Campus - 23.03.2023 - 15:07 

«Reaching for Resilience» at the START Summit 2023

START Summit 2023 kicks off with over with over 5,500 startups, investors, corporates, and entrepreneurial-minded students. As Europe's leading student-run startup conference, START Summit promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and offers the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.

A spirited crowd was on hand in the Olma Halls in St. Gallen for START Summit’s Opening Ceremony. Under the banner "Reaching for Resilience", this year’s theme seeks to address global challenges such as the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and is focused on three subtopics: Embrace Failure, Reach for Resilience and Dare to Succeed. 

The first guest speaker was Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of BlackRock, who is a member of the firm's Global Executive Committee an oversees the BlackRock Sustainable Investing.  In a video message, he said we are living in unsettled times. "War in Ukraine has upended European security policy and has accelerated the energy transition in ways we would have thought not possible." He continued, noting that climate change is forcing us to evaluate the way we live.

Adapting to change

Specifically addressing this year’s theme at START Summit "Reaching for Resilience" Hildebrand affirmed that, "we need to become more resilient." To him, resilience means, "adapting as conditions change, often outside of our control and often outside of our comfort zone."

Hildebrand concluded by noting a famous quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt when the former US President addressed the University of Pennsylvania in 1940. "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." 

The Opening Ceremony quickly transitioned into a discussion about the fast track to hypergrowth with two people entrenched in the start-up world. Hakan Koç has been an entrepreneur since before he graduated from college and is the co-founder of Auto1 and HSG Alumna Sylvie Mutschler-von Specht is the founder of Mutschler Ventures and was one of the first people to invest in Koç’s ideas. 

From five to 6,000 

Mutschler introduced Koç and his company Auto1, which has been operating for 11 years, has 850 million dollars in revenue and 6,000 employees in 20 countries.

When Mutscher first spoke to Koç in 2013 about Auto1, he had five total employees, the most of whom he admits, were interns. Koç talked about his start in business. 

Early on, Koç and his partner Christian Bertermann looked at several ideas, including- starting a business that would deliver beverages door-to-door. After an initial phase of excitement, they decided it wasn’t an area where they could make a profit and abandoned the idea. 

Original inventor of the tablet?

When Koç first met Mutscher when he pitched an idea for a touch-screen tablet aimed at providing support for elderly people. Koç mentioned that he thought it was a good idea until Apple came out with their ipad, which was marketed towards a much larger audience. 

When his business partner Christian’s grandmother had a horrible experience selling her car, the two of them started to think about Auto1. They quickly found out that the German used-car industry is a 55 billion-Euro industry. Soon after, they developed a professional landing page that made Auto1 look, at first, to be professional. After selling their first car, they kept moving forward and expanding.

Strategy: People first

Some of the questions Koç received was why he expanded to certain markets first, and not others. In the end, Koç explained that their strategy to expand was focused on finding the right people. Koç stated that, "if he found the right guy, a person who he could trust to build his business with me, he went to that market first."

His newest venture is a telecom company because Koç believes that the industry will soon see a massive disruption. His business Truphone, seeks to connect any device globally to the internet without having to use local providers. 

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