WHU General

More Than Startups

WHU Founder Lecture series brings unicorn founders to the lecture hall

A unique form of lecture series was now offered to the master students of WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management. Instead of professors, the WHU Founder Lectures series featured nine highly successful graduates of the business school as lecturers. They all have one thing in common: they have founded startups in the past, which now generate at least 100 million euros in revenues annually.

“Zalando is still growing around 30 percent a year while employing 15.000 people – lectures rarely cover companies of that size, generating three-digit million revenues each year and are still growing dynamically”, explains Marco Vietor, Managing Director of audibene and WHU graduate of 2004. Vietor recognized a gap in traditional business education and therefore established the "WHU Founder Lecture 2020: Building & Scaling Successful Companies". To narrow it down, successful companies in this context are those whose revenues are at least in the triple-digit million scope and are thus among the top 0.2 percent of European startups. “We have so many of these companies from WHU that have reached over 100 million euros in revenue, and I thought it would be incredibly interesting for WHU students if each founder would deep-dive into one specific theme in the structured form of a lecture,” Marco Vietor explains his concept. 

More than 50 WHU students in the master programs, but especially in the Master in Entrepreneurship (MiE), were now able to draw their own conclusions from the lectures - at the beginning of the series still in the lecture hall, but later, as a consequence of the corona crisis, online via Zoom. The final exams will also take place online. This series of lectures focused on topics such as structured problem solving, combining expertise in different fields and developing business judgement. The series was particularly exciting for the students, because it reflected the personal experiences of some of Europe's most successful startup founders. “This course provided exactly the type of experience I was looking for when I applied to WHU,” says Master in Entrepreneurship student Polina Alexandrova. “I was inspired by the WHU alumni network, and these people were brought into the classroom. The key takeaway for many of the students was not to overlook entrepreneurship as a career after graduation. We found we could personally relate to the speakers, as they were not only WHU graduates but had also once been in our shoes.”