Live in the future, then build what’s missing

On October 6, students interested in entrepreneurship had an opportunity to converse with successful veterans of the start-up scene. The event was part of the Law School’s professional development program.

The Unternehmerinitiative [entrepreneurs’ initiative], cooperating with the Circle of Entrepreneurs and kindly supported by CMS Hasche Sigle, organized a panel discussion entitled “How to start a startup?”  Fabian Heilemann, Ammad Ahmad, Mark Schmitz and Nikolaus Thomale shared some first-hand knowledge about early stage startups.  Speaking from their own experiences, the panelists provided insight into industry customs and common missteps.  

The evening was divided into four parts.  Each panelist led off one of the segments on a different topic and then took questions from the audience. 

  • Fabian Heilemann, well known as founder of the website DailyDeal and now a partner with Earlybird Venture Capital, gave an overview of the conceptual development process and structured market analysis.  The motto is simple: live in the future, then build what’s missing.  You only enter the market by enacting the concept.
  • Ammad Ahmad, who heads a staff of 120 at Atheneum Partners, told about the importance of a good team for the success of a new startup.
  • Mark Schmitz with his background at Lakestar—the firm whose prior investments include Spotify, Airbnb and Skype—characterized the most important do’s and don’ts in the realm of financing.
  • Nikolaus Thomale, recently founder of the website, tied the various threads together with his sketch of how the first 90 days of a startup can be the basis for lasting success. 

Although the startup industry can seem like a glittering goldmine, the panelists all agreed that its real currency is passion and dedication.  Again and again they compared entrepreneurship to marriage, be it in picking the team or in thoroughly thinking through the idea behind the business.  Afterwards at wine and pretzels, the participants had a chance for more in-depth, intense discussion about the evening’s themes. 

A video of the event is accessible via Facebook.  


Franziska Mathée, Student