That voice. When you first meet Stephan Jung you notice his confident voice. Stephan is a busy guy. (Take a look at his track record below.) He is Managing Partner and Director of the Accelerator program at weXelerate. wireX Magazine editor Ruth Reitmeier went on a “walk and talk” with him on his way to his next meeting.
weXelerate CEO Hassen Kirmaci and Stephan first got together to discuss the position of Director of the Accelerator Program. They were on the same page on how a startup program should work, and Hassen asked him to become Managing Partner. “Stephan is a leading expert on the strategies and structures of innovation. He is also a serial founder. He knows both worlds, the academic research and real business. This know-how is exactly what we need here at weXelerate and what I am looking for in a business partner“, Hassen says.
And Stephan says: “We complement each other. Hassen has tremendous drive and understanding of the corporate world. And I have a good understanding of the startup ecosystem, the needs of startups and innovation methods or processes.”
Was it money? Was it power? Was it a fascination with the new that attracted Stephan to join weXelerate? According to him, it was the business model, the team, and the speed that convinced him. It had the right dynamics and ingredients to be successful with startups and corporates working together in an open innovation ecosystem. Startups gain valuable industry know-how and a cross-industry network, while the corporates get access to innovation, an insight into the startup culture, the mindset and the people.
Motivation is critical for Stephan. “The mindset at weXelerate is entrepreneurial. We expect startups to take advantage of our program and to make the most of it”, he says. He is looking forward to meeting inspiring people and working with dynamic entrepreneurs.
Stephan has founded and been involved in startups for more than a decade. As a first-year mathematics student at the Technical University of Munich, he had his first experience of setting up a new business. This had a profound influence upon him. Walking through the university campus he stumbled upon a flyer for a “5 euro business competition”. The idea was that any student with 5 euros startup capital could develop a concrete business idea. Together with a study colleague, he developed a platform for customers to book classical music students to play at weddings, matinees, and brunches. At 22 he had founded his first company and made money. “All of a sudden I was doing events and I realized that studying mathematics was not leading me to a place I had in mind. So I quit”, Stephan says.
During this time he enrolled in a new course on Technology and Management at the Technical University of Munich. It gave Stephan an education that was useful for what he wanted to do.
As a serial founder, Stephan emphasises his key take-homes: “If you’re a student and you have an exciting idea you’ll have the attention of powerful business people. You build up a high-profile network early in your career”.
But if the business does not take off after two years then you’ve got to be able to let go. “I have been in this situation and I told myself to stop. I wasn’t prepared to hang onto a dream that didn’t work in reality although my partners still believed in it. This is never an easy decision and one only you can make”.
These days there is a growing experience curve and there are best practice business cases how to develop and build a startup company. “My job at weXelerate is to set up a structure offering state of the art market driven programs for startups”, Stephan says.
“Products and services need to be better offering a better solution in solving a certain problem or addressing a certain need than what existed before”, Stephan says. He points to Darwin’s theory on the survival of the fittest: “If businesses do not succeed in adapting and changing they become sooner or later obsolete”, he says.
There is a time for work and a time for play. “I like being a Dad”, he says. It is important for Stephan to be there for his children and to be a role model. He is living in Vienna with his wife and two kids.
He is also a trained singer and his favourite pastime is practicing and performing with his ensemble. “Other people do sport, but singing is my recreation. Our group is a great mix of people from different walks of life”.
35 minutes later we arrive at Stephan’s destination. “I hope, I can remember my way back”, I say to him. He points towards the next underground stop showing the way.
Stephan’s track record
Stephan is an entrepreneur & innovation generalist with a track record in founding, funding, and advising startups over the last 12 years.
- As a Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at University of Applied Sciences Krems, Stephan gained significant experience and knowledge in research and teaching. He also worked on corporate projects in entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Stephan co-founded the IMC FoundersLAB, worked as venturepreneur & startup mentor for i5invest.com and conda.eu, and is the local representative of AustrianStartups for Lower Austria.
- Prior to that he was an investment manager for a venture and mezzanine capital fund in Vienna and co-founded a software-as-a-service company in Germany.
- He was a board member of the startups opvizor.com and sensix.