Janna Linke: “At school you are educated to be a employee, not an entrepreneur!”
We regularly talk to well-known faces from the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation and get to know the personal opinions of true experts. This interview also offers an exciting view on the development of our economy and the connection to the startup culture.
Janna Linke is the face for news and stories from the world of startups at ntv and the German TV landscape as a whole: For the “Startup News” and the “Startup Magazine” she regularly reports on young companies and newly thinking founders and was one of the first TV journalists establishing the topic of “startups” in the economy segment. No startup can get past her when it comes to PR and large audiences.
She is an expert and takes us into her view of the inteactions in the business world: What is the progress of our entrepreneurial mindset? How can start-ups be integrated into the system and why do women found less often than men? We are happy about Janna’s valuable insights, which you can experience here in the interview.
Dear Janna, you have been accompanying the startup scene for many years. What is currently preoccupying you most personally, what trends do you perceive overall?
The past weeks and months were of course marked by the corona crisis. The German startup scene has never experienced this before and has faced its biggest challenge so far. But this has shown how creative and relevant the scene is. On the one hand, digital solutions have helped startups to keep social life going in many areas. Video conferencing, digital learning, entrance lights for supermarkets are just a few examples. Even after corona, some of these will remain with us. On the other hand, many start-ups whose business model was threatened by corona acted quickly and got a pivot, i.e. radically changed their business model. That impressed me very much and made me optimistic for the time after corona.
For many people, startups are experiments that pervades boys and girls as a lifestyle and devours millions in venture capital. How do you classify startups in the economy and society?
I definitely see it differently. Being a founder hasn’t had much glamour for years. It’s hard work, consumes a lot of time and of course money. Most of the founders I’ve met are deeply convinced of their idea, second comes the financial aspect. In general, startups now have a firm place in society and business. Almost every large corporation works with them to benefit from their speed, creativity and clearly coolness. Startups are committed to growth and thus create many new jobs. They are increasingly becoming the job engine of the German economy. The German Startup Monitor 2019 has shown this. I am confident that this will continue this year despite the corona crisis.
Many founders are still attracted to the European metropolises. In your opinion, what role or relevance are large regions developing at the moment?
They are becoming more and more relevant. Medium-sized companies are gradually discovering the potential that can be found in cooperation with startups. Old money meets new ideas. This can be a very successful combination. What I noticed is that startups with a B2B focus are more likely to be found in regional areas, while start-ups with a B2C business model are more likely to be found in metropolitan areas.
The Campus Founders sees itself as a holistic “MINDSET-SCHMIEDE” for entrepreneurship and pursues the guiding principle that everyone can learn to act like an entrepreneur. What do you think about this?
… that you can definitely learn to be an entrepreneur in some way. I think it’s great that Campus Founders doesn’t just look at the basics like writing a business plan, analyzing the market etc., but also works on the mindset of people. This is something that is still far too little in Germany. During your school years you are more likely to be educated to be a future employee than an entrepreneur.
In your experience, how do you rate the cooperation and collaboration between medium-sized companies and startups? Which potentials, but also which risks do you see?
It has already taken a while for medium-sized companies and startups to come closer together. But there two worlds meet each other. Digitalization has contributed its share to accelerate this. Many medium-sized companies have recognized the urgency and rely on the know-how of startups. Founders can in turn make good use of the money of the old economy. Of course, there are also frictions because completely different ways of working come together. My experience from conversations with medium-sized companies as well as founders has shown that it works well. There is no alternative to the whole thing. Medium-sized companies are the backbone of the German economy and they can only remain so if they adapt to the new digital age.
The new startup trend goes in the direction of “zebras”. They want to be economically successful and improve society in the long term. Zebra startups create win-win situations and enable widespread prosperity, in contrast to many Unicorns who want to take a monopoly. How do you rate this development, the Campus Founders are also counting on it?
Sustainable ideas are also often more sustainable economically. This has just now been shown in the corona crisis. The global economy can only function with a holistic approach. Innovation, responsibility and sustainability form the foundation: they strengthen the economys immune system, the so-called “resilience”. It is precisely this resilience that is needed in crises such as the corona pandemic.
Furthermore, many women shy away from starting their own business. What do you think is the reason for this?
I did a long report on exactly this topic a year ago. Unfortunately not much has changed since then. According to the Female Founders Monitor, the proportion of female startups in Germany in 2019 was 15.1 percent. This year it is 15.7 percent. A minimal increase. There are two main reasons why so few women start up businesses: First, there are still these typical role clichés in people’s minds. Women tend to stay at home and the man earns the money. Women are therefore often afraid of not being able to organize startup and family and prefer not to do so. The second point is the topic of money. Investors put significantly less money into female managed start-ups than into male managed ones. Studies have shown this. Investors are usually also male and they actually attribute less economic and technical skills to women and give them less money. That is of course frightening.
Do you think that startups are becoming more and more value-oriented?
I think so. But this is not only true for startups, but for the whole economy. Products and services that have no added value for society will have a hard time in the future. The consumer is now demanding this. Value orientation is also becoming increasingly important within the working structure of startups. A fitting keyword is employee involvement. It serves as recognition for personal achievements, promote identification with the startup and are a financial compensation for the comparatively low salaries.
Last question with a broad horizon: Where do you think Germany as a whole is in the “digital race”, especially in comparison to the USA or Asia?
We lack speed. Because this race is extremely fast. If you look at the ten most valuable public limited companies in the world, seven of them are corporations with a digital business model. None of them come from Germany. SAP is considered the last internationally successful German technology startup. Germany lacks venture capital in particular. Money that young companies need in the expensive initial phase to grow as quickly as possible, to be competitive, and to keep up internationally. Asia and the USA are well ahead of us in this respect, also in the area of startup mindsets. The Campus Founders approach is therefore a first step in the right direction.
Thank you, Janna, for your clear words. We are glad that there are more and more experts who stand up for the startup world of tomorrow. We can identify very well with this because we have the same goal: to change the mindset towards more entrepreneurial spirit. The MINDSET-SCHMIEDE of Campus Founders has exactly this as its greatest goal, with the firm conviction that everyone can learn to act like an entrepreneur.
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