Five Questions for Alumnus Robert Maier

Among other things, WHU alumnus Robert Maier co-founded the Startup Ladenzeile and invested in many other companies. Now he wants to become SPD chairman.

You are an experienced player in the German start-up scene. To what extent can you use these experiences to a political office?

A company must continually reinvent itself and adapt to new circumstances. You have to be very open to new ideas. This must not be arbitrary, one must not give up the DNA of the company. But you must not be afraid of change and you must take people with you. But if I lose the feeling for my customers, my company becomes uninteresting. That's why I have to know what my customers want. All these points can be transferred to politics to a certain extent. 

The first 100 days are always especially focused - what would you do first?

I would focus on three topics in the first 100 days: (1) Develop concrete measures that address the problems of internal security. (2) Initiate talks with the aim of a European sea rescue and with the aim of setting up reception camps in North Africa and other areas supervised by the EU or UN. There, the chances of refugees to obtain asylum or a residence permit are to be examined and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean are to be brought back there in order to clarify their status. (3) Addressing the issue of optimism for the future and start-ups: Developing a concrete plan for a Germany Fund to finance innovative start-ups.

What is your "plan" for the candidacy? 

At the moment I am only an "applicant" for the SPD member survey. I must now receive the support of five sub-districts until August 31, 2019 so that I can officially participate in the member survey as a candidate. If this stage goal is reached, I will use the 23 regional conferences in September and October, in order to convince the members of me and my contents.

Where does your interest in politics come from?

I grew up in a very political family. My parents were both politically very active, my mother sat for a long time for the SPD in the Bundestag. I have always found politics very exciting and have a clear opinion of my own on many topics. In addition, as an entrepreneur I have always been at the interface between politics and business, among other things as co-founder and vice-president of the SPD Economic Forum and in the Startup Association. 

Now I'm starting out out out of conviction. I am concerned about current developments: the rapid rise of radical politicians* on the right and our weakness in climate policy and in the area of future technologies and digital business models. I want to change that so that my children can have it later just as well as we had it.

What does a perfect Europe look like to you?

Europe is first and foremost a peace project. We owe the fact that neither my father (born 1944) nor I (born 1980) had to go to war to this European project. This is a huge success and anything but self-evident. The perfect Europe continues to secure peace, so that my children never have to experience war either. It clearly stands for the observance of all human and fundamental rights. It takes swift decisions according to the majority principle in order to remain capable of action and innovative. It is growing into a large internal market together with leading positions in high technology and innovative business models. Start-ups from Europe are becoming global champions and, alongside SMEs and small and medium-sized enterprises, are securing jobs for the future. A strong European economy finances a strong legal and welfare state and a strong environment.