 2017

Benedikt Franke is an alumni of Rocket Internet’s ‘golden generation’ that successfully accelerated digital entrepreneurship in Germany by the end of the 2000s. For Rocket, he worked as Head of HR and as COO for its venture MyCityDeal. Afterwards, Benedikt founded the Latin American Media Group, which he sold in 2013. Eight years after he entered the startup world, Benedikt is working with Oliver Samwer again. This time by founding Helpling - one of Europe’s leading startups that successfully digitalizes the old-fashioned cleaning and home services industry.

With Helpling, customers can book a vetted and insured home service provider and gain back time that they would spend on chores within just a couple of clicks. For the professional home service providers, the innovative online platform makes it easier than ever to find new clients and to manage when and where they want to work. Helpling has raised more than €70M from acclaimed investors such as Rocket Internet, Point Nine Capital and Lakestar. In 2015, Helpling acquired its UK competitor Hassle for €32M and recently successfully re-branded it to Helpling.

In this episode, Benedikt talks about the fast-paced learning experience he had when he began his startup journey at Rocket Internet in 2009, how to make it work when you found a company with a close friend, why you should email Oliver Samwer and the next steps for Helpling.

Antonio García Martínez on the obscene startup world in Silicon Valley

Antonio García Martínez on the obscene startup world in Silicon Valley

May 31, 2017

In this episode, Startup Notes has a special guest from Silicon Valley: Antonio García Martínez. Antonio has been an advisor to Twitter, one of the first product managers on Facebook’s ad team, and the CEO/founder of AdGrok (a venture-backed AdTech startup that participated in Y Combinator and was later acquired by Twitter). More recently, he became known to a wider audience as the author of the New York Times bestseller “Chaos Monkeys”, in which he shares his experiences in the tech world and gives a behind-the-scenes look of Facebook and the supposedly ‘illustrious’ startup culture in Silicon Valley.

In this interview with Startup Notes, Antonio makes a deep dive and talks about what the culture in Silicon Valley is actually like, what makes Facebook special as a company and why he thinks the increasing automatization that gets accelerated by tech startups is a major threat to society. Lastly, he also gives advice on how startup founders can increase their chances to make it into the famous Y Combinator accelerator.

Are you interested to hear more about his views on startups and why you should not split the equity equally between founders when starting a company? Check out Startup Notes’ 1-hour video interview with him from 2015 on YouTube:

Robert Wetzker on making the jump from science to the startup world

Robert Wetzker on making the jump from science to the startup world

May 16, 2017

Robert Wetzker is the Founder & CEO of Aklamio. Started in 2011, the company is today Europe’s technology leader in referral marketing with more than 3,000 brands using their services, generating sales uplifts of 20 percent and more. Aklamio’s technology enables customers to refer their friends via any number of next-gen tools, from social networks like Facebook and Twitter to mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp. In a previous interview, Robert stated that he would have liked to become a Professor for Robotics. But having completed his Doctoral Thesis about “Graph-based Recommendation” and worked as a Freelance Data Analyst for a short time, he chose the entrepreneurial path instead. With its services Aklamio is now on its way to bypass the thousands of branded advertising messages that consumers are exposed to each day by leveraging the natural tendency towards person-to-person sharing. Having gone through the learnings of an entrepreneur in the last years, Robert has some unique insights to share. In this episode, he describes why it is important to find one good investor, why you should focus on your core product early on and why you should think twice about who to start a company with.

Christoph Gerber on staying humble and hungry even after a big exit

Christoph Gerber on staying humble and hungry even after a big exit

May 3, 2017

Christoph Gerber, is one of the smartest, humblest and most down-to-earth founders in the Berlin startup scene. In 2009, together with Jörg Gerbig and Kai Hansen, he started Lieferando - one of the first online food delivery startups in Germany. For ca. 5 years Lieferando went into an aggressive and controversial competition with Delivery Hero that included 30 lawsuits, police raids and DoS attacks. In 2014, Christoph sold Lieferando for more than €50M to the dutch Takeaway Group, which went public in September 2016 for an almost $1B valuation. Now, Christoph starts from scratch again, founding Talon.One, a Software-as-a-Service company with a powerful API that enables businesses to create, manage and analyze promotional marketing campaigns. In this episode, Christoph shares how hard it was to be one of the founders of Lieferando and why there is so much luck involved in success cases like theirs. He also explains why great entrepreneurs are the ones that won't quit and will keep on pushing even when the road gets rocky. Finally, he shares his advice to entrepreneurs to not let business take over who they are and to always keep the right balance in life.

Philipp Pausder on founding a company with a mission for positive climate impact

Philipp Pausder on founding a company with a mission for positive climate impact

April 19, 2017

Philipp Pausder is the co-founder of Thermondo, an energy company that provides smart and clean heating systems. By now, the company has raised more than €35M from respected investors such as Rocket Internet, Holtzbrinck Ventures and the energy corporation E.ON. Thermondo is definitely one of the most disruptive startups in Berlin. Employing themselves more than 300 tradesman in 50 different locations in Germany, the company internally manages the whole process of the HVAC exchange – from lead generation, sales, leasing or financing, installation to after-sales. Besides its complex business model, Thermondo has become the largest installer of heating solutions in Germany, saving more than 6000 tons of CO2 emissions and growing by average yearly rate of 638%. In this episode, Philipp shares how being a professional basketball player for 15 years has shaped his management style, why vertical integration is the key to an outstanding customer experience and why the complexity of today’s business models requires teams to stay self-critical and to pivot quickly. (Photo Credits:

Julian Riedlbauer on founding a startup with high exit potential

Julian Riedlbauer on founding a startup with high exit potential

April 5, 2017

Julian Riedlbauer has 20+ years experience in entrepreneurship. After building up extensive M&A experience on the sell- and buy-side as an entrepreneur, Julian founded the M&A boutique “Pure Equity Advisors”, which was acquired by GP Bullhound. Today, Julian Riedlbauer is Partner and Head of German Office at GP Bullhound, which is an investment bank focused on providing advice on M&A and institutional capital raising in the technology sector. GP Bullhound has completed over 210 transactions for many category leaders such as Signavio or Delivery Hero and has offices in San Francisco, London, Stockholm and Berlin. In this episode, Julian shares the traits of the high-level entrepreneurs he encounters every day, one key learning he achieved after gaining 20+ years experience in the entrepreneurship world as well his best advices to first-time founders on how to start a company with high exit potential.

Christian Miele on the status of digitization in Germany

Christian Miele on the status of digitization in Germany

March 22, 2017

Christian Miele is one of the most respected startup experts in Germany. From sketching out a business plan on a napkin to preparing a startup for an IPO, Christian is experienced in all stages of a company. While building a VC fund for Bertelsmann in India, he met Oliver Samwer, who convinced him to join Rocket Internet’s Global Venture Development elite team to roll out Westwing and Payleven. In 2012 he founded Todaytickets (sold to competitor Ticketea) and in 2014 he led the international expansion of Kreditech. Currently, Christian is a Principal at, one of the leading VCs globally. invests in early stage companies across the USA, South America, Europe and Asia. In this episode, Christian shares his secrets on how to “wow” a VC during an investment pitch, his opinion on the status of digitalization in Germany and why he thinks humbleness is one of most important traits in a founder.

Hans Stier on how to start a successful crowdfunding campaign

Hans Stier on how to start a successful crowdfunding campaign

March 7, 2017

Hans Stier is the founder of one of Germany’s biggest crowdfunding successes, Bonaverde. With their revolutionary concept of the world’s first roast-grind-brew coffee machine, Hans and his team raised over $2M from crowdfunding investors on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Seedmatch. After shipping the first 300 machines to beta-testers last month, Bonaverde managed to secure another $2M from such prominent investors like former StudiVZ CEO Michael Brehm. In this interview Hans Stier shares how Bonaverde wants to decommoditize coffee and empower coffee farmers all around the world

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