Female Leadership

Bringing Digital Ideas to Life through WHU Start-Ups

Alumna Verena Hubertz talks about her business and entrepreneurial experience at WHU.

Co-founder of an international online cooking platform and former WHU student Verena Hubertz, began her start-up journey in 2014 with Kitchen Stories and the slogan ‘anyone can cook’. Offering a user-friendly format with eye-catching content and step-by-step videos, Kitchen Stories is available in 150 countries and with an ever-growing team, the company continues to flourish. Now as a board member for the Master in Entrepreneurship Program, she shares with us her WHU journey and thoughts on the future.

“I always knew I was a hands-on person and I had a clear idea of what I did not want to do for a career, but I hadn’t quite connected my qualities and skills to entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until I came to WHU for my Master studies, that I had my first contact with start-up founders and entrepreneurial classes.

During my studies at WHU, I also met my co-founder Mengting who was already studying at WHU for her Bachelor degree. She had completed the classic consulting and investment banking internships, but it was her last internship with a start-up where she discovered her drive to found her own company. It was lucky she continued to study her Master’s there too, or we would never have met!

We always liked to cook but we were dissatisfied with the digital experience.

We actually had the idea for Kitchen Stories while we were at WHU – Mengting was a hobby chef and regularly watched American cooking shows on YouTube and I was always lost when cooking websites used terms that I didn’t understand. The user experience for both was just terrible. We expected that when we looked for apps, we would find something that met our needs. With digitalization being so important amongst all the publishing houses, we thought there would be the perfect digital cooking experience already available - but we could not find one.  So we made the decision to move to Berlin and set up our own business.

What I love about the program is that it brings together a diverse crowd - you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to join.

When Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth (Head of the Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group) asked me if I would like to be a board member for the Master in Entrepreneurship Program, I was thrilled. WHU has always been very strong around entrepreneurship and I love that the program is not just classroom-based either. Students have the chance to go to Berlin, meet start-ups in person, and really find out what it takes to start their own company, or to be in an entrepreneurial position within a corporation.

A lot as the skills you need these days are not the same ones you learned 20 years ago.

Everyone within business is facing the challenges of digitalization and changing consumer behavior. You need to be holistic, driven, and flexible in order to break away from old methods and ideas. Some industries struggle to keep up with innovation and a fast-moving market environment.

I think the most important quality of an entrepreneur however, is persistency. You learn a lot from other entrepreneurs, especially those you meet throughout the program at WHU and even those that have failed. The whole ‘toolbox’ of skills you can learn, but the mindset is something you develop. This is what the program offers so beautifully within the WHU network, as the founders are willing to contribute and help students to go beyond the theory, and really discover what it means to be an entrepreneur or an innovative thinker.”