Philipp Lahm, Bavarian Minister of Economics Ilse Aigner and Hauke Schwiezer, founder of Startup Teens (photo: Munich Startup)

World Champion and Startup Investor: an Interview with Philipp Lahm

During his athletic career, Philipp Lahm reached nearly every conceivable goal for a soccer player: German champion, cup winner, winner of the Champions League, world champion. Since ending his career as an athlete, the former team captain of both the German national team and FC Bayern Munich has devoted himself to a new undertaking: he invests in startups and supports the Startup Teens initiative.  We spoke with Philipp Lahm about his second career as a startup investor and champion of young entrepreneurs.

Since early this year, you have been a cooperative partner of Startup Teens. How do you support the project in concrete terms?

I mostly take part in public events, such as the recent press conference, since I am able to draw attention to them by being there. The practical experience I have from being a professional soccer player and young entrepreneur is also something I like to share with teens.

Why should young individuals even think about entrepreneurship?

I think if you have a good idea that you see potential in, you should be courageous and optimistic as a teenager. Young people should be able to try something out without risking everything. But I still think it is important to have successfully completed school qualifications as a backup plan.

Health food, personal care products and a bonus program for soccer fans – your investment portfolio sounds like the world of a professional athlete. Do you choose your investments yourself? How important is it to you that they are related to sports or health?

Being related to health is the most important factor to me and is a consideration in all of my investments. Because I completely took over Sixtus and recently became the majority shareholder at Schneekoppe, I feel particularly responsible. All of the companies need to be a good fit for me, which is why I always consult with my team. With the startup Fanmiles, it was the extraordinary courage displayed by its founders that impressed and excited me.

Philipp Lahm with Gabriele Böhmer, Munich Startup’s Chief Editor, at Munich’s Werk1. (Photo: Munich Startup)
Philipp Lahm with Gabriele Böhmer, Munich Startup’s Chief Editor, at Munich’s Werk1. (Photo: Munich Startup)

How do you learn more about startups? Does your experience as team captain help you on the entrepreneurial “playing field?”

Initially, no. What helps me are organizations like Startup Teens, particularly when they have a large network of people I can communicate with. Then it’s a matter of common sense to decide which companies are a good match or not.

Your investments are spread across Germany. Are you also a part of the Munich startup scene? What is your impression of the startup ecosystem in your hometown?

It is not completely accurate to say my investments are spread across Germany. Sixtus is located on the Schliersee in Bavaria, which is not far from me and means I could theoretically stop by every day to check in on things. With Schneekoppe, I just recently acquired the company, so I am not sure whether it will stay in Krefeld since it was located there based on the previous majority shareholder.

Investments involve work and long-term responsibility. Do you still have plans to return to professional soccer — perhaps as an official or coach? 

Regardless of whether I am a player, coach or official — soccer will always be my focus and passion. Nonetheless, I cannot imagine myself as a coach at the moment. I feel right at home in my new role as an ambassador for the 2024 European championship because my tasks are exciting and multifaceted.

Your former team colleague and predecessor as Bavaria’s team captain Oliver Kahn is also a part of the startup scene with his company Goalplay. Have you spoken with him about entrepreneurship?

Not yet, no, but there will certainly be the right point in time in the future to exchange experience and advice.

Where would a person most likely run into Philipp Lahm on a day off in Munich? What are your favorite places in the city?

At the moment, I play a lot of tennis when I have time off. I take lessons from my son’s coach, and he has taught me quite a lot.