A Founder’s Secret Weapons: A Good Attitude, Inquisitiveness and Open-Mindedness – an Interview with Angelika Kneidl from accu:rate
Angelika Kneidl is a founder of accu:rate GmbH. Founded together with Florian Sesser in 2016 in Munich, the startup for the simulation and analysis of people flow has been supported by bootstrap financing so far. We wanted to find out how Angelika ended up starting her own company after completing her doctorate in computer science, what motivates her and about the secret weapons she brings along.
What motivated you to found a company?
After my dissertation, I was not quite sure what I should do. The topic of my dissertation — the simulation of pedestrian flows — was incredibly exciting, but I wasn’t interested in a university career. So that left me with three options: either look for a new subject area, find a company that works in the field or found something myself. Because I had attended a business plan course during my dissertation, I was already in contact with UnternehmerTUM. So I decided to stop by there to get some advice. They told me about options for establishing a relatively risk-free spin-off.
After a lot of meetings with the startup consultant and with support from my former boss from the consulting firm I worked for before going back to university, I finally decided to take the plunge. I thought to myself: If all else fails, then after a year – that’s how long the funding would last – I can always quit and look for a job… that one year has since turned into five years and a team of 13 employees. 😉
Did you have role models when starting the company?
No, not really. But I constantly meet amazing and inspiring people who in their own way contribute to me being able to continuously evolve, and I am able to learn from them and continue to grow.
Inspired by communication and a change in perspective
When and where do you have the best ideas?
I get most of my ideas while talking with others. Communicating and changing my perspective, which means seeing things differently, makes me creative…
I think I’m someone who can be unbelievably tenacious and can always push my limits and go beyond them. That’s very helpful when starting a company. At the same time, it’s also somewhat dangerous because I forget to take care of myself and my private life.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
I think superlatives are tough… I make mistakes regularly. But I also learn an incredible amount from them. For example at the very beginning, we relied heavily on remarks made by potential clients who we were friends with. They gauged the market potential as many times greater than it actually was in the beginning. I learned in that case that you have to be careful if you want “objective” market assessments from well-meaning clients.
What’s your secret networking weapon?
I don’t think I have one… I think having a good attitude and being inquisitive and open-minded always works well!
“Anyone who is passionate about an idea and loves challenges should found a startup!”
What are the three most offensive prejudices you’ve encountered in everyday startup life?
Oh, I don’t encounter that many prejudices… perhaps — but that’s not a prejudice — the supposed coolness of founders bothers me sometimes. I feel like starting a company can go to some people’s heads. But I don’t think we should set ourselves apart from others. I think anyone who is passionate about an idea and loves challenges should found a startup! It’s so much fun and you learn so much about yourself and the world…
Was being a female founder an advantage or disadvantage for you?
To be honest, I often forget there’s a difference between male and female founders. The times I do become aware of it are when there are special programs for female founders, which I like to participate in. Female friends of mine who are founders have also relayed that they weren’t taken seriously by customers. That — thankfully — has never happened to me personally.
What’s on top of your desk at the moment?
Nothing in just a moment since this interview was my last task for the week. 😉
Where’s your next vacation destination?
I was just recently in Taiwan — it’s a beautiful island that I would really recommend visiting!
What have you always wanted to say to Munich residents?
That we live in the world’s most beautiful city. 😉