Munich Startup: What motivated you to found a company?
Jennifer Dussileck, Finway: I got into entrepreneurship because I wanted to make a difference. I did an internship in New York and met several founders there. It was incredibly inspiring to be able to make your own idea a reality. At the same time, my previous work experience – which I still very much value – made me feel like I wasn’t able to drive things forward enough. How I ended up with Finway, however, was quite a coincidence. I met my co-founders at a startup conference in St. Gallen. I wasn’t necessarily planning to start a company right after my studies, but when the opportunity came up, I knew I had to seize it. Especially because our approach with Finway combines exactly what I had always been passionate about – accounting & finance.
Munich Startup: Did you have role models when starting the company?
Jennifer Dussileck: I was actually inspired not so much by the “well-known” founders, but rather by the people I know on a personal level. I’m always impressed when someone builds their own company – regardless of whether it would be considered a typical startup or not. In the end, you can always learn from other entrepreneurs. You just have to be able to understand it in your own context.
“Three minds come up with more than just one”
Munich Startup: When and where do you have the best ideas?
Jennifer Dussileck: For me, it’s usually when I’m talking with people. Hearing the thought processes of others often indirectly triggers new, more developed ideas. And in general, I’m a fan of getting ideas from the team. I just think that three minds come up with more than just one.
Munich Startup: What’s your biggest talent?
Jennifer Dussileck: I’m a structure-analysis-numbers type of person. I’m good at breaking complex topics into individual parts, setting up a plan and showing how to actually implement it. I also like to run through scenarios. I try to understand the impact that individual input might have and to identify trends based on past data. That being said, the past can only provide a view of the future to a limited extent.
Munich Startup: How do you deal with doubt?
Jennifer Dussileck: I unfortunately still let it get to me too often. But I finally realized that what helps me most is talking about it with people I trust. Hearing other people’s opinions helps me see things from a different perspective. I often take doubt very personally, which makes it difficult for me to distance myself from it – but it works well through other people.
Munich Startup: What are the three most offensive prejudices you’ve encountered while starting a company?
Jennifer Dussileck: “That won’t work” – I think that’s the sentence that every female founder hears the most – or at least some form of it. But I haven’t encountered any prejudice beyond that.
A weekly plan with topic days
Munich Startup: How do you set priorities? What are they?
Jennifer Dussileck: I try to regularly visualize where we are at the moment as well as our biggest challenges. I think it’s important to take a bird’s eye view of the company every now and again so you don’t get lost in the daily routine. And even when lots of important and urgent things always need to be done, you also have to deliberately make time for projects that will have an impact over the long term or indirectly. At the beginning of the week, I set my priorities and assign them to individual days. I’ve just started working with topic days, such as team topics on Friday, finance topics on Monday. But that doesn’t always work, because day-to-day life is usually more chaotic than intended. Important and urgent things can come up spontaneously and thwart your plans. For me as a planner, that can be difficult to deal with, but I think that’s normal when starting a company.
Munich Startup: Do you think now is a good time to start a company? Why?
Jennifer Dussileck: You can always find a reason not to start a company if you want to. Which is why the most important thing is to just do it, give things a try and learn quickly. There’s a lot that goes into successfully starting a company, such as being in the right place at the right time, but I think it’s impossible to predict that.
Don’t reduce women and men to their gender
Munich Startup: Do you think it’s important for more women to start companies in Germany?
Jennifer Dussileck: Yes, I think more women should have the courage to start companies. It’s hard for me to understand why there are still so few women starting companies. I think it partly has to do with how our society behaves and especially with how we categorize girls and boys. To me, it’s important for us to achieve equality in society and that both women and men aren’t reduced to their gender.
Munich Startup: What’s on top of your desk at the moment?
Jennifer Dussileck: At the moment, I’m working on Finway’s presence beyond customer contact, especially the general awareness of our brand and our recruiting. I’m also evaluating which partnerships could make sense for Finway in the future and how they would look exactly. That also partially has to do with our product vision and our path for the years ahead.
Munich Startup: What makes you happy?
Jennifer Dussileck: At Finway, it’s when I see how the entire team is working together towards a common goal, how we motivate each other and how we all want to drive Finway forward and when great news comes in from a customer because they’re so happy with our product. Beyond work, it’s when I can ride up and down the mountains with my mountain bike, when I spend time with friends or family or eat good food.