Entrepreneurial Learnings from Stefan Raab and Oliver Kahn @ Bits & Pretzels 2017

Success and failure stories of prominent entrepreneurs are popular keynotes at many startup events but even if you feel that you’ve already heart everything, it was kind of special to listen to Stefan Raab and Oliver Kahn. In case you were not one of the lucky 5,000 participants at Bits & Pretzels, you’ll find the key takeaways of their session here.

I felt greatly honored to be invited as one of “300 Women in Tech” to attend the “Bits & Pretzels 2017” in Munich. The experience was unique and even though I was a bid skeptical about the keynotes of Stefan Raab and Oliver Kahn, there were quite a few takeaways for (aspiring) entrepreneurs:

  • It’s all about enthusiasm: Working hard on the realization and implementation of your ideas costs lots of efforts and energy.  However, the high level of commitment required is manageable and can be overcome with a strong team, unless enthusiasm fades. Enthusiasm is one of the greatest resources throughout this process and needs to be maintained in the long run. Stefan Raab recommends focusing on the achievements of short-term successes and to avoid projects that don’t yield visible progresses over several months.
  • Think big and don’t necessarily think everything through: Especially Stefan Raab has pursued several business ideas that were not immediately rational to his team and the industry experts he was collaborating with. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t have become as successful without thinking in grandiose dimensions beyond conventional wisdom. It might not be the best idea for nascent entrepreneurs to neglect the potential consequences of their actions but both, Raab and Kahn, recommend entrepreneurs to try new directions and fail fast. “Ahead is where nobody knows one’s way around” (Stefan Raab).
  • Stop comparing yourself to others: There will always be startup founders with more knowledge, capabilities and resources. A comparison, however, isn’t helpful. Even if somebody else seems to be a specialist in his field, it should be kept in mind that “versatility is often better than excellence” (Stefan Raab) during venture creation processes.
  • Mistakes are inevitable but get back on track soon: Mistakes and even failure are important aspects of being an entrepreneur. The learnings are valuable and crucial for the performance and competitiveness of startups, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the first place. Nevertheless, it is of importance to not get distracted for too long but to quickly get back on track and to focus on positive achievements.

Not all of these insights might be novel and disruptive but I perceived it as highly relevant to have role models and to constantly get reminded of conventional up’s and down’s during the venture creation process. These learnings are also valuable in entrepreneurship education, in order to maintain enthusiasm and not to lose the courage to pursue own visions and dreams.