Guest Lecture by Grünspar GmbH & Compeon GmbH

Innovation Management | January 11th, 2017

Entrepreneurship | Grünspar GmbH & Compeon GmbH

On January 11, 2017 Sebastian Kotzwander, founder and managing director of Grünspar GmbH, and Dr. Frank Wüller, founder and managing director of COMPEON GmbH, were guest speakers in the lecture “Innovation Management” of the Institute for Value-based Marketing. Afterwards, they answered questions of the students in a discussion round.

Since 2009, Mr. Kotzwander pursues a vision: to advance the energy transition and a “green” lifestyle from consumers’ perspective and to support utilities with a B2B2C approach as service partners. Then in 2010, he founded the in Münster based Grünspar GmbH together with a friend. With the aim to “greenovate“ German and Austrian households, Grünspar follows a cross-channel approach and reaches its customers via a White Label Market Place as well as further White Label IT-services for utilities and their customers. With this approach, the young company is at the pulse of time. By now, Grünspar cooperates with over 150 utilities in Germany and Austria.

The presentation of the COMPEON GmbH provided the students with insights into a completely different industry. Due to their long work experience, Dr. Frank Wüller and his co-founders developed a sense for changes in the finance market and based on the discovery of a market gap they decided to become independent in 2010. They discovered a mismatch between supply and demand in the area of corporate banking due to the monopolistic position of big financial service providers and developed an innovative platform solution for medium-sized enterprises. Today, the fin-tech industry experiences a downright “boom” but COMPEON GmbH as pioneer of the first hour is the leading B2B marketplace. The next goal is to reach this level also on the international market.

Interview questions for the founders

What are the success factors for both start-ups?

According to Mr. Kotzwander it is passion for the idea and a good team. In doing so, the personal fit often plays a more important role than the knowledge of the involved persons. Here, Dr. Wüller agrees: it also holds true when searching for investors since investors invest in persons behind the idea rather than in the idea itself.

What makes the work in a start-up so exciting?

Mr. Kotzwander refers to a steeper personal learning curve in start-ups than in big companies. You gain more responsibility but the border between work time and free time becomes blurry. For him an employment in a big established company was always out of the question. The students should find out themselves via internships in big companies and in start-ups which culture is most attractive for them. Grünspar and COMPEON probably offer a good opportunity for this since they nowadays combine both worlds.

Dr. Wüller, who knows both sides of the coin from his former employment with zeb, explains that nobody can be forced to work in a start-up because it has a lot to do with self-fulfillment. Someone who likes to work in chaos to pursue his own ideas is better off in a start-up. Fears of the future are further always a part of founding and everyone has to evaluate the existent risks and should not disregard them. However, both founders reinforce the personal gain of their work in a start-up and recommend the students to “Just DO it!”.

Both guest speakers offered broad and interesting insights in start-up culture on this day and gave the students suggestions and motivation for the work on their own start-up ideas in the course of the upcoming project work.