The Female Founder Session at the Centre for Entrepreneurship

After researching and discussing the omnipresent topic about gender diversity and women quotes in boards of directors at the Centre for Entrepreneurship, it was time to start a new project. Startup@HSG has therefore successfully launched their newest initiative: The Female Founder Session.

The goal is to have a Female Founder Session once or twice a semester and to enable a panel discussion for the female entrepreneurship spirit at the University of St. Gallen. Having many female students interested in the topic at HSG, it gives a great platform to learn about the experiences, difficulties and opportunities of being an entrepreneur themselves. It aims to give room for conversations and discussions around the topic of female entrepreneurship.

The very first female founder session took place on the 28th of October in a casual and intimate matter. Approximately 20 students met in the MakerSpace to discuss current topics all around female entrepreneurship. Our inspiring panellists Anne Grassler from FelFel and Edith Infanger from Infanger Consulting were able to give the students an insight into being a successful female entrepreneur. Additionally, Sarah Nordt from Sanoge by Snordtmade was able to share her experience of being a young entrepreneur and founding her very own startup during her studies recently. All three referents have given insightful inputs for our guests and stayed for a great networking apero.

We are looking forward to many more Female Founder Sessions at the University of St. Gallen and to reach even more students. For updates follow our website: https://www.startuphsg.com/female-founder-session/


Schon die zweite Frau im Verwaltungsrat kann die «Boys' Club Culture» kippen

Forschung am Lehrstuhl für Entrepreneurship der Universität St.Gallen zeigt, dass das Minoritätsverhältnis der Frauen im Verwaltungsrat junger Unternehmen nachteilig sein kann. Das Überraschende: Schon mit einer ersten Erhöhung des Anteils, also der zweiten Frau im Verwaltungsrat, sind die Vorteile der Geschlechtervielfalt spürbar. Vermutet wird, dass sich Diskussionen und Entscheidungen von einer rein männlich geprägten Kultur lösen können. Diese Ergebnisse basieren auf der Analyse von jungen Unternehmen – Startups –, die eine Risikokapitalfinanzierung erhalten haben. Dabei zeigt sich, dass ein ausgewogeneres Verhältnis zwischen Mann und Frau im Verwaltungsrat positive Effekte auf die Unternehmensperformance hat, zum Beispiel in dem Netzwerkeffekte besser genutzt werden. Die Resultate erklären sich durch eine erhöhte Anerkennung konträrer Meinungen und durch das Aufbrechen einer reinen «Boys' Club Culture» bei Paritätsverhältnissen im Verwaltungsrat.

Dies und mehr zeigt die wissenschaftliche Arbeit mit dem Titel «Venture Capital And The Effects Of Gender Diversity In New Venture Board Interlocks», welche dieses Jahr an der Konferenz der Academy of Management in Boston in die Best Paper Proceedings (beste zehn Prozent der Papers) aufgenommen wurde und die demnächst veröffentlicht wird.

(Hess, Manuel; Sirén, Charlotta; Wincent, Joakim; Grichnik, Dietmar.2019.Venture Capital And The Effects Of Gender Diversity In New Venture Board Interlocks.In Guclu Atinc (Ed.),Proceedings of the Seventy-ninth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management.Online ISSN: 2151-6561).


«HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2019» – Wertschöpfung erneut erhöht

76 zumeist jungen Firmen, bei denen HSGlerinnen und HSGler an der Gründung beteiligt waren, haben 2018 mehr als 150 Millionen Franken Umsatz erzielt und seit ihrer Gründung über 3500 Stellen geschaffen. In der Region St.Gallen tragen 22 Unternehmen das Spin-Off Label der Universität St.Gallen, wie das «HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2019» zeigt.

Seit 2017 können sich Unternehmen, die aus dem Umfeld der Universität St.Gallen gegründet worden sind, um das «HSG Spin-Off Label» bewerben. Wer ein bereits erfolgreich etabliertes Unternehmen betreibt oder wer mit seinem Startup seit mindestens zwölf Monaten am Markt ist, kann beim Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE-HSG) einen Antrag für das Gütesiegel stellen. Das HSG Spin-Off Label ist begehrt: Bis im März 2019 waren 122 Unternehmen mit dem Label ausgezeichnet worden. 22 davon haben ihren Hauptsitz in der Stadtregion St.Gallen, 4 weitere sind in den Kantonen St.Gallen, Thurgau, Schaffhausen und Graubünden ansässig, 67 in der restlichen Schweiz, 29 im Ausland. Die aktuelle Liste der Unternehmen mit HSG Spin-Off Label findet sich auf der Webseite des CfE-HSG.

Direkter Beitrag zur regionalen Wertschöpfung in der Ostschweiz

Das CfE-HSG führte im Frühling 2019 die zweite Erhebung zum HSG Spin-Off Barometer durch, an welcher 76 Unternehmen mit dem HSG Spin-Off Label teilgenommen haben. Diese Umfrage ergab, dass die grösste Gruppe der HSG Spin-Offs (40) ihren Hauptsitz im Raum Zürich hat. Zudem ist die Zahl der HSG Spin-Offs mit Standort in der Region St.Gallen, nämlich 22, überproportional hoch. Erkenntnisse aus der Entrepreneurship-Forschung zeigen, dass universitäre Spin-Offs regionales Wachstum fördern. Dies bestätigt sich dadurch, dass überdurchschnittlich viele Spin-Offs der HSG sich in St.Gallen selbst niederlassen und so einen direkten Beitrag zur regionalen Wertschöpfung leisten.

Hälfte aller Gründerinnen und Gründer aus der HSG sind «Serientäter»

Von den 76 befragten HSG-Unternehmerinnen und -Unternehmern gaben 36 an, neben ihrem Unternehmen mit HSG Spin-Off Label noch mindestens eine zusätzliche Firma gegründet zu haben. Somit sind fast die Hälfte der Spin-Off Gründerinnen und Gründer sogenannte «Serial Entrepreneure». Und das erfolgreich: 81% der zusätzlich gegründeten Unternehmen sind noch aktiv. Bei 64% der Unternehmen sind die Gründerinnen und Gründer noch geschäftlich involviert. Dass es sich um erfolgreiche Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer handelt, zeigt auch ein Ranking des Wirtschaftsmagazins «Bilanz»: In den Top 10 der erfolgreichsten «Digital Shapers» in der Kategorie «Serial Entrepreneurs» sind mit Marc Degen (modum.io), Adrian Locher (DeinDeal, Merantix), Dorian Selz (Namics) und Tobias Reichmuth (SUSI Partners) vier Gründer von HSG Spin-Offs vertreten.

HSG Spin-Offs wachsen überdurchschnittlich

Des Weiteren ergab die Studie, dass 75% der HSG Spin-Offs ihren Umsatz innerhalb eines Jahres mindestens um 11% steigern konnten. 30% konnten ihren Umsatz innerhalb eines Jahres sogar verdoppeln. Zudem stellten die HSG Spin-Offs im vergangenen Jahr 2018 im Durchschnitt 14 neue Mitarbeitende ein. Das durchschnittliche Wachstum der Anzahl der Beschäftigten betrug 65%. Gemäss dem «Swiss Startup Radar 2018/2019» beträgt das durchschnittliche Beschäftigungswachstum von Schweizer Startups in den ersten zehn Jahren 6.7% pro Jahr und in den darauffolgenden zehn Jahren 13.6% pro Jahr. Somit war das durchschnittliche Wachstum von HSG Spin-Offs im vergangenen Jahr deutlich höher als bei nicht-universitären Schweizer Startups über zehn Jahre.

Entscheidende Unterstützung durch Startup@HSG und die Universität St.Gallen

Mehr als ein Drittel der 76 befragten Spin-Offs der Universität St.Gallen hat in ihrer Gründungsphase die Unterstützung der Initiative Startup@HSG des Center for Entrepreneurship der HSG genutzt, welche die erste Anlaufstelle für Startups und Unternehmertum an der Universität St.Gallen ist. Die durchschnittliche Zufriedenheit der Nutzerinnen und Nutzer betrug dabei 8 von 10 Punkten. Auch andere Studien zeigen, dass universitäre Frühförderung von Startups zum späteren Erfolg am Markt beiträgt. Zum Angebot von Startup@HSG gehören Coaching, Büroräume, Veranstaltungen und vieles mehr für HSG Startups und solche, die es werden wollen. Seit 2018 gibt es auch den St.Galler Startup Navigator. Die an der Universität St.Gallen entwickelte Methode begleitet angehende Unternehmerinnen und Unternehmer dabei, ihr Startup Schritt für Schritt erfolgreich in die Tat umzusetzen.

Die vollständigen Resultate des HSG Spin-Off Barometer 2019 sind auf der Webseite des Center for Entrepreneurship (CfE-HSG) einsehbar: https://www.cfe.unisg.ch/for-start-ups/hsg-spin-off-barometer/


Kilian Wagner ist HSG Gründer des Jahres 2019

Während des «START Summit» am Freitag, 22. März 2019, ist Kilian Wagner stellvertretend für das Unternehmen VIU zum «HSG Gründer des Jahres 2019» gekürt worden.

Kilian Wagner hat sich 2013 mit der Gründung von VIU die Aufgabe gestellt, den Brillenmarkt zu revolutionieren. Seine VIU-Brillen werden in der Schweiz gestaltet und anschliessend in einem italienischen Familienbetrieb in den Dolomiten handgefertigt. VIU hat sich seither als Vorreiter im Bereich «Eyewear» etabliert. Im 3D-Druckverfahren stellt die Firma auch die so genannte «Archetypes Collection» aus Polyamidstaub her. VIU bedient in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz mit mehr als 300 Mitarbeitenden über 100'000 Kunden. Ein Markteintritt in Dänemark, Schweden und England ist für 2019 vorgesehen.

In einem dreiminütigen Beitrag berichtete das Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) am 22. März in der Tagesschau über den HSG Gründer des Jahres und das erfolgreiche HSG Spin-Off Label:


"Unternehmer zählen zu den glücklichsten Menschen"

Warum soll ich Unternehmer werden? Welche Umfelder sind besonders förderlich, um eine Firma zu gründen? Und in welchen Branchen gibt es derzeit besonders viel Potenzial für Start-ups? Diese und weitere Fragen hat das HSG Focus Magazin in einem kürzlich veröffentlichten Video-Interview an Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik gestellt.

 


It’s proven that entrepreneurs are among the happiest people in the world

Dietmar Grichnik is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Institute of Technology Management at the University of St.Gallen (HSG). In the interview with the Swiss Startup Group, he talked about happiness and entrepreneurship from a scientific perspective.

Your career is mostly academic. How come you are so interested in entrepreneurship?

Well, the academic part is just one pillar of the qualification actually. I started as a banker and coming from the field of venture capital during my Postdoc time in the US I was infected by the virus of entrepreneurship or in general taking decisions under high uncertainty by the investors and high-tech entrepreneurs. That was quite fascinating and therefore, to figure out what really makes entrepreneurs masters of uncertainty was a main motivator to continue in academia.

Let us look at entrepreneurship from a scientific perspective. What motivates people to become self-employed?

The most important starting point to go into self-employment, worldwide and independent from any kind of culture, is independence, so signing your own declaration of independence. So it does not matter whether you are in the US, in China, Europe, Africa or Latin America. The degree of freedom mainly drives people into entrepreneurship and starting self-employment.

Most people who have ventured into entrepreneurship or self-employment say today that they are very happy with this decision. From your point of view, what are the most important reasons for this?

Actually it is proven by many studies that entrepreneurs are the happiest people in the world, compared to employees at least. So going for your own venture, idea, and developing a business is a great chance to becoming happy because of the direct impact that you feel and receive based on your activities.

Read the entire interview on the Swiss Startup Group Blog.


Look for smart money, not dumb money!

As investors hunt for the next unicorn, you hunt for the right investor. For the funding of your startup, you will always have several options that have their advantages and disadvantages.

Basically, the more innovative and thus often riskier the project is, the more important the financing through equity capital in the form of venture capitalists. That means, an investment by business angels (BAs) and venture capitalists (VCs) through selling shares of your company.

Intuitive alpha animals

BAs are often former entrepreneurs who have made an exit - have sold their company - or retire from a senior leadership position and are thus financially well positioned. Access to BA investments has been greatly simplified by appropriate networks in recent years. Meanwhile, the wealthy private investor also likes to invest in startups as an alternative investment. Unfortunately, this does not always go hand in hand with appropriate startup knowledge and investment know-how. Hence, you can also hit on unprofessional BAs - "look for smart money, not dumb money!" In general, BAs invest in sectors that they understand and have expertise about. In addition to invest in good businesses, researches have shown that BAs are above all interested in working together with young and innovative minds.

»I always invest in the people and the team, trying to evaluate the odds that the founder(s) will succeed. Above all, I rate the character traits, the composition, the motivation and the vision. Second comes the simplicity of the idea. You have to be able to describe it in a few words so that people understand it. Of course, the return opportunities and the innovation factor of the product or idea are decisive. «

Daniel Gutenberg, Business Angel

The professionals

VCs are professional investors who follow a systematic investment process. Unlike BAs, they manage the capital of other investors and institutions and are therefore subject to conditions. They cannot invest in everything and everyone and always scrutinize their investment decisions against the background of their investment strategy. VCs are also not the minivan in which you travel comfortably with lots of luggage around in the trunk. VCs are the sports car that will give you incredible acceleration and get you to a not-too-distant destination with light luggage and assistance systems. Be careful, however, that you do not lose any control while driving.

Exit

At the end of the day, the main interest of every investor is to realize the value added of their investment as part of an exit. In particular, the sale to a competitor, another investment company or an IPO may be considered for such an exit. Here, the investor will once again create a great added value through his experiences and his contacts. Is it difficult to imagine selling your business in five to seven years? Just be aware from the beginning: For investors, this is their primary goal. Think early about your own exit strategy when working with an investor. An exit does not necessarily mean that the journey is over for you. Often the founders stay on board as they are one of the most valuable resources for the continued success of the company.

Learn more about the twentieth module "Deal and Exit" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

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How much money do you need?

The investment is the runway for your startup to take-off successfully. The decisive question is: how much do you need before you earn?

The runway

The capital requirement for your runway is the financial illustration of your roadmap. If, for example, the first milestone is to acquire the first 1,000 customers, you will already be able to make a well-grounded statement on how expensive that is based on your unit economics. If the minimum viable product (MVP) has yet to be developed, one could name the costs incurred here. Start the process systematically and list your (estimated) deposits and withdrawals each month until a specific milestone is potentially reached.

The valuation…

Inevitably, as soon as you start quantifying investments, you need to talk about the valuation of your company. This is often the biggest blind spot for newcomers.

First off: There is no cure-all solution. Startup ratings are negotiable and investors and founders have fundamentally opposite goals: The founder wants to bargain for a high valuation and few shares to sell. The investor just the opposite, if he wants to get on board. However, when he is serious, he will never push the game too far or put you as the entrepreneurs into a minority stakeholder position. After all, he wants to continue to invest in motivated entrepreneurs and not in employees.

»Business valuation, especially in the startup phase, is an art, say many investors. For me, it's more like architecture. It is about balance, the static must also hold in later stages of construction (rounds of financing). And if you only have a subjective beauty in mind and forget the objective aspects, you end up quickly with an entrance door two meters above the ground and no staircase. This makes it more difficult for other guests to enter or even makes it impossible. «

Alexander Stoeckel, btov Partners

…is architecture, not art!

There are certain value drivers for a startup valuation. These are reflected in your milestones. If you have a working MVP, it’s a first starting point. If you have first customers and can thus prove that the market responds positively, your bargaining position will improve. If your unit economics are so attractive that you've built a solid money printing machine that's scalable, or you've already successfully protected your product with an (international) patent, offers might be flushing in.

Learn more about the nineteenth module "Investment" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

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Fail until you succeed

Failure, quick iteration and optimization is part of the formula for success of startups, but this will only work if you test critical points of your startup.

Securing survival

The first premise for startups is initially pure survival, before any growth or profit is targeted. This requires developing a business model that enables profitable growth. Through profiling (your customer), prototyping (your offer) and sourcing (your value chain), you have already worked out three essential building blocks for a functioning business model. The scaling is now to ensure that your earnings model has profitable unit economics. Only then you can start executing with your team and additional employees and start funding for sustainable as well as profitable growth, thus completing your business model.

»From my point of view, there are four key factors why startups fail: First, the idea and the business model do not fit the market. Second, the core team shows weaknesses in implementation and scaling and develops differences among each other. Third, the execution of a business model is not done systematically and consistently enough. Fourth, the financial means are not sufficient to fund solid growth. «

Alexander Kudlich, Rocket Internet

Criteria for growth

For growth, you need to make strategic decisions that depend on the nature of your business model and the market. In a market with a very limited number of customers, as in a B2B niche market, it may make sense to first focus on the retention of a few companies and understand those that have churned. Hence, you will increase dependency with fewer customers but also Customer (Account) Lifetime Value (C(A)LV). Having built a well-tested product with these customers, you turn the switch towards growth. Otherwise, you would entrap the "few" existing customers. However, if you are in a B2C market that has a "winner-takes-it-all" character and low entry barriers for potential competitors, you need to ignite the turbo as fast as possible.

Growth through the right yield model

If you have created an offer that is "sticky" and was accepted by the market, then it is now time to increase your own sales. After all, liquidity gained through sales is the best and cheapest form of growth financing. You do not pay interest, nor do you have to sacrifice shares for that cash flow. But how do you increase your own sales? First, you can develop your business model with different revenue models. From freemium to product-to-service, subscription and mass customization, pay-per-use and cross-selling. On the other hand, you can define customers who have the same and valuable qualities through targeted customer segmentation and cohort analysis. Are there specific customer groups that are more profitable, that last longer, and are cheaper to acquire?

Learn more about the eighteenth module "Performance" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

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Underpromise and overdeliver!

Founders know the problem: They have a clear goal, but they do not know how to get there, yet. With your developed Problem-Solution Fit (Profiling) and your Product-Market Fit (Prototyping), the goal is clear(er). In order to gather the gained and still missing resources and to focus on the dominant milestone ahead, it is necessary to draw an implementation timetable with a transformation map.

Milestones along the road

Your roadmap reflects a plan that divides the entrepreneurial journey into individual stages (milestones). With a roadmap you describe for yourself and your stakeholders, which way you want to take from A to B and which are the critical intermediate goals you have to achieve. Even though milestones are of a purely planning nature and often become moving targets or are missed in the dynamic startup environment, they are important corners that inform your resource requirements. With this gradual sourcing you can limit your risk until the next milestone. Only if you reach such milestone, invest more time and capital for the next stage. The further you progress along the way, the less important the milestones for your stakeholders might become. If you arrive at the financial key figures as future milestones, the roadmap leads to a classic reporting system to your investors.

But attention: The communication of milestones naturally raises expectations among your stakeholders. Therefore, promise less and surprise positively with the result achieved.

»Actually, I might pay less attention to milestone planning in the context of investments. In the end, everything will be different than planned! «

Simon Schmincke, Creandum

Implementation timetable with the Transformation Map

The Call to Action aligns resources with a common goal (or vision). For the implementation strategy, you develop a Transformation Map with your team that captures the main activities and milestones to reach that goal on the timeline. Like sunbeams, these connect with the common goal (the vision) for the individual areas, for example service, new product, processes, organization. In this way, you build the bridge between the here and now and the vision on the horizon over time and prioritize your activities and milestones in a clear roadmap. To do this, you should develop the Transformation Map together with your team (and board members if necessary) as part of a workshop.

The Transformation Map

Learn more about the seventeenth module "Call to Action" of the Startup Navigator in the handbook.

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