Dr. Albert M. Geiger from Alphazirkel. © Aplhazirkel

Alphazirkel Brings Family Businesses Together with Munich Startups

Alphazirkel supports cooperation between founders and established SMEs. We spoke with the network’s Managing Partner, Dr. Albert Michael Geiger. He explained how they bring SMEs and startups together — and let us know which young companies are looking particularly interesting in that context.

Dr. Geiger, please explain to us what Alphazirkel is.

Alphazirkel is a managed network of more than 5,000 family businesses. We’re based in Munich and networked with the entire world, which makes it possible for family businesses to share their experience with one another regardless of borders or culture. We regularly host company events, most often at the Palais Montgelas.

Trepidation is still very common

Why do you now want to network your organization of family business with startups?

It’s still very common for our SMEs to feel some trepidation about working with startups, and that’s something we want to counteract. Even more importantly, it’s also a structural challenge: The structure and organization of family businesses, which are often run by the fourth or fifth generation, are usually not very suitable from the outset for cooperating with founders. We also see quite a few areas to focus on for tackling the shortage of workers. Due to their less hierarchical structures, startups now attract exactly the kind of employees that our family businesses need.

How do you plan to organize this networking?

We organize events and meetings — predominantly in Munich — with SMEs, potential investors and startups from across Bavaria. The next event is being held today: We’ve organized a working lunch for family businesses and founders under the motto “Successful Startups.” During the event, the CEO of Reimann Investors Dr. Michael Riemenschneider, and Oliver Mahr from Deutsche Börse AG, will be talking with the CEO of AlphapetVentures Marco Hierling, Stefan Herbst, the founder of Haftpflicht Helden, as well as Adrian Renner, Managing Director of the Global Savings Group and Dirk Graber, the CEO and founder of Mister Spex about their experiences with investors.

Startups value the opportunities for cooperation in Munich

Why have you chosen Munich as the location for this working lunch with family businesses and startups? What do you think makes Munich special as a location for startups?

A PwC study was just recently published that confirmed the high degree of satisfaction with the local startup ecosystem: 96% expressed their satisfaction, which is an 8% increase compared to the previous year. The study also discovered that Munich startups, in addition to the quality of the startup scene, also value the opportunities for cooperation with established companies. That’s exactly where our Alphazirkel initiative comes in.

How do you envisage long-term cooperation between SMEs and startups?

I can only speak for the family businesses in our network, but an example of what these companies are interested in is becoming reference customers for startups. Often, they’re simply looking for increased cooperation on an existing product or process to make SMEs’ business models more sustainable for the future.

Which industries are the startups from that are of particular interest to your family businesses?

We’re interested in the entire B2B area, but anything involving deep tech is also relevant to us and our network.

Can Munich startups looking to cooperate with SMEs contact you?

Of course they can. They can simply contact us at startup@alphazirkel.com!

Thank you for the interview!