Inspire&Dine – Decades of Entrepreneurship Await

Author: Philipp Rathjen

With over 350 attendees on May 19th, the CDTM Inspire&Dine continued to gain momentum and raise awareness for the challenges and opportunities of digital technologies. We had the pleasure to welcome three exceptional speakers with exciting insights. Moreover, the results of the first CDTM Art and Technology elective were presented, with students exploring the potential of creative interaction with hardware. Technology is changing society’s rhythm. The extent of this change became even more apparent in the three presentations of the evening.

We were very happy to welcome Mr. Lin Kayser to Inspire&Dine, founder of IRIDAS, and, to discuss the role of entrepreneurship in the 21st century. With his presentation, he appealed to the community of entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts: “If you’re thinking about your next great thing – Think international, think of developing countries, and think of the massive problems our world has to solve without pushing them aside.” Mr. Kayser pointed to the enormous challenge of climate change, a problem we understate as we struggle to grasp its immense significance, and to the opportunities in developing economies to be part of the solution.

We live in the electric century. And as Elon Musk unveiled his immense progress in storage technology, decentralized energy in developing economies becomes a very real option. The massive investment in infrastructure in developed economies is both a blessing and a curse. Countries like Ethiopia are eager to build energy systems based entirely on renewables, without huge investments in infrastructure, through decentralization. The idea is not new, as the case of mobile systems leapfrogging landlines in African countries has made clear. But the implications for future projects are extremely powerful as the cost of renewable energy continues to decline.

Furthermore, Mr. Kayser emphasized the role of the world’s renewed interest in exploration of their world. Two-thirds of the world is covered in water and the world is finally at a stage where underwater technology can uncover the secrets of below. Space exploration is equally revolutionary. SpaceX may only be the first manifestation of the new opportunities arising from new materials and lower cost in space travel. A world of opportunities stretches out before us and great things can be expected from the entrepreneurs of our century.

Mr. Hendrick Brandis, founder of one of the biggest European venture capital firms, EARLYBIRD, delivered some remarkable insights into the European venture capital industry. Mr. Brandis made no secret of Europe’s deficiencies in bringing about successful entrepreneurs, reiterating that the successful development of a European startup scene was absolutely decisive for future economic development and wealth creation in the European Union. However, he also emphasized that there was never a better time than now to build a company in the European Union. Comparisons with the United States, the unparalleled frontrunner in digital endeavors, shed a gloomy light on the local market. Both in terms of the size of the European venture market, and in terms of the successful companies this market has brought about.

Yet, even the US is merely scratching the surface of what digital technologies can offer. E-commerce makes up merely 5% of US retail revenue, but can potentially grow into the high double digits. FINTECH and Industry 4.0 are still waiting in the wings and their disruptive potential is hardly imaginable at this stage. And, while Android and IOS are globally exploding, the costs of starting a company are at an all time low. Since the dotcom bubble, the capital required to do so has decreased to less than 1%. Moreover, Europe is growing together (in spite of what the news may say). The internet is contributing to bridging cultural, and even language, gaps and policymakers are becoming aware of the necessity for effective legislation to let Europe grow together. As it seems, the odds are that the greatest disruption is still ahead.

The final presentation was delivered by Mr. Jean Paul Schmetz, Chief Scientist of Hubert Burda Media and Xing Board member. Mr. Schmetz dedicated his presentation to the key skills of entrepreneurship. In his talk, “Planning vs. Doing,” Mr. Schmetz elaborated on the necessity of tackling problems head on, as opposed to planning solely to build alibis for the event of failure. The privilege of entrepreneurship is its resolution to tackle problems head-on – without accepting excuses. Failure builds character and experience, and quantity trumps quality, as quality will emerge with practice. Numerous company examples exist, where success came about by chance and not because of planning. With this in mind, Mr. Schmetz recommended to not spend too much time planning, but to learn by doing.

Inspire&Dine will host this semester’s last session on June 9th with more exciting insights. Don’t miss it!

Philipp studies economics at the Ludwig Maximilians University. Passionate about digital innovation, he joined CDTM in Fall 2014.