Challenges are the key to
Interview with Karsten Rönner
Karsten Rönner is the General Manager of the grow Platform. Before coming to grow, he gained broad experiences as a founder, investor, board member and executive in start-ups as well as in internationally operating groups.
grow: What has been the most touching and emotional moment while working in a start-up context?
Karsten: Surprisingly, for me, the beginning is not very emotional. There is a bit of excitement and adrenalin but emotionally, most of the teams are calm and cool headed. The strongest emotions always arose when the company was sold, which is strange, because that is the purpose. All that people in a successful start-up should feel at that point is joy. However, around the time of sale, there is often ‘post-deal depression’. At least in my case, that was always the case.
What was your most challenging start-up experience before coming to grow?
The biggest challenge for me was to start the M&A Advisory firm in London because, although I had done investments in start-ups and sales of start-ups before, the entire context was new. I had to acquire a tremendous amount of knowledge and even pass an exam to become authorized by the Financial Services Agency. All of that while already working on projects. It was tough and exciting.
In which situation did you personally grow most within these challenges?
I learned the most from failures. In M&A advisory, when a deal fell through and in startups, when we got rejections from investors or customers. Learning in the ‘school of hard knocks’ requires to honestly tell oneself and everyone else: “There was a failure and I contributed to it.”. Becoming humble and admitting mistakes is tough but opens the door to enormous learning opportunities.
What do you think are the three biggest challenges when founding a start-up?
The first main challenge is finding a business model that both “works” and at the same time meets the passions of the founders. It works if it provides customers at least 10x or more benefit vs. today’s solution, serves a sufficiently large number of customers who are willing to pay a high price to make the business fast scalable to more than hundreds of million Euros sales per year and if it is highly profitable.
A second challenge would be creating a team that is at the same time trustful, shares the vision and mission and is capable of challenging another to achieve top performance.
This team must consist of a diverse set of members to cover the basic skills required to launch the product and be able to later incorporate new members while keeping the culture and a trustful atmosphere.
A third big challenge is persistence and resilience under pressure and when experiencing failures.
Do these challenges apply to internal as well as external start-ups?
Yes, they are absolutely the same for external and internal.
How do you think the challenges you mentioned can best be overcome?
There is no recipe, because all challenges require a certain attitude by the founders. That is impossible to quantify.
What final advice would you like to give to start-ups in order to become successful?
Dare to fail – otherwise you will never succeed!