Chair of Entrepreneurship

and New Business Development

About us

We are inspired and fascinated by novel business opportunities!

Together with highly motivated students and engaged business partners we work towards better understanding how novel opportunities can be identified, developed and commercialized. As indicated by the name of the chair we share our interest and passion with individuals that start up new companies (entrepreneurs) as well as with established and international firms that wish to develop new business models (corporate entrepreneurship).

WHU is one of the most entrepreneurial business schools in Germany and Europe. It has a long history of successful entrepreneurs and startups that have become examples and role models for our students and professors alike. It is a pleasure and honor to work in such an entrepreneurial setting! We are well connected to entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, accelerators and individuals who are part of the exceptional entrepreneurial network of WHU. If you want to get into contact, come to one of many entrepreneurial guest lectures or also let us know directly!

Some of our latest guest speakers include:

Our chair team

Professor Dr.
Christoph Hienerth

Chairholder
+49 (0)261 6509 261
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short biography

Ulrike Cappel

Personal Assistant
+49 (0)261 6509 261
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Samina Hannah Khan-Sherwani

Research Assistant
+49 (0)261 6509 264
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short biography

Alexander Schröder

Research Assistant
+49 (0)261 6509 263
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short biography

Gerrit McGowan

Research Assistant
+49 (0)261 6509 266
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short biography

David Tamoschus

External Doctoral Student
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Dennis Wayer

External Doctoral Student
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Rebecca Stallbaumer

External Doctoral Student
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Our alumni

Monika Hauck

Alumna
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Dr. Frederik Riar

Alumnus
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Dr. Christopher Smolka

Alumnus
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WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Monika Hauck

Managing Director
+49 (0)211 44709 267
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short biography

Sigrid Dethloff

Team Assistant
+49 (0)211 44709 741
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Onur Eroglu

Research Assistant
+49 (0)211 44709 368
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Hasan Ergen

Social Media & Communications
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Our research

How entrepreneurial processes function in different settings – 
Our research at WHU.

Entrepreneurship is a highly fragmented field of research. It is dealing with diverse aspects such as creativity, cognitive psychology, networks, risks and uncertainty, finance, marketing, business planning, corporate entrepreneurship, venture capital, etc.  

A common perspective in entrepreneurship that has emerged over the last couple of years is dynamic and process oriented. It focuses on two main aspects along the development of new ventures: the presence of entrepreneurial opportunities and of entrepreneurial individuals. The process perspective further partitions that development process in three main phases: the identification, development and commercialization of novel business opportunities. In our research we analyze and try to better understand how such entrepreneurial processes function in different settings.

Another important and recent trend in entrepreneurship research is dealing with entrepreneurial business models and business ecosystems. While we are interested and engaged in various aspects of entrepreneurship, we specifically focus on these topics:

Over the last years we have witnessed an incredible number of different new business models. We know only little how the design of the business model influences the further development of the startup and also the design of the organization. We also know little about how such business models can be evaluated at different stages of development and how such evaluation can anticipate future development such as success, scaling, failure of the startup.

Crowdfunding has become an alternative source of finance for startups. While many different crowdfunding platforms have started and startups have collected large funding amounts via such platforms, we know only little about the detailed processes of funding, the choice of business idea to be funded, the social structure and interaction of platform members and also the characteristics of various groups of private investors.

In business ecosystems, established firms, (online) communities and individuals jointly develop novel business opportunities. Thus, many of the traditional roles of the manufacturer, the consumer and the entrepreneur are changing, due to joint activities, obligations and investments. Well known companies such as Apple, IBM or LEGO have developed platforms on which different participating actors can contribute to commercializing business opportunities. However, so far little is known about entrepreneurial processes in such settings. Entrepreneurship might happen outside of the boundaries of the hosting firms, when external individuals identify and develop novel opportunities. Entrepreneurship might also happen inside of the hosting firms, when novel projects are proactively started and developed. We analyze the role and effect of entrepreneurial activities within such business ecosystems.

Entrepreneurial opportunities are not always only driven by profit. Social entrepreneurs engage in activities that solve social and environmental problems and thus contribute to the development of opportunities that benefit a variety of stakeholders. Social entrepreneurs have developed completely novel business models in order to cope with limiting or extreme conditions that would probably not allow traditional start up activities. For instance, novel ways of financing entrepreneurial activities like microfinance or crowd funding enable entrepreneurship in often hostile or limiting settings. They also enable the start up of really creative or radical business ideas. We analyze entrepreneurial processes and business models within such settings.

Empirical studies show that individual users often have preferences or needs that cannot be satisfied by existing products or services. Established manufacturing firms might not be willing to invest in novel development or simply cannot supply the specific characteristics of solutions needed. They might also not be able to anticipate the market potential or risks involved in such development. Therefore, individual entrepreneurs are often the first to develop radical novel business opportunities. They can be the starting point for the emergence of novel industries. We investigate and analyze how such entrepreneurs identify novel opportunities and how they overcome risks and barriers not taken by established firms.

Our teaching

A strong practical orientation – 
Our teaching at WHU.

From our experience, entrepreneurship cannot only be taught theoretically!
While, of course, we build on important insights and results of entrepreneurship research of the past and present, our teaching has a strong practical orientation, always including real cases and real entrepreneurial activities and experiments. Thus, in every course you take from our chair, you will investigate real entrepreneurial ideas and processes. You will also develop and work on your own business idea and related business model. In doing so, you will learn and apply the latest entrepreneurial tools and methods, such as the business model canvas or lean startup.

The topics of our courses span a wide range, from the search for and start of a business idea for a startup to the development of new business models, products and services in established firms.

As examples our courses deal with:

  • Finding entrepreneurial ideas and evaluating them
  • Developing novel business models
  • Understanding social entrepreneurship business models and creating social value
  • Corporate entrepreneurship and open innovation
  • Business ecosystems and sharing economy models

 

WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Fostering the amazing 
entrepreneurial spirit at WHU

Over the last 30 years, our students and alumni have created more than 500 startups, among which five became unicorns. The topic of entrepreneurship is still on the rise and students are more than ever interested in entrepreneurial activities, either in starting their own venture or within a corporate setting by developing technology, novel products and services. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center has been established with a clear goal to support this tradition and 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. 

Visit our WHU Entrepreneurship Center

WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Fostering the amazing 
entrepreneurial spirit at WHU

Over the last 30 years, our students and alumni have created more than 500 startups, among which five became unicorns. The topic of entrepreneurship is still on the rise and students are more than ever interested in entrepreneurial activities, either in starting their own venture or within a corporate setting by developing technology, novel products and services. The WHU Entrepreneurship Center has been established with a clear goal to support this tradition and 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. 

Visit our WHU Entrepreneurship Center

Information for students

Bachelor and Master theses –
Visual Thinking for Business MOOC.

If you want to write a thesis at the Chair in Entrepreneurship and New Business Development there are a couple of steps to fulfil in order to make the process as effiicient as possible:

1) Choice of Topic

Below, there are a couple of research areas which we focus on at our Chair. Please choose one of these areas for your thesis. This will ensure optimum supervision as the chosen area is then relevant for you and for the respective supervisor.

2) Development of Proposal

Before a first meeting, you will have to hand in a research proposal which comprises a preliminary working title and a description of your thesis.

(a) Preliminary working title: Please list a short (max. 2 sentences) working title that summarizes the main topic(s) of your thesis.

(b) Description of thesis: A short description of your thesis is needed (approx. 2 pages). The description should include the following points:

  • Phenomenon: Which phenomenon or field is being examined?
  • Research question: What is the specific research question(s) you want to address with your thesis? Please consider that purely practical questions or purely phenomenon based topics do not fulfil this criterion (e.g. how can company X optimize their new business development process?)
  • Relevance: Please describe why your thesis is relevant for the chosen topic from our list and why it is relevant for research and practitioners?
  • Novelty: Please stress the novel aspect(s) of your thesis, i.e. how it further develops a specific aspect of existing literature and empirical findings
  • Literature: Please point out and list some of the key articles in your chosen area. Also indicate what relevance those have for your research question and chosen area
  • Method: Please specify a suitable method for your research question, i.e. would that rather be quantitative/qualitative, how many cases, objects, what settings, etc.?
Research Area Contact Person
WHU's Role in the German and International Startup Ecosystem Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Open Innovation and Innovation in Technique Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Entrepreneurial Trade-off Decisions Alexander Schröder
Venture Capital vs. Corporate Venture Capital Alexander Schröder

3) Hand-in of Proposal

The proposal is the basis for a first thesis meeting at the Chair. The proposal should be sent via email to the respective contact person (see table above). Once you have handed in the proposal, we are able to see whether your topic and quality of description are suitable. We will make our decisions, based on your proposal, afterwards and officially sign you in via the Examination Office in May.

If you want to write a thesis at the Chair in Entrepreneurship and New Business Development there are a couple of steps to fulfil in order to make the process as effiicient as possible:

1) Choice of Topic

Below, there are a couple of research areas which we focus on at our Chair. Please choose one of these areas for your thesis. This will ensure optimum supervision as the chosen area is then relevant for you and for the respective supervisor.

2) Development of Proposal

Before a first meeting, you will have to hand in a research proposal which comprises a preliminary working title and a description of your thesis.

(a) Preliminary working title: Please list a short (max. 2 sentences) working title that summarizes the main topic(s) of your thesis.

(b) Description of thesis: A short description of your thesis is needed (approx. 2 pages). The description should include the following points:

  • Phenomenon: Which phenomenon or field is being examined?
  • Research question: What is the specific research question(s) you want to address with your thesis? Please consider that purely practical questions or purely phenomenon based topics do not fulfil this criterion (e.g. how can company X optimize their new business development process?)
  • Relevance: Please describe why your thesis is relevant for the chosen topic from our list and why it is relevant for research and practitioners?
  • Novelty: Please stress the novel aspect(s) of your thesis, i.e. how it further develops a specific aspect of existing literature and empirical findings
  • Literature: Please point out and list some of the key articles in your chosen area. Also indicate what relevance those have for your research question and chosen area
  • Method: Please specify a suitable method for your research question, i.e. would that rather be quantitative/qualitative, how many cases, objects, what settings, etc.?
Research Area Contact Person
WHU's Role in the German and International Startup Ecosystem Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Open Innovation and Innovation in Technique Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Entrepreneurial Trade-off Decisions Alexander Schröder
Venture Capital vs. Corporate Venture Capital Alexander Schröder

3) Hand-in of Proposal

The proposal is the basis for a first thesis meeting at the Chair. The proposal should be sent via email to the respective contact person (see table above). Once you have handed in the proposal, we are able to see whether your topic and quality of description are suitable. We will make our decisions, based on your proposal, afterwards and officially sign you in via the Examination Office in May.

Visual Thinking for Business MOOC

Together with iversity, we have created the first WHU MOOC!

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been bringing new impulses to the academic world in the past years. MOOCs make it possible that thousands of students attend a Harvard lecture without one of them being accepted into the elite university or even being able to pay its tuition.

WHU has been observing the online development and MOOC landscape since day one. The course “Visual Thinking for Business” is an outcome of this development process and the high standards required for our education. Since a couple of years, visual skills have become more important in many different business areas such as marketing, business modeling, new product development, sales, distribution, etc. Innovative international companies invest a lot of attention and resources in catching the interest of customers via visuals. Thus, the topic of the course can attract many companies as well as private individuals.

How does this course benefit its participants and why is an electronic format appropriate? Many of us do not at all use visual elements in their presentation and pitches, and even less have the courage to sketch live in front of an audience. Developing visual thinking skills and a visual strategy also forces participants to think in a very structured and analytic way. We train both, creativity and cognition. The electronic format is a huge benefit as 1) individual steps of visualization processes can be learned and repeated at the individual person’s strengths, abilities and speed of learning and as 2) the online platform can provide interactive tools and possibilities that create impressive results, data and insights for participants in real time. So far the course already has an overwhelming number of paid enrolments, which shows how high the demand for visual thinking skills actually is. Compared to other international examples from top schools worldwide, the course already ranks among the top three courses in terms of revenue ever!

The online-course “Visual Thinking for Business” starts on October 12th. You can enroll on the following site: iversity.org/de/courses/visual-thinking-for-business-make-your-point

In the media
Interviews on the following shows:

Professor Hienerth was on ZDF in the program 'Volle Kanne' as an expert for business start-ups on March 29, 2017.

Click here to watch it

On January 7, 2017, Professor Christoph Hienerth was live on n-tv, giving an interview on opportunities for young entrepreneurs at German business schools, and of course WHU. n-tv focussed on start-up culture the whole weekend.

Click here to watch it

On January 8, 2017, WHU and our BSc student Philipp from the Idealab! Team was featured in a SWR production called "Südwesten von oben", which focussed on universities and higher education institutions in South-Western Germany in this episode. 

Click here to watch it

 

Interviews in the following journals:
WirtschaftsWoche Online:
Wenn Startups erwachsen werden (03.02.2017)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
Gründer gesucht (07/08.01.2017)
WirtschaftsWoche Online:
Toms: Schuhe reichen Blake Mycoskie längst nicht mehr (28.08.2016)
Rhein-Zeitung:
Evopark (14.07.2016)
Zeit Online: Unternehmen gründen:
Jetzt geht's los! | ZEIT Campus (12.06.2016)
RedHerring:
Where The Wild(ly Successful) Things Are (12.05.2016)
Computerwoche.de:
IT-Manager gehen auf Bildungsreise (24.03.2016)
Get in touch

Get in touch with us –
We look forward to hearing from you.

Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth

Chairholder

+49 (0)261 6509 261
christoph.hienerth(at)whu.edu

How to find us:

WHU – Otto Beisheim
School of Management

Chair in Entrepreneurship
and New Business Development

Hellenstraße 9 
56179 Vallendar 
Germany