WHU General

“Interact. Innovate. Inspire.”

IdeaLab! – WHU Founders‘ Conference 2020 connected students with founders and investors in an online format.

Impressive founder stories, inspiring speeches and pitches, and multiple networking opportunities; that is what defines IdeaLab! – WHU Founders‘ Conference. It is Europe’s leading startup conference organized by students of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. For the first time in its 20-year history, the conference took place fully virtually and under the motto “Interact. Innovate. Inspire.” on October 2 and 3, 2020. WHU alumni and young founders shared their learnings in personal speeches, top-tier investors and forward-thinking entrepreneurs discussed their ideas on the future of investment and the startup scene, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in virtual panel discussions, and inspired many participants on their screens.

You have to do some soul-searching

What the founders and mentors all had in common was that they encouraged the students to do some soul-searching and find out who they are and what they want to do. Eric Quidenus-Wahlforrs, who founded the online music platform Soundcloud in 2007 and Dance Mobility, a startup that is offering sustainable e-bike subscriptions, in early 2020, described building a company as a “marathon.” The process of founding a company can take years, so besides passion, as a founder, you first need to know who you are and what you want, and then you need patience and discipline to pursue your objectives.

Ideas are everywhere it is the execution, which counts

For Lea-Sophie Cramer, founder of Amorelie, important steps are to evaluate ideas, talk to many people, and then go for it, “ideas are everywhere it’s the execution,” she said in her speech. For her, working with Oliver Samwer, founder of Rocket Internet and WHU alumnus, introduced her into the mindset that everyone can become an entrepreneur and that only you limit yourself and your potential for success. Her advice to young founders was to embrace a risk-taking attitude from time to time. Time – and especially the proper time for founding – was another important question during the conference. Jessica Holzbach, Founder of Penta, a digital banking platform for small and medium-sized enterprises and founders, said that there was no better time than now to dive into founding. Her experience was to launch early and develop the product with the customer.

Speech by Lea-Sophie Cramer, founder of Amorelie.
The landingpage of the virtual IdeaLab! platform.

Complement each other in a team

Probably one of the most popular questions asked by the virtual audience in the chat was what character traits and qualifications investors are looking for in founders. WHU alumnus Sebastian Pollok, a founding partner of the venture capital fund Visionaries Club, emphasized that in his opinion, the founders should both have a shared set of values and complement each other in a team. Thinking back to his founding path, he remembered, “You can overcome so many obstacles if you work together as a team.” As part of her virtual panel discussion, WHU alumna Lina Chong, Investment Director at Target Global, also pointed out that before approaching investors, founders should become attuned to one another.

Despite an online format, the organizing team of IdeaLab! did not refrain from hosting a life pitch battle and allow a promising startup to win a prize of 5.000 € in cash sponsored by Picus Capital, a media budget of 75.000 € by Holtzbrink Ventures, and a strategy workshop by McKinsey & Company. Out of eight contestants, the investors chose “Femtasy”, a startup offering sensual audio for women, as the winner of the pitch battle.

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