A Very Special Version of The Social Network: When Victor Henning Invited Münster Students on an Entrepreneurial Journey

Last Thursday brought a very special highlight of the semester: Successful founder Dr. Victor Henning came to Münster via Zoom and took the students of Professor Thorsten Hennig-Thurau's Innovation Management class on a very particular journey from student and marketing scholar to serial entrepreneur.

Victor Henning, who holds a Ph.D. from Bauhaus University of Weimar, crafted under the supervision of Prof. Hennig-Thurau, and has co-authored not one but two Journal of Marketing articles as part of his Ph.D., told students about the highs, but also the (very) lows of his entrepreneurial career. While still finalizing his Ph.D. thesis, he successfully founded Mendeley, an academic social platform that helps scholars organize their research, and sold the firm to publishing giant Elsevier, before giving the world "Fjorden"—a hardware extension that helps ambitious photographers get the best out of their smartphone cameras. Fjorden has just been acquired by the legendary German camera firm Leica, where Victor Henning now serves in an executive role.

Victor Henning, who didn't use any slides or video material during his lecture, fully captivated his Münster audience during his 70-minute talk, which was followed by a Q&A with students. Would he recommend the students become entrepreneurs based on his personal experiences? "Hell no!" was his decisive, and quite authentic, response. The mental health burden of doing so is simply too high in most cases, he argued.

But there was a catch—he excluded those in the audience from his recommendation who "had no choice but to do so" because they, like himself, simply felt the unstoppable urge to pursue an idea.

In the classroom as well as on social media, the student response was decidedly positive. One post pointedly stated that the lecture was nothing less than the Zoom variant of "The Social Network"—master director David Fincher's dramatic Hollywood retelling of the successful founding of another social platform.