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Building and Scaling Successful Companies

Course code
Course type
MSc Course
Weekly Hours
FS 2020
Marco Vietor, Marco Vietor
Please note that exchange students obtain a higher number of credits in the BSc-program at WHU than listed here. For further information please contact directly the International Relations Office.

After setting up a start-up company, founders usually face a series of challenges when developing their start-ups into truly operating organisations that employ an increasing number of people and develop a rising level of complexity as they grow and diversify geographically and in terms of product offering. While there are many existing lectures on specific managerial functions in a more stable corporate context (Finance, Marketing, Sales, HR, Supply chain management, Accounting, Innovation management etc. etc.) as well as lectures on general challenges of creating a start-up company (Idea origination, Business plan development, Proof of concept development), this lecture aims at teaching insights on deeply functional topics in a rapid growth company context. The course provides content-driven (guest) lectures by WHU alumni that have experienced these challenges as founder/CEO of a successful growth company and that have developed solutions for these functional challenges. On top, more research based-lectures provide an overview of academical findings on these topics and also contrast differences in appropriate strategies between growth companies and more established, larger companies with less growth. Identification of these differences and a critical reflection of academical concepts are learning goals of the lecture. Students will be able to discuss real-world solutions to challenges in growth setups that are best-in class. Central coordination will ensure that lectures are building upon each other without overlaps. The lectures will provide students with an in-depth knowledge on challenges in growth company setups and how to overcome them by content-driven functional solutions. Moreover, the lecture will foster students’ entrepreneurial mindset as to how challenges and risks can be managed. The lecture also can support WHU’s positioning as a business school for successful entrepreneurs. Lectures can be recorded and broadcasted and used in various ways for marketing purposes.

Tentative agenda

1. From idea to a company
2. Leveraging Technology
3. Securing Funding
4. Attracting Customers
5. Managing Suppliers
6. Managing Supply Chains
7. Diversifying the product portfolio
8. Using Data
9. Developing People
10. Going Global
11. Accounting & Legal Aspects
12. Managing structure

Date Time
Thursday, 05.03.2020 15:30 - 20:30
Friday, 06.03.2020 11:30 - 15:15
Saturday, 07.03.2020 09:45 - 13:00
Thursday, 19.03.2020 15:30 - 18:45
Friday, 20.03.2020 11:30 - 15:15
Thursday, 02.04.2020 15:30 - 18:45
Friday, 03.04.2020 11:30 - 15:15
Wednesday, 15.04.2020 13:45 - 15:15
For each lecture, literature will be defined and should be read and understood before the respective lecture
Overview of lectures and founders giving these lectures:

1. From an idea to a company (Roman Kirsch, Founder of Lesara)

2. Building structures & teams (Christian Gaiser, Founder of kaufDA)

3. Securing funding (Sebastian Pollok, Founder of Amorelie)

4. Managing suppliers (Christoph Cordes, Founder of Fashionforhome/home24)

5. Diversifying the product portfolio (David Schröder, Co-Founder of Zalando)

6. Attracting customers (Mario Kohle, Founder of Käuferportal/Enpal)

7. Going global (Dominik Richter, Founder of HelloFresh)

8. Controlling & steering growing organisations (Stephan Schubert, Founder of OnVista)

9. Developing people & mindset (Marco Vietor, Founder of audibene)

The final grade will be a composite of quizzes, reflection notes and an exam.
The quizzes will be conducted before each lecture covering basic information about the guest lecturers´ companies. This way students can participate in educated discussions during the guest lectures.
The reflection notes will be short exercises in which students shall reflect the lessons learned to a real company.
The exam covers the key learnings from all lectures. A review session for the exam will be conducted during the last lecture.

Examination: Quizzes (10x2%), reflection notes (3x10%), exam (50%, 90 minutes)
No prerequisites beyond a Bachelor degree in business-related subjects
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