WHU

Entrepreneurship at WHU

The place to learn from the best.
> 2,400
of companies (co-)founded by WHU alumni
> 27,000
of people employed by WHU start-ups
> 63,000
of jobs created by WHU alumni

How is entrepreneurship implemented at WHU?

The WHU start-up scene is a constant hive of activity - from Germany to America, and everywhere in between, entrepreneurial spirit and creative thinking truly make up the heart of WHU. Students are more than ever interested in entrepreneurial activities, either by starting their own venture or within a corporate setting by developing technology, novel products and services. From those with start-up ideas at the ready, to those who haven’t entertained the idea of starting their own business, WHU has something for everybody. A mix of events scattered throughout the year reflects our entrepreneurial drive, and with many student clubs devoted entirely to entrepreneurship, you can take your creative thinking out of the classroom and into the world. With plenty of start-ups originating from WHU alumni, you have the unique opportunity to learn from the best at WHU.

 

Gain insights into entrepreneurship and studying at WHU from the Welt series "50 German Leaders":

Meet some of our successful WHU founders

1/8
Jakob Rauber
CEO & Co-Founder
EISZEIT
"My time at WHU has not only strengthened my desire to start a business, but has also taught me many skills that help me enormously in the strategic orientation of EISZEIT. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I always enjoy coming back to Vallendar for events!"
Konstantin Timm
Co-Founder
Kale&Me
"People often ask for tips or recommendations on how to build a company or a start-up. Often, I feel tempted to give them a whole list of things I learned during the first years as a founder. However, in the end every business and especially every team is unique and requires a different approach."
Julia Kasper
Co-Founder
ZukunftMoor
"I think it’s very important that awareness of sustainable business models continue its upward momentum through clubs like SensAbility or the curricula at WHU. The school’s alumni have a strong influence on the start-up ecosystem in Germany. And, just as the digital transformation of our economy is a crucial factor for the future, so too is its ecological transformation. This is where green and social start-ups can make a pivotal contribution to our economy, society, and environment."
Oliver Eischet
Co-Founder
Specter Automation
"I can say very confidently that we probably would not have founded Specter Automation without studying at WHU. The startup spirit, even in the early Bachelor's semesters, the unique startup network of alumni, and the support provided by the new WHU Summer Accelerator program have created exactly the right conditions to become entrepreneurially active."
Marcus Stahl
CEO & Co-Founder
tonies GmbH
"One of the most important things to remember is that even if you have setbacks or encounter hurdles, you still need to believe in the idea and keep your vision in mind. In addition, you need a good network - both business and private, people who sometimes question you critically. And you have to remain flexible, respond to developments that arise and that you sometimes cannot foresee; and that only works if you trust - yourself and others."
Mareile Wölwer
CEO & Co-Founder
vetevo GmbH
"For us, our vision and where we wanted to end up in the long run was always clear. From that we continuously work backwards and be macro patient and micro feisty."
Romy Lindenberg
Co-Founder
Shavent
"WHU, my time there, my education, the perspectives and attitudes there, the people I studied with—all of that is absolutely the foundation of my entire professional journey and a big piece of the puzzle of who I am as a person today as well. It would be impossible for me to determine any part of this journey that my time at WHU did not have a massive influence on."
Patrick Bales
Founder
StoYo
"One of the biggest learnings I made founding a company was to always be ready to change your direction. Especially in the beginning when you haven’t achieved your proof of concept you will find yourself 100% believing in and fighting for something you will learn is total bullshit already one day later. Every single change makes your life harder as it will be more and more difficult to convince others that you’re still on track although you yourself are saying that you’ve been wrong so many times."
1/8

WHU Start-ups Investment Reports

In relation to the size of its student body, WHU is the strongest business school in Germany when it comes to entrepreneurship. The WHU Start-ups Investment Reports outline how the start-ups founded by WHU students and alumni have developed over the course of the previous three months. This includes details on which founders have opted to sell their companies, which have their targets set on entering the stock market, and which have successfully completed funding rounds, the sum of funds secured also disclosed.

Innovative courses designed for your success

At WHU, you will have the opportunity to identify and test your own business ideas while being supported by prominent corporates from the exclusive WHU network. You will also develop specific tools and skills that are particularly relevant for entrepreneurs, such as coding and prototyping.

WHU’s startup network consists of alumni, students, staff, and partners who all contribute to the overall success of our ecosystem. We are convinced that our community members are WHU’s biggest assets. Our entrepreneurs, investors, student initiatives, faculties, etc. are strongly interconnected and enable each other. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center has taken on the task of building and nurturing this network.

Advanced Entrepreneurial Finance

Course Objectives & set-up:

  • Familiarize students with entrepreneurial finance and business models
  • Students will solve two interactive entrepreneurial case studies in the two areas and one in-class case in Berlin. 
  • Students will connect with startups, consultancies, investors, and a law firm in Berlin to build up a network of future partners
  • This course will help all students that consider starting their own company to build and run more successful firms  

     

Coding for Entrepreneurs

There are several pathways which you can follow to get your work on Codecademy recognized for the module “Coding for Entrepreneurs” at WHU. You can either sign up for small courses or packages on your own or decide to participate in the “Full Stack” path or the “Intensive Programs”. The “Full Stack” path and the “Intensive Programs” will be recognized by WHU. 

Full Stack path: HTML & CSS   JavaScript   jQuery   Learn AngularJS   Learn the Command Line   Ruby Learn   Ruby on Rails   Ruby on Rails: Authentication   Learn Git 

Build Websites from Scratch: HTML   CSS   Command Line   Git   Layout   Responsive Design CSS Docs&Debugging   Design Principles   Build a Custom Website JavaScript & jQuery 

 

Corporate Entrepreneurship

Continuous creation and exploitation of new business opportunities within the company is an imperative for success. However, corporations often struggle with the identification of promising growth opportunities and the development of new business ideas. This is in part due to the fast changing environment and in part because organizational structures, routines and incentive systems are not always appropriate for the current dynamics and technological settings.

This course is designed for those interested in learning how managers can create, develop, sustain and lead innovative new businesses or initiatives within their organizations. We are especially concerned with the interface between the corporation and the innovation and the entrepreneurial ecosystems within which it is embedded. By adopting an open systems perspective, we will focus on how corporate managers can effectively tap into external environment to initiate change, drive innovation and build new growth platforms.

During this course, participants will collaborate extensively in groups with some of Germany’s leading companies in real-life projects. They will not only hone their skills in solving these real-life corporate entrepreneurship problems, they will get to present their entrepreneurial ideas and solutions to executives from those companies.

 

E-commerce Operations Management

This course provides students with current show cases how leading e-commerce startups and companies advance their operational performance through digitalization.

In today’s business world, technology increasingly plays a major role in determining a company’s future competitiveness. In this course, we focus on six main topics that are critical for the success of omni-channel players: i) employee engagement and leadership, ii) managing the forward chain, iii) demand forecasting, iv) demand generation, v) managing the backward chain and vi) customer online interaction to curtail mindless shopping.

Cases and readings, mostly working papers under review or recently published articles in top managerial or academic journals, provide novel insights into the e-commerce operations of leading European retail, manufacturing or service companies.

Students will be able to discuss these approaches with numerous guest speakers from industry and academia.

 

Entrepreneurial Experimentation with Computational Intelligence

Industry 4.0
Enabling technologies: IoT, Cloud computing
State-of-the-art algorithms
Applications:

  • Distribution logistics
  • Complex resource planning and scheduling
  • Facility location and layout planning

 

Entrepreneurial Selling

Every entrepreneur is selling all the time: to customers, employees, and investors. Selling is a skill that can be learnt. Only few people are born as a selling ace. Some investors only invest if the founders themselves are the first sales people. The course Content was designed based on interviews with WHU entrepreneurs and WHU investors:

  • fit between go-to-market model and the business model (understanding sales cycles, decision processes)
  • targeting consumers vs. small business vs. big enterprise
  • defining and communicating the value proposition for your target audience
  • face-to-face selling techniques: need identification, maneuvering the sales process
  • hiring your first sales people (selecting the right sales professionals, designing their compensation)
  • the typical GTM model: inbound marketing + tele sales / inside sales
  • international market entry.

 

Heinz-Nixdorf-Lecture: Strategic Intellectual Property Management

This module covers the specific agenda of using intellectual capital for competitive advantage in multiple market contexts. In the contemporary economic environment, intellectual assets like know-how, inventions, content, brands, trademarks (forms of intellectual property), contractual agreements etc. are the largest proportion of a firm’s total wealth. And yet, most firms do not proactively manage these assets. This module adopts a “lifecycle” approach to the management of an intellectual asset. Methods and frameworks developed in lecture are exercised in case studies from multiple settings including consumer electronics (Dolby, Creative Technologies, Apple), pharmaceuticals (AstraZeneca, Bayer), agriculture (Pinklady Apples), Entertainment (CAH & Disney) etc.

 

Industrial Organization for Entrepreneurs

Industrial organization is a field of microeconomics that explores the dynamics of industries and the way firms compete with each other. Therefore, this course focuses on strategic competitive behavior, with special attention being paid to the perspective of newly founded ventures. Within this context we will discuss how to assess entry timing, competitive behaviour as well as how regulations impact strategy considerations. The course uses a mixture of case studies, lectures and guest lectures.

 

New Product Development

The course is designed to introduce the new product development (NPD) process in more detail to students. We will investigate basic elements of NPD and product innovation research organized according to the NPD process stages i.e. concept generation, technical product development, and launch. The lecture as well as case studies aim at explaining how to develop an effective development strategy, manage cross-functional teams across the organization, generate and evaluate concepts, manage the technical development of the product, develop the marketing plan, and manage the financial aspects of a project. An important role in the course will play international aspects of NPD.

 

Sprint2Berlin

In this course we apply the Google-Sprint Format to class and to a blocked week of company visits in Berlin. We build teams and business models within the run of the course.

Following a five day sprint logic, we

  1. analyze problems and challenges (day 1)
  2. get an overview of the industry and competitors and start developing the value proposition as well as the customer segment (day 2)
  3. build the business model and the prototype (day 3)
  4. collect customer feedback (day 4)
  5. report and pitch about all components (day 5)

The result is a real business idea and model that has undergone its first test via customer feedback using a real physical or electronic prototype.

 

Strategic Technology and Innovation Management

In detail, the course will cover the following main aspects: innovation and competitive advantage, linking business and innovation strategy, defining and implementing innovation strategies, innovation portfolio management, R&D investment decisions, assessing and measuring R&D productivity, open innovation strategies, strategic alliances, M&A, external technology commercialization strategies, globalizing innovation, management of international R&D locations, management of globally dispersed innovation teams and the management of basic research.

 

Value Creation in Family Firms

Family businesses are one of the most dominant forms of organization around the world (with roughly 70-90% of all firms being family-influenced). The aim of this course is to study how family firms differ from non-family firms. The focus will thereby be on issues related to leading or managing a family firm. The course we will focus on how to successfully lead family businesses in the 21st century. In particular, the course covers will cover the following topics: 

  • Introduction and brief overview of family businesses (Term definition, meaning, and characteristics of family businesses; differences between family businesses and non-family businesses, especially in relation to goals, long-term orientation, structure, and resources; theories to explain family firm behavior in general)
  • Leadership in family firms (Leadership styles; family vs. non-family CEOs; employee motivation)
  • Transgenerational entrepreneurship in family firms (innovation behavior of family firms; adaptation to disruptive changes; entrepreneurship across generations)
  • Strategic management and governance (“organization” of the family; strategic orientation and risk)

Within this course, students will conduct a group project with a family business. Each group will choose one specific family firm (either from their own network or with the support of the chair) and analyze this company with regard to family firm strength and weaknesses, growth potential, leadership, transgenerational entrepreneurship, succession, and strategic management/governance. Individual coaching sessions with the professor will help students to achieve their learning goals. The course will conclude with the students' presentation of their project results.

 

Venture Capital Finance

Venture capital is an important financial intermediary for, and component of entrepreneurship, innovation and organizational change. By one estimate, over 1,200 VC firms around the world are evaluating more than 20,000 business plans on a given day. The media extensively glorifies venture capitalists, policy-makers increasingly look to venture capital as a source of jobs and economic growth and hardly a day goes without another celebrity in the entertainment industry making a foray into the world of venture capital.

Nonetheless, little is understood about the structure, governance, strategy, incentives, culture, capabilities and operational processes of venture capital organizations. These gaps in understanding yield significant missteps and frustration for those intersecting with venture capital and in fact so much that especially many entrepreneurs feel venture capital is the “dark side” and inherently evil.

By offering a window into the inside dynamics and the intricacies of venture capital, this course aims to bridge these gaps for students and prepare them as a potential entrepreneur, venture capitalist, institutional investor, management consultant or a policy-maker.

 

Visual Prototyping

In this course we develop your skills for visual thinking and visual prototyping.

The course is partitioned into three major parts:

  1. Knowledge and application of basic visualization skills.
    You will learn all the basic skills and tools it takes to generate simple visualizations, both physical as well as electronically (using the program “Concepts”).
  2. Knowledge and application of visual tools and applications in business for building fast prototypes.
    You will learn the underlying logic and background for using fast visualizations in business. This includes an understanding of the setting, the psychology of the audience the choice of visualization and specific visual tools for the business setting.
  3. 3D printing
    We will build a 3D printer from scratch in class and look into the basic tools and applications around 3D printing.

Damit Sie Entrepreneurship sowohl aus dem Blickwinkel von Start-ups, von Unternehmen und von Investoren kennenlernen können, bieten wir drei spezielle Kurse in Berlin und Düsseldorf an. Dort können Sie die Gründerszene der WHU persönlich erleben.

  1. Die Start-Up-Perspektive – Sprint2Berlin
  2. Die Unternehmens-Perspektive – Corporate Entrepreneurship
  3. Advanced Entrepreneurial Finance

 
Coding bootcamp at Le Wagon

WHU has established a partnership with Le Wagon, a leading coding school that provides creative people with the technical skills they need to succeed. As part of the Master in Entrepreneurship curriculum, WHU sponsors selected students to attend Le Wagon's renowned nine-week bootcamp program. The bootcamp fits seamlessly into the Master in Entrepreneurship program, counting as the internship that runs from May after the first year of study. During the bootcamp, participants will be a part of the perfect developer set-up, learning about software engineering and database architecture, the technical workflow used in successful start-ups, and gaining experience in tools such as Ruby, Heroku, Stripe, Mandrill, and Algolia in order to deploy an app of their own creation.

Cooperation with Codecademy

While designing the Master in Entrepreneurship curriculum, we sought the advice of a wide range of entrepreneurs and managers to find out what the market is really looking for in terms of skills. Abilities in software development and coding came up repeatedly as necessary for the success of entrepreneurs now and in the future. Thus, we offer one elective specifically designed to teach these skills, but we also have established a special partnership with Codeacademy, the leading coding platform wordwide. You will therefore have the opportunity to take Codeacademy courses in addition to your normal WHU lectures, allowing you to learn the programming languages and IT skills that best suit your needs.

Our student clubs

Reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit – Setting standards in the start-up scene.

1/7
Business Meets Tech
Tech at WHU
Business Meets Tech's aim is to bring people from a business and technology background together. Founded in 2018, BMT´s main goal was and still is to connect WHU´s business students to tech-oriented people from all across Europe.
IdeaLab!
WHU Founders' Conference
The IdeaLab! - WHU Founders' Conference is one of the leading conferences for startups and entrepreneurship in Europe and is organized entirely by WHU students. It impresses with exciting workshops, inspiring speakers, motivated participants, industry-leading sponsors, and unique networking opportunities.
SensAbility
The WHU Impact Summit
Ever since our debut in 2010, our conference has been a platform connecting international students, entrepreneurs, young professionals and investors, united by their shared passion for social and sustainable business: “We believe that profitable businesses and responsibility towards humankind and the environment are not mutually exclusive but a necessary synergy.
SmartUp!
The WHU Entrepreneur Network
SMARTUP! is a student club at WHU with the aim of giving students versatile insights into the early stages of entrepreneurship. We organize a variety of events, including company tours across Germany, on-campus workshops, and networking fairs to connect with potential co-founders from other universities.
Start-Up Academy
by WHU & Deutscher Gründerpreis für Schüler:innen
We want to provide pupils from all over Germany with basic knowledge about start-ups and incentives for self-employment, and give them the opportunity to network. We organize an annual two-day conference for pupils from grade 10 onwards with workshops, panel discussions and a final pitch battle.
WHU Entrepreneurship Roundtable
An initiative of MBA students
The WHU Entrepreneurship Roundtable is a platform to discuss ideas, gain valuable business skills and receive expert advice on start-ups and the entrepreneurial journey. We want to connect MBA students with entrepreneurial institutions within the WHU network as well as the German start-up network – Founders, VCs, etc.
3 Day Startup
WHU Founders Bootcamp
3 Day Startup - WHU Founders Bootcamp (3DS) is a non-profit organization and an annual entrepreneurial event. In short, we give you the chance to turn your existing business idea into a startup with the help of our investors and mentors.
1/7

Join our Master in Entrepreneurship Program!

The full-time, English-taught Master in Entrepreneurship Program (MSc) is designed for graduates who would like to start their own business, have an innovative career in various companies or start-ups, or manage a family business. You will experience a unique program covering business functions, innovation, product development, and technologies, including field trips to entrepreneurial hubs such as Berlin and Düsseldorf.

Executive Education on Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial thinking is needed if you dream to set up a new business, yet there are many reasons why established companies should invest in their employees gaining this capability as well. Recognizing which ideas are worth pursuing and how to implement them in a successful business model are essential to both start-up success as well as large enterprise continuation.

News & Stories

Start-ups Investment Report

Start-ups Investment Report

The funding rounds, exits, takeovers, and IPOs of WHU start-ups in Q4 2023

 
US$583M in Venture Capital Secured by WHU’s Start-Ups in Germany

US$583M in Venture Capital Secured by WHU’s Start-Ups in Germany

Next generation of founders receive eager support from alumni

 
Felix Baur and his co-founders

WHU Alumnus Develops Dating App with Character

Master in Management alumnus Felix Baur on the idea behind unlikeany and making a difference as an entrepreneur

 

Are you looking for further information?

The WHU Entrepreneurship Center has been established with a clear goal to support the entrepreneurial spirit and the motivation of our students. We want to engage with corporate partners, startups, investors, alumni and students to jointly build and strengthen the WHU entrepreneurship ecosystem around its locations in Vallendar, Düsseldorf and Berlin.