In our interview with Innosabi founder and CEO Catharina van Delden: The Munich startup is a kind of “one stop shop” for innovation — which is why being curious about new things is quite an important characteristic for its founder. We talk about mistakes when it comes to financing, why talking and listening are of equal importance and what makes Catharina van Delden happy.
Munich Startup: What motivated you to found a company?
Catharina van Delden: Something that has always motivated me is being infinitely curious about new things. It’s been like that my whole life. I’m curious about different perspectives, foreign cultures, other lifestyles and, and, and… That curiosity is joined by my desire to change the current state of things and to make a lasting impact.
These two motives made founding my own company virtually inevitable. With Innosabi, we not only have the opportunity to shape the content and environment of our work according to our own visions and desires, but can also affect the future with our clients: When a car manufacturer uses our software, we’re making an impact on our mobility in the future. When an insurance company designs their future with our software, we can be involved in how we feel safe.
“I come away from every encounter with some kind of insight”
Munich Startup: Did you have role models when starting the company?
Catharina van Delden: I can’t actually name just one role model. Whenever I meet other people, I always see the positive and come away from every encounter with some kind of insight. But if I had to pick just one person, in a professional context it would be Barbara Wittmann, who is Senior Director Talent Solutions for German-speaking countries at Linkedin and on our advisory board. The path she takes is very clear and she knows exactly how to make the most of her expertise and experience, learns from every encounter and has a hands-on mentality despite her success.
Munich Startup: When and where do you have the best ideas?
Catharina van Delden: Really good ideas develop when talking with others. That means in discussions with other visionaries, customers or team members. That constantly provides new input and important impetus. And the following holds true: The more diverse the people in the discussion, the more innovative and valuable the ideas will be. And that’s also how I get my best ideas.
Good ideas develop when talking with others
Munich Startup: What’s your biggest talent?
Catharina van Delden: One strength that is part of everything I do is empathy. I see people as people and recognize their individuality. Communicating with everyone at eye level, regardless of status, position or responsibility, is particularly important to me. I feel that includes giving everyone the opportunity to become aware of their own strengths. That’s the only way people can really contribute their talents and skills. People are more successful and also more satisfied when you enhance their strengths instead of concentrating on stamping out their weaknesses. How positive this kind of strength-based approach can be is something we see every day at Innosabi.
Munich Startup: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
Catharina van Delden: The following applies in the German startup scene: “You can’t establish a tech business model without raising venture capital.” I’m very proud that so far, we’ve managed on our own along with three fantastic angel investors. I think that is ultimate proof of the fact that a product is really needed. After all, the company needs revenue to survive and grow. Customers only pay money if you solve a real problem.
A balance of give and take
Munich Startup: What’s your secret networking weapon?
Catharina van Delden: Talk, talk, talk. But also listen a lot. It’s important to make the first move, to share knowledge and findings and to offer help. Then you get a lot in return. The result is a balance of give and take.
Munich Startup: Do you think it’s important for more women to found companies in Germany?
Catharina van Delden: I think more companies should be founded, regardless of gender. Female founders are very much motivated by the desire to change something, to want to improve how something is done. There can never be too many of them. Current and pressing topics such as sustainability are driven to a great extent by startups, and that is very important.
Munich Startup: What’s on top of your desk at the moment?
Catharina van Delden: Something you can always find on my desk, maybe on top — or at least somewhere — is my mate cup. And in terms of content, our international partnerships are of current priority.
Shaping the future, her team and nature make Catharina van Delden happy
Munich Startup: What makes you happy?
Catharina van Delden: There are several things. Positive feedback from our customers is something I find very fulfilling. When we know that our customers are satisfied and most importantly successful with our software, that means to us that we’re having an impact, changing something together with our customers and that we’re actively shaping the future. And then there’s our Innosabi team that makes me happy with their enthusiasm and passion. And last but not least, what’s important to me personally is nature. Being outside in the fresh air helps me tune out and reconnect with myself.
Munich Startup: Thank you for the interview!